books-for-small-businesses | Serge Bertasius


Great Books for Small Businesses

I have read more books focused on all concepts of small business ownership and management than I could possibly ever remember.  What I do remember is that the quality of those books and their content varies from one end of the spectrum to the other:  horrible to exceptional.  Some are fabulous, offering extremely useful ideas and concepts to help small businesses grow and succeed.  These, I felt, were more than worth the cost and time spent reading them.  I personally put many of their shared concepts and ideas to work.   This list of great books for small businesses contains some of the best I found.  I would not recommend them to you otherwise.

Disclaimer:  To make it easy for you to check out some of these books,  links to are provided.  Just click on the book image, you will be taken directly to each book’s Amazon page for additional reviews and information.  Should you decide to purchase one or more of the books from Amazon, we will receive a small ‘finder’s fee’ that will in no way affect your cost for the book(s).

Don’t forget the book I co-authored with Katie Weeks: ‘Interior Design in Practice: Case Studies of Successful Business Model!

(See link above at top of the sidebar.) While our initial audience and the fifty-ish case studies are mostly interior design businesses, the lessons shared are applicable to  small businesses in other service industries.


Harry Beckwith: Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing

So many marketing books focus on marketing systems and processes for manufacturing companies who sell visible, tangible products.  Sales techniques and processes are not the same when it comes to selling things that are invisible – services, for example.  Regardless of the size of your business, Beckwith’s principles can apply.  This is a nice, easy-read book with short chapters covering each marketing concept.  You can pick it up and put down as time allows and learn something useful every time.

Lee Cockerell:  The Customer Rules:  The 39 Essential Rules of Delivering Sensational Service

Lee Cockerell is a former Executive Vice President of Walt Disney World.  Who better to teach us about sensational customer service?  Disney is known worldwide for their attention to details and customer experiences.  The Customer Rules is set up in short, to the point, chapters to cover each of Cockerell’s 39 Essential Rules.  An easy read in short bites of actionable information.


Michael E Gerber:  The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It

The ‘E’ in Gerber’s book title stands for Entrepreneur and the myth is that just because you do something well you should be able to start a business with it and that will be successful. Not always true.  Large numbers of startups fail within the first year.  Just because an entrepreneur excels at something doesn’t mean they excel at starting and running a business successfully. An entirely different set of skills are required to be a successful business owner and manager. Without strategies and objectives, a small business may be doomed from the start.  A good read for those just starting out, or even those beginning to falter.

John Jantsch:  Duct Tape Marketing: Revised and Updated

If you are new, or even experienced, in marketing your small business, there are likely to be a few new things you have not yet tried. Jantsch provides a step-by-step map from setting a marketing strategy and identifying your customers through developing your marketing plan and committing to it. The basics are all there.

Dave Kerpen: Likeable Business: Why Today’s Consumers Demand More and How Leaders Can Deliver

I’m sure everyone remembers that adage about people doing business with those they know, like and trust.  It really is true.  Kerpen does an excellent job laying out how leaders can make their businesses more likable, not only to customers, but to employees and other stakeholders.  No one does business or associates with those they just clearly don’t like.  This is a great beginning for anyone wanting to increase their score on the likability scale.

Jill Konrath:  SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers

Jill Konrath is an internationally known expert on the world of sales.  Her SNAP theory is basic:  Keep It Simple, be iNvaluable to customers, always Align yourself with customer needs, and raise Priorities to keep the most important things top of mind for customers.  A book full of simple, easy to implement concepts for small businesses to remember and follow to improve  sales closings with potential customers.

Jay Conrad Levinson:  Guerilla Marketing – 4th Edition

My very first read on marketing my small business.  Full of useful advice for those operating on limited marketing budgets.  Every entrepreneur starts out on a tight budget, looking for inexpensive ways to help get the word out about their new business.  Jay Conrad Levinson is the guru in this area.  Now in its 4th edition, this book includes more on using the Internet and new advancements in technology which were barely blips on the radar screen when the first version came out in 1983.

John C. Maxwell – The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

Whether you are in a leadership position now or plan to move in that direction, Maxwell’s book is a must-read. Each chapter defines and explains through actual business examples and anecdotes how one of his irrefutable laws worked for others.  At the end of each chapter, you will find actionable strategies you can apply to improve your leadership skills.


John C. Maxwell – 5 Levels of Leadership

Maxwell covers leadership from an ‘entry level’ to ‘top level’.  Maxwell begins with Leadership by Position, when people follow you because they have to.  You have been promoted or hired to supervise or manage other employees.  He continues with Leadership by Permission, when people follow you because they want to.  For instance, you are elected leader of a project team by other team members.  Leadership by Production falls mid-level in the leadership development process when people follow you because you have done something significant for the organization.  People Development is the next step.  At this stage, people follow you because you did something for them personally.  The final level Maxwell identifies is the Pinnacle level– you’ve reached the top.  At this level, you are followed because of who you have become and what you represent.  Well worth reading for those with leadership in their plans.

Angie Mohr, CA, CMA – Managing Business Growth:  Get a Grip on Numbers That Count

One of a series of ‘101 For Small Business’ books by Mohr covering the financial side of running a small business, this one covered finance for growing a business.  If you are considering expanding your business, it is not a good idea to just take a leap and hope for the best.  Successful growth requires good financial planning and strategies.  Many small business owners start out as solo-preneurs and are pretty good at what it is they do.  The problems surface when their business operation education is weak or totally lacking.  When it comes time for growth and expansion, they jus t don’t know how to go about making their dream happen.  Managing Business Growth is filled with case studies of small businesses, checklists and sample documents for moving your company forward successfully.

Peter Montoya –  The Brand Called You: The Ultimate Personal Branding Handbook to Transform Anyone into an Indispensable Brand

Peter Montoya, founder of Peter Montoya, Inc advertising agency,  (later changed to Marketing Pro ) became a well known guru in the marketing and branding arenas.  He authored three best-selling books on branding, this being the one I could not put down once I began reading.  Major corporations aren’t the only ones who benefit from branding.  Small businesses and individuals benefit as well by standing out from the crowd and presenting themselves as the best option to customers or employers.  Learn what a brand is, what ‘your’ personal brand is, and strategies on how to implement your personal brand to your best advantage.

Jan Norman – What No One Ever Tells You About Starting Your Own Business

Whether you are just thinking about starting your own business or have been operating for a while, this book will be helpful.  Jan Norman provided real life start-up advice in this book.  There are 101 different topics in this book that cover everything from your pre-start-up ‘thinking’ phase to early decisions that must be made for a fledgling start-up.  The 101 topics continue with coverage of financial aspects of a new small business to management and marketing issues.  Each topic provides a real life case study of how a small business owner dealt with one of the 101 topics .  Norman’s book provides a good all-around perspective of a well run small business.

David Meerman Scott – The New Rules of Marketing & PR

The Internet, social media and technology have been growing and developing at a breakneck pace.  It’s evident that old, traditional rules of marketing and public relations have been nearly lost in the dust. David Meerman Scott can help keep you on top of recent changes.  His ideas provide understanding of how to best utilize these new, quickly and constantly changing tools and marketing channels to best market and promote your small business.  There are several versions of this book, so be sure you get the latest one for the most current information.