10 Business Books You’ll Always Find in My Library￼
art director, brand strategist, business coach
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“The more you read, the more things you know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss
Ask any successful entrepreneur, and they will swear by the same tool – the most invaluable of all resources – as timeless and relevant and visionary as you want it to be – their business books.
The most profitable tool you can invest in as an aspiring entrepreneur is your bookshelf.
There will be times in your business when you find that a book helps you navigate the unchartered waters of online marketing better than an afternoon on Pinterest rifling through a million blog posts that all write the same, often vague, advice.
I’m writing this as an author of a blog post, so no hate for the business bloggers!
Why Authors Are Worth Listening To
When an author writes a business book, countless hours and resources go into its production – it’s a culmination of their career. If the author is working with a publisher, she will have it reviewed many times before printing.
If the book is self-published, you better believe her best efforts will go into such a risky venture. Things that are printed last forever-ish.
This is the primary reason why I’ve gone to my library to solve my biggest business dilemmas. On the days that I want to disconnect from my digital distractions, I pick up my latest read, grab a charcoal grey Le Pen and begin to make notes inside the dog-eared pages of my go-to best-sellers.
The Business Books on my Shelf
**Disclaimer: none of these links are affiliate links, merely my own reads and the suggestions of our trusty email list. I will in no way financially benefit from your purchases through any of the below links to Amazon.
From looking at this list, it’s no surprise that I’ve primarily been interested in understanding the creative process.
I’ve grown as an independent designer in the past three years and brought on a creative team. That means that our process has become more important than ever, and understanding artist’s personalities are vital as I attempt to lead us all forward.
Whether you are just beginning your creative journey or looking for some balance in your creative career, these books have inspired, uplifted, and challenged me along the way!
In this semi-memoir, Elizabeth Gilbert shares her unique perspective around creativity. Her signature deep empathy draws us into the world of inspiration, sparking our curiosity and acknowledging the struggle many of us face when trying to produce work under pressure (or find the motivation even to get started!)
This book is like a warm smile and a knowing look – you will feel encouraged, challenged, and inspired to embark on your own artistic journey. I was given this book as a gift from a very dear client and have since gifted it many times over to aspiring entrepreneurs who need a little push in imagination and creative commitment. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to pursue their art full-time.
I guess it’s true that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover entirely. I honestly can’t remember when I decided to buy it, and while I still take lots of issue with many of the concepts that seem to prey on the less fortunate and not acknowledge the blatant privilege of the author, I’m still glad that I did.
Ferris’ philosophy deconstructs the concept of work and success to identify what he refers to as the “New Rich” – those who make enough money to sustain their ideal lifestyle and enough white space actually to live it. I wrote about his relative wealth concept, and I admit it’s shifted my perspective a bit.
I’ve begun to practice some of his time-saving tips in my working life (in small doses) and have had good results. I’ve also used many of his insights in coaching my branding clients on pricing and revenue goals. In a generation of hustle, it’s great to put things in perspective.
This is such a creative little marketing and business book (and p.s. It’s a great audiobook if you find yourself on a road trip!)
He talks about what it means to stand out in the marketplace and how businesses have exploded by finding ways to do things differently. If you’re aiming to enter a saturated creative industry (and really, are there any un-saturated creative industries?!) I would suggest reading this book.
It’s full of great advice and real-world examples of stand-up – and stand-out – brands.
It’s also a quick read that’s easy to digest. You could keep it in your bag when you find yourself killing time and want a more productive option than scrolling through social media.
Calling all creatives!! If you’ve ever doubted your worth and your place in this competitive landscape, buy this book. Get it shipped ASAP. You’re going to want to read it as soon as possible.
I actually read ⅔ of the book on a Tuesday night in the bathtub with a glass of wine, absorbing every word as if someone had written it directly to me (thanks, Jen!)
Please keep it in your arsenal, especially during your first few years in business or whenever you need a little Beyonce in your business mindset or want to feel comfortable in your own shoes. She writes a follow-up about money, and you’re gonna want to get that one too.
This is a FABULOUS book on branding and one that can be applied in so many different contexts.
If you’ve never gone through a branding process and you think you might in the next year, read it. And, if you’ve decided to DIY your own branding while you get your feet on the ground, read it. All young designers who are interested in freelance brand design should definitely read it. And if you want some inspiration from a woman who’s totally killing it, this book is still for you.
I have it sitting on the coffee table in my studio and only wish I had thought of the idea myself 🙂 And while you’re at it, pick up her latest book, Brand Brilliance! I can’t wait for mine to come in the mail.
Seth strikes again! In this quick read, Godin talks about what it means to assimilate a tribe of followers, find them, and then what to do with them.
As someone who has a perpetual love/hate relationship with marketing and social media, I deeply appreciated his holistic approach to online leadership and how we should think about social media’s role in our businesses. It’s a great read as you begin to think of your marketing strategy and how your brand message is shared through your online interactions.
An absolute must-add to your business book reading list.
Raise your hand if you struggle with perfection and some days want to throw in the towel and quit. If you feel exhausted, overwhelmed, overworked, and that “something’s gotta give,” — pick up this book, which is technically not a business book, but a high recommendation all the same.
Pour yourself a cup of tea. Turn everything off and let your friends know that you’re away for the weekend. Sit down and soak up the goodness. It will leave you in tears and with a bright smile on your face. Life is passing us by, one stressful moment after another. Don’t get caught up in the race for perfection.
Choose to be present in your life, among your people, and in your creative work.
This book compliments Present Over Perfect and deals with overcoming fear and taking the leap to live your life. Many of us think the leap happens when we decide to chase our dreams but don’t realize that real courage comes from prioritizing the things in life that truly matter.
I would also suggest reading this book alongside Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Workweek. It’s a similar concept but comes from a softer perspective.
This is such a charming book about the writing process. Similar to Big Magic, it relates to the entire creative process. Anne is a wildly imaginative storyteller who breaks down the big hurdles in creativity into small and manageable challenges.
I definitely recommend this book for light vacation reading – the anecdotes are quick and easy to read, and the narrative is entertaining!
I LOVE THIS BOOK! For one, it’s a design “textbook” of sorts, so the typography-obsessed designer in me loves how they write about the rules of design.
But the whole context of the book is that we should learn the rules and then learn how to break them with meaning. The first half of the book outlines all of the fundamental rules of design. Get to the middle, flip the book over, and start reading about how to break them.
While this book primarily appeals to graphic designers, the concepts and ideas behind creative rule-breaking apply to many disciplines. It’s a business book stable for sure.
I’ve spent a lot of time reading about creativity. I’ve restructured my business quite a few times before landing on its current state (and for the first time, I’m happy to live here for a while.)
However, my curiosity cannot be satisfied, and I see that a new opportunity to learn and grow is on the horizon. I’ve worked tirelessly to create ways to serve better and mentor our branding clients and my design team. Now that I’ve created a little white space thanks to our FABULOUS project manager, I’m able to pour into you – my wonderful online reader!
Here are some additional books on my list that I plan to add to my bookshelf soon. Many of these books were recommended by our amazing email tribe (I get to chat with so many amazing creatives one-on-one every week, and it’s seriously my favorite part of the day!)