The best books for ambitious, lifestyle business owners

Why am I passionate about this?

I used to hate lifestyle businesses, looking down my nose at them, saying (as many others do!) that they weren’t real businesses. After a “lightbulb moment,” I now proudly describe myself as an ambitious lifestyle business owner – someone who designs their business around their lifestyle, rather than the other way around. Work to live, not live to work! As well as Big Ideas... for Small Businesses, a bestselling book about how to build a lifestyle business, I also host the Ambitious Lifestyle Business podcast, where I interview other lifestyle business owners, discovering how what an ambitious, lifestyle business looks like for them.


I wrote...

Big Ideas... For Small Businesses: Simple, Practical Tools and Tactics to Help Your Small Business Grow

By John Lamerton,

Book cover of Big Ideas... For Small Businesses: Simple, Practical Tools and Tactics to Help Your Small Business Grow

What is my book about?

If you want a better work/life balance, this is the book for you. In my trademark plain-English, down-to-earth style, I'll show you that: Lifestyle businesses are real businesses; you don't need to be a millionaire to live like one; there are only five ingredients for success; you should never hire friends or family; you need to ignore most people's advice.

Big Ideas... for Small Businesses is packed full of simple, practical tools and tactics to help your small business grow.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Company Of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business

John Lamerton Why did I love this book?

Bigger isn't better – at least not when it comes to lifestyle businesses. 

The “Company of One” mindset is very similar to my own “Ambitious, Lifestyle Business”: deliberately small, and designed to deliver the lifestyle desired by the owner, rather than growth at all costs. It doesn’t necessarily mean one person (personally, I run a Company of One with a team of seven).

There is only one “rule” for a Company of One – you must constantly question the need for growth. People say you should start with the end in mind. I say start with the lifestyle in mind, and then design the business around this.

Company of One will help you do this from day one (and believe me, that's far easier than changing old habits!).

By Paul Jarvis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Company Of One as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What if the real key to a richer and more fulfilling career was not to create and scale a new start-up, but rather, to be able to work for yourself, determine your own hours, and become a (highly profitable) and sustainable company of one? Suppose the better - and smarter - solution is simply to remain small? This book explains how to do just that. Company of One is a refreshingly new approach centered on staying small and avoiding growth. Not as a freelancer who only gets paid on a per piece basis, and not as an entrepreneurial start-up that…


Book cover of Work Less, Make More: The counter-intuitive approach to building a profitable business, and a life you actually love

John Lamerton Why did I love this book?

Who wouldn't want to work less and make more?

James Schramko feels like an Australian version of me: he's started, built and sold multiple successful businesses over a couple of decades. He's been there, done that, and sold the T-shirt – but prefers to spend his days surfing rather than working.

This book shows you how he achieves that work/life balance – by working less and making more.

By James Schramko,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Work Less, Make More as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Work Less, Make More is a dense delivery of solid systems and sane advice. It's not 80/20, it's 80/20 squared. Every few pages, James punches you in the face with an instantly actionable hack.
~ Perry Marshall, Author of 80/20 Sales & Marketing, Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords, and Evolution 2.0

James gives massive value in a fun and easy-to-read book. Real, actionable ways to cut your hours while increasing your income. Want to know how to do it in your own business? Get this and find out!
~ Jonathan Mizel

In Work Less, Make More, James proves that keeping…


Book cover of Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur

John Lamerton Why did I love this book?

My dream job description is: to do what I want...when I want...how I want...where I want...if I want!

Do you know what you want? Too many people spend their life chasing things that don't actually make them happy! 

In Anything You Want, Derek Sivers makes the case that, as a small business owner, you get to make a little universe where you create all the laws. It's a really nice short read, about 90 minutes, and contains 40 short chapters, packed full of insights, and "aha!" moments.

By Derek Sivers,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Anything You Want as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I love this book! If you want a true manifesto, a guidebook with clear signposts, and a fun ride you'll return to again and again, you have it here in this book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did' Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek

The iconic manifesto on lessons learned while becoming an entrepreneur

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You don't need a visionary master plan, loads of funding or a brilliant team to start a business.

When Derek Sivers started CD Baby, he wasn't planning on building a major business. He was a successful independent musician who just…


Book cover of Life in Half a Second: How to Achieve Success Before It's Too Late

John Lamerton Why did I love this book?

If you need a kick up the arse to go and make a dent in the universe, then Life in Half a Second is the book for you. I often listen to the audiobook version of the first chapter to fire me up, and stop me from wasting my life.

Michalewicz's point is simple: the planet is 4.5 billion years old. Humans appeared 200,000 years ago. Most of us live 80 years, and have already wasted half that time. That time is all we have – and if the lifetime of Earth was condensed to a calendar year, then your entire life would flash by in less than half of one second.

Tick, tock.

By Matthew Michalewicz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life in Half a Second as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What if there was a proven path to success? A path supported by science and research? A path that led to your goals and aspirations in less time, with less risk? Would you take it? Truthful and hard hitting, Life in Half a Second is the first "fact-based" formula for achieving success in life and business. Proven through thousands of studies and decades of research, it presents the five doors you must walk through to achieve success in your career, business, or personal life. Gimmicks, mind tricks, fairy tales, and wishful thinking NOT INCLUDED. Just facts.


Book cover of The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

John Lamerton Why did I love this book?

I used to think I was Plymouth's answer to Richard Branson – running 12 different businesses – selling everything from mobile phone insurance to serviced office rental, private villas rentals to car breakdown cover, online betting to affiliate software tools – until I read The ONE Thing, and realised I wasn't a business owner: I was a juggler – and not a very good one at that!

After reading The ONE Thing, I stopped doing a dozen things for a dozen businesses, and started doing one thing for one business – and, as you'll read in my book, it was a game changer!

By Gary Keller, Jay Papasan,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The ONE Thing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

YOU WANT LESS. You want fewer distractions and less on your plate. The daily barrage of e-mails, texts, tweets, messages, and meetings distract you and stress you out. The simultaneous demands of work and family are taking a toll. And what's the cost? Second-rate work, missed deadlines, smaller paychecks, fewer promotions-and lots of stress. AND YOU WANT MORE. You want more productivity from your work. More income for a better lifestyle. You want more satisfaction from life, and more time for yourself, your family, and your friends. NOW YOU CAN HAVE BOTH-LESS AND MORE. In The ONE Thing, you'll learn…


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Trial, Error, and Success: 10 Insights into Realistic Knowledge, Thinking, and Emotional Intelligence

By Sima Dimitrijev, PhD, Maryann Karinch,

Book cover of Trial, Error, and Success: 10 Insights into Realistic Knowledge, Thinking, and Emotional Intelligence

Sima Dimitrijev, PhD Author Of Trial, Error, and Success: 10 Insights into Realistic Knowledge, Thinking, and Emotional Intelligence

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

My core value is realistic education—learning from each other’s errors and successes, but with full awareness of the difference between the determined past and the uncertain future. We can benefit from uncertainty, which I’ve been doing for a living as an engineer, academic researcher, and inventor. I make use of knowledge and science as much as possible, but I also know that strategic decisions for the uncertain future require skepticism and thinking to deal with the differences in a new circumstance. With my core value, I am passionate about sharing insights and knowledge that our formal education does not provide.

Sima's book list on realistic knowledge and decision making

What is my book about?

Everything in nature evolves by trial, error, and success—from fundamental physics, through evolution in biology, to how people learn, think, and decide.

This book presents a way of thinking and realistic knowledge that our formal education shuns. Stepping beyond this ignorance, the book shows how to deal with and even benefit from uncertainty by skeptical thinking, strategic decisions, and teamwork based on enlightened self-interests.

This bottom-up thinking is thought-provoking for leaders who wish to build teams rather than herds. The insights in the book will help you to be better prepared for the unexpected, less likely to conform when you…

Trial, Error, and Success: 10 Insights into Realistic Knowledge, Thinking, and Emotional Intelligence

By Sima Dimitrijev, PhD, Maryann Karinch,

What is this book about?

Everything in nature evolves by trial, error, and success. They didn't teach you this in school, even though you should know why the rigid laws of physics don't rule nature and don't inhibit your free-will decisions to try, fail, and succeed. As a guide to success, this book shows how skepticism, prudent use of science, and thinking lead to strategic decisions for the uncertain future.
 
Presenting real-life examples, the thinking in the book combines sharp analyses with broad analogies to show:
 
How to identify realistic knowledge and avoid harm due to overgeneralized concepts. How to create new knowledge and solve…


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