The best business books for creative professionals

Who am I?

I have made it my business to teach basic business skills to creative professionals who should have learned them in school but, alas, did not because it’s not taught in school. This has for years perpetuated a “starving artist” mentality amongst creative professionals, who are naturally talented and could easily bring their creativity to the business side of their business, if only they knew how. That’s the mission I’m on with all of my work through marketing-mentor.com


I wrote...

The Creative Professional's Guide to Money: How to Think About It, How to Talk About it, How to Manage It

By Ilise Benun,

Book cover of The Creative Professional's Guide to Money: How to Think About It, How to Talk About it, How to Manage It

What is my book about?

Creatives are great at their work, but when it comes to running the financial side of their business, most would rather not talk about it. This book focuses on proven techniques and resources used by a wide range of successful professionals to manage their business finances. Readers will learn the essential mindset for profitable pricing, how to avoid the common financial mistakes creative professionals often make, and simple techniques for leading the money conversation so you can command the fees you deserve. 

The books I picked & why

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Think Like a Breadwinner: A Wealth-Building Manifesto for Women Who Want to Earn More (and Worry Less)

By Jennifer Barrett,

Book cover of Think Like a Breadwinner: A Wealth-Building Manifesto for Women Who Want to Earn More (and Worry Less)

Why this book?

Essential Skill #1 for Creatives: the breadwinner mindset

Creative professionals tend to be number-phobes and therefore believe they are doomed to be “starving artists.” That’s why, when I heard the title of Jennifer Barrett’s book, I knew I had to invite her to be a guest on my podcast. She writes clearly and simply about the “breadwinner” mindset. Plus, we share the belief that there is nothing more empowering than having in place the mindset, the money, and the marketing so you are free to walk away from any situation or client that isn’t a good fit. That’s the only way to bring your dream business to life.


Unfollow Your Passion: How to Create a Life That Matters to You

By Terri Trespicio,

Book cover of Unfollow Your Passion: How to Create a Life That Matters to You

Why this book?

Essential Skill #2 for Creatives: Practicality, not Passion

Creative professionals tend to be “passionate practitioners” but if you need to “love” every single aspect of your business, you won’t get very far. That’s why I love Terri’s book. It’s the funniest business book I’ve read! Part comic autobiography, part business handbook, Unfollow Your Passion provides practical, clear, and excellent advice. It also happens to be beautifully written, the stories so compelling and hysterical that you’ll learn the practical skills in spite of yourself. The message of this book – forget about passion – is so important, something I’ve espoused for years, but not nearly as eloquently and clearly as Terri has.


Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

By Oliver Burkeman,

Book cover of Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

Why this book?

Essential Skill #3 for Creatives: The ability to say no

Saying no is tricky, especially for people-pleasers. But if you don’t decide who you’ll say no to, in the end, no one will be happy with you. One of the many important lessons in Oliver Burkeman’s book is to decide in advance who you can disappoint. This book is both deep and practical at the same time, my favorite combination. In it, he makes a strong argument for reality in a way that very few books do these days. You just can’t argue with “Things take the time they take” and “You just can’t do everything.” The minute we decide to accept reality, that’s when things start to improve.


Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content

By Ann Handley,

Book cover of Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content

Why this book?

Essential Skill #4 for Creatives: Clear communication (especially in writing) 

The world goes at such a fast pace that in order to get your point across, you must be able to communicate clearly. Whether or not you think you can write, this book is for you. Ann and I share a mutual obsession with email newsletters and she writes about writing in a way that makes anyone think they can do it well – because you can! By reading it, you might even learn how to write ridiculously good content.


The Lost Art of Connecting: The Gather, Ask, Do Method for Building Meaningful Business Relationships

By Susan McPherson, Jackie Ashton,

Book cover of The Lost Art of Connecting: The Gather, Ask, Do Method for Building Meaningful Business Relationships

Why this book?

Essential Skill #5 for Creatives: Connecting

Business is all about relationships and people do business with people they know, like, and trust. But if you hate networking, as many creatives do, it’s hard to build those essential relationships. That’s why this book is perfect for you. McPherson provides a simple framework for the much more useful skill of connecting with others. She makes learning it palatable and doable for introverts and makes an especially strong argument for why, in the 21st century, connecting is so essential to succeed in business.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in success in life, self-actualization, and time management?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about success in life, self-actualization, and time management.

Success In Life Explore 126 books about success in life
Self-Actualization Explore 96 books about self-actualization
Time Management Explore 16 books about time management

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Pick Three: You Can Have It All, Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters, and Awaken the Giant Within if you like this list.