The best books to build a business worth running

Who am I?

As a 25-year business coach, I have often assigned clients the task of wandering through a book store and acting like a heat-guided missile, letting themselves notice what topics and books they are naturally drawn to. For me, even as a liberal arts major with no entrepreneurial experience when I started my consulting business 25 years ago, I was always drawn to the business, psychology, and entrepreneur section. The world of work is my playground, and I am fascinated by how to help people build a powerful body of work while sustaining themselves financially and having a deep quality of life. 

I wrote...

The Widest Net: Unlock Untapped Markets and Discover New Customers Right in Front of You

By Pamela Slim,

Book cover of The Widest Net: Unlock Untapped Markets and Discover New Customers Right in Front of You

What is my book about?

The Widest Net provides a proven strategy for building strong and diverse relationships, identifying and connecting with new partners, expanding markets, generating leads, and finding new customers in untapped places.

The Widest Net shows you how to: Search outside your own lens, bias, routine, and history to identify and reach ideal customers; attract the interest and attention of new leads by learning more about them authentically; develop products and services suited to these customers; sell through a trusted reciprocity framework where your customers become part of your ecosystem and you each help the other grow; build and sustain loyalty and trust with new customers; nurture a diverse and resilient customer base by identifying and adjusting to the ideal customer target over time.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Art of the Start 2.0: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything

Why did I love this book?

As the subtitle says, there are few people who have the experience and expertise to write “The time-tested, battle-hardened guide for anyone starting anything.” Guy Kawasaki brings the right blend of easy-to-understand brand and business advice mixed with a foundation of ethics and generosity. If you only want one startup book in your library, this is the one.

By Guy Kawasaki, Lindsey Filby (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of the Start 2.0 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The ultimate entrepreneurship handbook' - Arianna Huffington
Whether you're an aspiring entrepreneur, small-business owner, intrapreneur, or not-for-profit leader, there's no shortage of advice on topics such as innovating, recruiting, fund raising, and branding. In fact, there are so many books, articles, websites, blogs, webinars, and conferences that many startups focus on the wrong priorities and go broke before they succeed.
The Art of the Start 2.0 solves that problem by distilling Guy Kawasaki's decades of experience as one of the most hardworking and irreverent…

Book cover of Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done

Why did I love this book?

Anyone can quit their job in a moment of heat and passion, but few can sustain the process of entrepreneurship, and the rigor it requires. In Start Finishing, Charlie Gilkey lays out a method for getting work done in a way that is sustainable, repeatable, and enduring. He does not lay out standard (unhelpful) advice of “professionals hustle no matter what,” rather, he helps you to discern work worth doing, to set boundaries, and to sustain daily momentum.

By Charlie Gilkey,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Start Finishing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How much of your time and attention gets focused on what truly matters to you? Most people's honest answer is: not enough. For anyone who feels buried by busywork, responsibility, distraction, and fatigue, productivity expert Charlie Gilkey presents Start Finishing-a systematic, root-cause approach for overcoming the pitfalls to productivity and turning your ideas and dreams into finished projects.

The critically acclaimed, award-winning Start Finishing presents a nine-step method for converting an idea into a doable project by addressing the challenges you'll face and helping you create a reality-based plan for seeing it through. Learn how to identify your genius, build…

Book cover of Find Your Red Thread: Make Your Big Ideas Irresistible

Why did I love this book?

Getting a potential customer to do anything like trust your advice, follow your work, or hire you to work with them requires, as Tamsen says, that you “make your idea irresistible.” And “the best way to make your idea irresistible,” she says, “is to build the story people will tell themselves about it.” Find Your Red Thread lays out this process in perfect detail, and with precise writing and humor that will keep you engaged the entire book.

By Tamsen Webster,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Find Your Red Thread as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Make your idea irresistible.

You have a terrific idea. It’s so powerful that it could change a life, a market, or even the world. There’s just one problem: others don’t see its power—yet. If you truly value the possibility of your idea, then you’re ready to find your Red Thread—the throughline that connects your idea to your audience’s hearts and minds.

The best part is, the Red Thread already exists. It’s the connection that makes the invisible link between your audience’s problem and your solution tangible—and actionable. With the Red Thread, you’ll inspire audiences to act and get the outcome…

Book cover of Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols

Why did I love this book?

When your business begins to gain momentum and scale, you need to build both communication infrastructure and process to motivate your employees, partners, and customers. Drawing from decades of award-winning work at their firm Duarte, Nancy and Patti give creative, specific advice about how to be an inspiring and effective leader.

By Nancy Duarte, Patti Sanchez,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Change can be fear-filled in prospect but fearsome in effect. With Illuminate, Duarte and Sanchez light our path through that crucial transition dazzlingly' ROBERT B. CIALDINI, author of Influence

To envision the future is one thing, getting others to go there with you is another. By harnessing the power of persuasive communication you can turn your idea into a movement.

In Illuminate, acclaimed author Nancy Duarte and communications expert Patti Sanchez equip you with the same communication tools that great leaders like Steve Jobs, Howard Schultz, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used to move people.

In this visual and…

Book cover of The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World

Why did I love this book?

Leading an enduring and evolving business requires the most delicate of skills: balancing the short-term pressure of quarterly sales, production deadlines, and staff challenges with a long-term vision to make sure your company and culture evolves. In The Long Game, Dorie teaches very specific ways to set goals, and develop what she calls the “strategic patience” to see them through. It is the antidote to the “sleep when you die” business culture lore.

By Dorie Clark,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Long Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Wall Street Journal Bestseller

Your personal goals need a long-term strategy.

It's no secret that we're pushed to the limit. Today's professionals feel rushed, overwhelmed, and perennially behind. So we keep our heads down, focused on the next thing, and the next, without a moment to breathe.

How can we break out of this endless cycle and create the kind of interesting, meaningful lives we all seek?

Just as CEOs who optimize for quarterly profits often fail to make the strategic investments necessary for long-term growth, the same is true in our own personal and professional lives. We need…

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Interested in communication, quality of life, and time management?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about communication, quality of life, and time management.

Communication Explore 49 books about communication
Quality Of Life Explore 22 books about quality of life
Time Management Explore 28 books about time management