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The UPS Store Small Business Blog
  • 09 September 2022
  • Tiffany Carey

Top Five Books for Small Business Advice

Finding resources offering small business advice isn’t necessarily complicated, but it can be cumbersome. There are millions of books claiming to show you how to grow your business and acquire customers, manage employees, and manage finances and time.

small business owner browses small business books at bookstore

To help, we’ve curated a list of our favorites that can teach and advise you on the most critical aspects of running a small business such as, productivity, customer service, and team growth.

"Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model," by John Mullins and Randy Komisar

Nothing is certain when creating a new business–not even the soundest business model. In "Getting to Plan B," authors John Mullins and Randy Komisar explain how going all in on one specific business model can lead to failure. Both venture capitalists have seen many businesses fail, and they recognize that it's not easy to change direction when you've invested so much in an existing business plan.

"Getting to Plan B" will help you determine your next steps if you need to switch up your current business model to be sustainable in the  long term. Case studies in the book discuss how many startups make assumptions about how their products will work before they launch them and how those assumptions can lead them down the wrong path. For example, Mullins and Komisar recommend waiting until after launch before making any significant changes or pivots. Instead, try thinking through what other options might work better than the current model and test them without investing too much time or money.

"Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big," by Bo Burlingham

Small Giants” by Bo Burlingham highlights companies that have chosen to be great instead of big. These “small giants,” have a strong sense of community and are committed to their foundational values.They are profitable, sustainable, and growing.

Seasoned journalist and long-time contributing Forbes columnist,Burlingham, presents examples of family-owned businesses in industries ranging from manufacturing to retail to food service (and everything in between). You'll find profiles of companies like Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar—both of which started as small operations but now employ thousands. For anyone running a business or thinking about starting one up, this book is an invaluable resource for learning how other businesses were built with the idea of being great instead of big.

"The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less," by Richard Koch

One of the most important concepts when running a small business is the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle. The principle states that 20% of your efforts produce 80% of your results.

In “The 80/20 Principle,” Richard Koch, a veteran author and co-author of 25 books focusing on business and personal success, identifies that small business owners should spend more time on tasks that generate the highest returns. By focusing on the things that matter most, small business owners maximize their company's full potential and find success in being ultraefficient and effective—a win-win for both you and your customers.

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

Touted as “the World’s #1 Small Business Guru” by Inc. magazine, author Michael Gerber dispels the myths that surround being an entrepreneur in “The E-Myth Revisited.” In doing so, he reveals the truth behind an entrepreneur’s journey, the successes and failures, and the lessons learned.

The book also uncovers the importance of delegation, focusing on your strengths, and overcoming technical overwhelm. It's about finding the right people to do the work, hiring them, and then managing your business. According to Gerber, small business owners should avoid working on their business as opposed to working in their business.

"Rework," by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

New York Times bestseller “Rework” is a great book for anyone interested in starting a small business,  learning more about how to run one and how to build a product that solves problems. The book focuses on five core principles: work less, make fewer things, do it yourself (or with as few people as possible), keep costs low (especially the cost of failure), and build community. . The authors challenge small business owners to analyze ways that their organization could improve and craft simple, actionable, and efficient solutions.

Mark Cuban, a co-founder of HDNet and owner of the Dallas Mavericks professional basketball team, said, “If given a choice between investing in someone who has read ‘Rework’ or has an MBA, I’m investing in ‘Rework’ every time.”

Expand Your Knowledge with Books and Grow Your Small Business

These five books are great for anyone who wants to learn more about how to run a small business. They can help you understand the correct way to set up your company and keep it running, as well as give you some valuable insight into what makes some businesses succeed where others fail. You don't need special experience or qualifications; you just need an interest in becoming more knowledgeable about building and managing your small business.

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