stack of books

The number of new business books released every year is staggering. So how do you decide which to invest your money and, more importantly, your time in? My preference is through recommendation of a trusted source. My goal here is to be that source for you.

I get through 40 to 50 business books a year. That said, the following are some of the books I have found to have tons of useful insights, seem to stand the test of time, and are books that I recommend again and again to all my clients. Because my preferred method of “reading” is actually listening, you can be assured that they are good as an audiobook as well.

Amazon links in this article are affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, Craft Industry Alliance receives a small affiliate payment at no additional cost to you.

profit first book cover

1. Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz

Always at the top of my must-read list for small business owners is Profit First. Running a profitable craft-based business is challenging. Unfortunately, many businesses in our industry close before actually become a profitable. 

By, by turning traditional financial thinking literally upside down, that can all change. If you come from a traditional accounting background, Michalowicz’s approach will seem unorthodox if not downright heretical. But if you consider it with an open mind, you will see the genius in the new way of looking at your finances.

To read more about my thoughts on Profit First, you can also read the article I wrote on the subject. From both my personal experience and the experience of many of my clients, I can assure you implementing Profit First can have a huge positive impact on your business.

do the work book cover

2. Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

With few exceptions, craft-based business owners entered first as a hobbyist, maker, and/or artist in the craft. Unless you are the rare unicorn in the creative world, you struggle, at least from time to time, with procrastination and self-doubt. It is what Pressfield identifies as resistance in Do the Work, the shorter, manifesto portion of his other book, The War of Art.

In this manifesto, he puts words to the feelings that all of us have had at one time or another. And then more importantly, gives sage, practical advice for getting through to the other side. 

If you have ever felt resistance, reading his thoughts on the subject is truly enlightening. 

thinking in bets book cover

3. Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts by Annie Duke

As a business owner you must make decisions every day. Many decisions are just part of the routine, but some are what we call “big” decisions. The decisions that have a lasting impact.

Even though being decisive has never been an issue for me, Duke really changed how I evaluated the decisions after the fact. As a result, I now also think differently about my decisions before I even make them. As Duke, a former professional poker player, points out, we treat our decisions like a game of chess, but life is much more like a game of poker.

Even though the book is fundamentally about making choices, it also includes a significant dose of strategy. Not the crazy, highly theoretical type of strategy, but extremely practical, easy-to-apply, everyday type. As a surprise recommendation several years ago, this one book has changed my thought process (for the better, I think) in all aspects of my life more than any other business book I have read in years.

who not how

4. Who Not How: The Formula to Achieve Bigger Goals Through Accelerating Teamwork by Dan Sullivan & Dr. Benjamin Hardy

As entrepreneurs, our natural tendency is to roll up our sleeves, dig in, figure it out and do it ourselves, which is super valuable — until it is not. Implementing Who Not How is not only a change in how we behave, but more importantly, in how we think. 

Instead of always asking ourselves the question of “how” we are going to accomplish the next task or goal, we start asking “who” is the right person to help us accomplish it. The concept is simple enough, but the implementation can be a bit more challenging because of our own mindset. However, some of the stories shared as examples really drive the point home of the power of this relatively simple shift. And don’t let the “I can’t afford it” phrase hold you back, often the right “who” is already working for you, you just need to be open to looking at things differently.

free time: lose the busywork cover

5. Free Time: Lose the Busywork, Love Your Business by Jenny Blake

Creating a business that you truly love and that allows you to focus on the aspects that are in your true zone of genius doesn’t have to be for the “lucky few.” Blake’s approach is both understandable and attainable.

She views time as a metric that often gets overlooked in small businesses, especially as they move past the initial stages. Although an advocate of outsourcing, her approach is neither vague or random (which I see way too often) and refreshingly emphasizes building a team that is “delightfully tiny.” If you are exhausted from being the “Chief Everything Officer” in your business, this book offers of actionable ideas at the end of every chapter to help make the transition.

These are five of my favorite books. What title is on your list? Leave a comment in the forum to let us know!

Gwen Bortner

Gwen Bortner


Leveraging her breadth of operational expertise, Gwen Bortner works with female entrepreneurs to design a business that aligns with their deepest desires. Gwen describes herself as an operational strategist. She works with owners to improve business operations and leverage goals effectively to create a business that meets each individual’s unique definition of success. Find out more at https://everydayeffectiveness.com/

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