5 Small-Business Owners Share The Most Important Book They’ve Ever Read

 In Operations

Every so often, a book transforms the way you think. It fundamentally alters the way you see your business … and the world.

One of the most powerful books I’ve read in years is Gillian Zoe Segal’s, “Getting There: A Book of Mentors.” The coffee-table book collects the stories of more than two dozen of the world’s most successful and most visionary entrepreneurs, artists and leaders. Each leader—from Warren Buffett to Sarah Blakely to Kathy Ireland — talks about the toughest moments he or she has encountered. It also includes the best pieces of advice he or she has ever received, and most proud accomplishments.

The contributors divided the stories into chapters. Makes it easy to revisit bite-sized chunks of wisdom from one leader at a time. I’ve purchased the book as a gift for more than a dozen entrepreneur friends. Each of them have found the lessons to be impactful and inspiring.

Five other small-business owners share books below. They have made the biggest impact on their lives and in their business:

1. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

John Hall, CEO and co-founder of Columbia, Missouri-based content marketing agency Influence & Co., recommends every small-business owner read, “Essentialism.”

“Simply put, it helps you focus on what really matters in business and in your life,” he says. “It simplifies things in a way that makes you more effective with your time, which is an asset you don’t get back.” Hall knows a thing or two about prioritizing time. He grew his agency to nearly 100 employees over the past five years.

2. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz

“’Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It,’ is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time,” says Kenny Nguyen, CEO and co-founder of Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based branding agency Three Sixty Eight. “Former FBI lead negotiator Chris Voss explains how to counter people with unreasonable requests. He uses simple sentences like ‘How am I supposed to do that?’ His tactics have helped us make the person on the other side of the table solve the problem for us—and usually in our favor.”

3. It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden

Ashleigh Hansberger, co-founder of Dallas, Texas-based agency Motto says, “Paul Arden’s book is a quick read, but it’s very inspirational.” She adds, “It’s very deep and meaningful. Riddled with wisdom, it’s the kind of book you pick up over and over again. We love it so much that we give copies to our clients.”

4. QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life: by John G Miller

Chris Van Dusen, CEO of digital solutions company Parcon Media, says, “’The Question Behind The Question,’ is about understanding personal accountability and how to reframe your approach when problems or issues arise.” He says the book helps entrepreneurs “stop playing the blame game and start solving.” He adds, “It has helped me personally, and I have been able to pull out pieces and apply it to our team and even partners and clients.

5. Give And Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant

John Ruhlin, CEO and founder of gift strategy and logistics company Ruhlin Group, says “’Give and Take,’ helped me understand how to thrive as Giver in the business world but still be able to protect myself from Takers. It also helped me understand the motivation and what makes a Matcher really tick.” He adds, “It made me more confident in how I operate and gave me a roadmap on how to leverage giving as a competitive advantage and not a weakness.” Leveraging giving is something Ruhlin is known for. He’s also the author of the popular book Giftology.

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