I did not acquire entrepreneurial skills through formal education, as I possess a JD rather than an MBA. Thus, I had to make up for the lack of knowledge as I transitioned from being a lawyer to the owner and leader of Pines Federal. The most beneficial resources for me were books written by accomplished entrepreneurs and business leaders. In this article, I will tell the Top 10 Books for Small Business Owners in 2023.
I have read numerous books about business, some of which were not useful while others were incredibly valuable. Here, I have curated a list of my personal favorites that have been instrumental in my learning journey. I understand that everyone's experience is unique, but I hope that you will find these small business books as beneficial as I did.
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Top 10 Books for Small Business Owners must read in 2023
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
In "Rich Dad Poor Dad", Robert Kiyosaki uses the contrast between his working-class father and his affluent childhood friend's parents to demonstrate how strategies such as investing and taking calculated risks contribute to the wealthy maintaining their wealth. However, the book also imparts valuable insights into business and leadership.
A specific quote from Kiyosaki that has a lasting impact on the way I make decisions regarding my business on a daily basis is:
In the real world, the smartest people are people who make mistakes and learn. In school, the smartest people don’t make mistakes.
When I first ventured into starting my own law firm, I quickly realized that my legal education did not equip me with the necessary skills to tackle the obstacles I faced as a business owner and leader. Despite some initial errors that resulted in financial and time losses, they also provided valuable lessons, particularly in the significance of having resilience.
Strategize to Win
Strategize to Win" by Carla Harris is an essential read for anyone considering a career change and is particularly beneficial for new entrepreneurs. It illustrates how to attract desired opportunities by first clearly defining your goals and capabilities, then by developing connections and being adaptable as needed.
Harris provides practical advice and real-life scenarios for various topics, including resilience and dealing with interpersonal conflicts. A particular quote that resonated with me is:
"Having as many conversations as possible with as many people as you can about your career aspirations will help you expand your ideas and bring to light options you may never have considered."
I spent three years living abroad in Jerusalem where I studied Talmudic law at Machon Shlomo. My time in Jerusalem was dedicated to fully immersing myself in the culture and building relationships with individuals in the local community. Through numerous discussions with mentors and people I met in Jerusalem, I discovered numerous opportunities that I had never even considered before.
Start With Why
Effective leadership does not involve giving orders, rather it is about inspiring people to take action on their own. This is the core concept of Simon Sinek's book "Start With Why".
"We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us."
Start With Why" is the most comprehensive book I have read on the subject. Whether it be identifying your target clientele or communicating your business strategy to your team, the way you communicate as a leader sends a powerful message and greatly influences whether your words are inspiring or overlooked.View Here
Dare to Lead
"Dare to Lead" by Brene Brown focuses on creating a positive work environment, and as Brown argues, leaders must be willing to be vulnerable and transparent in difficult circumstances.
"The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it's about the courage to show up when you can't predict or control the outcome."
By embodying this, business leaders establish an atmosphere where failure is acceptable, experimentation is encouraged, and where individuals are given a voice. Brown's teachings have motivated me to establish a work culture that embraces and encourages vulnerability, and as Brown suggests, it has greatly enhanced innovation and creativity among my team.
In "The Work" The Work uses his personal experiences and interactions with individuals from various backgrounds to explore the question: what makes work meaningful? As an entrepreneur, discovering meaning in your work is not just a desirable aspect, it is a requirement.
"How we spend our days is how we spend our lives, and it's the rare person who can walk away from what feels like a sure thing."
Prior to starting my own law firm, I worked as an in-house counsel for a social security labor union. The job offered me a decent salary and career stability, but when my wife expressed her desire to relocate to Houston to be close to her family, I saw it as an opportunity to pursue a career that had a more significant sense of purpose for me.
Leaving a secure job, particularly with a family of five children, was a challenging decision to make, but it was the right one for my family. Not only were we able to move closer to family, but I also found work that I felt more invested in, which made me feel more fulfilled as a professional, as well as a partner and a father.
There are numerous methods to increase income, but time is a limited resource. As an entrepreneur, it is crucial to safeguard your time by valuing every hour as if it was costing you money.
"Essentialism" by Greg McKeown is about focusing your energy on the most important things and being conscious about how you spend your time in a world filled with distractions.
"The faster and busier things get, the more we need to build thinking time into our schedule. And the noisier things get, the more we need to build quiet reflection spaces in which we can truly focus."
"Essentialism" taught me how to manage my professional life with purpose and intention. I still fall prey to distractions, but they do not consume my work life, and I have built in time for reflection into my daily schedule. For instance, I now go for a one-hour bike ride once a week while listening to Audible books on business and self-improvement. I also pray for 45 minutes every morning and use that time to plan my day. Additionally, I observe the Jewish Sabbath, which means I abstain from using smartphones or any electronic media from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. This complete disconnection from work during that time recharges me and ensures that I am connecting with my family and myself.
Frequently, our own limiting self-beliefs are what hold us back in life and work. Carol Dweck's book "Mindset" delves into the human potential for growth. It argues that the belief that one's talent and intelligence are fixed hinders one's potential. Instead, adopting a "growth mindset" - the understanding that one's skills and knowledge are malleable and can be developed over time - opens up new opportunities.
"The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it's not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives."
After reading "Mindset", I tried to stop limiting myself by telling myself that I was not good at certain things and instead adopted the belief that I could improve in those areas. It's not just about overcoming weaknesses, but also about recognizing that there's always room for growth in my strengths. This mindset also applies to my personal life. I have played guitar for many years, but never truly improved my skills as a musician. Reading "Mindset" motivated me to take up classical guitar and learn how to read sheet music. I have seen great progress and it served as a reminder that what makes people excel in what they do is largely hard work rather than innate talent.
Give and Take
It is not possible to achieve success solely through one's own efforts. Successful entrepreneurs have a wide network of mentors, clients, investors, and friends who support them along the way. It is impossible to repay all that support and kindness directly, however, it is possible to pass it on by assisting others in achieving their goals, just as your support system has done for you.
Adam Grant in his book "Give and Take" argues that helping others is not only morally right, but it also serves as the foundation for your own success.
"The more I help out, the more successful I become. But I measure success in what it has done for the people around me. That is the real accolade."
This idea has influenced the kind of leader I am today. Our law firm prioritizes the professional development of our employees. We support them to grow within the firm and make every effort to provide them with opportunities to do so. In fact, three of our intake specialists have been promoted to paralegals and now work on some of the firm's most prominent cases and high-value clients.
I Got There
J.T. McCormick's autobiography "I Got There" recounts his journey of overcoming adversity and the strategies he employed to do so. The author began with nothing, faced significant challenges during his upbringing, and encountered multiple failures, but ultimately succeeded in becoming a successful CEO.
McCormick's story is not only inspiring but also provides readers with valuable guidance on leading a team:
"Everything in business comes down to focusing on people—your customers, your partners, and most importantly, your team. When you care about the people you're serving, then results are easy."
At my firm, we take on as many cases as possible for individuals who cannot afford our services. Though we cannot provide pro bono work to everyone who needs it as we need to stay in business, when we have the capacity, it is incredibly fulfilling. A majority of our clients are disabled veterans, people who have sacrificed for our country, therefore it brings us great satisfaction to make a tangible, positive impact on their lives.
We do not prioritize what is most beneficial for us, but instead what is best for our clients. The great thing is that this approach ultimately benefits our firm as well: through positive reviews, word-of-mouth referrals, and the satisfaction derived from utilizing our knowledge and skills to assist others.
Many Indian entrepreneurs, including the newer and younger ones, are cautious about what they say in public due to the fear of displeasing their various stakeholders, including current investors on their capital table, prospective investors, regulatory bodies, clients, or employees.
“If you choose to work with your spouse, there should be no hesitation in designating them as co-founders as well as giving them a seat on the board”
“It is important to remember that the investor is just another vendor”
“To my mind, the concept of a related-party transaction in India is totally irrelevant.”
“Rajnish (Rajnish Kumar, former SBI chairman) was my fourth hiring mistake — the other three being Suhail Sameer (CEO), Jasneet (CHRO) and Sumeet Singh (GC).”
It's clear why Ashneer Grover's book "Doglapan: The Hard Truth about Life and Start-Ups" is a bestseller on Amazon. In the traditionally respectable and politically correct world of Indian business, Grover's memoir is a refreshing and unconventional account.
Each of these books for small business owners has helped me in my transition from being an attorney to being a business owner. Knowledge is an essential tool for entrepreneurs, and continuously seeking to learn more from others will bring your business closer to success, as it has for me.