Small Business

Small Business Founding in 2021: Top 6 Books

A lot of people start a small business either as a full-time income stream or as a side hustle. We might not consider it all that much but these businesses are actually the most important pound-for-pound economic activity.

Small operations are the lifeblood of our communities and significantly contribute to the national economy. They are normally started by one or two people on a very small budget. While a higher risk than regular employment, the rewards can be life-changing from both a financial and personal growth perspective.

2021 is another uncertain year and starting your own business might seem scary but there is always opportunity in uncertainty. Check out our reviews of books that can help you along your journey. We’ve decided to provide a variety of insights and approaches to match you requirements.

*The links in this article are Amazon affiliate links and really help the blog out if you use them to click for us.

$100 Startup

The $100 Startup: Chris Guillebeau – $15

What is it

The $100 Startup is a guide to understanding the modernized reality of startups. It is equal parts lifestyle and business guide and is very applicable to small businesses. The aim of the book is to show you how to grow a successful business that matches your goals with the minimum amount of effort.

Numerous case studies are used to highlight the validity of key concepts as well as to highlight ideal personal attributes that the successful business owner should possess/develop.

Core Topics Covered

The modern startup environment, how to start and start small, how to compete, how to grow the business (organically), how to stay in operation, how to (theoretically) sell your business

Why should I buy it?

This book is a ‘how to guide’ from people who’ve already done it. It is unlikely that you won’t find at least some useful pieces of information to improve your business mindset. It is also useful to show you the unusual processes that often lead to business success. This can really help break traditional methods of thinking and inspire growth.

You should read this if: You want a general primer on modern business with case studies but don’t want detailed strategic instruction.

7 habits highly successful

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Stephen Covey – $10

What is it

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is an iconic self-help book written by Stephen Covey. Sitting at over 25 million sales it cannot be denied that the book brings a significant amount of value. While it is not a business book in its own right it highlights the two most important aspects of succeeding in business, dealing with yourself, and dealing with others.

The book is a guide to balancing productivity and personal growth with your need to interact as part of a society. Overall it is a personal development strategy that delivers business development results.

Core Topics Covered

Independence, visualization of goals, efficiency, activeness, discipline, empathy, cooperation, personal growth.

Why should I buy it?

Soft skills are some of the most important tools that you need to use to make your business a success. Even in an online business, your sales, marketing, and customer service will require deft social interactions. A lot of people with find value and edit their behavior in positive ways.

You should read this if: You don’t have extensive experience in maintaining a positive mindset both in terms of your work ethic and your interactions with others.

What they don't teach you at Harvard business school

What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School: Mark McCormack – $10

What is it

In ‘What they don’t teach you…” Mark McCormack has compiled a list of lessons that he has learned over the course of founding a billion dollar sports management company. It is a guidebook to successfully operate in industries that are highly competitive with very challenging customers/clients. The idea is that by succeeding in the most hostile environment (entertainment) these strategies will be guaranteed results in similar, smaller industries.

This book prides itself on teaching you the vital but untaught/nontechnical aspects of running a business.

Core Topics Covered

Collaboration, social interaction, challenging perceptions, motivation, timing, quality over quantity, balance/time management

Why should I buy it?

This book is best used by people who understand how to run a business in functional terms but aren’t making the progress that will take them to the next level. It is well suited for businesses that require significant interaction with high value clients. While useful for anybody it is possibly too aggressive for ‘hobby’ business owners.

You should read this if: You are interested in operating at a high level in difficult markets and you want to build a legacy operation.

Built to sell, creating a business...

Built to Sell: John Warrillow – $20

What is it

Although ‘Built to Sell’ is a guide on creating a robust and easily sold business it is not solely designed to teach you how to build and dispose of your small business. In fact, it is a blueprint for creating a thriving business that just so happens to be the same way you would optimize its ‘sellability’.

The book teaches you how to orient your business structure and strategy so that they are both effective and easily managed. While it might be at a scale above small business in some ways, the ideas of a stream-lined, high quality, and well staffed business is universal.

Core Topics Covered

Having a long term mindset, making the business easy to run, ideal staff/service approaches, building resilience.

Why should I buy it?

If you want to view your small business as primarily a long-term investment that you’ll sell off one day, this book can be useful. It will teach you how to operate with this end goal in mind and create a lean, effective, and valuable business. Sections on the importance of high quality products, services, and staff are useful for everybody.

You should read this if: You intend to have a relatively substantial business and operate it as your sole income with the end goal of above normal return on investment (i.e. you want to make a fortune instead of a living).

The E Myth why most small businesses fail

The E Myth: Michael Gerber – $10

What is it

“The E Myth” is a deep dive into the core aspects of functional businesses. Unlike some books on this list it is based on understanding the wholesale process of creating a functioning business. It centers around the misconceptions people have about running a business, the inner conflict within the business founder, and the optimal strategies to fix both issues.

The E Myth brings in the idea that the single founder is actually three personality types depending on situation, an entrepreneur, a manager, and a technician. Therefore, succeeding in business therefore means building structures so that the needs of these three personalities are satisfied quickly and with minimal effort. The book instructs people to ‘make their business work for them’ via detailing organizing and adapting depending on the situation.

Core Topics Covered

The need for flexibility, the need for solid structure, how to minimize your required effort, the challenge managing these aspects, understanding your market and consumers

Why should I buy it?

This book is suited for people who want to go on a long-term ‘entrepreneurial journey’. It contains practical advice for running a business but it best for big dreamers. If you just want to make a little extra money the depth of mindshift required probably isn’t for you. However, if you intend to run a profitable business with staff for many years, this book gives great food for though and a solid business ideology.

You should read this if: You want a long-term operation that has big ideas and you intend to grow it with other people.

Small Business for Dummies

Small Business for Dummies: Eric Tyson and Jim Schnell – $15

What is it

Readers of this blog will know that we’re a big fan of the dummies books. They are standard, straightforward and designed to be read by everybody. You can always be confident that you will find a solid (if basic) guide to whatever topic you are studying.

This Dummies book covers both the practical and theoretical basics of starting your own business. It is a step-by-step guide to get your business up and running or revitalize a stalled project.

Core Topics Covered

Finding your niche, setting up a business, growing and sustaining, tools and tricks to operate better, technical/legal considerations.

Why should I buy it?

Not everybody has experience in running or owning a business. It can be a daunting project for people to take on. If you need a simple guide to help you gain knowledge and confidence this book will do that. For the beginner, the structured and friendly approach will give a solid grounding of necessary skills. For the intermediate and above it can be a useful quick reference guide.

You should read this if: You don’t have a solid understanding of small business or you need a basic reference guide from time to time.


These books offer a fairly broad spectrum of ideas and uses for the newly started entrepreneur. Admittedly, some of them won’t be highly applicable to you but all add value. Business is a complex arena and we have to be willing to challenge our own ideas and adapt. Most importantly, as all of these books will tell you, it’s important to enjoy your work.

In the end, the long-term goal of starting a company is to end up happier, healthier, and wealthier. If these books give you a shortcut, even better. See which path is best for you and get ready to build an empire!

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