10 Best Small Business Books of 2017

According to the International Publishers Association, hundreds of thousands of business books are published every year.
For people running small businesses, there isn’t time to read and digest a hundred thousand books—or even a hundred books—every year.
What’s more, the insights from business books can sometimes be difficult to apply to a small business. Stories of mergers and acquisitions, years of product development, and brilliant business decisions are interesting, but they don’t always spur ideas that you can use.
There are quite a few lists describing the best business books of 2017, and in some ways this is another one. But this list goes a step further.
You’ll see some overlap between the books mentioned here and elsewhere, but this list narrows its focus to small business. Which books provide insights that you can actually apply? What makes each book valuable to small business owners in particular?
These are the 10 best small business books of 2017.

1. Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts, by Ryan Holiday

What exactly is a “perennial seller?”
Some products are launched and then immediately forgotten. Others stay relevant for years—and even grow in popularity—long after they are created.
Perennial Seller, by Ryan Holiday, is a book about the latter. In this book, Holiday breaks down the key attributes of perennial sellers—and walks through how to create, position, and market a perennial seller of your own.

Why is Perennial Seller one of the best small business books of 2017?

Small businesses don’t usually have the budgets to put together expensive, massive marketing campaigns. For an individual or small team, the ability to create something that spreads through word of mouth is a powerful skill.
A perennial seller is exactly that. Can a big marketing budget help? Of course. But, as Holiday argues, creating and marketing high quality work for a specific target audience can generate buzz without requiring a lot of cash.
Get the book here.

2. Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days, by Chris Guillebeau

How can you start a business fast?
When starting a business, there are a lot of different areas that need your attention. Side Hustle, by Chris Guillebeau, provides a 27-day outline to help entrepreneurs go from not having a business idea to bringing in early revenue.

Why is Side Hustle one of the best small business books of 2017?

A small business isn’t exactly a “side hustle,” but a lot of the same principles apply. Entrepreneurial life is different from working a day-to-day job, and requires a different way of thinking.
If you run a small business or are thinking of starting one, it can be difficult to figure out what matters and what doesn’t. What tools do you need, and which can you ignore? What are the most important drivers of a small business? What should you be spending most of your time on?
Side Hustle helps you go from idea to income without wasting time on things that don’t matter.
Get the book here.

3. Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing – Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth, by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

What if you could be the only player in your market?
Blue Ocean Strategy is one of the most widely cited books in business and marketing, and is based on a simple premise—go where there is no competition.
Instead of competing with other players is an aggressive, bloodied, “red” ocean, move your company to a blue ocean where you are not just the biggest fish—you are the only one.
In a follow-up to a classic—Blue Ocean Shift expands on the idea of a competition-less business by providing actionable advice to make the move from red ocean to blue.

Why is Blue Ocean Shift one of the best small business books of 2017?

A small business can’t survive if it’s forced to spend time, budget, and energy on competing.
Finding blue oceans can help small business owners focus on the core drivers of their business without worrying about being out-competed on price or other factors. Blue Ocean Shift builds on previous work to deliver a five-step process that businesses can use to move to clearer waters.
Get the book here.

4. Principles: Life and Work, by Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio is one of the most successful investors and entrepreneurs in the world. His book, Principles, outlines the fundamental but unconventional principles that he used over the course of a long career to create and grow his investment firm.
Named the best business book of 2017 by Amazon, Principles contains wisdom and information that can be used in a business of any size.

Why is Principles one of the best small business books of 2017?

Sometimes it can be difficult to apply the insights from large enterprises to small business. Companies like Google and Amazon are bold and innovative, but they also do some things that just aren’t possible for smaller organizations.
Principles is valuable, in part, because it transcends the specifics of any given business. Because it focuses on how to approach problems and make decisions, the insights in Principles have merit across organizations and industries.
Get the book here.

5. Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong, by Eric Barker

“Much of what we’ve been told about the qualities that lead to achievement is logical, earnest–and downright wrong.” – Eric Barker
In business, in marketing, and in success, there are misconceptions and false assumptions everywhere.
In Barking Up the Wrong Tree, Eric Barker takes a scientific look at commonly believed ideas—examining whether these beliefs really predict success in the real world.

Why is Barking Up the Wrong Tree one of the best small business books of 2017?

Small business owners don’t have time to waste on things that don’t work.
Barking Up the Wrong Tree is a useful read because it strikes at the heart of damaging, time-wasting assumptions that influence the way we do business.
What really makes the most effective leaders? How important is work-life balance? Is failure important to success, or is it better to play it safe? These are the overarching questions Barker seeks to answer.
Get the book here.

6. The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, by Scott Galloway

What makes Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google different?
The market capitalization of these four companies has increased by $1.4 trillion in the last four years—and every indication shows that it will keep rising.
The Four, by Scott Galloway, takes a look at the principles, strategies, and tactics that make these four companies different.

Why is The Four one of the best small business books of 2017?

If you decide to read The Four, you’ll probably type its name into Google, then order it on Amazon. Or else you’ll click on one of Amazon’s Facebook ads to reach the order page. You may even do it on an Apple computer.
These four companies have had enormous impact on marketing, business, and the world. The DNA that has lead to their success can be applied to your own business or career.
Get the book here.

7. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Setbacks are inevitable. How you deal with them is not.
Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, is a deeply personal book about constructively dealing with failure and adversity. When Option A fails, how can you most effectively learn to recover and thrive using Option B?

Why is Option B one of the best small business books of 2017?

At some point, you will experience a business failure. At some point, a significant personal event will affect your ability to continue your work.
Even if you’re simply after day-to-day stress management (and running a small business can be stressful), the lessons in Option B can help you foster resilience in the face of adversity. Written by a prominent executive and a leading business professor, Option B provides tools and advice for both life and business.
Get the book here.

8. The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

What makes an experience memorable?
Everyone has a few moments or stories that they think about frequently and tell often. What is it about these snapshots in time that makes them stand out, and how can we create more memorable experiences?
The Power of Moments, by brothers Chip and Dan Heath, examines the construction of deeply positive, memorable moments. How can you create more memorable moments in your own life? How can you create memorable customer experiences?

Why is The Power of Moments one of the best small business books of 2017?

Customer experience is a critical component of business. If you can create memorable moments for your customers, you are more likely to win repeat business and grow your business through referrals.
The Power of Moments is especially powerful for small businesses because creating outstanding experiences isn’t predicated on having a lot of resources. Paying attention to the construction of your customer experience can be a powerful difference maker for your business.
Get the book here.

9. Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction, by Derek Thompson

Why do some ideas become popular while others die?
In Hit Makers, Derek Thompson examines just this question. What separates the ideas that spread like wildfire from the ones that flicker and sputter out?
Examining hits from Facebook to Star Wars to Meryl Streep, Thompson studies business and psychology to unearth the characteristics that lead to viral growth.

Why is Hit Makers one of the best small business books of 2017?

A small business can live or die on word of mouth.
Without the resources to devote a lot of energy to marketing and sales, many small businesses operate almost entirely based on referral.
A small business doesn’t necessarily need to experience viral growth—but it does need to generate enough buzz through word of mouth to keep its doors open. Hit Makers provides insights on how you can incorporate word of mouth into your business.
Get the book here.

10. Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World, by Tim Ferriss

What if you could get advice directly from the best in the world?
That question is exactly what prompted the creation of Tribe of Mentors, by Tim Ferriss. In Tribe of Mentors, Ferriss poses the same 11 questions to over 100 masters of their craft.
From business leaders to athletes to scientists, the experts in Tribe of Mentors are at the very top of their fields—and provide detailed insights about the principles and practices that helped them rise to the top.

Why is Tribe of Mentors one of the best small business books of 2017?

Tim Ferriss is already known to many small business owners for his classic The Four Hour Work Week (also worth a read). In bringing together experts from a variety of disciplines, Ferriss has collected an astonishing amount of insight in one place.
Not all of the featured experts focus on business (although many do). Regardless of their focus, those included in Tribe of Mentors can only be described as remarkable—and as remarkable sources of advice for small business owners.
Get the book here.

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