Log in

The ultimate small business summer reading list 2021

The sun’s out and so is our 2021 small business summer reading list! With the optimism that comes with longer days and warmer weather, it's the perfect time to expand your mind and learn new skills.

Books are one of the most cost-effective ways to expand your business knowledge. A $10 book can give you an idea that transforms your business – and the way you think. Also, if you don't have time to sit down with a paperback, you can always turn on an audiobook while driving or taking care of other tasks.

We're excited to share the Invoice2go, a Bill.com company, 2021 ultimate summer reading list. We know there's no shortage of books on business and entrepreneurship. That's why we've curated books that cover a wide range of essential topics to ensure you find something relevant and high-value to you. Also, because we’re always looking for ways to support small businesses, you can click the image of each book to buy it via Bookshop.

Let's dive in! Or, you can check out our list of books specifically for women business owners here.

1. Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business, Tiffani Bova (2018)

Are you trying to find the right move to improve your business’s performance? This book is worth checking out. Tiffany Bova is a growth expert who shares her decades of experience helping some of the world’s most famous brands to continue growing despite stiff competition and a swiftly changing business world.

Through 30 insightful analyses of case studies of companies like Red Bull, Shake Shack, Marvel, and Starbucks, you’ll learn about the opportunities and pitfalls of 10 growth paths, how they work, and how you can apply them to your business today.

This bestselling book is also recommended by so many business leaders, including entrepreneur, writer, and founder of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington.

2. Ask Iwata: Words of Wisdom from Satoru Iwata, Nintendo's Legendary CEO (2021)

Satoru Iwata was the Global President and CEO of Nintendo. He was a gifted programmer who played a crucial role in creating many of the world’s most-loved video games.

"On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer." —Satoru Iwata

In this book, Satoru Iwata shares business insight on everything from eliminating bottlenecks to how success creates resistance to change. Learn from one of the most beloved figures in gaming history and get his philosophies on leadership, development, and design. This book also features conversations with the creators of the Mario EarthBound franchises.

3. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth (2016)

Talent only gets you so far when it comes to achieving your goals. Then you have to put in the hard work – which is where grit comes into play.

Duckworth recognizes that the most successful people tend to be "ferociously determined." She attributes this to two things. She explains, "First, these exemplars were unusually resilient and hardworking. Second, they knew in a very, very deep way what it was they wanted. They not only had determination; they had direction."

In Duckworth’s estimation, these traits are the things that equate to grit, and they’re essential to achieving goals in life.

4. It's About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated Into Your Greatest Advantage by Arlan Hamilton (2020)

Recommended by entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, It’s About Damn Time is an empowering guide to finding your voice, working your way, and achieving your dreams. 

This book chronicles how author Arlan Hamilton went from sleeping on the floor of the San Francisco Airport to breaking into the boys’ club of Silicon Valley as a gay, black woman. Arlan's story is a reminder that privilege, fancy college degrees, and influential networks are not prerequisites for success.

5. Remote, Inc.: How to Thrive at Work . . . Wherever You Are by Robert C. Pozen and Alexandra Samuel (2021)

Are you working from home these days? This one is for you. This book shares how to transform your experience of working remotely so that you can thrive and excel.

Remote, Inc. shares insights into the mindsets and habits of those who flourish when working independently.  These are the people who manage to get more done – even with pets or kids at home – and still have free time to exercise and do other things they live. 

Here you’ll get tips on how to wow those you work with, prioritize your most important work, and establish an outstanding work-life balance.

6. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek (2009)

To an extent, a successful business creates an outstanding product or service that solves a consumer problem. However, Sinek points out that successful companies focus not on the "what" or the "how," but rather the "why." Why are you in business?

Your sense of purpose is what drives you and makes your business great. When you know your greater purpose, it informs what you do and how you do it, leading to greater successes.

Says Sinek, "There's barely a product or service on the market today that customers can't buy from someone else for about the same price, about the same quality, about the same level of service, and the same features." 

What sets you apart and makes you a leader in your space? It's the "why" that drives your decisions, speaks to consumers, and gives you a competitive edge.

7. Guerilla Marketing 4th Edition by Jay Conrad Levinson (2007)

This summer is a good time to brush up on the classics. Now in its 4th edition, this updated best-seller takes an out-of-the-box approach to marketing. This book aims to give small businesses a leg up in competing for market share.

Levinson focuses on actionable insights and covers topics like effectively targeting prospective customers, management in a modern world, and strategies for utilizing new technologies.

As Levinson says, "There is no way that you can capitalize on all the changes, so you'll have to pick and choose." In marketing, you're often putting in time or money, but with some creativity, you can save both.

8. The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself by John Jantsch (2010)

If you liked Duct Tape Marketing, which focused on developing systematic strategies for overall marketing success, you'll want to check out the follow-up geared toward a modern approach to online marketing. This book encourages an audience to do the work of marketing for you.

You don't need to waste money on marketing gimmicks that are unlikely to pay off when you have the tools and insights to attract customers and drive referrals.

According to Jantsch, "Human beings are physiologically wired to make referrals." Thanks to the hypothalamus, we feel pleasure when we receive recognition, and helpful referrals help us with that.

How can you harness this desire? Jantsch outlines how to use content, referral systems, authenticity, and more to drive referrals and successfully market for less.

9. Who Owns the Ice House? Eight Life Lessons from an Unlikely Entrepreneur by Gary G. Schoeniger and Clifton L. Taulbert (2010)

There aren't too many books about entrepreneurship that read like a novel, making them a little dry or heavy-handed with the self-help vibe. This book accomplishes what few others can.

Focused on the entrepreneurial mindset and the fact that anyone with opportunity, tenacity, and a commitment to success can maximize their innate potential, this book is the story of Taulbert's Uncle Cleve, an entrepreneur who passed along life lessons still relevant today.

The book breaks lessons down into eight highly relatable sections to a modern audience – choice, opportunity, action, knowledge, wealth, brand, community, and persistence – all while set against the inspiring backdrop of Uncle Cleve's success story.

This book is described as a "powerful and compelling story that captures the essence of an entrepreneurial mindset and the unlimited opportunities it can provide."

10. The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries (2011)

You may not find the thought of pouring time and money into an elaborate business plan to be appealing. However, it can have a tremendous positive impact on your business.

Based on the lean startup principles, this guide highlights experimentation and consumer feedback. It also emphasizes flexibility and adaptation to recover from missteps.

Says Ries, "Startup success is not a consequence of good genes or being in the right place at the right time. Startup success can be engineered by following the right process, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught."

His book teaches that entrepreneurship is management by another name, and innovative management leads to success.

Learn make the most of the summer!

Whether you're interested in starting a business or looking for ways to grow, books are a great way to expand your knowledge.

What’s your favorite book on business or entrepreneurship? Join The Freelance Forum, a fast-growing community of independent professionals to share your opinions and connect with other growth-minded individuals.


Get inspiration and resources sent straight to your inbox.

Related Articles

How to accept credit card payments on Invoice2go in 3 simple steps

by General Staff