On this page, you will find a list of books that I believe are must-reads if you are going create and grow a successful online business.
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase a product using one of the links below, I'll receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. My opinions are my own, and I do my best to recommend products that I have vetted and/or purchased myself.
Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller
“Even if we have the best product in the marketplace, we'll lose to an inferior product in the marketplace if our competitor's offer is communicated more clearly.”
If you want to have a successful business you need to understand the hero of your brand — your customer. So many great businesses fail, and it's not because they don't have great products and services. It's because they don't know how to market to them.
They spend too much time and space listing the features and benefits of the products before addressing their customer's pain points first. (People buy something because they believe it will address a problem they have. The features and benefits are secondary).
This is the exact problem that Donald Miller addresses in Building a StoryBrand. Miller teaches his readers how to position the customer as the hero and the brand as the guide.
I seriously wish I could download this book into my brain. Not only is this book full of a ton of value, but Miller is also an engaging writer and storyteller.
If you buy one book on marketing, let this be it.
(If you like audiobooks, this one is great on audio, too!)
This is Marketing by Seth Godin
“Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem.”
Sometimes when we get in marketing-mode, we forget to be human. This book is the anecdote to that.
Seth Godin is the sage of marketing, and this book will help you understand good marketing versus bad marketing.
You won't have a successful business if you don't learn marketing. But how do you do good marketing.
The focus of any business has to be the customer, not your blog or your brand. If you decide to start a blog or any other business, hopefully it's because you see a problem that needs to be solved.
And by solving a problem, your brand will be “making positive change happen.” I love that! That's the kind of thing that will get you out of bed in the morning.
Focus & Productivity
Deep Work by Cal Newport
“The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.”
Have you ever had a day in which you felt as if you were perpetually busy, but in reality, you didn't complete anything of substance? Well, you're not alone.
With the addictive nature of social media, constant Slack messages, and text messages at all hours of the day, it is hard to make it through 30 minutes without distraction.
This book was written to combat this exact problem. Newport not only defines the problem but also provides the solution.
This is one of the few books that I can say has actually transformed my life in that it has taught me how to focus. Not that I have done this perfectly, but now I at least have the tools and the know-how to do it.
If you live and work in the 21st century, then you need to read this book.
There are very few books I have read twice, but this is one of them.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
“Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. Left to its own devices, the brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often.”
I read this book several years ago, but it's one of those books that has stuck with me. I still use some of the principles I learned from it to this day.
Charles Duhigg is a reporter for The New York Times who began to be interested in habit when he was covering the Iraq war and learned how a major in the U.S. Military used principles of habit to prevent a riot.
In the Power of Habit, Duhigg explains the science of habit as well as how to stop bad habits and start new ones.
We live out our days in what Charles Duhigg calls “habit loops” and our brains can't really tell the difference between a good habit and a bad habit.
And once we've started a new and better habit, the old, bad habits are still there lurking in the background. But by learning to change our “habit loops,” we can start new habits.
I love books written by journalists because they are typically very well written.
(This book is also great on audio.)
Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt
“The Desire Zone is the point where your passion and proficiency intersect, where you can unleash your unique gifts and abilities to make your most significant contribution to your business, family, community . . . and maybe the world. If your destination is freedom, this is where you'll experience it.”
What if you could only do the things you wanted to do? We all have things we are good at, but we don't enjoy doing. These are things that sap our energy. By contrast, we also have those things that we love doing — the things that give us energy.
In Free to Focus, Michael Hyatt walks his readers through how to assess all of the tasks that we perform and to organize them into buckets according to four zones: Desire Zone, Distraction Zone, Disinterest Zone, and Drudgery Zone.
But he also adds a fifth zone that most of us don't typically consider, and this is the Development Zone. This is an area where we might have a growing passion or skillset.
The goal is to do the majority of our work in the Desire or Development zone, which is where we feel the most free.
I love this book because it helps assess all that you do with a focus on making sure your day isn't taken over by all of those tiny tasks that tend to dominate our days.
If you can relate, then this book is for you.
“When conversations matter the most—that is, when conversations move from casual to crucial—we're generally on our worst behavior.”
We either have a tendency to overreact or to remain silent when we see people taking shortcuts or undermining values in life and in the workplace. Both are ineffective.
In this book, you will learn practical strategies and tactics for handling those tough situations and conversations. It all begins with empathy and assuming the person you're dealing with has the best intentions.
This is a great book to read with a friend, spouse, or other co-workers. Or if you have a book club that isn't afraid to go deep into a topic.
This book has helped improve my communication skills at work, with my kids, and with my husband.
This is a must-read!