“Sharpening the Saw” is one of the most important things you can do as a business owner. However, there are so many business books out there that it can be hard to determine where to start. To make things simple, here are my 10 favorite business books that I recommend every CEO add to their library today.
Top 10 Business Books for CEOs:
- Simple Numbers by Greg Crabtree
- Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman and Mark Winters
- The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey
- The Patient Organization by Walt Brown
- Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson et al
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- Small Giants by Bo Burlingham
- Joy, Inc by Richard Sheridan
- Stop Asking for Referrals by Stephen Wershing
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Simple Numbers by Greg Crabtree
This book takes the mystery out of small business finance and allows entrepreneurs to understand their finances, without having a background in accounting. Simple Numbers is informative, jargon-free, and presented in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step format. Crabtree details how small business owners can use their key financial indicators as a basis for smart business decisions.
The book was written with a small business owner in mind who aspires to take their business from start-up to $5 million (and more) in annual revenue. In it, Crabtree presents real and relatable examples for his readers. The book highlights the most common financial errors committed by small businesses, and how to avoid them.
Overall, Simple Numbers can guide your business to being more profitable, and who doesn’t want to be more profitable! Get the book here.
Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman and Mark Winters
Entrepreneurs, if your business is struggling and you are unsure why, this book may be for you. Rocket Fuel details the integral, interdependent roles of the Visionary and Integrator and explains how a powerful V/I combination can help businesses thrive. In a broader sense, you may be more familiar with the Visionary as the CEO and the Integrator as the COO.
In less than 200 pages, Wickman and Winters make a compelling case for why the Visionary/Integrator relationship is vital to a company’s success. The authors describe from their experience how a Visionary without an Integrator is far less likely to succeed long term. Likewise, without a Visionary, an Integrator will most likely not reach their full potential. The two individuals will fit together like a puzzle piece, each having very different strengths and weaknesses.
Overall, Rocket Fuel will help you unleash your business’ full potential. Get the book here.
The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey
If developed and leveraged, trust is the one thing that has the possibility to create unparalleled success for every individual, relationship, team, family, and organization. Stephen M.R. Covey describes how trust and the speed of which it is established among customers and employees is vital to the success of an organization.
The purpose of The Speed of Trust is to enable individuals to engage with others in a way that establishes trust. According to Covey, The Speed of Trust affects every organization and relationship 24/365, and without trust, speed will decrease and costs will increase.
Trust starts with you, the CEO, business owner, etc. and has a ripple effect throughout your organization. Covey goes on to describe The Five Waves of Trust that come from this ripple effect, which are self-trust, relationship trust, organizational trust, market trust, and societal trust. This model serves as a metaphor for how trust operates in our lives, and forms a structure for understanding and making trust actionable. This book offers a look at the For Cores of credibility and the 12 behaviors of high-trust leaders.
Consider trust within your organization. Could you do better? If so, we recommend purchasing The Speed of Trust here.
The Patient Organization by Walt Brown
If you find your company is more a revolving door for new employees, this is a good read for you. Brown explains how to implement an Organizational Operating System (OOS) and get buy-in from your employees. Further, the book details how to get your team behind the “why” of what you do to better attract, engage, empower and retain your talent.
This book is more than just a self-help document for executives; it’s a manual with templates and guides to easily follow to get buy-in and cooperation from your team. The book also helps you understand how to beat your competitors, see your company’s strengths, build your company culture, and become a top workplace.
Take your teamwork to the next level by improving your OOS. Get The Patient Organization here.
Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson et al.
As a business owner, you spend time at the boardroom table negotiating deals, confronting employees, interviews with media, and engaging in important conversations that move your business forward. Crucial Conversations empowers its practitioners to engage in effective conversations when stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong.
Patterson’s narrative will make it easy for you to have conversations about a variety of topics in an effective manner. Even when these topics have high emotional stakes for you or those around you, you’ll be able to have powerful, meaningful dialogue. The book will help you be more persuasive without being abrasive.
To enhance your conversations and make them more effective, purchase Crucial Conversations here.
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
As its name implies, The Lean Startup focuses on learning to use resources more effectively. The book guides entrepreneurs to shorter product development cycles, ways to measure progress without vanity metrics, and customer insights that truly show what a customer wants.
The principals within The Lean Startup help businesses be more agile and constantly test their vision for better adaptation before it’s too late. Even if you’re the CEO of a large corporation and not a startup, this book is a great read to reshape how you view resources.
Don’t become one of the many startups that fail each year. Get The Lean Startup here to start transforming how you view business plans and your company’s growth.
Small Giants by Bo Burlingham
Ever wonder if all that work you’re putting into your company is worth it? Small Giants encourages business owners to evaluate why they do what they do. Some businesses are better off passing up the opportunity to be large, growing profits year-over-year and opt to be the best place to work, a contributor to their community or adding value to their leaders’ personal lives.
Burlingham evaluates 14 privately held companies across the country from a variety of industries that don’t buy into the need to constantly grow while overlooking the importance of their work. He focuses on the companies who choose the road less traveled, bypassing the opportunity for large buyouts, mergers and massive growth to find their own mojo.
Meet some unique entrepreneurs who run their business their own way but are still successful by purchasing Small Giants here.
Joy, Inc by Richard Sheridan
Create a dynamic company culture at your company by learning from the book Joy, Inc. CEO and Chief Storyteller for Menlo Innovations, Sheridan built a company culture built to produce joy.
At Menlo, the company removed the ambiguity and fear that most workplaces experience causing both employees and customers to be miserable. Coworkers respect one another, and mistakes are celebrated and learned from. Throughout the book, Sheridan offers examples of how to make your own workplace an environment of joy that produces business results and profitability.
Engage your employees and impress your clients by creating a strong company culture. Get Joy, Inc. here.
Stop Asking for Referrals by Stephen Wershing
After years of asking for referrals to his investment advice business, Stephen Wershing realized that requesting referrals isn’t really the best way to get them. Stop Asking for Referrals provides concrete insights into receiving valuable referrals without constantly calling current customers and requesting those referrals.
From understanding why clients make a referral to providing opportunities for clients to refer acquaintances to you, this book brings new light to referral marketing and how to make the most of your current network.
Master the art of having the new referral conversation with clients and grow your business effectively through your current network by purchasing Stop Asking for Referrals here.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
As a leader for your company, you work with people and are the face of your company day in and day out. Winning people over and getting them to your way of thinking is invaluable.
Carnegie’s book provides six pragmatic ideas to make people like you, 12 ways to bring people with you to your way of thinking, and nine ways to help people change without them resenting you.
Transform persuasive language to influential language as you win people over using Carnegie’s tactics. Get the book here.
If you enjoyed this list, you may also like my 10 Must-Follow Blogs for Every Lower Middle Market Business Owner