15 Best Small Business Books to Read

By: | Updated: December 01, 2021

You found our list of the best small business books.

Small business books are guides to starting and running independent businesses. These works cover topics such as taxes and bookkeeping, operational plans, starting a business, and small-scale marketing. The purpose of these resources is to prepare aspiring owners to be able to juggle the many roles and responsibilities expected of small-time entrepreneurs.

These works are a subset of business books and are similar to office management books and books on entrepreneurship.

This post contains:

  • small business books for beginners
  • small business management books
  • books on starting a small business
  • books on marketing small business
  • small business accounting guides

Here is the list!

List of small business books

From bestsellers to new releases, here is a list of books that help small-scale entrepreneurs launch, grow, and manage independent businesses.

1. Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits!: 4 Keys to Unlock Your Business Potential by Greg Crabtree and Beverly Blair Harzog

Simple Numbers Straight Talk Big Profits Book Cover

Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits! is one of the most straightforward books on small businesses. This guide explains the economics of running small businesses in simple terms. The book covers topics such as owner salary, cash flow, labor productivity, taxes, budgeting, and reporting. Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits! uncovers the hidden costs of running a business and lays out a clear picture of the steps needed to profit as an owner.

Notable Quote: “Entrepreneurs often misunderstand the relationship between their salary and the return on what they own….when you don’t pay yourself a market-based wage, your net income number is lying to you.”

Buy Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits!

2. Small Time Operator: How to Start Your Own Business, Keep Your Books, Pay Your Taxes, and Stay Out of Trouble by Bernard B. Kamoroff C.P.A.

Small Time Operator Book Cover

Small Time Operator is one of the most classic small business books for beginners. The book outlines the basics of starting a business. This guide defines common terms in easy-to-understand language. Topics include obtaining permits and licenses, starting a bookkeeping system, incorporating, protecting intellectual property, as well as navigating insurance, contracts, and pricing. Updated editions include tips for how to conduct business online and operate in the gig economy. Small Time Operator is a comprehensive reference for new owners and a handy refresher for veteran entrepreneurs.

Notable Quote: “More than two thirds of all new businesses are started as part-time or weekend ventures, started by people still holding onto a job while they experiment with their new business. So, start slowly, try it out, and learn as you go. You’ll get there.”

Buy Small Time Operator.

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3. Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big by Bo Burlingham

Small Giants Book Cover

Small Giants is a collection of case studies of companies that could have been huge, yet decided to grow at a slower and more sustainable pace or stay the same size indefinitely. Bo Burlingham examines fourteen different businesses that had great products and opportunities for massive growth, yet passed on opportunities to expand into behemoths. The book explores the psychology and reasoning behind the reasons to stay small and takes a look at how the companies choose to operate instead. Small Giants is an ode to companies that choose quality over conquerdom.

Notable Quote: “You can’t build a small giant if you’re in an industry where your success depends on how big your company becomes.”

Buy Small Giants.

4. Mind Your Business: A Workbook to Grow Your Creative Passion Into a Full-time Gig by Ilana Griffo

Mind Your Business Book Cover

Mind Your Business is a playful yet practical workbook that breaks the process of starting a business into a series of manageable steps. The book contains a variety of self-assessments and exercises that help aspiring entrepreneurs think through and plan the launch of an endeavor. For example, the book has a pro and con list for working for yourself and a checklist that helps to separate real obstacles from imaginary ones.

This workbook is a good first step for folks who are intimidated or overwhelmed by the more traditional business planning process and need a pep talk, or for creatives and organizers who think best when doodling ideas out. Mind Your Business is a hands-on approach to sketching out a side hustle.

Notable Quote: “It can feel like there are a million obstacles to overcome when you’re starting a business. Some of these are very real (money, materials) and some of them live only in your head.”

Buy Mind Your Business.

5. Will It Fly?: How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money by Pat Flynn

Will It Fly Book Cover

Fear of failure is one of the main reasons many folks never branch out and start a business. Will It Fly? presents a litmus test for checking the validity of an idea without wasting too much time, money, or resources. The book suggests a series of tests to separate viable ideas from pipe dreams. Pat Flynn also explains ways to follow through on good ideas effectively through careful planning, research, and skillful execution. Will It Fly? is a playbook for failure-proof experimentation and innovation.

Notable Quote: “Your earnings are a byproduct of how well you serve your audience, and you can only best serve your audience when you know exactly who they are, what they’re going through, and what will get them to take action.”

Buy Will It Fly?

6. Taxes: For Small Businesses QuickStart Guide – Understanding Taxes For Your Sole Proprietorship, Startup, & LLC by ClydeBank Business

Taxes for Small Business Quickstart Guide Book Cover

Taxes: For Small Businesses QuickStart Guide is one of the most straightforward small business accounting guides. This resource teaches owners how to properly set up and run taxes for small businesses. Sections explore concepts such as different levels of taxes, dealings with the IRS, record-keeping, and deductions. The book ends with a list of the most common tax mistakes and ways to avoid these errors. Taxes: For Small Businesses QuickStart Guide is an easy-to-understand manual for paying the government and avoiding penalties.

Notable Quote: “The important thing to know is that many well-run businesses need to maintain two distinct accounting record systems: an accrual system for their business and financial management and a cash system to determine their appropriate tax liabilities.”

Buy Taxes: For Small Businesses QuickStart Guide.

7. Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis

Company of One Book Cover

Company of One is an antidote to the “disrupt an industry and take over the world” model of entrepreneurship. The book challenges the notion that opting to remain small is unambitious, and champions the mindset that becoming big is not the only way to find professional fulfillment. True to its name, Company of One explains how to run a one-person business. This guide covers how to grow business without hiring or expanding operations beyond the scope of the founder’s capabilities. This book offers a different, more manageable alternative to the traditional path of expansive entrepreneurship.

Notable Quote: “There’s nothing wrong with finding the right size and then focusing on being better. Small can be a long-term plan, not just a stepping-stone.”

Buy Company of One.

8. Guerrilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business by Jay Conrad Levinson

Guerrilla Marketing Book Cover

Guerrilla Marketing is one of the best books on marketing small business. Jay Conrad Levinson gives readers advice on how to achieve big returns on modest marketing budgets. According to the author, guerrilla marketing means adopting an inventive and imaginative approach to advertising and experimenting instead of over-relying on stale methods. Business owners do not necessarily need to spend much to surprise and delight the audience. The book shows readers how to adopt a novel approach to advertising while still following the fundamentals and best practices of marketing. Guerrilla Marketing presents a masterclass on how to capture attention and earn notoriety on a minimal advertising allowance.

Notable Quote: “Consistency breeds familiarity, familiarity breeds confidence, and confidence breeds sales.”

Buy Guerrilla Marketing and check out this list of growth hacking books.

9. Supermaker: Crafting Business on Your Own Terms by Jaime Schmidt

Super Maker Book Cover

Supermaker is one of the best small business books for artisans. Jaime Schmidt charts her journey from kitchen crafter to household brand and provides a formula for other makers to duplicate this success. The book explores areas such as marketing, sales growth, product development, customer engagement, operational scaling, and partnerships. Supermaker fills in the gaps of the factors beyond great product that make a small business successful. This guide is a handy resource for artists turned entrepreneurs in need of business advice.

Notable Quote: “If you’re on a mission to make a name for yourself, to better your own business or workplace, or to contribute to a more responsible and equitable society, then you are a supermaker.”

Buy Supermaker.

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

Side Hustle Book Cover

Many small businesses start out as side jobs. Side Hustle shows aspiring entrepreneurs how to transform new ventures from experiments into income in under one month. The book lays out an actionable plan for taking a business idea from inception to launch to steady extra income, and potentially, a full time job. Chris Guillebeau breaks down the journey week by week, giving readers tasks to complete during each day. The book illustrates ways to brainstorm, build, begin a business, and pitch to potential partners and investors. Side Hustle is a step-by-step guide for turning vague inspiration or motivation into an income-generating reality, all within a short window of time. The book lays out a formula for supercharging a business plan and

Notable Quote: “Don’t let yourself get distracted from the two things that matter the most for your side hustle: the benefit for customers, and the income for you. Spend at least 10 percent more time on each of these.”

Buy Side Hustle.

11. The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field by Mike Michalowicz

The Pumpkin Plan Book Cover

The Pumpkin Plan presents a collection of techniques to launch and grow successful small ventures. The book explores the reasons many small businesses fail, most notably, by trying to please and cater to every potential client. Drawing from firsthand experience, Mike Michalowicz advocates for a more practical approach of investing energy in the most promising prospects. The book breaks this concept down into actionable steps and methods. The Pumpkin Plan describes how to identify winning ideas and strategies and pursue these paths most effectively. For business owners with limited time and energy, this book is the ultimate guide to avoiding burnout and achieving sustainable growth.

Notable Quote: “Plant the seed that you know has the very best chance of making it, and then focus your attention, money, time, and other resources on that tight niche until all of your entrepreneurial dreams come true.”

Buy The Pumpkin Plan.

12. Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition by Jay Abraham

Getting Everything You Can Out of All You've Got book cover

Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got is a masterclass in salesmanship. The guide teaches readers how to use all available resources, no matter how modest, to win customers and earn a loyal following. This book shows business owners how to identify overlooked opportunities and capitalize on hidden strengths. The underlying thread of the text is “work with what you’ve got, and make what you’ve got work for you.” Chapters detail concepts such as calculating the worth of clients, removing friction in the sales process, and building wealth without capital. The book teaches vital skills such as persuasion and communication, and shows owners how to convince others to believe in their business. Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got is a guidebook for building a unique business that stands out amidst competitors.

Notable Quote: “An endless number of these unmade connections exist to this day, especially in the business world. You are surrounded by simple, obvious solutions that can dramatically increase your income, power, influence, and success. The problem is, you just don’t see them.”

Buy Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got.

13. The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting and Running a Business: Turn Your Ideas into Money! by Steve Mariotti

The Young Entrepreneur's Guide to starting and running a business Book Cover

The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting and Running a Business is a how-to guide aimed at young would-be owners. By using real-world anecdotes and examples, the book illustrates that youth is not necessarily a barrier to running a successful business. The guide explains how to recognize opportunities, choose a legal structure, find funding, oversee accounting, and sustainably grow the business. Each lesson comes from a successful young founder willing to pass on firsthand experience to a new generation of entrepreneurs. The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting and Running a Business provides the answers to questions that fresh graduates or college students may feel too insecure to ask. The book covers all the basics, and while written for younger readers, is a valuable resource for visionaries of all ages. This guide is one of the most helpful books on starting a small business.

Notable Quote: “The beauty of business is that you already have the most important knowledge you need to succeed. You know your market– the people your business serves– better than anyone else.”

Buy The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting and Running a Business.

14. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber

The E Myth

The E-Myth Revisited is one of the best small business management books. The book’s main mission is to dispel the myths surrounding starting small businesses and offer aspiring owners a more realistic view of entrepreneurship. Running a thriving business requires more than just skill and subject knowledge, and Michael E. Gerber identifies the behaviors and attitudes that set ventures up for success. The book traces the entrepreneurial journey through each stage, from designing the business, to hiring help, to forging a reputation and employing business strategy. The E-Myth Revisited is full of actionable steps and advice that help set business owners up for long term success.

Notable Quote: “If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business—you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic!”

Buy The E-Myth Revisited.

15. Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses by Joe Pulizzi

Content Inc Book Cover

Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to market, and is a useful strategy for businesses big and small. Content Inc outlines the basics of the technique and teaches entrepreneurs how to attract readers and convert site visitors into clients. The book lays out a six-step process for launching a business. Contrary to popular wisdom, Joe Pulizzi advocates for forming a following before perfecting a product. Content Inc is an essential guide for finding and connecting with the intended audience and drumming up a demand before bringing a service to market.

Notable Quote: “Today’s availability of technology means that any business in any industry can develop an audience through consistent storytelling.”

Buy Content Inc.

Final Thoughts

Many business books center on best practices in the corporate world. While these works can have valuable lessons for small-time entrepreneurs, best practices and day to day operations can vary quite greatly between enterprise level and independent business. Small business books speak more to the experiences of mom and pop shops, freelancers, and solopreneuers. These works provide business advice for non-business people and help first-time owners navigate the complexities and challenges of starting a new venture.

For more reading, check out business books by female authors, books on marketing, books about advertising or books about HR.

We also have a list of books on customer service and a similar list of customer success books.

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FAQ: Small business books

Here are answers to common questions about small business books.

What are some good small business books?

Some good small business books include Small Time Operator by Bernard B. Kamoroff, The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz, Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits! by Greg Crabtree and Beverly Blair Harzog, and The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber.

Why should owners read small business books?

Owners should read small business books because running a company is difficult and requires vast knowledge and skill sets. Running a small business often requires owners to perform multiple roles and complete a number of challenging tasks. Reading books on small businesses can help prepare owners to better lead the staff and make smart decisions.

Author avatar


Marketing Coordinator at teambuilding.com.
Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.


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