Do you read business books for fun? How about personal development? Spirituality?
If your desk, night stand, or coffee table is filled with reads like this, then you and I have something in common. Even if you’re a digital enthusiast and keep your ongoing stack in device form, you and I still get to claim a reading bond.
(Just be kind the next time we’re packing for a trip, okay? Yes I’m aware that all your books weigh less than half of just one of mine.)
And if you’re here, chances are good that you feel drawn to build something meaningful in this world. You’re an entrepreneur or a side gigger, or you’re in the process of becoming one. You feel called to use your uniqueness to empower others, and you bring impact by teaching what you know.
After running a business for four years, I’ve embraced an idea I never saw coming: Entrepreneurship is my single-best tool for personal growth. The lessons it teaches are practical, yet deeply spiritual. Running a business requires a groundedness that needs routine care and thought.
As I seek to increase my contribution to economic justice, everyday things like time management are as important as finding the right kind of client for the learning-strategy services I provide. As with any journey that’s transformational, my entrepreneurship adventure puts me into contact with mentors and peers who show me what’s possible.
My Favorite Kind of Books: Actionable + Personal
Along the way I read a lot of books. My favorites come from heart-driven strategists, authors who teach actionable lessons while telling stories that acknowledge the personal nature of business ownership. Here, I share some of my favorites with you. Enjoy!
Note: I’ve set up a Teach Your Thing shop on Bookshop.org, an alternative to Amazon that supports local bookstores. If you buy from the Bookshop links below, I will earn a small commission.
The Soul-Sourced Entrepreneur: An Unconventional Success Plan for the Highly Creative, Secretly Sensitive, & Wildly Ambitious by Christine Kane
Kane’s chapters cover topics like redefining power, noticing energy, and embracing your funk. I love this book so much, I may add it to my own list for this year . . . as a re-read!
We All Should Be Millionaires: A Woman’s Guide to Earning More, Building Wealth, and Gaining Economic Power by Rachel Rodgers
One by one, Rodgers shoots down the myths that hold so many women back, like the idea that making money has to mean exploiting others. She makes a strong case for economic justice and tells stories of how she herself empowers a micro-economy that helps achieve it–in a clear, empowering way. If you, like me, have been “taught that our financial goals are too big and that [you] are too inadequate to accomplish them,” you need We All Should Be Millionaires!
Body of Work: Finding the Thread that Ties Your Story Together by Pamela Slim
Body of Work is a fantastic starter for anyone who’s entering entrepreneurship after years of being an employee. (Been there, my people!) I’ve been known to quote from it when speaking to a job transition groups, and there’s a reason why. If you’re an early entrepreneur, this book will set the stage for the new world of work you’ve entered. Like it or not, it’s time to take ownership of your career path.
This doesn’t mean applying for every job posting you can get your hands on. It means identifying your unique body of work, choosing how to use your voice, and building the life you really want to live. Pamela Slim will teach you what that means, giving you exercises and resources to stop asking permission and start building your own “full-color, full-contact life” of work that brings value, joy, and success.
Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon
Over and over again, I need to be reminded that I don’t have to be a genius, to share something small every day, and to stick around. The fact this book features a chapter called Teach What You Know, further cements its value in my mind. An artist himself, Austin Kleon wrote this for fellow creatives. Every business owner is an artist, so let this book inspire you to take action.
The Minimalist Entrepreneur: How Great Founders Do More with Less by Sahil Lavingia
Of all the authors in this list, Sahil Lavingia came from a career background that was farthest from my own. As a museum educator, the world of venture capital and IPOs is virtually unknown to me. Had I been in a judgey frame of mind when seeking my next read, this difference may have turned me off. I’m so glad this didn’t happen! Repeatedly, Lavingia surprised me with this human, pared-down approach to business ownership in The Minimalist Entrepreneur.
I discovered this book four years into entrepreneurship. Repeatedly, I was surprised to discover validation for things I’d done well in my business, like building an audience by teaching what I know. But this book taught how to refine marketing action steps like employing email funnels and building a process before a product. In it, he describes the importance of knowing when to do what and cautions against getting too fancy, too soon with strategies like ads.
If you want to own a business that doesn’t own you, this book is for you.
Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself by Nedra Glover Tawwab
Set Boundaries, Find Peace may not be a business book, but let me tell you: If you want to run a business, you need to get comfy with boundaries. I always say that the better I get at being a human being, the better I get at business, and vice versa. This book, from a licensed therapist and relationship expert, nudges you to set and communicate boundaries in multiple areas: family, romantic relationships, friendships, work, and social media.
In clear terms, she explores the importance of boundaries in things like time. “Time boundaries consist of how you manage time, how you allow others to use your time, how you deal with favor requests, and how you structure your free time.” Umm, can you think of a single business owner who doesn’t need to prioritize decisions about this?
Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis
Company of One provides context and action steps around beginning, defining, and maintaining a small business. As you might imagine, he makes the case that staying small should be your end goal. Not only is scaling up too quickly deadly for many businesses, but traditional ways of doing business are broken in some fundamental ways.
Through research, examples in the field, and his own experience, Jarvis discusses the value of setting upper limits, the dangers of envy, and how to pay attention to existing customers. A favorite quote emphasizes the importance of discerning the difference between opportunities and obligations. (A longtime overfunctioner, I learned this the hard way!)
Bonus: It wasn’t till I put this list together that I realized how many authors emphasize teaching what you know. Indeed, this book has a chapter called, “Teach Everything You Know.” As Jarvis points out, teaching builds authority.
Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead by Tara Mohr
I can’t think of a mode for life and work that requires improvisation more than entrepreneurship! So, ladies, get this book and receive the inspiration you need to say what you need to say. In fact, I’ve chosen Mohr’s words to end this piece. She’s right: “There are so many people who need to hear your message and just the way you need to say it. This is your sacred work. Do not go home. Walk in to that room and claim your space.”