Sometimes, we all need a little help to get to our best selves. In my quest for self-improvement, I turn to books to teach me new principles and perspectives that will help me reach my goals. If you’re looking for some awesome books that will guide you through common problems creatives and small business owners face, here are seven texts that can point you in the right direction.
This book is for people who need simple sips of wisdom to turn to when things get tough or confusing.
Of all the books I’ve read for motivation and encouragement, this is the one I return to most often. In simple snippets that barely take up a whole page, Pressfield walks you through the many forms of resistance we encounter when we try something new or set about creating something. In addition to defining resistance, he also provides ways to combat it so you can get started on your calling.
“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.”
You don’t have to read it in sequence, but if you do read it cover to cover you can do it in one sitting. Just be sure to tab the pages that speak to you the most.
This book is for people who wanted to start a business, yesterday.
This book is a compilation of practical advice and anecdotes from a bunch of small business owners who started their companies with an idea and a little bit of money. It strips away any excuses you have about starting your company right now and provides you with the knowledge you need to structure a viable business venture today. If you’re looking for permission to get going, here it is in book form.
“To succeed in a business project, especially one you’re excited about, it helps to think carefully about all the skills you have that could be helpful to others and particularly about the combination of those skills."
You should read this in sequence, though it’s fun to skip around to read the business profiles of others who started their companies with $100 or less. You can complete this book in a week
This book is for people who want to start a creative habit, and want to understand their creative DNA, but struggle to build momentum.
If you think a choreographer has nothing to teach you about constructing a creative habit, think again. Tharp weaves together creative breakthroughs throughout her 35-year career with the experiences of others to teach you how to master the creative process. Make no mistake -- this book is for anyone who relies on some form of creativity in their livelihood. Reflection assignments and now you try it exercises turn this book into a workbook that helps you establish habits to nurture your creative self. The spacious pages and beautiful typography is also a visual treat.
“There’s a paradox in the notion that creativity should be a habit. We think of creativity as a way of keeping everything fresh and new, while habit implies routine and repetition. That paradox intrigues me because it occupies the place where creativity and skill rub up against each other.”
You should read this book in sequence. Paired with the exercises and reflection points, it may take you a little more than a week to get through the entire thing.
This book is for people who are afraid that they just aren’t good enough.
Kadavy's work addresses the things we do to stand in our own way. Between sharing anecdotes from renowned creators and businesspeople and giving you practical steps to conquer self-doubt, defeating behavior and procrastination, Kadavy’s book gives you permission to be your greatest self. He takes you through breaking down your fears, finding your creative fuel, and getting started.
“When I did finally start following my own ideas, this mental programming served as walls of a labyrinth of fears and mental distortions. I feared the judgement of others. I doubted my abilities. I struggled with motivation. I escaped into distractions.”
This is a relatively easy read with a bunch of great insights. Read it in sequence in two to three sittings.
This book is for people who are looking to start a business or have run into difficulty with an existing entity and are in desperate need of a lifeline.
This book is interesting because it starts with a business story gone wrong to display the bad decisions and assumptions that led to such dire straits. In this book, Gerber walks us through how most people go about starting their small business, and how many of the initial steps taken are incorrect. He goes on to explore the stages of a growing business and what it takes for a small business to succeed for the long haul.
“Don’t you see? If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business--you have a job...The purpose of going into business is to get free of a job so you can create jobs for other people.”
You should definitely read this book in sequence to get the full effect of Gerber’s conversation with a woman frustrated with her business and his insights therein. You can complete this book in about a week.
This book is for people who want to conquer self-doubt and self-sabotage to step into the person they know they are capable of becoming.
Though this book includes references to Christianity (and includes a lengthy conversation between Napoleon Hill and the Devil himself) this book is more about conquering the demons of doubt, defeat and mediocrity more than anything. Hill shares his darkest moments of self-doubt and explores how and why we hold ourselves back in his conversation. There is speculation whether his conversation with the Devil is literal or metaphorical. I’ll leave it to you to decide.
“You are entitled to know that two entities occupy your body. One of these entities is motivated by and responds to the impulse of fear. The other is motivated by and responds to the impulse of faith. Will you be guided by faith or will you allow fear to overtake you?”
No matter what you believe, or what religion you follow, this book is well worth the read. You should read it in order to get the full effect, and get your highlighter ready -- it’s a game changer.
This book is for people who want to learn how a business operates (soup to nuts) before they start a business.
If you think you don’t know enough about business to start a business, this book solves that problem. Comprehensive and easy to understand, Kaufman’s book is a portable (and affordable) MBA program without the price tag. When I was considering joining an MBA program to learn the fundamentals of business before starting my own company, I decided to give this book a try first. Not only did it show me that starting a business wasn’t as difficult as I thought, it gave me all the insights I needed to make sure it was well planned and set up the right way.
“The five parts of every business are the basis of every good business idea and business plan. If you can clearly define each of these five processes for any business, you’ll have a complete understanding of how it works.”
You can read it cover to cover, or you can skip ahead to the chapters dedicated to the principles you need to know. This book will take a little while to get through as it’s chock full of essential information, but if you want to learn how business works you should take the time to read through all of it.
This book is for people who tend to gravitate towards a “magic fix” and gives you the tools you need to break from bad habits to create your own, lasting magic.
I’m guilty of enrolling in courses that provide “ten easy steps to your ultimate dream” or reading books that promise you the world in one easy jump. To some degree, we all want things easily and we want them now. Hardy’s book will shake that notion out of you and give you the tools you need to really achieve your ultimate dream. It’s all about making choices, building a habit, and watching your efforts compound over time.
“We’ve been socialized to believe in fairy-tale endings found in movies and novels. We’ve lost sight of the good, old-fashioned value of hard and consistent work.”
If you’re looking for a way to kick starting-and-stopping in the shins, this book is a must read for setting goals and achieving them. You should read it in order, and you can complete it in one or two sittings.
There are tons of self-help gurus and guides to navigate you through your personal and professional life. Though it’s important to seek help when you need it, just be sure you’re not pursuing knowledge at the expense of meaningful progress. It’s important to marry what you learn with action.
I’m always on the lookout for a great book that teaches new principles or makes complex things difficult to digest. Share a book that’s helped you solve a problem in the comments below!