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Best business books for small businesses and independent professionals

Long before I was a computer geek, I was a book worm. In building my businesses, I spend a great deal of time on the web, but still relish my chances to get offline and read a good book, even if it is about building a business, being an entrepreneur, living the life of an independent professional, or marketing!

Here are some of the most influential, helpful and impressive books I've read over the years.

     
The Cultural Creatives
by Paul H. Ray, PHD and Sherry Ruth Anderson
This is a fascinating book about a "new" type of demographic that appears to be emerging in our culture - neither traditionalist or modern, but somewhere in between. Everything I've read here resonated with me and it has been a good way to learn more about who I am - and who I really like to work with. As the authors say, Cultural Creative describes "people whose values embrace a curiosity and concern for the world, its ecosystem, and its peoples; an awareness of and activism for peace and social justice; and an openness to self-actualization through spirituality, psychotherapy, and holistic practices." If that doesn't sum up the essence of an ideal client, I don't know what does!
     
The E Myth Revisited: Why Most Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It
by Michael Gerber
This book was recommended to me at a time when my first business was wildly successful and I was buried under all the minutia of running the business. I was stressed and burnt out and ultimately let the business go - but when I started the second business, you can bet I planned it correctly from the beginning. And this book was at the core of what I set out to do. This is a classic, a legendary book, that should be required reading for all entrepreneurs. I didn't "get" it the first time but now that I have, I recommend it to my clients all the time.
     
The Ultimate Sales Letter
by Dan Kennedy
I used to hate sales letters, especially the long variety - but I've had to learn to understand them and appreciate them when they are well done. The best advice anyone ever gave me in that regard was to buy a copy of The Ultimate Sales Letter and use that as a template and guide to writing it. It made the process extremely understandable and the results were great.
     
Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul
by Susan Harrow
Being a "Turtle", I have never felt comfortable with selling myself or doing public relations of any kind. But this book provided me with a clear path to self promotion that felt natural and aligned with my beliefs. Truly, in the short time that I've applied what I learned here, I've found myself seeking out media opportunities, writing for major national magazines and interviewed as an expert. If you purchase just one book to learn how to promote yourself, this should be it. It's written for women but is not in the least bit off-putting for men - in fact, if you're an independent professional or solo entrepreneur, it will change how you look at promotion, forever.
   
Zen and the Art of Making a Living
by Laurence G. Boldt
I've read this book cover to cover, twice -- once when I lost my bearings in the middle of my first business, and then again before I started my second business. Boldt uses classic archetypes to define the journey of finding life's work -- the wizard seeking a vision, warrior finding to make it happen, sage continuously learning how and seeking new paths and so on. The book isn't for everyone but if an inspirational guide for being the artist of your own life and career, with a healthy dose of Eastern philosophy works for you, I think you will get a lot from this book.
     
Free Agent Nation
by Daniel H. Pink
Okay, you may have heard already, but I LOVE this book! I tend to skim read but I didn't miss a word of Free Agent Nation -- every single inch of it was worthy of full digestion. It defines, explains, counts, and then predicts the future of one of the fastest growing segments of American business in fun, flavorful and intelligent terms. If you are a free agent, want to be a free agent, or offer services or products to free agents, this is a must read.
     
Big Vision, Small Business
by Jamie Walters
I first became acquainted with this book when I entered a contest sponsored by the About.com Entrepreneur's Guide, which was based on this book. And when I won, I received a copy of Big Vision, Small Business, from the author. It is a great book for businesses which, though small, have big ideas. It offers keys into how your small business vision can impact employees, communities and the world.
Your Life as Story
by Tristine Rainer
Not a business book, but highly recommended if you have ever wanted to write all or part of your life story. If you, like me, have realized your life is a series of amazing stories just itching to be told, but you don't even know where to start or how to approach it, this is a must read book. Part literary scholarship, part workbook, part coaching, she teaches techniques for remembering what you forgot, teasing out the stories, writing scenes with dialogue, and staying in touch with the humor in life.

 

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