biz ladiesLife & Business

biz ladies: top 10 biz books

by Stephanie

today we are going to read ourselves to success with a helpful book selection by our friend megan auman of crafting an MBA.  megan has previously contributed to the biz ladies series with a post about getting your products manufactured, and now she is offering us a list of the top 10 biz books.  megan offers some additional must-reads on her blog too!  thanks megan for this incredible list.  let’s hit the books!-stephanie

CLICK HERE for the full post after the jump!

10 Must Read Books for Biz Ladies

I was thrilled when Stephanie asked me to write about my top ten must read business books. I’m constantly reading, and I love helping others apply the principles I’m learning to their own indie businesses. There are so many books available now with excellent advise on starting and running a small business. But with so many books and so little time, it can be hard to know where to begin.

I’ve rounded up 10 of my favorite books to get you started on the path to business success. The books range from practical business advice to current business theory. These all grace my shelves, and have been extremely useful in building my own business. I’ve tried to list them in order correlating to the stages of your business – from pre-planning to marketing to hiring your first employee. So head over to your local library or bookstore to pick up a few, or just click on the links below to shop online.

1. The Anti 9-to-5 Guide, by Michele Goodman

Are you dreaming of starting your own biz while sitting in a cubicle? In the Anti 9 to 5 Guide, Michele Goodman shows you how to make your dreams a reality, whether it’s working from home, traveling the world, writing your first novel, or being your own boss. Even if you’ve already escaped the corporate world (or were never there to begin with) this book offers practical tips for anyone looking to build a business (and a lifestyle) outside of normal conventions.

2. The Girl’s Guide to Starting Your Own Business, by Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio

If you’re ready to start your own business, but aren’t sure about the little details like insurance, incorporation, or business planning, then The Girl’s Guide to Starting Your Own Business is for you. It gives you all the nuts and bolts of starting a business, in a straightforward, down to earth way. The last chapter offers a dose of business wisdom from two women who know what they’re talking about.

3. Craft Inc., by Meg Mateo Ilasco

If you run a business designing and making products, than this should definitely be on your bookshelf. Craft Inc. covers everything from setting up your business, to designing products, to marketing, to craft fairs and wholesale. It’s one of the best books on running a crafts business out there. (And if your focus is more on creative freelance than making products, Meg has a new book, Creative Inc, co-written with Joy Deangdeelert Cho, which is slated for release this fall.)

4. The Entrepreneur’s Guide to patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, & licensing, by Jill Gilbert

Do you know you need to protect your business’s intellectual property, but aren’t sure if it’s a trademark, patent, or copyright you’re after? Gilbert’s book breaks down the various forms of intellectual property, including securing copyrights and patents, and instructions on registering a trademark (such as your business name.) It’s a useful roadmap to the often confusing world of intellectual property law.

5. Made to Stick, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

If I had to pick my favorite business book of all time, it would be Made to Stick. Brothers Chip and Dan Heath share their formula for making your ideas stickier. By sticky ideas, they mean ideas that people will pay attention to and share with others. This is applicable to everything from marketing to product development, and is a must for any biz lady looking to build her communication skills.

6. Inbound Marketing, by Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah, and David Meerman Scott

The secret to getting people to pay attention to you is to create “remarkable content”, according to the authors of Inbound Marketing. It’s a great approach to online marketing that goes far beyond search engine optimization (though it explains that too.) If you haven’t quite gotten the hang of this whole blog or social media thing, this book is a must read. But even if you’ve been doing the blog thing for years, there’s still plenty to learn from Inbound Marketing.

7. Free: The Future of a Radical Price, by Chris Anderson

Chris Anderson’s first book, The Long Tail, helped me understand the effect of larger business trends on my own small business, and his new book, Free, is even more important. Far beyond using free as a gimmicky marketing tools, Anderson shows you how, using the Internet, you can build giving things away for free into a profitable business. This new free business model affects every type of business, because even if you aren’t giving something away for free, you’ll likely compete against a company that does. Bonus: You can download the audio book of Free, for free, on iTunes.

8. anything by Seth Godin

I’m a huge fan of Seth Godin, and I highly recommend making his blog a daily read. Seth has written so many books – it was impossible to pick just one. Looking for a little more boost in your marketing efforts? Check out Permission Marketing. Stuck in a rut? Read The Dip to help you push through. Want to know how to stand out? Godin’s newest book, Linchpin, focuses on how to become indispensible.

9. Hiring Your First Employee, by Fred S. Steingold

Are you ready to make the transition from one-woman show to employer? Perhaps, like me, your dream of being able to hire some help, but aren’t sure it’s in the budget. (Plus, there are all those scary legal requirements.) Before getting into details about how to hire your first employee, Steingold helps you assess whether or not it’s time. He then guides your through the nuts and bolts of hiring, training (and maybe even firing) your first employee. Even if you think you’re years away from hiring an employee, it’s worth checking out.

10. Good to Great, by Jim Collins

If you want to take your business to the next level, then Good to Great is for you. While it’s aimed more at CEOs than small-business owners, I still found plenty to relate to running my own business. In fact, this book is so dense that you could probably read through it several times and come out with something new each time. Good to Great isn’t a resource for those just starting a business, but if your business is in full swing, and you want to see it improve, put Good to Great on your list.

As I continue to read, my list of favorite books is constantly evolving. But these 10 are a great foundation for developing your own business. You can find more recommended reading over at Crafting an MBA. And if you need a little motivation, feel free to take part in the CMBA book club.

Megan Auman is a designer and maker specializing in jewelry and home accessories. When not designing, making, or running her business, she usually has her nose buried in the latest business book. Megan teaches Metals + Jewelry and Interdisciplinary Object design at Towson University and writes about business thinking for designers and makers at craftMBA.com.

Suggested For You


  • Uhoh! I’ve only read two of these.

    I’d also like to recommend The Boss of You. It was instrumental in helping me define my vision. Now perhaps I need to read Seth’s book and set my launch date!

  • This is such a great series of articles. Thanks for offering inspiration and guidance to us ladies trying to get our businesses going and our dreams off the ground!

  • As a business Librarian I will say this is an excellent list and I have recommended these titles to several of my customers. Here are a few more titles that I like:

    1. The Price of a Bargain by Gordon Laird

    2. HOw to Start a Home-Based Craft Business by Kenn Oberrecht

    3. Start Your Own Arts and Crafts Business by J.S. McDougall

  • I’d like to add “Crafty Superstar : make crafts on the side earn extra cash and basically have it all.”

    I read it over Christmas. It was VERY helpful!!!

  • All good (pleased to see that I’ve read a few of them). Another good book is Mommy Millionaires by Kim Lavine. Love how honest she is about all her mistakes, owning a biz and being a mom, and her frank talk about debt and money.

  • ‘The Boss of You’ is a MUST in my opinion because it’s written by two female business partners who have been really successful in a male dominated industry. It just gives great business advice all around and I might be biased because I know the two authors but honestly, out of the years of reading business books (and having been in some), this one is the only one I really recommend. They also have a website: http://bosslady.ca/ based on the book. Lots of good things!

  • What an amazing collection of resources – I can’t wait to dive in and start reading them!

    If anyone has any suggestions for books on finding inspiration after several years in business I would love to hear them.

  • The Boss Of You… love it!

    Also recommend

    One Person, Multiple Careers… for those who want to understand and balance a few different jobs.

  • I have read the Anti 9-to-5 and Craft, inc and I am looking forward to checking out some of these other books. I have to say that the Anti 9-to-5 was the most inspirational/ motivational of the two (for me). I wanted to suggest another book as well, if I may: CRUSH IT by Gary Vaynerchuk. The catch phrase that he uses is a little cheesy, but its a quick read that I found super helpful in getting ideas flowing about my business, and possible other ones as well.

  • For anyone with a B&M store or booth at trade shows, art shows, antique shows, etc., I HIGHLY recommend Paco Underhill’s books ‘Why We Buy: The Science of Retail’ and ‘Call of the Mall’. Both offer useful insights into shopping behaviors, enabling merchants to maximize their efforts in visual merchandising, store/space layout, signage, and product placement. These are used by colleges around the world and are widely considered ‘the Bible of Retail’.

    I’m adding the rest of the books on your list to my blog sidebar’s ‘Recommended Reading’ links – Thanks!

  • For inspiration (on everything including business), I recommend The Art of Possiblity (Zander et al). I tell everyone “buy it and read first 4 chapters. If you don’t want it, I’ll buy it back from you”.

    I don’t know them and have no vested interest ;-)

  • Thanks for this list. I’ve been thinking “how do I get started” so reading a few books will hopefully give me the push I need.

  • I’d also recommend My So-Called Freelance Life by Michelle Goodman. It’s perfect for people looking to work as freelance writers, designers, and other creative types because it’s a comprehensive A-Z guide to starting and growing a freelance biz, and keeping your head on top of your shoulders throughout the journey. It’s the most frequently borrowed book on my shelf.

  • Thanks for the great list Megan. And also to Debi – I am always trying to figure out how to think like a retailer since that is not my background but it is so vital when selling to them!

  • I’m in the middle of The Martha Rules by Martha Stewart and am loving it. She talks about her experience starting a business and growing a business and what she’s learned from it. It’s pretty awesome. Great tips.

  • Have to say that Crush It was GREAT! Reading the Anit 9-5 and the Girls Guide to Starting a Business now…

  • I frequently refer to a book called “Guerilla Marketing”.
    It’s written by Jay Conrad Levinson. There are several editions so
    be sure to pick up a recent printing. It’s a great marketing idea
    book for all types and sizes of companies. It also encourages you
    to design and then stick to a marketing plan. I followed his advice
    and I am happy to report, I’ve had great success from it!

  • There are many great books out there. Thanks for recommending these.

    But one area that business people always seem to overlook is how to work with creative professionals like graphic and web designers… let’s face it. Sooner or later you will need to deal with one of these types of people.

    As a graphic and web designer with over 20 years experience, I thought it was time business people got a book of their own on this very subject.

    You can read/buy it at amazon.com in print or e-book format.


    I hope this can help others avoid the costly traps that many entrepreneurs seem to fall prey to again-and-again.