Looking to start a creative small business, or already running one and trying to improve it? There's no need to waste time and energy reinventing the wheel.
Countless entrepreneurs have done what you're doing now, and for just a small amount of money, you can learn crucial lessons from their experience that can make a big difference to the performance of your business.
In this article, we've collaborated with Coconut to bring together our favourite new books that can help you start a creative small business. Each takes a different angle, but all of them impart crucial and original advice that can really help you make a success of your venture.
1. Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing for Business, by Paul Jarvis
Once, people assumed that the key to success was to create and scale up a new business; the bigger it became, the more successful you were. However, this book by Paul Jarvis - a veteran of the online tech world - turns all that on its head.
Instead, he argues that in the modern world, success in business means being able to work for yourself, determine your own hours and become a highly profitable and sustainable company of one. In short, the smarter solution is to ignore convention and remain small.
This refreshing text not only introduces this unique strategy but explains how to make it work for you, including how to set up, generate sustainable cash flow, determine your desired revenues, keep your clients happy... and all on your own. In short, it's about how to find a business that works for you, rather than the other way around.
2. Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones, by James Clear
Although this is not a book about running a business per se, it's one that every small business owner can potentially benefit from. In it, James Clear - an author, trainer and a regular speaker at Fortune 500 companies - outlines four laws to help you set and maintain good habits. That might sound relatively trivial, but it could potentially change your life and fortunes dramatically.
Clear's writing is clear, focused and practically minded; he offers not just theory, but the background, context and useful examples to outline his advice. There are also a lot of links to downloadable support material.
If you suspect that your career development is being held back by bad habits, whatever they may be, then this is a must-read that could unlock a whole new level of potential for your creative business.
3. Hyperfocus: How to Work Less and Achieve More, by Chris Bailey
If you want your creative business to be more successful, then your instinct may be telling you that you need to "work harder". If so, your instinct is almost certainly wrong. Business success is invariably about working smarter, not harder, and that's the basic premise of this book by Chris Bailey.
Better productivity is not about time management, he believes, but attention management. We need to master the art of what he calls "hyperfocus", which he contrasts with "scatter focus"; a state of distraction when our mind constantly wanders. Bailey offers plenty of information, examples and advice on how to achieve this in practice, and it all adds up to a compelling, potentially life-changing read for any small business owner.
4. She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur, by Carrie Green
There's never been a better time to build a business online and in this book, Carrie Green - founder of the Female Entrepreneur Association - shows you how.
Green started her first online business at the age of 20, and so she knows all about the challenges that face you, including the common mental struggles entrepreneurs face. Based on her personal, tried-and-tested experience, she offers valuable guidance and powerful exercises to help you get clear on your business vision, move past fears and doubt, create your brand and build a "tribe" of fans, subscribers and customers.
In short, this book will provide all the honesty, realism and practical tools you need to bring your creative business vision to life.
5. This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn To See, by Seth Godin
Marketing guru Seth Godin is considered something of a publishing legend and for good reason; he has a knack of getting right to the nub of the matter, avoiding any need for jargon or lengthy explanation.
At the heart of this book is a radical idea: truly powerful marketing is grounded in empathy, generosity, and emotional labour. And businesses that use marketing to solve people's problems and make the world better, will ultimately be the successful ones.
This book teaches you to do just that. It walks you through how to identify your smallest viable audience; draw on the right signals to position your offering; build trust and permission; speak to the narratives your audience identifies with, and give people the tools to achieve their goals. A fascinating read, and a potential game-changer.
6. Entrepreneur Revolution: How to Develop your Entrepreneurial Mindset and Start a Business that Works, by Daniel Priestley
This book starts from the premise that we are living in revolutionary times; times with an impact as significant and far-reaching as the previous Industrial Revolution was to the Agricultural Age. And that's because small businesses can now have a global footprint, can be structured in low tax environments, move products anywhere in the world, and access unprecedented levels of support.
Author Daniel Priestley, who's built and sold businesses in Australia, Singapore, and the UK, proceeds to offer a masterclass in gaining an entrepreneurial mindset. This book explains how to change the way you think, the way you network, and the way you make a living. As a result, you'll be able to "quit working so hard, follow your dream, and make a fortune along the way".
7. Start Now. Get Perfect Later, by Rob Moore
One of the biggest problems many would-be entrepreneurs face is actually starting, and not becoming crippled by indecision and fear of failure. In this book, successful entrepreneur and bestselling author Rob Moore, explains that the quickest way to perfect is actually starting right now and improving as you go.
This book will show you how to launch your business or idea, begin the next phase of your career, and overcome self-doubt without prevarication. If you feel you can never launch a business until you're 100 per cent sure - but doubt you ever will be - this is a must-read for you.
8. Self Made: The definitive guide to business startup success, by Bianca Miller-Cole
Written by two young British entrepreneurs, runner-up of The Apprentice Bianca Miller and serial entrepreneur Byron Cole, this book is a comprehensive toolkit for anyone who wants to make a success of running their own business.
Featuring interviews with well-known entrepreneurs, entertainers and industry experts, the book covers every tier of the business development process, from start-up to exit, offering practical, implementable and global advice on the startup process. A great combination of straightforward jargon-free advice and enlightening anecdotes from real entrepreneurs.
9. Defining You: How to profile yourself and unlock your full potential, by Fiona Murden
Psychometric profiling is used widely in business to select job candidates at a high level, but have you ever wondered what a session would tell you about yourself? Here chartered psychologist Fiona Murden guides you through the process in private, to help you discover your strengths, understand what really drives you and learn which environments will help you to excel.
Our behaviour is at the core of what we do, and so this self-awareness toolkit aims to help you understand both your own and others' behaviour and to positively influence it. You may even start to sleep better, think more clearly and have good moods more often as a result.
10. Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact, by Phil M. Jones
Succeeding in business is often down to good communication, but despite our best intentions, we often say the wrong thing in the stress of the moment. Phil M. Jones has trained more than two million people across five continents and over 50 countries in the art of spoken communication. In this practically focused book, he delivers the tactics you need to get more of what you want.