33 of the best books for freelancers, entrepreneurs and small businesses

When you run your own business, it's essential to stay ahead of the game and be the best you can be. It means you should never stop learning and make the most of everything that's out there.

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

There's a vast wealth of books available that cover such a diverse range of topics — everything from helping you to improve your networking skills to business marketing and survival. We've rounded up some of the best titles – including a few newbies as well as some old classics. We've structured these books under helpful headings, so you can easily find what you're looking for.

General Business Thinking

1. Six Thinking Hats - Edward de Bono

An absolute classic, Six Thinking Hats teaches you how to approach decisions from six different perspectives. It forces you to move outside your habitual thinking style and helps you to have a more rounded viewpoint - ultimately allowing you to make wiser decisions. A must-read for any business owner.

2. Rework - Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, Founders of 37Signals

This book promises to change the way you work forever with easy-to-digest chapters covering various subjects that mainly throw out old ideas with a refreshing new outlook. Think your business is too small? Think again. Think you can't run a global business from your bedroom? Yes, you can. Read this book to gain some solid reassurance and a virtual pat on the back.

3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey

It's a holistic, integrated, principle-centred approach for solving personal and professional problems. It's a step-by-step pathway for living with the kind of principles that will help you to adapt to change, take advantage of new opportunities and be an overall success.

4. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It - Michael E Gerber

This bestseller dispels the myths and wrong assumptions surrounding starting and running a successful small business. He walks you through the steps in the life of a business from entrepreneurial infancy, through adolescent growing pains, to the mature entrepreneurial perspective, the guiding light of all businesses that succeed. After you have read The E-Myth Revisited, you will truly be able to grow your business predictably and productively.

Productivity and Time Management

5. Getting Things Done - David Allen

Want to achieve stress-free productivity? Allen shows you how to keep a clear head, relax and become business efficiently without going overboard and burning yourself out. It will transform the way you work.

6. The Now Habit - Neil A Fiore

Are you the world's biggest procrastinator? Want to overcome it and get things done? Neil Fiore will explain how to overcome the causes of procrastination and eliminate its disastrous effects. He will help you to get things done more quickly, without the anxiety and stress brought on by failure to meet deadlines.

7. No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs - Dan Kennedy

Can't find enough time? Kennedy - the 'Professor of Harsh Reality' - spells out how you can maximise your time with a fresh take on the mantra 'time is money'. It's all about disciplined productivity strategies, and Kennedy will show you how to make the most of every day.


8. How to Win Friends & Influence People - Dale Carnegie

Another classic but essential addition to anyone's bookshelf. Carnegie tells you the secrets of how to be charming and be liked by just about anyone. And because business is essentially about people, your social skills will benefit from his wisdom.

9. Brilliant Networking: What the Best Networkers Know, Do and Say - Steven D'Souza

Being brilliant at networking is an essential skill for business success. This book will show you how to become a brilliant networker, win new business and befriend and influence people.

10. The Social Animal: A Story of How Success Happens - David Brooks

A New York Times Bestseller, this book is a fascinating study of the unconscious mind and its impact on our lives. It's a story of how success happens, told through the lives of one composite American couple, Harold and Erica.


11. The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book - Dee Blick

Want to get to grips with marketing? This book is all you need. Packed with powerful tips, interesting case studies, proven tools and tricks - it has everything to get you started on raising your profile and attracting new customers.

12. Uprising: How to build a brand and change the world by sparking cultural movements - Scott Goodson

There’s a cultural movement gathering steam in the marketing world right now and, funnily enough, it has to do with… movements. The term 'Movement Marketing' is something Goodson sets out to explain, something that is changing the advertising industry as we know it.

13. Sticky Marketing: Why Everything in Marketing Has Changed and What To Do About It - Grant Leboff

We live in a world where people have become empowered. Consumers can contact brands directly, and they have a voice that is more powerful than ever before. Sticky Marketing considers these changes and provides a new set of rules for effective marketing.

14. Powerful Marketing On A Shoestring Budget: For Small Businesses - Dee Blick

Another Blick favourite, this book will show you how you can grow your business on a small budget with some simple but powerful marketing tips and tools. An absolute must-have.

15. Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers - Seth Godin

Traditional advertising is based on the hope of taking our attention away from whatever we are doing. Seth Godin calls this 'interruption marketing', and, as firms are discovering, it no longer works. In this book, Godin explains how to develop long-term relationships with customers, create trust, build brand awareness and greatly improve the chance of making a sale.

16. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion - Robert Cialdini

Want to know why people say yes - and how to apply these understandings to your own business? Dr Robert Cialdini is the seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion. His thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence-based research along with a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behaviour has resulted in this highly acclaimed book. You'll learn the six universal principles and how to use them to become a skilled persuader.

17. Guerrilla Marketing - Jay Conrad Levinson

First published in 1983, Jay Levinson's Guerrilla Marketing has become a classic in the field of business, revolutionising marketing for small businesses all over the world and creating a new way to understand market share and how to gain it. It's full of leading-edge strategies for marketing on the Internet, putting new technologies to work, targeting prospects, cultivating repeat and referral business, and managing in the age of telecommuting and freelance employees, among others.

Going social

18. Likeable Social Media - Dave Kerpen

A friend's recommendation is more powerful than any advertisement. In the world of Facebook and Twitter, that recommendation can travel further and faster than ever before. Kerpen will show you how to harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing to transform your business.

19. Fusion: The New Way of Marketing - David Taylor & David Miles

This book talks about effective marketing in the social media age. It explains everything you need to know about online, including websites, digital communications, networking via the Internet and creating a social media culture within your business.

20. 500 Social Media Marketing Tips - Andrew Macarthy

A complete guide to social media for business, covering all of the web's biggest players, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube. Simply-written expert tips about how to build your brand in social media spaces, attract and engage with customers, and increase sales.

21. The New Rules of Marketing & PR - David Meerman Scott

Business communication has changed over recent years. Creative ad copy is no longer enough. The New Rules of Marketing and PR has brought thousands of marketers up to speed on the changing requirements of promoting products or services in the new digital age. It is a one–of–a–kind, pioneering guide, offering a step–by–step action plan for harnessing the power of the Internet to communicate with buyers directly, raise online visibility, and increase sales.

Closing the sale

22. Secrets of Closing the Sale - Zig Ziglar

We all have to sell our ideas to become successful. Ziglar lets you in on the secrets of his own sure-fire tried and tested methods with over 100 successful closings for every kind of persuasion and over 700 questions that will open your eyes to new possibilities.

23. Brilliant Selling: What the Best Salespeople Know, Do and Say - Tom Bird

Let's face it, if you run your own business or sell your product - you've got to know how to sell! Bird will give you the lowdown on how to be a brilliant salesperson.

Inspiration to do better

24. In Search of Excellence - Robert H Waterman, Jr

An interesting account of highly successful international brands and companies, this book looks at the eight key principles of business, along with various case studies.

25. Good To Great - Jim Collins

Can a good company become a great company and, if so, how? In this classic, Collins concludes that good to great can and does happen. He shows you how to get there. It's a book that's full of ideas and will leave you feeling incredibly inspired.

26. Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell

His third bestseller, Gladwell's Outliers, explains how luck and hard work play an equal part in success. Read some fascinating success stories to see how others did well - you'll be left hugely inspired.

27. Losing My Virginity - Richard Branson

Who wouldn't want to read the story behind one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time? In this autobiography, Richard talks about his many successful ventures. A huge inspiration.

Self-help for business

28. How Successful People Think - John Maxwell

Maxwell shows us how successful people are not necessarily smarter; they think differently. In this helpful book, he outlines the keys to innovative thinking and offers tips to help you work smarter and 'change your life'.

29. The 4-Hour Work Week - Timothy Ferriss

'Escape 9-5, live anywhere and join the new rich' remarks Tim Ferriss, the author of this book which challenges the way most of us lead our lives. He argues that if you can create an income generator, it will leave you free to pursue your passions - that's whether you wish to travel, work on side projects or do nothing at all. An interesting read that will inspire you to change your thinking on various things.

30. How to Change the World - David Bornstein

Bornstein talks about 'Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas' in his book. He outlines various case studies to show you that you can be a success if you have a passion for changing the world.

31. The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness - Dr Steve Peters

This book is an incredibly powerful mind management model that can help you become a happy, confident, healthier and more successful person. Dr Peters explains the struggle that takes place within your mind and then shows you how to apply this understanding to every area of your life, mainly so you can develop yourself and your skills.

32. Achieve Anything In Just One Year: Be Inspired Daily to Live Your Dreams and Accomplish Your Goals - Jason Harvey

A self-improvement book about achieving success through daily motivation and self-examination. Transform your life through small daily choices and propel yourself to success. Sound farfetched? Give Harvey's popular book a try and see where you are 12-months from now.

33. Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman

The New York Times Bestseller, Thinking Fast and Slow offers a whole new look at the way our minds work, and how we make decisions. It will enable you to make better decisions at work, at home, and in everything you do.


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