Shop confidently - 14-day no-hassle return policy

7 business books to read BEFORE you buy another online course

Close up of a green indoor fern looking plant with white door in the background

I get struck down by shiny object syndrome more times than I’d like to admit. I see a new course and I instantly want in. I’ll often try to justify it in terms of what it means financially for my business. If you were in my brain, you could hear the back and forth of, “well, if I did an extra launch and sold 13 courses from two emails that I have room for in two weeks, then I could pay for this course…” and on it goes.

Online courses are just so tempting though, aren’t they? Sometimes it can feel like the only way to truly jump-start your business and put some skin in the game, as they say.

When you drop a lot of money on your business all at once by purchasing an online course, the thinking goes, you’ll be more motivated than ever to follow through and make some huge changes that permanently take your biz to the next level.

If my bank balance could talk, this is what it would say: “But Christina, are online courses really the only way to make huge leaps in your business?” My wise bank balance — always keeping me in check (gettit? #SoPunny).

Before you hit that ‘BUY NOW’ button, seriously think about putting in the time and fully digesting some must-read business books that could accomplish the very same thing for you as that pricey online course.

The secret is to get outside your own industry when choosing which books to delve into! It sheds light on your own business in a powerful way, and you’ll get to hear different voices that grab your attention instead of fading into the background of the authors/writers/speakers you’ve probably been following for years now.

7 books to add to your business wishlist

1. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

Contagious is always the first business book that comes to mind when someone asks me for a business book recommendation. (Psst: I didn’t actually “read” it at all, and if you’re on-the-go like I am, I highly recommend an Audible subscription so you can do the same thing! I listened to Contagiousover the course of a couple of long car drives.)

The reason why this book is so revolutionary is because it forces you to think about what’s really going on in your business. And then it guides through the process of taking your brand from an everyday, ho-hum operation competing in a saturated market to a contagious brand with insaneamounts of publicity. The examples in the book are so spot on, too. For instance, what’s the difference between the Ubers of the world and plain yellow taxi cabs? And what makes you want to share or refer a business to begin with? This book has the insight needed to answer AND IMPLEMENT all this and more.

It can be a dense book because it covers some huge topics, but it’s light-hearted and quick to digest if you listen to it chapter-by-chapter.

2. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

I just adore Chris Guillebeau — everything that he does is so very generous, informative and super helpful. You may have already heard of The $100 Startup (and if you have and haven’t read it, it’s time to get on that). It’s all about starting a business when you have very, very little capital. This book gets to the bottom of all of it: What does a lean startup look like? How do you do it? What kind of business can you actually create with $100?

When I first started out, the only businesses I could think to start had huge startup costs and very low returns. Case in point: my miserably failed horse breeding business in law school. Yeah.

I wish I had come across The $100 Startup sooner because it showed me I didn’t need a ton of capital to start a business, I just thought I did! This book taught me exactly how to bootstrap and find the resources to launch a business for next-to-nothing.

If we’ve been hanging out for a while, you’ve definitely heard me say, “Do what you can with what you have.” Sure, we all want to have the perfect-looking product, service, or sales page, but you know what? Having something that sucks that makes money and can be improved is way better than something that doesn’t exist.

Get more tips like these right in your inbox >>>

3. Your Best Year by Lisa Jacobs

Your Best Yearis a genius and inspiring productivity workbook and online business planner. Lisa wrote this gem specifically for creative entrepreneurs and it walks you past the fear of starting up, through the daunting task of setting goals, and keeps you on pace with monthly and quarterly accountability sheets. Since she’s a creative entrepreneur herself, she’s truly a master as she guides you through making the most of your business this year (and beyond, of course!).

You’re going to love the worksheets and strategies inside this fresh new planning system that creates space and opportunity for the massive growth you’ve always wanted to make happen in your business. (I love it so much that I gifted it to my team members!)

Psssst... after this blog post, read 10 Micro Small Business Investments You Can Make Today 

4. Make it Happen by Lara Casey

I’m a big believer in looking behind the scenes and seeing how someone else pulls it off. Lara does a really great job of peeling back the curtain of being a “successful business owner.” She gets very vulnerable and open as she lets us peek into her personal life and the journey she’s been on. This is more of a light read than some of my other recommendations, and it’s especially good paired with a Saturday morning cup of tea. Lara’s the founder of the Making Things Happen Conference, the magazine Southern Weddings, and the creator of the infamous PowerSheets. She knows her stuff! We can all learn so much from her.

Click here for a free guide to a legit + profitable business.

5. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

It’s a short read, which means you need to make it happen. If you’re a busy entrepreneur or you’re a mom, you can get through it in less than two hours.

Steal Like An Artist is very visual and poignant and really helps you realize that you aren’t alone on this journey. It’s a great reminder that just because other people out there are doing the same kinds of things as you, it doesn’t mean you won’t be successful.

There’s plenty of room for all of us, and we can never hear that piece of wisdom too many times!

6. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss

Y’all, this is a LONG read, but I’m really sad that I’m already a third of the way through it! You all know Tim Ferriss. I love the guy, and I love podcasts, but for some reason, I just don’t like to listen to his podcast. He’s taken the effort out and created an ENTIRE VOLUME of “too long, didn’t listen” material. It’s amazing, I can’t rave about it enough. I’ve already learned how to track my own emails when I sign up for others’ blog opt-ins, how to actually break a bad habit and what kind of security I should be implementing for super-safe internet surfing.

7. Launch by Jeff Walker

Jeff has a course that everyone who has been on the internet for more than five minutes is familiar with: Product Launch Formula. He takes you behind the scenes of his formula, admittedly with some gratuitous client success stories. Nevertheless, it’s a quick, addicting read if you are looking for a breakthrough with an upcoming launch of your next product or service.

BONUS! Because I couldn’t limit myself to 7 books (and because odd numbers are better blog titles)...6 Months to 6 Figures by Peter Voogd

My hero and personal coach, Adrienne Dorison, recommended this book on her podcast a while ago (is it a coincidence she shows up in the back of it??). It is truly a great reminder for some of us, and a great system for others who are newer, as to what it takes to achieve higher revenues in our businesses.

What are your fave business books? Share your must-reads in the comments, I’m always look for new reads (er, listens).

Watch this video to find out why I pulled the plug on selling online courses.

Join my weekly picnic emails where I share snack-sized business tips like these.

Books to read when starting or growing your business. #business #smallbusiness #creative #entrepreneur

1 Response


April 02, 2018

Great article thank you. I have a couple of those books but will be adding to my collection.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in The Blog

11 Clauses You Should Include in Wedding Contracts
11 Clauses You Should Include in Wedding Contracts

How to Name a Business in 6 Steps
How to Name a Business in 6 Steps

Avoid this fake check scam
Avoid this Fake Check Scam (2024)