7 business books to read BEFORE you buy another online course

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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 Contagious over 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 insane amounts 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.

Click here to get more tips like these right in your inbox >>>

3. Your Best Year by Lisa Jacobs

Your Best Year is 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!)

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.

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.

Share your must-read biz books in the comments, I’m always look for new reads (er, listens).

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

Is it the right time to invest in your business?

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Raise your hand if you relate to any of the following right now:

  • You feel like you’ve hit a plateau with sales, your skills, your creativity, etc.
  • You’re stuck. You can’t get around this GIANT wall.
  • You’re on the cusp of something great, but you’re too bogged down by the daily crap to make it happen.
  • You feel isolated and need a fresh perspective.  

Whenever I’ve felt this way, it’s because I needed to make some changes... usually around how I’m (not) spending my money.

Why is it so hard to spend money on your business?

Investing in your business is a really difficult, stressful decision, especially if you have other people depending on your income. After all, you could be putting that money toward student loans, child care, or a vacation, right? But if one of your goals in the next quarter is to scale up or bring in more consistent income, you need to be making smart purchases for your business.

Business investments are a long-term strategy, they keep you ahead of the curve, make your operations more efficient, and reinforce your expert status. Big companies invest in better equipment all the time, so why wouldn't you?

One of my favorite mantras is “do what you can with what you have”, so I strongly advocate that it’s never too soon to put money back into your business.

Small business investments can be just as important as larger ones.

Reinvest as much as you’re able to right now, even if it’s “only” $50 on better stock images for your social media. Try to think outside the box, too: Can you cut out some Netflix time to read more books or connect with other entrepreneurs? Investing your time in new ways can be just as powerful as spending your money.

Another thing to keep in mind is to not discredit small investments as too insignificant to make a difference. Dozens of micro changes can have BIG impacts down the line. You may not see an overnight leap in your business, but, if you’re committed to investing in it regularly, you’ll look back in two years and easily see how far you’ve come.

Are you on the look out for any Black Friday sales for your business? Leave a comment and let us know what's on your business wishlist!

How do you know if it's the right time to #invest in your #business?

11 Ways to Rock Your Business This Fall

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Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Cute boots. A scarf (or ten) too many. The seasons are changing, and with the cooler air comes the need for some simple tasks that will make running your business during the holidays SO much easier. If you want want a better business before the barista has time to ask you, “hot or iced?”, let’s check out a few things you can do this week to rock it all winter, complete with your estimated spend.

11 Quick Tasks to Add to Your Business To-Do List

1. Review your client contracts.

When was the last time you looked at the contracts you're sending out? If it's been a while, then it's time to block off an hour to thoroughly read through it to be sure it all still applies to your business. As entrepreneurs, our businesses change often throughout the year, so our contracts should reflect it.

(And, if you're one of those people who re-reads the contract every single time you send it out, stop wasting your time! Set up a system to review it quarterly and stick to it.) 

If you're not sure what to review, we have a checklist for you. You can get it here.

Estimated cost: 1 hour of your time.

2. Have a contract ready for new hires.

There’s nothing like hiring a team if you want to get more accomplished (and stay accountable). Getting clear on what you expect from your team members, and when, helps to keep everyone in line—including yourself!

Estimated cost: $355 for a template or 10+ hours if you DIY.

3. Make sure you have a contract for collaborations at the ready.

A contract protects both parties and their businesses. It also specifies who is responsible for what, and how each party gets paid. When you're collaborating with someone else, these details are pretty important. So, basically a nonessential if you’re fine with working for free.

Estimated cost: $355 for a template or 7-12 hours if you DIY.

4. Register your trademark...

Hey, how about before you spend $5k+ on a new brand, you find out if you’re even allowed to use it legally. This is an essential in any business if you can’t afford a surprise rebrand.

Estimated cost: A few thousand up-front and $400 maintenance every 10 years.

5. A copyright protects your creativity and your work in your business from copycats.

If you’re getting noticed, it’s only a matter of time before someone rips you off. And if you’re not getting ripped off yet, you will. Having a registration isn’t just nice to have, it actually entitles you to special financial rewards if someone does steal your stuff.

Estimated cost: $55 per blog post or client.

6. Set up your LLC.

Are you a real business? If you haven’t gotten your paperwork in order to surrender the metaphorical business diapers and put your big boy pants on, it’s time. An LLC helps to protect your personal assets in the event of a legal dispute. Without an LLC, your personal finances, your home, your kids (okay, not really) are at risk. If you want to know what the steps are to do this in your state, check out this free book I’ve created for you.

Estimated cost:  Varies by state but usually $50-200 per year.

7. Get your bookkeeping under control.

You need to know where your business stands financially so you can make smart, informed decisions. And keep the IRS off your back.

Estimated cost: Starting at $99/month with Bookly—varies by bookkeeping company and software.

8. Put your privacy policy on your website.

It’s a federal law to have terms and conditions and a privacy policy on your site if you’re collecting any information from visitors at all. If you’re doing any advertising or asking for an email list sign-up, you need this.

Estimated cost: $255 or 8-10 hours to DIY research + piece it together and wonder if it's legit.

9. Grab your tax ID number.

You’ll need a Tax ID Number to get a business checking account, but it also helps you to keep your social security number private when working as a small business.

Estimated cost: Free!

10. Take care of your state’s additional registration requirements.

Each state has its own requirements for business registration. Find out what those requirements are by contacting your local Small Business Administration branch.

Estimated Cost: Endless hours of searching or click here for a step-by-step guide.

11. Buy business insurance.

Nope, an LLC isn’t insurance. It pays to protect yourself and your business because like fire insurance, you don’t want your house to burn down but you’re not devastated if it does (okay so maybe you’re emotionally wrecked, that’s fair). Find out more about what kind of business insurance you need over on a guest blog I wrote for HoneyBook.

Estimated cost: Varies by selection and industry.

If you deal with these things one day at a time, it’s definitely doable to have a legit, secure biz faster than you can switch from work to Facebook. The best part is once you’ve taken care of everything above, it’s literally a matter of minutes each year you’re spending on these things.

Do this stuff now, love yourself for it later. 

Which ones are you adding to your to-do list?