Business books to read in 2021
12 valuable business book reads in 2021 for the owners of micro-businesses or solopreneurs
Which business books to read in 2021

Which business books to read in 2021: 12 valuable reads

Published:
January 19, 2021

This post features twelve of the business books I enjoyed last year or come back to regularly. If you're wondering which business books to read in 2021, then this post should bring benefit to you too. I get through a lot of business books every year as this post on 'Why read business books?' explains. So by sharing the ones that have had greatest benefit to me or my clients with you, you can benefit too.

The 12 books are listed below with a short summary and why I think you should find the time to read the book during 2021 along with links to buy the book from an independent book store or audiobook. Throughout 2021, I'm setting a goal of finding the time each month to cover one book from the business books to read in 2021 in more depth.

When it comes to buying books, although it's really easy to just click the order from 'Amazon Prime' button, but before you do so, see why we recommend you should buy from an independent and explain how to do it. There's a great social enterprise service that we support called Bookshop.org. Bookshop.org makes it really easy to support independents, get your books quickly and be cost-effective whilst you do so.

If you're unsure about why you should read business books, then check out our article on that or if you want to get straight into the, then you can jump directly to the recommendations list.

Who is the 'which business books to read in 2021' list for?

This list is primarily for owners of micro-businesses or solopreneurs. You're creating the direction for your business, so we're devoted to helping you to get the best return from the time you're investing in yourself. Business books that I think are best for the business owner have the 'like a boss' emoji ?. That doesn't mean you shouldn't share them with team members you think might benefit from them, but I recommend you start with the teams ones (below) for start points for your wider team. If you disagree, let me know in the comments.

Which business books work well for teams?

Reading business books doesn't just have to be something that only the business owner does. Certain business books have been written in a way that make them great to share, buy multiple copies of (strategy noted for when I write my own book!), and discuss and learn from as a team.

The books that are great for a wider team as well as the business owner have this icon ? next to the book title, below.

The books on the business books to read in 2021 list that are also great starting points for strategies in your workplace and are great for sharing with your team are:

✅ 'Building a StoryBrand' and ✅ 'The Mom Test' are excellent books for nailing your positioning strategy as a business or for specific products and services;
✅ 'They Ask, You Answer' is a discussion framework for planning your content strategy;
✅ 'It Doesn't Have To Be Crazy At Work' is fantastic for workflow design and management, and;
✅ 'SYSTEMology' has some excellent chapters explaining how to practically go about systemising your business as a team.

Small business management books

1. Company of One by Paul Jarvis ?

Company of One book summary:

Company of One teaches you how going small, not big when creating your own company will bring you independence, income, and lots of free time without the hassles of forced growth. Spoiler alert: the book isn't just for 'solopreneur' one person businesses.

Why you should find time to read it:

Company of One is a refreshing and eye-opening challenge to the traditional model of running a business. A focus on endless growth more often than not results in endless stress and overwhelm for the business owner. (Tweet this summary)

Buy now from an independent / Audible

Small business management book recommendation - Company of One by Paul Jarvis

2. The 25 Year Framework by Dan Sullivan ?

25 Year Framework book summary:

You have more than enough time to complete your biggest goals. More likely than not, your biggest achievements over the last 25 years were not overnight ones. But as humans, we focus too much on the here and now, instead of regularly committing to chipping away at steps on bigger future goals. Dan Sullivan's simple framework helps address that disconnect.

Why you should find time to read it:

A quick read, and a really valuable return on your time.

Tip: get the Audible version and there's a link to additional resources online in it, including the digital copy.

Small business management book recommendation - 25 Year Framework by Dan Sullivan

3. The Automatic Customer by John Warrillow ?

Automatic Customer book summary:

Nine subscription business model ideas to help identify and create a subscription revenue stream for any business in any industry. The ideas can be used to complement an existing business model or launch a whole new venture.

Why you should find time to read it:

Warrillow makes a compelling case for adding subscription revenues to any business, covering the why, what and how to do it, and the benefits from revenue, consistency & valuation perspectives. (Tweet this)

Buy now from an independent / Audiobook

Small business management book recommendation - The Automatic Customer by John Warrillow

Productivity books

4. Essentialism by Greg McKeown ?

Essentialism book summary:

"Less but better." Essentialism will challenge the way you think about productivity and life. It helps you to determine where your highest point of contribution lies, then make execution of those things almost effortless.

Why you should find time to read it:

If you read no other books on our list, then consider 'Essentialism' and 'Company of One'. They are the most thought- and action-provoking books I read in 2020. Give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, and start making your highest contribution towards the things that really matter. (Tweet this)

Buy now from an independent / Audible

Productivity book recommendation - Essentialism by Greg McKeown

5. Atomic Habits by James Clear ?

Atomic Habits book summary:

An atomic habit is a regular practice or routine that is not only small and easy to do but is also the source of incredible power; a component of the system of compound growth. Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.
The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become.

Why you should find time to read it:

Limited by time and resources to bring in additional help, forming good habits is the surest way for a business owner or a small staff to achieve tangibly better results. Unlike most 'self-help' authors, James Clear presents a compelling, reasoned and non-judgemental approach to improving habits and performance.

Buy now from an independent / Audible

Productivity book recommendation - Atomic Habits by James Clear

6. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport ?

Digital Minimalism book summary:

Cal Newport's not on Facebook. In fact he doesn't engage with social media at all. Instead he's prodigiously productive in his role as an academic and author.

Why you should find time to read it:

Get off your phone, read a book instead. This is a good one. This is a useful and insightful book for reducing your addiction to- and reliance on technology, while increasing the benefits you derive from it when you do use it. If you think that tech is controlling you, then this is a good stimulus for getting more mindful about controlling it.

Buy now from an independent / Audible

Productivity book recommendation - Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

7. It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work
by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson ?

It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work book summary:

For decades, western culture has subtly and sometimes unsubtly trained us to pushing ourselves to work longer hours, meet tighter deadlines and be ever more accessible on demand. This presents a calmer way of doing things. IDHTBCAW describes the difference between working hard and working smartly. More poignantly, it shows just how compatible company profitability is with good work-life balance, not counter to it.

Why you should find time to read it:

In all seriousness, who really wants to work longer hours? No? Give this a read.

Buy now from an independent / Audible

Productivity book recommendation - It Doesnt Have to Be Crazy At Work by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

Small business marketing books

8. The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick ?

The Mom Test book summary:

When you ask for their advice on if something's a good idea, they behave like your mum. They fundamentally don't want to hurt your feelings so people will lie to you. 'The Mom Test' helps you assess business and product ideas without the awkwardness of people not wanting to hurt your feelings and telling you what they think you want to hear.

It encourages asking people about their lives and about their experiences instead. And asking questions related to the problem you are trying to solve with your idea. This way you’ll gather enough data, iterate on your business venture and create a meaningful product people will actually want to buy.

Why you should find time to read it:

Nobody ever wants to launch dud ideas, do they? This is a good book for performing a retrospective on past decisions and to help you better formulate how you gather data and insights for future ones.

Buy now from an independent / Audible

Small business marketing book recommendation - The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick

9. They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan ?

They Ask You Answer book summary:

Too often marketers create content that exists to prove that they’re smart, rather than assure the customer that he or she is in control. That’s a mistake. Marcus Sheridan presents the case for how the number one job for for marketers is not to build the brand, but to educate customers, and become world-class listeners and teachers. We earn trust through teaching, solving our customers problems and actual questions and providing honest answers.

Why you should find time to read it:

Customers don't buy based on a beauty parade. They buy based on the answers to five main questions that few businesses answer. And because they don't, this is your opportunity. TAYA is a framework for tackling content marketing properly in your business.

Buy now from an independent / Audible

Small business marketing book recommendation - They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan

10. Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller ?

StoryBrand book summary:

You are not the hero. Your customer is. 'Building a Story Brand' is about recognising that. “Businesses that invite their customers into a heroic story grow. Businesses that don’t are forgotten.”

  • Companies tend to sell solutions to external problems, but customers buy solutions to internal problems.
  • Customers aren’t looking for another hero; they’re looking for a guide.
  • Customers trust a guide who has a plan.
  • Customers do not take action unless they are challenged to take action.
  • Every human being is trying to avoid a tragic ending.

Why you should find time to read it:

Without any doubt in my mind, the best summary of how to position your business, or correct a misalignment in your positioning with your customers.

Buy now from an independent / Audible

Small business marketing book recommendation - Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller

11. Content DNA by John Espirian ?

Content DNA book summary:

If 'StoryBrand' is about getting your positioning nailed, then 'Content DNA' by John Espirian is a practical guide for being consistent with how you share and promote your brand and message.

"How can we compete in today's fast-moving market? There are more platforms, more users and more content than ever before. How do we stand out? What can we do to make ourselves noticed, remembered and preferred?"

Content DNA provides the answers. By focusing on two key elements - consistency and congruence - you'll learn how to define a recognisable "shape" for your business.

Why you should find time to read it:

'Content DNA' is a checklist for authenticity in your messaging and content. With so many platforms and clutter in the digital marketing world, it will help you find consistency to the way you approach your marketing.

Buy now from an independent / Audible

Small business marketing book recommendation - Content DNA by John Espirian

Systemisation books

12. SYSTEMology by David Jenyns ?

SYSTEMology book summary:

Create time, reduce errors and scale your profits with proven business systems. I might never have discovered David Jenyns were it not for the internet. After all, what does a former digital agency owner in Melbourne have in common with a software developer and implementer in the UK? The answer is ‘systems’ and systems thinking.

What I’ve always loved about David’s content is that it’s focused on achieving that sought after ‘flywheel effect’ but in the context of a small or micro-business setting. And that’s what most other experts on systems fail to grasp.

Why you should find time to read it:

David’s story and SYSTEMology are relevant for the 99.9% of us in business who’ll never be the next McDonald’s or Amazon and that’s the crucial factor that makes this book a must-read for any business owner. Enjoy!

Amazon / Audible

Systemisation book recommendation - SYSTEMology by David Jenyns

Business books to read in 2021: wrap-up

What is your favourite business book? If one of these business books to read in 2021 is your favourite, or you prefer different ones, then why not comment below and let's start the discussion going!

Thanks for reading. I hope that this list proves valuable to you, saves you time searching, and importantly adds value to the way you run your business this year ???.

About

Gareth Everson

Gareth's the founder of Connectably. He's a business systemiser who helps small business owners who aren't always natural "software people" to systemise their processes, understand marketing technology, improve client experiences, launch new services, get paid their true worth, and increase the value of their business. Connectably is a self-funded software business (founded 2017) that serves other small businesses. You can follow Connectably here, and connect with Gareth here.
Author: Gareth Everson - Founder Connectably

Could Connectably be right for you?

Connectably helps everyday businesses to manage workflows, processes and communications that would normally require much more expensive software and skills to manage. It's simple to use, easier to implement than continuing to do things manually, and will help you to think about your business in a different, more scalable, and less time-intensive way.

Legal stuff

Most popular content