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The Best Business Books to Grow Your Business

Must Read Books For Any Business Owner

Ready to get inspired? Informed? Educated? No investment in yourself has a better ROI than a good book. Over the years, we’ve reviewed dozens of how-to’s, biographies, and other books that can show you how to be a better entrepreneur. As they say, “success leaves clues.” Below, check out some of our favorite business books ever, and hear our full reviews on The $100 MBA Show!

Note: This page contains affiliate links (but we’d recommend these books either way).

Anything You Want
Derek Sivers

This book is a pretty short one. Just a hundred pages and you can read it in one sitting. It may be short but we’ve read a lot of books and this one ranks high on the list. Derek’s life story is so inspiring and his writing style won our hearts. If you want to know why we think this is a must read, simply click that play button!


Anyone Can Do It
Sahar Hashemi

This is our first Must Reads episode, where I discuss a book I highly recommend and explain why you should read it ASAP. I also discuss why the book influenced me as an entrepreneur and what were the major insights I found when reading it.


The War of Art
Steven Pressfield

In this Must Read episode we talk about why you MUST read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I share how it has impacted me and what are some of the biggest take-aways from the book. Press play and enjoy!


The Purple Cow
Seth Godin

In this Must Read episode I talk about why you MUST read Purple Cow by Seth Godin. Seth Godin is one of my absolute favorite authors. I share how this book has impacted me and what some of the biggest take-aways from the book are. Press play and enjoy!


Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Robert T. Kiyosaki

In this Must Read episode you will learn why you should read Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and how it influenced me as an entrepreneur. This book is the best financial education I received, thanks Uncle Ash for gifting it to me 10 years ago!


Book Yourself Solid
Michael Port

In this Must Read episode you will learn why you should read Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port and how it influenced me as an entrepreneur. This book made a huge impact in the business book world and it really impacted our own business. Press play to hear why!


Now Discover Your Strengths
Marcus Buckingham

In this Must Read episode you will learn why you should read Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and how it influenced me as an entrepreneur. This book made a huge impact on my mindset and knowing what to focus on as an entrepreneur. We also have a super special giveaway in this episode so stay tuned til the end to find out about this exciting opportunity! Press play to hear all about it!


48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene
Robert Greene

Today is a Must Read episode where I discuss a book that has greatly influenced me as an entrepreneur and that I recommend that every entrepreneur reads. Today’s book is The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. This book is not a how to, but rather a book that will help you be aware of the affect power can have on others as well as some of the power tactics others make use of. Go ahead, press play and jump right in!


Seth Godin

Today’s episode is a MUST READ episode. Today’s must read book is Seth Godin’s Tribes. Seth Godin talks about the importance of building a community around your business and your role as their leader. We all want to be a part of a community, it’s in our nature. So how do you use this in your business to better your offer and better your service to your audience? Find out why Tribes affected our business and impacted us as business builders. Go ahead, press play and enjoy!


How To Win Friends and Influence People
Dale Carnegie

Today’s special 100th episode is a MUST READ episode. Today’s must read book is Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People. Nicole, our Producer joins Omar to talk about why this book is one of the best business books of all time. Find out why this book is so powerful and has influenced us as entrepreneurs. We’re also giving away that $100 Amazon Gift Card we’ve been talking about, so go ahead, press play and enjoy!


Reality Check
Guy Kawasaki

Here is yet another $100 MBA Show Must Reads episode! Today we review the book Reality Check by entrepreneur, evangelist, venture capitalist, and guru, Guy Kawasaki. This book is considered as one of the best resource materials out there in terms of guiding people in managing great organizations. Let us all benefit from Guy’s legendary wisdom today by pressing play!


I Will Teach You To Be Rich
Ramit Sethi

It’s time to feature another runaway bestselling book that’s worth your time! Today we discuss Ramit Sethi’s highly acclaimed book I Will Teach You To Be Rich. For years this popular bestseller has helped people from all over the world manage their money and guide them to the path towards financial freedom. Tune in to today’s $100 MBA Show so you can find out how this book can make an impact in your life!


Everything I Know
Paul Jarvis

It’s another Must Read episode here at The $100 MBA Show! Today we feature a brilliant book by Paul Jarvis, a web designer, author, entrepreneur and awesome friend. Paul’s book, Everything I Know, is packed with powerful insights that will help you transform your ideas. We will delve deeper into this book in today’s episode and let you know why you should read “Everything I Know,” so dig in now by pressing play!


The Thank You Economy
Gary Vaynerchuk

On today’s Must Read episode we share why you should take a look at Gary Vaynerchuk’s best selling book The Thank You Economy. If you want to be more than just a business and be a brand that actually cares about its customers and audience members, then this is a must read book. Find out how it shifted Omar’s mind-set as an entrepreneur and how it can do the same for you. Let’s do this!


Think and Grow Rich
Napoleon Hill

We start this week off by featuring a much loved classic business book- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Find out from today’s episode how this book influenced thousands of entrepreneurs and how you can apply its powerful insights to your personal and business growth. Let’s get down to business!


Good to Great
Jim Collins

In today’s Must Read episode we discuss why you really should read Good to Great by Jim Collins. This book has become a modern classic in business management theory for good reason. Find what makes it so good and how it can really influence you as a business builder. It sure had an impact on Omar and today, he shares how. Press play and learn more.


Jeff Sutherland

In today’s Must Read episode, we feature Scrum by Jeff Sutherland. Learn why the Scrum technique has been adopted by many large tech companies and how it can help you run projects with a group of people. It also offers insights on how to be more productive. Click play and you’re on your way.


The 4-Hour Work Week
Tim Ferriss

Today’s the day for a brand new MUST READ episode and we’re going to feature an amazing and fun to read book by Tim Ferriss: The 4-Hour Work Week. The title itself is very interesting and many have found this book very influential. Entrepreneurs and even 9-5 workers can definitely take something out from this book and I’m going to share with you why. Click to play!


First, Break All the Rules
Marcus Buckingham

How do the world’s greatest managers nail it at being incredible at what they do? Do you wonder why their employees seem happy and satisfied working for them? How can you achieve this? This must read episode can help you answer these questions intensively. Learn why you must read this book here on The $100 MBA Show!


The Power of Habit
Charles Duhigg

As an entrepreneur, you’re going to have to manage yourself, your time, and your habits. The better your habits are on a daily basis, the more you will see better results not just in your business, but in your life, too. That’s why we highly recommend you read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Know what you can expect from reading this must read book today! Let’s get it started!


The 5 Levels of Leadership
John C. Maxwell

In this Must Read Episode, we’ll be talking about a book written by a powerful public speaker, John C. Maxwell – The 5 Levels of Leadership. John C. Maxwell is the authority when it comes to leadership. We’ll talk about the different levels of leadership, how you can move up in the ranks and how to transition from one level to another. Let’s get started!


Dave Ramsey

Here on The $100 MBA Show, we showcase a book that we feel you MUST read especially if you are an entrepreneur. Today, we’re featuring Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey and you’re right! The book title is a combination of the words entrepreneur and leadership because being a leader in the business world is a completely different journey. So let’s find out how we can be a great leader as an entrepreneur, click play!


Greg McKeown

Are you the kind of person who thinks you can do it all but you find that you are stretched too thin and you’re way too stressed out? Are you “majoring in minor activities”? Enter the way of the Essentialist. Essentialism by Greg McKeown is high on our MUST read list. This book gave us one of the most powerful mindset shifts that immediately impacted our life and business. Let’s get into it!


The Sales Acceleration Formula
Mark Roberge

We highly recommend you to read this book because it has affected our business in a positive way. The author, founder of HubSpot, shared how they got started and how they were able to grow from a small team of 3 through his Sales Acceleration Formula. Listen to this episode to learn more!


The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries
Jack Trout

We’re sharing with you why you must read this book in this episode. Learn how marketing is just as important as is building your business. There are timeless insights, principles and takeaways that we have taken out of this book and applied straight to our business. Let’s get into it!


Delivering Happiness
Tony Hsieh

There’s a pretty good chance that you’ve heard about Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, probably the most popular online shoe store on the net. He is also known for the way he runs his business. And in today’s episode, we’re going to share with you why you must read his book, Delivering Happiness, which explains how he created this company culture that aims to improve the lives of its employees. What are you waiting for? Hit the play button!


Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

Rework is a book that has been recommended to us by many entrepreneurs but I’ve just got around to read it for the first time recently. It is definitely a must read because it’s very honest, has no fluff and it makes you rethink the process of your business. We can’t wait to share this with you so let’s get started! Play the episode now!


The Ultimate Sales Machine
Chet Holmes

The only thing about this book I’m not a fan of, is the title: The Ultimate Sales Machine. That’s because this book is not just about making more sales, it covers a lot more than just sales. It is a national best seller and it’s a great all-around business book. This book provides practical and really good examples that can help you improve as an entrepreneur plus exercises on how you can really implement them in your business. If you wanna learn more about this book, hit that play button now!


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Stephen Covey

We can’t think of a book that’s more well known in the business section. This book has sold over 15 million copies and it’s been translated in over 38 different languages. The audio version alone has sold over 1.5 million copies. So obviously and to be quite honest, it’s one of those books that everybody agrees that you should read. But why I recommend you must read this book is beyond those reasons. You have to listen to this episode to truly know why it’s a must read. Let’s click play!


The Six Thinking Hats
Edward De Bono

The Six Thinking Hats by Edward De Bono is an international best seller. It’s one of those classic books that you just need to read. It’s not strictly a business book but it will definitely help you become a better entrepreneur and help you make better decisions as a manager. Let us share with you the techniques that are taught in this book how we also used the techniques in our business. Press play!


Notes From a Friend
Anthony Robbins

Tony Robbins has a lot of best selling books. But the book that we are going to feature today is actually quite small compared to his other books. He is known and admired for his very large books but let us tell you why you also must read this little book. It may be little but what’s inside is a short summation of the things that Tony teaches very well that’s much bigger than we think. We can’t wait to share this with you so click play!


Brand Against The Machine
John Michael Morgan

This book is simply the best branding book I have read. I highly recommend this because it’s simple. It breaks down what is branding and why it’s so important. Too many books out there are over-complicated and a lot of us get branding and marketing confused. But I’m going to clarify all that in this episode. Click the play button so I can share with you why it’s a must read!


The Obstacle Is The Way
Ryan Holiday

We face challenges every single day. How do we tackle these obstacles head on and come out as a better person and entrepreneur? Not to worry because today, we’re going to share with you a book we’ve recently read- The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday. This book is not only very well-written, it will also show us how we can turn our own adversities into advantages. This book doesn’t fluff around so if you wanna hear about why you must read it, hit play!


Guerrilla Marketing Excellence
Jay Conrad Levinson

This book changes the way you think about marketing. It not only gives you specific insights about how to market your business on a budget, it also emphasizes why marketing is so important and how to keep it at the top of the line. We’re going to give you some great takeaways that we got from this book so you can use it to improve your business. Let’s click play!


Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant
Robert Kiyosaki

This is Robert Kiyosaki’s second book which in many ways, was more enjoyable than the first book, Rich Dad Poor Dad. It’s more practical, more tactical and it gets into the nitty gritty of financial education. CASHFLOW Quadrant was written for those who are ready to move beyond employment and finally have financial freedom. Find out why this is must read right now! Hit play!


The Dip
Seth Godin

The Dip by Seth Godin goes into a topic that a lot of people don’t want to talk about in business. Some may even refuse to agree or believe. It’s about knowing when to quit or when to hang on and keep persevering. We know everyone can relate to this but this topic is somehow ignored. This book talks about a lot of tough things we go through but more importantly about when to pivot. Learn why I considered this the first must read of 2016! Click play now!


How to Get a Grip
Matthew Kimberley

How to get a grip is a book written by Matthew Kimberley. It’s classified as a self-help book but it’s a whole lot more than that. It is so worth the read that we recommend every entrepreneur on Earth must read this book. If you want your business to be in great shape then you have to make sure that your life is doing great, too! A better you is a better business. Learn why it’s a must read in this episode! Hit play!


This Book Will Teach You How to Write Better
Neville Medhora

Before you start saying “I’m not a writer! I can’t relate to this book.” Remember that as an entrepreneur, you are a writer. Every day, you write for your emails, sales copies, script for your speeches, podcasts and videos and much more. Understand that this book is not about being a bestselling author, it’s simply about communicating effectively through writing. And this book will give you a formula on how to write better in just a hundred pages. We’re so excited to share this book with you so if you are ready, listen up!


Growth Hacker Marketing
Ryan Holiday

We’re featuring a second Ryan Holiday book as a Must Read. This book is so well-written and well-researched that after reading, you’re a better person for it. You can’t say that often about a lot of books! Get ready to change your mindset when it comes to marketing. We’ll also share why Ryan wrote this book and a bit of his back story. Don’t delay anymore, press play right now!


The Boron Letters
Gary Halbert

The Boron Letters is a book written while the author was in prison. Yes, during Gary Halbert’s prison time, he wrote letters to his son which is where this book is based from. For those who don’t know who Gary is, he’s was of the most successful copywriters of all time. His sales copy made millions of dollars. So if you want to know what this book is really all about, what makes it so compelling, what makes it a must read, simple- just hit the play button now!


Profit Hacking
Steven Daar

In today’s MUST READ episode, we review Profit Hacking by Steven Darr. It’s an easy and concise read in only 97 pages, but it’s a real mind-opener. The book shows us exactly what we should focus on in order to increase our profits. Best of all, the ideas and strategies are more simple than you think. Now, press play and let’s get down to business!


The Automatic Customer
John Warrillow

This book will surely give you a different perspective when it comes to membership business models with recurring charges. It highlights the huge benefits of having a business with this fee structure and shows you how you can apply this business model regardless of what kind of business you currently have. You might think that there’s no way your business is ever going to be offering membership and recurring fees. Well, this book has the answers for you so let’s get started!


Nir Eyal

Want to design products that keep customers coming back for more? That’s the topic of this week’s must-read book for the budding entrepreneur. Hooked by Nir Eyal teaches you how to create products that don’t just solve problems—they form habits. By focusing on your customers’ specific motivations and triggers, you can create something they’ll use automatically, without even thinking about it. It’s the kind of thinking that makes products like Google and Facebook so ubiquitous. And it’s the kind of thinking that turns a sale into a relationship. Hit play to listen right now!


Money. Master The Game
Tony Robbins

This week’s must-read for the entrepreneur is Money: Master the Game by Tony Robbins. Robbins is a giant in the motivational speaking and self-help industries and this is his first book in over 2 decades. In it, he teaches readers how to make their fortune by being smart investors instead of simple consumers. Omar runs through Robbins’ 7 steps to financial independence and highlights the takeaways from this (very long) book. Click play to hear the legendary entrepreneur’s strategies!


How I Lost 170 Million Dollars: My Time as #30 at Facebook
Noah Kagan

How I Lost $170 Million: My Time as #30 on Facebook by Noah Kagan. Kagan is a friend of the $100MBA, and has even been a guest teacher on this podcast. Besides being an early (if ultimately fired) part of Facebook, he’s also founded several successful online businesses. His book is an open, honest account of his doomed journey through the halls of Facebook, what he learned there, and how failure makes us stronger than ever. Click play, and be inspired.


Crush It
Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk is a big deal in the world of online marketing. An early YouTube pioneer, he was one of the first to realize that the internet had levelled the playing field for entrepreneurs competing against big companies. His first book, Crush It, is this week’s must-read. Vaynerchuk’s lessons on virtual branding, social media, and the new rules of transparency are essential for any serious entrepreneur. Click play to hear all about it!


The Brain Audit
Sean D’Souza

Customer psychology isn’t always easy to understand. Fortunately, this week’s must-read book helps! Sean D’Souza is the founder of His book- The Brain Audit, is a comprehensive and understandable tour of basic consumer psych. By knowing a few psychological principles, you can appeal to the mind of your customers, leading to greater sales and retention rates- no ink blots required. Click play!


Elon Musk
Ashlee Vance

It’s Monday, and we’ve got yet another exciting must-read book pick for the entrepreneur! This week, we take a look at Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. This insightful portrait of the controversial, huge-thinking mogul is especially intimate. That’s because Vance’s persistence (kind of like Musk’s) was unfailing- enough so that he eventually gained serious access to the man himself. It’s a great book about a fascinating person, so listen in and find out what you can learn from the man who’s (possibly) building the future!


Beyond Trying
Mike Vardy

Today’s episode is another super-informative, wildly helpful must-read book for the entrepreneur! Mike Vardy is a best-selling author, fellow podcaster, and founder of Productivityist. His short e-book Beyond Trying is a bite-sized master-class in productivity. With an individualized approach to finding the time you need, this book can really help you get things done! Click play to hear all about it.


Zero to One
Peter Thiel

Get ready: today’s must-read is one of the single best books ever written about business! Peter Thiel is one of the founding members of the “PayPal Mafia,” the legendary group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs whose influence is still being felt. His book Zero to One completely upends the accepted wisdom about business, and engrosses the reader with profound- but digestible- entrepreneurial wisdom. Click play, and hear Omar’s breakdown!


Ego is The Enemy
Ryan Holiday

Is your ego getting in the way of your success? Probably! Even if you’re not overtly egotistical, remember that all of us have to overcome ourselves. That’s the topic of today’s incredible must-read for the entrepreneur, Ego is the Enemy. The author, Ryan Holiday, is one of our personal favorites. Expectations for this book were high…and exceeded when we read it! Click play!


Web Marketing That Works
Adam Franklin & Toby Jenkins

With so many different ways to market your product online, actually creating a consistent marketing strategy can be tough. That’s where this week’s must-read book comes in! Web Marketing That Works by Adam Franklin and Toby Jenkins doesn’t just show you how to use different marketing platforms. It shows you how to combine everything from social media to webinars into one cohesive plan of attack. With practical advice, this book lets you skip the learning curve. Click play!


The E-Myth Revisited
Michael Gerber

Why do small businesses fail? Today’s must-read book for the entrepreneur answers that question. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber deconstructs the old entrepreneurial formulas and replaces them with a new outlook on small business growth. It lays out the life cycle of a successful small business and helps the reader put their goals and expectations into context. Gerber defines the universal personnel roles that every business needs filled, and offers tips on management and motivation. All in all it’s a vital perspective. Click play to hear all about it!


Deep Work
Cal Newport

What does work mean to you? On today’s episode, we review another must-read book for the entrepreneur, Deep Work by Cal Newport. Newport’s philosophy really struck a chord with us, challenging us to rethink the value of our work. What may seem like productivity may really be keeping you away from work that fills your business (and life) with meaning and purpose. Best of all, meaningful or “deep” work is in high demand! Find out what this concept can do for you- click play!


Start Small, Stay Small
Rob Walling

Today’s must-read for the entrepreneur is as short as it is sweet! Rob Walling is one of the foremost experts in micropreneurship, and his book Start Small, Stay Small is a testament to the power of little things. By focusing on marketing hard to a relatively tiny audience, you can be an effective- and profitable- niche problem-solver. The advice is great, and the example of a hard-hitting short book is even better! Click play to hear more!


Shoe Dog
Phil Knight

It’s Monday, and we’ve got a top-shelf must-read for all the budding entrepreneurs out there. Shoe Dog is the autobiography of Phil Knight, founder of Nike. Today, Nike is arguably the most successful sporting goods producer worldwide- but it didn’t get there without a lot of struggle, perseverance, and a little controversy. Knight tells the tale in an incredibly engaging way, making this one of our all-time favorite books on business. You’re gonna love it, too. Click play!


Manage Your Day-to-Day
Jocelyn K. Glei

We should be smart about how we schedule our week and our month. But how smart are we when it comes to scheduling our day? This week’s must-read offers a whole new perspective on time management and getting the most out of your day. Manage Your Day-To-Day by Jocelyn K. Glei isn’t a book of hacks or tricks. It’s a primer on how to see your daily schedule in a way that’s not only efficient, but encourages creativity. Click play and hear our review!


Robert Cialdini

It’s finally here: the long-awaited follow up to one of the most influential books on business! Robert Cialdini’s Influence made a splash when it was published in the 80’s. Now, Pre-Suasion delves even further into the psychology of persuasion. Using research-based techniques, you can bring customers, colleagues, and everyone else around to your way of seeing things in an honest, ethical way. Hear all about it: click play!


Total Recall
Arnold Schwarzenegger

It’s Monday, and time for another great must-read book recommendation! This week’s author is one of the biggest names in sports, movies and politics– a true Renaissance entrepreneur whose dreams are the only things bigger than his pecs. Arnold Schwarzenegger came from nothing, sought a goal, and did everything necessary to achieve the impossible. He’s had some controversies (and the book has its shortcomings), but there’s no better lesson in how to cultivate confidence, dream big, and dedicate yourself to the work that makes anything possible. Click play to hear our review of Total Recall!


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
Mark Manson

Looking for a brutally honest approach to life and business? Have we got the book for you! This week’s must-read for the entrepreneur is Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, and the title tells you exactly what makes this book great. Direct and practical, Manson hammers home the notion of prioritizing your values and devoting your energy to what matters most. As for the rest…eff it! The language is foul, but the message is valuable. Click play!


Angela Duckworth

Welcome to another Monday, and another fantastic must-read book for the entrepreneur! This week’s review is of Grit by Angela Duckworth. A lot of buzz has surrounded the release of this one, and for good reason. It’s an eye-opening look at the value of consistency and perseverance, but it’s no simple motivational speech. It explores the importance of grit relative to factors like talent and resources– factors that Duckworth sees as overrated! Learn how keeping your eye on the prize can negate any disadvantage. Click play!


The Hard Thing About Hard Things
Ben Horowitz

Like our other Must-Reads, Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for anyone who wants to understand what it takes to succeed in business. It’s so good, reading it once wasn’t enough!

Take responsibility. Take charge. Focus on results, not shortcuts. Your darkest moments will be your greatest victories, if you have the right attitude. Check out our podcast, read the book, and see how Horowitz’s approach can work for you. Click Play!


Steve Jobs
Walter Isaacson

What to say about Steve Jobs? He’s the first person that comes to mind when you think of the word “entrepreneur.” He changed the world we all live in, by virtue of his commitment to a business vision. Much has been written about, by, and for him. What can you, as an entrepreneur, learn from the legend? Now, we have the ultimate guide to his life and career: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, the most complete, relevant biography for any entrepreneur who wants to take lessons from the life of the iconoclast.


Born Standing Up
Steve Martin

Steve Martin might not be the first person you think of for business advice, but his biography is a master course in business perseverance. From his hard-earned advice on staying lean, to his invaluable lessons on the value of effort over inborn talent, Martin’s Born Standing Up is a treasure trove of wisdom for anyone trying to make it against all odds. As entrepreneurs, we’re on stage in front of an audience, too. Tune and learn how to “perform” successfully, no matter what industry you’re taking on. Click Play!


Perennial Seller
Ryan Holiday

Perennial Seller is about producing work that lasts, and creates profit for years. Holiday destroys myths about sudden inspiration and inborn creativity, and instead explains the patient process of executing and refining your way to long-term success. He also explains how to market your product for the long haul, rather than the quick buck. We had high expectations for this book, and they were exceeded. Hear how Perennial Seller can recalibrate your goals for the big picture. Click Play!


I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons
Kevin Heart

What can you learn from someone who made millions out of nothing? No capital, no connections, and no fantastic product idea? That’s the story of popular comedian Kevin Hart. Hart’s personal philosophies on work ethic, failure, and adaptation are proof that success doesn’t come from outside funding or the “perfect” product idea, but from a willingness to execute with what you have. His revelations about personal transparency and the marketability of honesty are fantastic examples of the core business principles we can all apply. Click Play!


Born to Run
Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen knows music, but he also knows business. From his extremely modest upbringing to the top of the charts, the legendary rocker is a model of financial discipline, business sense, and plain old savvy. While other artists were blowing money on the finer (and more dangerous) things in life, Springsteen kept his business “why” in mind: to never return to the poverty of his youth. Success leaves a trail of breadcrumbs for other entrepreneurs to follow. Born to Run is another phenomenal example of entrepreneurial achievement from the pop culture world. Find out what you can learn from a poor Jersey kid who made it all the way to the top. Click Play!


How to Stop Worrying & Start Living
Dale Carnegie

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie is a treasure trove of life and business wisdom, centered around the need to chill out, let go, and take care of what you can control. From organization to problem-solving to well-being, Carnegie breaks complex ideas into actionable strategies. He stresses the illusion of control, the power of altruism, and the importance of sleep. The book is written for a flowing, approachable read — so you can easily begin applying its lessons.


The 1-Page Marketing Plan
Allan Dib

Despite the title, Allan Dib’s The 1-Page Marketing Plan is an entire book, and it’s made our list of entrepreneurial Must Reads for very good reasons. This book offers a strategic, intentional, universal marketing plan that any entrepreneur can apply, no matter the type of business. The plan is sound, straightforward, and effective. Best of all, it’s laid out in easily digestible chunks: 9 total steps divided into 3 phases.


Exactly What To Say
Phil M Jones

Exactly What to Say by Phil M Jones is exactly what the title promises: a collection of phrases that will help you make sales. These key phrases encompass sales strategies that work for every kind of business and product. It’s a short, easy read that you’ll refer to again and again when crafting your personal sales strategy. Learn how to introduce your product and explain its value effectively. Arm yourself with the exact words you need to gain confidence in the sales arena. Click Play!


SEO 2018 (No-BS) Strategy
Casey Henry

SEO 2018 (No Bullsh*t) Strategy by Casey Leigh Henry is exactly what the title promises: a no-nonsense, brass-tacks guide to getting SEO right this year. SEO is always changing. From the early days of effective keyword-stuffing to Google’s Hummingbird and RankBrain updates, yesterday’s SEO strategies will not work today. It’s more important than ever to find out what works now — without wasting time. For the best ROI of your time, this should be the next book on your list. Click Play! For  list. Click Play!


Damn Good Advice
George Lois

Damn Good Advice (for people with talent) is a treasure trove of insights, witty observations, and hard-earned truths from George Lois, legendary ad-man and creator of Big Idea Advertising. As the title suggests, Lois’ advice is, shall we say, blunt. Some of it is even controversial. Heck, we outright disagree with a few of his points. But the net value of reading this book is undeniable. It’s an easy, short, digestible read with a humorously combative tone that keeps the pages turning.


The Everything Store
Brad Stone

The Everything Store by Brad Stone tells that tale of Amazon. It’s less a book about money, and more about drive, will, and unstoppable commitment. This is a long read, but worth every second — including the time you spend re-reading sections just to process the incredible insights. It’s chock full of “Holy sh*t” moments, pieces of wisdom that completely challenge your view of business and commerce. This book is a mind-shifter, from cover to cover.


Unlimited Power
Anthony Robbins

Tony Robbins is one of the original “self-help gurus.” While that kind of title might be scoffed at by some, the substance of his work is real and valuable. His 1986 book Unlimited Power isn’t some meaningless collection of affirmations — it’s a practical, smart guide to maximizing your potential. It’s one of Robbins’ all-time best-sellers, and for good reason. Many (including our host, Omar) have been profoundly influenced as business people by this book. Omar himself has read and re-read it multiple times, synthesizing the lessons within.


How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big
Scott Adams

Scott Adams is a cartoonist, but anyone who’s read his classic comic strip Dilbert knows he’s an expert in business and corporate culture. A sarcastic, controversial expert, but an expert nonetheless. After repeated recommendations, we finally got around to reading Adams’ 2013 best-seller, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. This book is unconventional, brimming with Adams’ frank, take-it-or-leave-it approach to understanding success. Love it or hate it, this book has as many valuable insights as hard opinions.


The Miracle Morning
Hal Elrod

In this book, Elrod espouses a philosophy of never settling, and avoiding the “rearview mirror syndrome” that fools people into thinking that the past defines the future. By committing to a morning routine that maximizes health, productivity, and creativity, you can empower yourself to live the life you want, not the life you have. Tune in, and hear exactly how to make your mornings count. The potential rewards are well worth ditching the snooze button once and for all. Click Play!


Getting Things Done
David Allen

David Allen’s Getting Things Done is a best-seller, and for good reason. It offers a fantastic system for getting the most out of every minute, making your day more productive — and less stressful. Take control of your inbox. Put an end to procrastination and last-minute stressing. With a consistent, systematized approach, you can earn more of the most valuable currency: time itself. Click Play!


A Life in Parts
Bryan Cranston

As he put it in his incredible memoir, A Life in Parts, Cranston chose to pursue something he enjoyed, however difficult it might be. Cranston’s story is the ultimate entrepreneur’s journey. Choosing to hone a craft, pay your dues, and take risks that most avoid is exactly what independent business people do. The resolve, patience, and bootstrapping attitude it takes to become not just famous, but trusted and respected, is something all of us need for our own independent careers.


The Black Swan
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, is all about thinking deeper than ever before. And by peering into the true nature of things, you can see what other entrepreneurs might miss. The subtitle of the book says it all: The Impact of the HIghly Improbable. Taleb came out of the Great Recession without a scratch, specifically because he anticipated something unlikely. The limits of our experience, he argues, put limits on our thinking.


Thinking, Fast and Slow
Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman is a psychologist who’s studied the science of human decision-making for decades. His book Thinking, Fast and Slow is a practical investigation of the brain’s thought process, specifically how it arrives at decisions like making a purchase. Today, we discuss how you can put this knowledge to work for your business. By understanding the buyer’s mind, you can become a better seller. You can give yourself an edge that no amount of marketing or advertising can produce.


Crushing It
Gary Vaynerchuk

Crush It was an instant classic, and an inspiration to countless independent business people. We love this book for several reasons, but mostly because it challenged our viewpoints. Crushing It forced us to reconsider our approach, and ultimately have a little more respect for the power of the medium. Crushing It is the ultimate guide to personal branding, from a highly successful consultant, speaker, and thought leader. Hear what you can learn — Click Play!


Andre Agassi

Open isn’t about business per se, but it is about finding what it takes to overcome your own shortcomings, discover your motivation, and allow your daily life to be driven by deep-seated purpose. This book is about how mentality can overcome anything, from childhood trauma to destructive perfectionism to an opponent with a mean forehand. The book is about defining winning for yourself — something every entrepreneur needs to do in order to be truly successful.


Steal Like an Artist
Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist, debunks the myth of originality and explains how all great creations are the products of the creator’s influences, not divine inspiration from within. We’re talking about using inspiration from others to build something of your own, something rooted in greatness but unique nonetheless. From fine art to clothing designs to great blogs, we’re all just taking the baton, not making the baton from scratch!


Tribe of Mentors
Tim Ferriss

Tribe of Mentors is a fantastic collection of condensed wisdom from experts in various industries. Easy to read, digestible, and immediately applicable, these golden nuggets of business truth will serve you well. One of the most daring and occasionally controversial business “gurus” of our time, Ferriss always swings for the fences. As a writer and blogger, he’s inspired millions to get to the next level, even by unconventional means. The original life hacker, Ferriss’ influence can’t be denied. Now, he offers a long, but very readable tome on what it takes to move up in life and business.


It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy at Work
Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work is a radical treatise on the dangers — and utter uselessness — of running yourself and your team ragged. Their company, Basecamp, prides itself on a healthy approach to the work/life balance. We found Fied and Hansson’s thoughts to be challenging, but we can’t deny their results. Basecamp is a phenomenal success, one that the cofounders claim was built without goal-obsessed, productivity-driven, hair-tearing work.


Atomic Habits
James Clear

Atomic Habits is a valuable primer on forming the right habits, and ditching the bad ones. One habit at a time, you can improve your results in business and life. By losing unproductive habits and establishing productive ones, you make the little differences that add up to big success. This is, hands down, the best of the “habits” books out there, based on years of research and careful study. It’s full of useful, valuable advice. And for all its detailed wisdom, it’s a relatively easy read.


The Effective Executive
Peter Druker

Peter Drucker basically invented business management, and is seen as one of the founders of corporate culture. The Effective Executive teaches you the most important concepts in hiring, delegating, and generally managing. It explores how poor leaders waste time, and great leaders leverage it for maximum effect. The book’s subtitle says it all: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done. Learn how to be the best leader you can be, in small business or big. Click Play!


Bad Blood
John Carreyrou

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou is many things: an engrossing page-turner, an exemplary piece of investigative journalism, and a huge, devastating lesson in how not to launch a product. It’s the true story of Theranos, a startup with a one-time valuation of 9 billion-with-a-”b” dollars that ultimately crashed, burned, and left all involved reeling (and some facing prison time).


To Sell Is Human
Daniel Pink

To Sell Is Human rejects the stigma of salesmanship as scammy or used-car-dealer-y, instead explaining the inherent dignity and necessity of the art. It’s not just customers you sell to — it’s your network, your team, even your family and friends. If you can’t sell your vision, you simply can’t do business. Learn how necessary selling is, even if you don’t have a sales team. Click Play!


Disney U
Doug Lipp

Doug Lipp’s Disney U is a book that details the strategy behind the theme park’s success. Importantly, it’s not just about procedures. It’s about mindset. Learn how company culture and values form the bedrock of any business’ success. See the inner workings of Disney employee training, and get a textbook example of how the team’s happiness is the best predictor of its productivity. Apply the Disney U strategy to your company, and see how much more fruitful your employees can be. Click Play!


Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business
Gino Wickman

Traction: How to Get a Grip on Your Business is far more than its title lets on. It’s not just advice. It’s not just inspiration. It’s an instruction manual with detailed, specific steps any entrepreneur can take to get their business moving. Whether you’re a solopreneur or helming a large team, this incredibly practical book can teach you how to structure your business and its processes for maximum effect. Even better, Wickman teaches a values-centered approach to business, one that ties your core beliefs and mission to your success.


Choose Yourself
James Altucher

James Altucher hosted one of our favorite podcasts, and his book Choose Yourself has made a dramatic impact on the lives of readers. After some very fervent recommendations, we gave this book a shot — and it did not disappoint. Today, we discuss the big-picture outlook and day-to-day habits that foster independence, success, and self-reliance in a broken economy. Shaking free of poor influences and unshackling yourself from the external opinions that hold you back is the only way to find your path forward. This book is a good place to start. Click Play!


Lead with a Story
Paul Smith

Entrepreneur and author Paul Smith’s Lead With a Story explains exactly how to bring storytelling into your business leadership. By harnessing the power of narrative, you can motivate your team, inspire your audience, and make your message hit home. By putting their role in a greater narrative context, your employees and customers become characters in a story that matters far more than a simple exchange of money for products. See how this book can help you master the art of messaging via story. Click Play!


Cut Costs Not Corners
Colin Barrow

Colin Barrow is a prolific author, and Cut Costs Not Corners is one of his most popular works. It explains how to make every penny do the utmost for your business. Statistically, businesses don’t usually fail because the idea is bad or the revenue is too low. Excessive cost kills, more often than anything else. Barrow understands better than anyone how controlling costs doesn’t have to come at an even higher cost: the quality of your product and happiness of your team. Click Play!


Dare to Lead
Brené Brown

In it, Brown explains how to find your own innate ability to take charge and lead, however hidden it might be under layers of insecurity. The emotions — including the fear — inside you can be used to inspire your team in ways you might not realize. As Brown argues, your vulnerabilities are actually some of your greatest leadership assets, if you know how to use them.


Napoleon Hill’s Golden Rules
Napoleon Hill

Golden Rules is a collection of tips, tricks, and what we now might call “hacks” for reaching your goals. Based on tried-and-true principles of habit formation, Hill discusses personal growth and achievement from a timeless perspective that’s just as relevant now as it was generations ago. Talent, Hill argues, is not the key ingredient. By harnessing the power of mindset, you can affect outcomes in the real world. Learn with us, from one of the legends of self-empowerment. Click Play!


The Laws of Human Nature
Robert Greene

Greene explains the often-overlooked aspects of human nature that drive our decision-making. By tuning in to these inborn tendencies and understanding how they work, we can turn our natural impulses to our advantage — or at the very least, we can neutralize the impulses that hold us back. See how a basic grasp of human nature can empower you as a business person. It’s deep stuff, but it makes a practical difference. Click Play!


Epic Content Marketing
Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi’s Epic Content Marketing is one of the best all-around primers on the topic available. It explains exactly how to market online, from SEO to social media and beyond. This book details how — and why — content marketing works. Learn how a relatively small monetary investment into great content builds a relationship with your audience, and how to parlay that relationship into sales.


Measure What Matters
John Doerr

Doerr is a milestone master, helping organizations like Google and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation measure their progress with laser precision. Of course, his lessons are just as applicable to small businesses. In this book, Doerr explains how to focus on the most impactful growth objectives and metrics. With a humorous, irreverent style, he makes the importance of deep analytics clear. He also makes the numbers game less opaque, less intimidating, and more practical.


Reinvent Yourself
John Doerr

Today, we review this fresh, original take on what it takes to find your best self. With lessons from every avenue of success and failure, from Popes to rappers, Altucher shows us how to ride the ups and downs to your truest incarnation. It’s personal, applicable, and insightful. Learn how to escape stagnation, and meet your next self. Click Play!


Daniel Pink

From business to psychology and beyond, Pink explores how to apply the data on timing to whatever you want to achieve. From the time of day you attempt a task, to the time of year you launch a new endeavor, to the period in your life you make a change, the timing matters. When shows you how to harness the data — and your own natural rhythms — to maximize your timing. See what a difference it can make: Click Play!


The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization
Peter Drucker

We’ll explain each of these vital questions, the answers to which will show you the best way to grow, improve, and move your business forward. It’s super practical, brass-tacks advice that’s as true in the 21st century as it was in the 20th. Tune in as we interpret the five questions in a modern business context. Learn how to take real stock of what your business has, and what it needs. Click Play!


Extreme Ownership
Jocko Willink

Willink’s latest book, Extreme Ownership, is all about building a high-performance team by taking ownership of everything that happens. That level of personal responsibility might seem intense, but the extremely high stakes of the SEAL life taught Willink that it’s the most effective approach. Apply a little bit of military mindset to your business, and make yourself a better entrepreneur. From truly trusting your team to having the guts to abort a failing mission, you can take your ownership to the extreme. Click Play!


Digital Minimalism
Cal Newport

This Must-Read will show you how to clean house, and bring calm, focus, and productivity back into your day. Cal Newport is the authority on focus, having led the crusade against distraction since his seminal Deep Work. Now, he’s taking another swing at the distraction demon with Digital Minimalism. Learn how to compartmentalize, reduce, and be free of the online tchotchke that’s slowing you down. Click Play!


Lincoln on Leadership
Donald T. Phillips

In Lincoln On Leadership, author Donald T. Phillips takes us through Lincoln’s decision-making process as he sought to reunite a country. Lincoln didn’t just have to beat the Confederate army; he had to sell his viewpoint, and get his own side of the war to execute his vision without resorting to coercion. Lincoln managed and balanced conflicting viewpoints and personalities, with no guaranteed outcome. Click Play!


Product-Led Growth
Wes Bush

As captivating as a good novel, this absolute must for SaaS business owners shows how putting the product first can make marketing a breeze. Full of examples and clear instructions, the book explains how to get the product into your audience’s hands as quickly as possible — making the product itself its own advertisement. Learn why some “freemium” models fail, while others work like a charm. Before you start your next campaign, listen to this episode. You may need far less marketing than you think. Click Play!


Jobs to Be Done
Anthony W. Ulwick

If it sounds outside the box, it is. The approach is all laid out in a deeply detailed, paradigm-shifting book called Jobs to Be Done by Anthony W. Ulwick. It’s based on decades of research — and despite how academic it is, this book has serious practical implications.This Must-Read book offers an alternative (or supplement to) the “pain points” approach of solving customer problems.


Explosive Growth
Cliff Lerner

This is the best kind of business book: an entertaining personal narrative with practical applications. It’s the story of an entrepreneur who didn’t stumble into success, but turned things around when things looked their worst. In this case, Growth doesn’t just refer to the shrewd strategies Lerner used to acquire more and more customers. It refers to taking your lumps, learning from your failures, and improving as a business person. That’s a lesson we could all use. Click Play!


The Go-Giver
Bob Burg

The Go-Giver. It’s a book that’s simple, highly readable, digestible, and fun. But the lessons it imparts are as profound as they are practical. Burg is a respected speaker, writer, and friend of the $100 MBA Show. The Go-Giver, in our humble opinion, should be on every entrepreneur’s shelf. It’s an easy read that packs an incredibly powerful punch, exploring 5 “laws” of business through fun, engaging narratives.


Shape Up
Ryan Singer

Shape Up by Ryan Singer is the true story of how the wildly successful Basecamp blazed their own trail, with creative approaches to business management that no one else dared to try. Basecamp’s management model is unique and idiosyncratic, and it might not work for everyone — but it’s sure worth learning about. If you’re building a business — especially one with a digital product — the lessons outlined in Shape Up are incredibly valuable.


Extreme Revenue Growth Up
Victor Cheng

Victor Cheng’s Extreme Revenue Growth is less of a book and more of a manual. It’s also on the short list of the absolute best books we’ve come across, ever. Cheng breaks down the overall structural strategies that big businesses use to keep revenue trending upwards. You can use these strategies too, no matter where you are in your business.


Trillion Dollar Coach
Eric Schmidt

In Trillion Dollar Coach, Campbell’s coach-ees unpack what made his coaching so effective — and how you can get the best from your own team. Trillion Dollar Coach is packed with lessons that apply to any industry, as it sharply defines the responsibilities and priorities of a truly impactful “coach.” Learn how to communicate, motivate, and get the best out of your team from possibly the greatest coach of all time. Hear what makes this book so truly important. Click Play!


Discipline Equals Freedom
Jocko Willink

That’s a core belief of former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink, and the central message of his latest book, Discipline Equals Freedom. Willink has experienced the toughest kind of discipline, but it didn’t just help him succeed in the military. It showed him how to enjoy his life more. For entrepreneurs, this lesson is invaluable. The same discipline necessary to be productive and move your business forward also protects your social and family life. Discipline isn’t about punishment. It’s an investment — and the returns are incredible.


12 Rules for Life
Jordan Peterson

Jordan Peterson is a controversial figure, ever since he left academia and touched many a nerve with his hugely successful self-help career. His landmark book, 12 Rules for Life, lays out a philosophy guided by deceptively simple advice — like standing up straight — rooted deeply in his interpretation of history, philosophy, and religion.


Built To Last
Jim Collins

This genre-defining tome was a deep, extended study of 18 companies (think Sony, Amex, etc.) that absolutely murdered it in their industries. It identified common threads, characteristics that any company of any size can leverage to limitless success. Years of research preceded — and followed — this landmark look at what makes companies endure.


What You Do Is Who You Are
Ben Horowitz

What is company culture, why does it matter, and how can you build it? The answers to that and more come from one of Omar’s favorite business books ever: What You Do Is Who You Are by Ben Horowitz. Horowitz is a venture capital legend whose wisdom and experience is grounded in a street-level, practical approach. But for all the actionable nuts and bolts, this book puts it all in a big huge-picture context.


Never Split the Difference
Chris Voss

In business, this principle works for everything from your marketing copy to your sales pitches to your negotiations with potential partners. According to Voss — a former hostage negotiator — logical arguments are vastly over-valued. This flies in the face of a lot of business advice, and of common sense. But sometimes, it’s the uncommon advice that really works.


Talking to Strangers
Malcolm Gladwell

Talking to Strangers, tackles another big, broad topic: human interaction. How we relate to people we don’t know has a massive impact, especially for entrepreneurs. The way you handle new people has implications for everything in business, from customer service to networking to partnerships. The skill of getting to know someone can change everything — but it’s a skill you have to develop.


Barking Up The Wrong Tree
Eric Barker

In this highly original, inventive look at the usual advice about success, Barker takes aim at the most well-established assumptions. Commonly held beliefs about everything from education to confidence to productivity are all shaken down in a ruthless pursuit of truth — however uncomfortable it might be. This subversion of all the classic assumptions isn’t just thought-provoking. It’s downright fun. Take a look at what you believe, and see what a little critical thinking can do to give you a better sense of how to achieve success. Click Play!


The Five Minute Journal
Alex Iconn

We couldn’t resist. After using The Five Minute Journal by Alex Iconn for a while, we just had to recommend it — even if it’s not a “book” per se. It’s an app, or a hardcover analog journal if you prefer, that helps you get focused, grow, and enjoy life a little more. Given the size of the investment (we actually do it in less than 5 minutes each day), it’s definitely worth your time to use this book.


Who Moved My Cheese?
Dr. Spencer Johnson

Who Moved My Cheese? is all about getting out of your head and into the game, whatever your ambitions. A parable for the self-starter, this book doesn’t take long to read, but it stays with you for…well, forever. Its timeless takeaways will get you unstuck from the paralysis of fear and hesitation, the biggest obstacle to entrepreneurial freedom.


The 1% Solution for Work and Life
Tom Connellan

This Must-Read for entrepreneurs is all about making real change, one little bit at a time. Whether you’re not progressing enough, quickly enough, or at all, it’s time to take action. Because average will only get you so far. According to Tom Connellan’s The 1% Solution for Work and Life, there’s a more realistic, attainable approach.


Walt Disney
Neal Gabler

Neal Gabler’s Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination is the most detailed, exhaustively researched portrait of Mickey’s creator ever written. It takes a deep dive into the personality that saw things as they were, but imagined what could be — and had the creativity to make it happen. The biography also explores the hard part about being naturally innovative: being different, being misunderstood, and struggling to make sense to the people around you. “Who is Walt Disney?” is a question that has as many answers as people who knew him – and they’re not all positive.


The Road Less Stupid
Keith Cunningham

Keith Cunningham’s The Road Less Stupid isn’t blunt for blunt’s sake. It strives to be practical, immediately applicable, and just as useful as possible. Cunningham explores a truth that science and business is just starting to understand: that our decisions are not logical. We are not logical. Even when we think we’re being logical, it may just be our emotions deviously posing as logic to fool your frontal lobe.


Stillness Is The Key
Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday’s Stillness Is The Key is required reading for anyone looking to be their best in business and life. No, it’s not a meditation instruction manual. It’s a guide to addressing the overwhelm and anxiety common to running a business, and finding the calm you need to make the right calls. This book is profound, but accessible, wide-ranging but practically applicable.


Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

This book will help you understand how to make remote work work. More importantly, it explains why; whatever happens with COVID-19, many businesses will have the option of not going back to normal…and that can be a really, really good thing. Learn why remote work isn’t just necessary in a crisis, but preferable all the time. See what pitfalls are common, and how to address them. Start planning your company’s transition to a fully (or partially) remote team long-term. Click Play!


The Ride of a Lifetime
Robert Allen Iger

What can you learn from the big companies? Can any of the philosophies behind mega-companies like Disney help your small business? In running a global behemoth, Iger accomplished a few incredible things, not the least of which was keeping a business of that size grounded in a commitment to customer experience and service.


Never Lose A Customer Again
Joey Coleman

Joey Coleman’s Never Lose A Customer Again has been on our “to read” list for a while. And frankly, good ol’ Omar wishes he got to this one sooner. It’s full of massive insights, and one of the best books we’ve read all year. Regardless of your industry, product, or the size of your company, the basic principles of customer retention don’t change. Coleman lays them out masterfully, with actionable advice backed up by data, examples, and experience.


You’re Gonna Die
Neville Medhora

Let’s talk about death — but in a good way! This is a very different “Must Read.” Neville Medhora’s You’re Gonna Die isn’t exactly about business. Or it’s not only about business. It’s about life, how it ends, and how we all need to make every second of it count. Especially entrepreneurs. Subtitled “A framework for happiness,” this book is pound-for-pound one of the most impactful we’ve ever featured. In fact, it doesn’t even weigh a pound (or it wouldn’t if you printed it out).


How We Decide
Jonah Lehrer

Jonah Lehrer’s How We Decide challenges the myth of rational, logical, even self-serving decision-making. Instead, it delves into the emotional reasons we do what we do. Understanding the emotional basis of our choices doesn’t mean we’re powerless to act rationally. In fact, by embracing it, we become better decision makers — and better business people.


Creativity, Inc.
Ed Catmull

Creativity, Inc., from the co-founder of Pixar, is packed with incredibly valuable lessons for any business leader (or anyone who wants to be one). We’ll discuss Ed Catmull’s take on team-building, cultivating creativity, creating a company culture, and leadership. The author’s take on these things will surprise you — and inspire you. Hear what it took to build one of the greatest story-telling businesses in history. Learn how you can apply the same principles to your story.


Before the Exit
Dan Andrews

Before the Exit poses a few questions you should ask before cashing out. And if you’re not considering selling — read this anyway! The thought experiments this book contains can help you stick with your business when times are tough.


Million Dollar Coach
Taki Moore

Taki Moore is the coach’s coach — the guy whose success and experience in this rapidly growing field is second to none. If coaching continues to explode as predicted, it won’t surprise Taki. Million Dollar Coach is Taki Moore’s handbook for building a 7-figure business by helping others reach their goals. It’s an audacious title, but a realistic approach — one he’s tested in the field.


Matthew McConaughey

Greenlights is the memoir of an actor. But it’s also the memoir of an accomplished business person, marketer, and independent creator. When Omar bought this book to read for fun, he had no idea it would be so valuable as a business resource. Take some time to study one actor’s success story, and realize that some qualities apply to every business. Take in the best insights from McConaughey’s experience, and apply them to yours. Click Play!


The Decision
Kevin Hart

The Decision isn’t just worth reading — it’s worth keeping around to give yourself a regular boost in motivation! It’s not only a narrative. It’s a resource for regular mindset rehabilitation. Tune in, and hear the key takeaways that make this audiobook so valuable. From someone so funny, this book is a serious tool for cultivating resilience and gratitude. Click Play!


The Common Path to Uncommon Success
John Lee Dumas

Dumas is the legend behind Entrepreneurs on Fire and Podcaster’s Paradise. His new book, The Common Path to Uncommon Success, is a straight-up treasure trove. We read a lot of books around here, but this one has as much to offer aspiring entrepreneurs as anything we’ve featured.


The 100-Page Book
Mike Capuzzi

The 100-Page Book: The Business Owner’s Guide to Self-Publishing a Short Customer Attraction Book. That’s right — just 100 pages, laser focused on simply establishing your credibility, not making the Times bestseller list. This book made us wonder why we haven’t written a whole book ourselves. Tune in, and you might just ask yourself the same thing. Click Play!


Blue Ocean Strategy
W. Chan Kim and Renée A. Mauborgne

Blue Ocean Strategy is a deep dive into a whole new marketing philosophy that will completely change the way you look at business. This fascinating book by W. Chan Kim and Renee A. Mauborgne upended our entrepreneurial mindset. With examples from various businesses (and our own), we’ll unpack this drastically different way of looking at competition. Stop trying to beat others at their game, and discover yours. Click Play!


Profit First
Mike Michalowicz

Profit First by Mike Michalowicz makes a compelling case for a totally new outlook on profit. And after reading it, we can’t see profit the same way ever again.Tune in and hear why the typical way of understanding profit is limiting, even detrimental to the growth of your business. Learn what common modes of thinking are holding you back. Open your mind to a unique perspective — it just might alter the way you do business.


Simple Numbers
Greg Crabtree

Simple Numbers is exactly what the title implies: a no-nonsense, straightforward guide to dealing with your business finances. It’s one of the most valuable books we’ve ever reviewed, especially for people who just don’t enjoy the math of entrepreneurship. Learn how to deal with the numbers comfortably and confidently, focus on what really matters, and grow your business in the most stable way possible.


How to Live
Derek Sivers

This book takes a walk through some of the most fundamental wisdom — much of which you’ve heard before — and challenges it. In the end, it all comes together in a way that’s so surprising, it might actually affect how you live your life. The author himself claims it’s his best work so far, and we have to say “Hell yeah it is.” Find out why: Click Play!


Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson

Written with a stripped-down style designed to appeal to non-readers, this book teaches that in business, adaptability is just as important as drive. From crime to the arts, TV production to corporate investment, no single product or industry was “the one” that kept 50’s business growing. Get a lesson in business flexibility. Click Play!


The Biggest Bluff
Maria Konnikova

Is poker the best analogy for entrepreneurship? The Biggest Bluff makes a very strong case for “yes.” This fascinating memoir about a total novice’s quest to get really good at something is stuffed with insights that any business owner can learn from. By going from amateur to champion, Maria Konnikova demonstrated that in poker and business, it’s not all about the hand you’re dealt.


Great by Choice
Jim Collins

Every business owner has to deal with forces beyond their control. But handling what you can control is usually enough to guarantee that you can navigate whatever happens. That’s the basic premise of Great by Choice, Jim Collins’ study of businesses that thrive in unpredictable, even hostile conditions. Researched like a thorough work of academia, but written like an accessible guide for real-world entrepreneurs, Great by Choice makes one thing clear: you can succeed, come what may.


How to Win at the Sport of Business
Mark Cuban

Packed with actionable, down-to-Earth advice, this book leaves no doubt as to how Cuban rose from modest means to serious wealth: through sheer hustle, and never letting go of a small business owner’s mindset. Even as a multi-billionaire, Cuban plays exactly the same game we all play — just at a bigger scale. The book’s lessons apply just as well to a Mom & Pop store or software startup as they would to a global conglomerate.


Demand-Side Sales 101
Bob Moesta

It’s a total reversal of the typical sales model, which has you blasting features and benefits in the customer’s direction. Instead, Demand-Side urges you to figure out where in the journey the customer is, so you can bring them closer. By understanding what happens before people make a decision to buy, you can get them there. Take the anxiety and discomfort out of sales. Packed with real-world examples, this book offers a completely new roadmap to sales success. Hear our thoughts and takeaways — Click Play!


The Ultimate Jim Rohn Library
Jim Rohn

The Ultimate Jim Rohn Library is a collection of lectures and lessons from the one and only — you guessed it — Jim Rohn. The O.G. of self-help and personal development, Rohn taught and inspired countless individuals to be their best selves. The Library is truly the ‘best of’ one of the best of entrepreneurs. Rohn’s straightforward advice rings as true as ever, as you’re guided through insights on business, life, and everything in between.


Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Richard Carlson

In this Must-Read book review, we unpack the philosophy that made this best-seller such an important part of millions of people’s outlooks. By zooming out and putting your stressors in perspective, you can take a much healthier, and even more productive, approach to life and entrepreneurship.


The Richest Man in Babylon
George S. Clason

The Richest Man in Babylon, a tale set thousands of years ago with made-up characters sharing lessons about life, business, and wealth. This powerful book offers 7 principles, or “cures” to poverty, that are just as valid in the real world as they are in the fictionalized Babylon of the story. Discover what these 7 principles are, and why this book’s insights will always be relevant — as long as human nature remains human nature. This timeless tale can actually make you a better entrepreneur!


Your Next Five Moves
Patrick Bet-David

Patrick Bet-David’s Your Next Five Moves is an eye-opening business strategy book that takes a unique approach to the entrepreneur’s journey — and definitely belongs on your Must-Read list. This book distills David’s hard-earned wisdom into a set of 5 “moves” that every business person has to master in order to reach the next plateau. Today, we explain what those moves are, why they’re so crucial, and share the best takeaways from this incredible book. Click Play!


Will Smith and Mark Manson

Will is the powerful autobiography Will Smith co-authored with Mark Manson (the guy behind The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck). And we couldn’t be happier we decided to stick with that decision. This book is penetrating, insightful, and valuable — recent drama aside.


Free Time
Jenny Blake

Free Time by Jenny Blake takes a different approach to entrepreneurship. Rather than trying to win the game of Who Can Make the Most Money, Blake decided to prioritize the creation of time for herself. And she couldn’t be happier with the results. Hear how Blake created the kind of business that rewards her with the ultimate prize of entrepreneurship: freedom. By carefully creating a team and systems that make her presence less necessary, she won the only game that matters. Click Play!


Tribe of Mentors
Tim Ferris

This book is big, dense…and worth every second. Tribe is composed of 100 interviews with various experts, based on conversations from The Tim Ferriss Show podcast. By asking the same set of 11 questions to each interviewee, Ferriss condensed their unique insights and experiences into an easy-reading, inspiring resource for anyone looking to change their life.


The Minimalist Entrepreneur
Sahil Lavingia

The Minimalist Entrepreneur is a roadmap for creating low-stress, low-investment businesses that put your profitability (and your sanity) first. The author, Sahil Lavingia, was employee #2 at Pinterest, and is the founder of Gumroad, which helps people start businesses with almost nothing. Learn how to start a business without going into debt. Start a business that works for you, rather than indenturing you to it.


Zero to Sold
Arvid Kahl

If you’re building your own business, read this book. In 2016, Arvid Kahl founded FeedbackPanda, a SaaS product for teachers. In 2019, he sold it. Using FeedbackPanda as a model, Zero to Sold outlines exactly how to create a SaaS business, grow it quickly, and cash out. If that sounds ruthlessly practical and to the point, that’s because it is.


Price for Growth
Jeff Robinson

Most small business advice encourages higher prices for higher profits. But the somewhat controversial Price for Growth goes against that grain, suggesting entrepreneurs should play a longer game — even at the expense of profit. Jeff Robinson’s book flies further under the radar than it should. This isn’t abstract stuff; this book’s argument is so well-conceived that it led to a significant decision re: pricing in our own software company.


The Coaching Habit
Michael Stanier

The Coaching Habit by Michael Stanier is two things at once: a primer on a coaching-based leadership philosophy, and a practical guide to make it happen. The book revolves around 7 essential questions a great leader-coach should ask, and how the answers inform the path to your team’s greatness.


Thinking, Fast and Slow
Daniel Kahneman

This book by economist, psychologist, and nobel laureate Kahneman unpacks the mechanics of decision-making — and how to better optimize it. But it’s entirely practical, and applicable to the way you make day-to-day calls in your company. Thinking breaks down complex concepts into understandable guidance, based on the two major kinds of decisions we make.


Sell It Like a Mango
Donald Kelly

Sell It Like a Mango is a practical, easy read that’ll reframe your thinking about selling. Based on the author’s long experience in sales (starting with his childhood among Jamaican fruit vendors), this book looks at selling in a different, more practical, more human way. In other words, it explains how sales is something we can all do naturally. In fact, most of us already do, whether we realize it or not.


Greg McKeown

Greg McKeown first changed our approach to business with his truly essential Essentialism, which advocates for a strict focus on what matters most. Now, Effortless adds a new dynamic: embracing the ease that characterizes our best efforts. Of course, it means reframing your mindset. If you believe that “hard work” is always the way forward, it might take some mental pivoting to understand that incredible results often come from low levels of effort — at least as people typically understand effort.


Mastering The Rockefeller Habits
Verne Harnish

Verne Harnish’s Mastering The Rockefeller Habits is a primer on some of the best practices any business can use to strategically pursue growth. Did we agree with everything in it? Definitely not. But the good parts are so good, it’s worth it. Exposing yourself to views that challenge your own is a must — either to strengthen your own convictions, or debunk them! Either way, you come out a better informed entrepreneur. Hear what this book has to offer. Click Play!


$100M Dollar Offers
Alex Hormozi

Sometimes, the key is to simply not be afraid of thinking big. With $100M Offers, Alex Hormozi shares his unique strategies for maximizing revenue by making sales offers that make so much sense, it’s almost impossible to say “no.” With this book, Hormozi widens the realm of possibility. Even if your goal isn’t to make hundreds of millions of dollars, you can still apply some of his lessons. Hormozi is a large presence, both literally (he’s into bodybuilding) and figuratively on social media. But big ideas can work for small business. Click Play!


How the Mighty Fall
Jim Collins

Jim Collins’ How the Mighty Fall is a fascinating look at the demise of huge, multi-billion dollar enterprises — but its lessons are just as applicable to small businesses. Learn what caused some of the most successful companies in history to crash and burn. Hear the telltale signs of trouble on the horizon, and position your business for longevity, not just growth. Click Play!


On Writing
Stephen King

On Writing, where the mega-best-selling author shares a powerful secret: anyone can write, if you just put in the effort. Of course, a little strategy helps too. In this episode, we share the entrepreneur’s take on King’s book, and share the takeaways that business people can use to enhance their communication, from marketing copy to partnership proposals.


Exactly How to Sell
Phil M. Jones

Following up on his excellent Exactly What to Say, Jones’ Exactly How to Sell expands on and provides context for the first book. From prospecting to closing, this book delivers on its promise of telling you “exactly” how to approach sales, based on proven strategies. We’ll share our favorite takeaways, and how the advice in this book applies to pretty much every business.


On Writing Well
William Zinsser

William Zinsser’s On Writing Well is different from our other recent Must-Read (Stephen King’s On Writing). It’s strictly about non-fiction! The strategies in this book are perfect for your blog, email campaigns, and everything else you’ll write in order to move your business forward. More importantly, it teaches you how to get in the headspace of a good writer. Writing well isn’t just a process — it’s a skill. Like any other skill, you get better with consistent habits that build your prowess over time. This book can show you exactly how.


Monsters and How to Tame Them
Kevin Hart

Maybe you call them “demons,” or just plain old insecurities. Whatever the name, they’re the things that make us make poor decisions out of fear, doubt, or simple habit. In Monsters and How to Tame Them, Hart puts a name to common reasons we fail ourselves (e.g., the Approval Monster, Comparison Monster, etc.), and shares how he managed to put those little suckers in their place. Don’t let the monsters take the wheel! Click Play!


Expert Secrets
Russell Brunson

In this book, Brunson teaches you how to position yourself as an expert in your field and build a strong following. It’s a comprehensive guide to creating a “tribe,” and turning expertise into revenue. The rest of it was still worth reading! Brunson’s hard-won expertise as an authority-builder and knowledge-monetizer is unquestionable. And while Omar has a different (but equally hard-won) philosophy around generating sales, it’s more a matter of preference than “right” or “wrong.”


Four Thousand Weeks
Oliver Burkeman

How much time do you really have? It’s easy to say “life is short.” But if you really look closely at the numbers, it’s shorter than you might realize. And all the “productivity” in the world can’t change that. That’s the premise of the Must-Read book for entrepreneurs: Four Thousand Weeks. Get a fresh, more brave perspective on constructing your own life and work. Hear the top takeaways from this eye-opener, and how it might apply to your entrepreneurial journey. Click Play!


Undisputed Truth
Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson started with nothing, but invested in his abilities, trusted the right coaches, and took a few strategic risks. And it paid off huge! However, his downfall came when he lost humility, and — worse — stopped evolving. This is exactly how business works! Fortunately, Tyson ultimately bounced back through patience, work, and a willingness to start learning again. If Tyson can go from poverty to success, fail, and still find a way back, then your business plans aren’t so far-fetched.


The Cold Email Manifesto
Alex Berman & Robert Indries

If you’re like most people, you probably assume that cold emailing is a bad marketing strategy. It’s too direct, too forward, too scammy, too annoying. Right? But what if you’re wrong? What if cold emailing can actually do the trick? That’s the premise of The Cold Email Manifesto by Alex Berman and Robert Indries.


Entrepreneurship Finance Uncategorized

Increase Your Profits Immediately With One Practical Method

It may sound like over-promising, but it’s true! You can significantly increase your profits in less time than it takes to watch a movie (especially a long movie like Batman v. Superman, which you shouldn’t be watching anyway when you could be making money to spend on better movies). It’s not a “hack” or a trick. It’s a relatively simple exercise in evaluating and readjusting your ledger.

We personally do it about every 6 months, because why wouldn’t we? Businesses of any size can do it. It’s a simple matter of looking at one part of the standard two-part profit formula: revenue minus expenses. While revenue can be generated in any number of ways, the easiest way to widen the profit gap is to focus on expenses.

Some expenses may seem fixed, but they’re often not. While there are certain non-negotiables, a lot of what you’re spending can be decreased, if not eliminated.

Step 1: Make a List

Write down every single expense your business has, right down to whatever you pay yourself. Order them from biggest expense to smallest. To use our software company WebinarNinja as an example, our list-topper is usually our server provider. Your business will have similar “big” expenses. Suppliers, materials, server space, rental space; whatever they are, tweaking them will be key to saving your business money.

While they may appear un-tweakable, a pleasant surprise may be in store. It’s all about the art of the ask. What if all that stood between you and more profit was just the will to ask? By starting with your biggest expenses and working your way down the list, you can make a massive difference— even if you can only lower some of them.

Step 2: Negotiate

This is the “tough” part, though it’s not so tough. While things like rent or materials may seem non-negotiable, you have to remember that whoever’s on the other side of the table wants to keep your business! If you’ve been using a certain service or supplier consistently and you’ve established a long-term relationship, that’s a major point in your favor. Much of the time, they may be willing to give you a break in order to maintain the relationship.

You have nothing to lose by asking. The only thing that stops most people from asking is inexperience overcoming the awkwardness of negotiations. In that case, it’s never too soon to start practicing! Your odds of catching a break are higher than you might think. I negotiate discounts for our businesses all the time. Sometimes, they’re only in the 10% range. Other times, they’re much more. Month to month and year to year, these discounts add up!

Remember that whoever you’re negotiating with has very good reasons to offer you a price cut. It’s in their best interests to keep long-term customers around, even at a slight short-term loss. A discount may even be offered in exchange for a longer commitment or for bigger volume. Either way, you both win.

Take payment processing fees, which I regularly renegotiate. If you’re bringing in more customers in your second year than in your first, your payment processor can see that. They can see that lowering their cut is worth keeping you (and all your customers) around. If your business involves shipping, there’s lots of opportunity to score a better deal. When I ran a clothing company, I was on the phone with FedEx, UPS, and the USPS every few months increasing my revenue.

While you can accept “no,” there’s always plenty of reasons for them to say “yes.” All it takes is a phone call, perhaps a meeting. It’s always worth asking. Consider all the deals and discounts offered to new customers by various services. If it’s worth it for companies to give breaks for the possibility of a long-term customer, why wouldn’t they do the same to keep an already established one?

Sometimes, the “request” can even be indirect. If you’re consistently in contact with your various service and materials providers, that relationship can lead to offers and discounts you haven’t even asked for. We’ve been using Baremetrics for our analytics for years. In that time, I’ve been in constant communications with them, consistently offering feedback. Eventually, when a new feature was added— one I’d been suggesting to them for a while— I was offered a major discount on it without my having asked at all.

Eliminate Waste

Most of your expense-cutting will come in the form of paying less for various things. However, it’s a good idea to regularly check your list for things you can eliminate altogether. What was necessary 3 years ago might be superfluous now. Services that once came from separate providers might now come bundled (the feature in question from Baremetrics was a way to address missed payments from customers, something I’d had to do separately before).

The only thing I’d suggest not cutting, if it’s at all avoidable, is salaries. Your team needs to feel supported in order to give their best, and adjusting your ledger by adjusting their pay is no way to earn their loyalty. If you have to eliminate a position, or one has become redundant, that’s another matter. But if someone is valuable enough to keep on board, they’re valuable enough to treat right!

With a little organization, a little luck, and— most importantly— the willingness to ask for a better deal, you can keep profits on the rise. Make it a habit, and your business will thrive in the longer term.

Entrepreneurship Finance Sales

5 Reasons You’re Not Selling Enough— And How To Sell More

Why do businesses fail to grow? Why do sales go into slumps, or never take off at all? Owning a business with insufficient sales can be a frustrating, frightening experience. Without adequate revenue, it’s only a matter of time before it shrivels up and croaks. The good news is that ugly sales numbers don’t have to be a terminal condition. There’s a reason for them, and there are ways to address them.

It may require facing some uncomfortable truths. It will require making some changes. But you don’t have to go down without a fight. By identifying the problem, you can save your business before it’s too late. The following are 5 of the most common reasons we fail to sell, and what you can do about them.

Reason 1: Selling isn’t a priority.

Impossible, you might say. Of course, sales are a priority. Of course, you’re trying to sell— isn’t every business owner? However, many business owners are either uncomfortable with selling, or simply don’t know how to. They think that with a little marketing and a little advertising, a great product will sell itself. They don’t want to be pushy. They think a passive approach will work.

I’d say that If you think you’re “selling” enough, you’re probably not. Almost every successful business prioritizes sales. This doesn’t mean they’re going to door-to-door every day, asking people to consider their yoga class or SaaS. It means they’re doing something that will increase sales every single week. They’re hosting a webinar. They’re doing an email promotion. Whatever it is, they’re not letting much time go by without actively chasing sales.

Some small business advocates preach that if you just “do what you love,” the sales will come. I’ve gotta call nonsense on that. Sales don’t come, they’re pursued. You have to sell, actively and constantly. It doesn’t mean turning yourself into some slick stereotype. It just means making a conscious effort. It’s about hustle, not hassle. You can’t be afraid to ask for the sale, day in and day out.

When a business owner with weak sales comes to me for advice, the first thing I ask is how many times in the last month they’ve had some kind of sales event. Usually, the answer is 0. It’s not enough to simply put the product out there. Look at Macy’s: they have a 1-day sale every week. It might seem silly, but it gives people a reason to show up. John Lee Dumas of Podcaster’s Paradise hosts a webinar every week for the same reason.

Set a goal to do some kind of sales promotion every week. It can be as simple as a coupon code at the end of a blog post. Whatever it is, give people a special reason to buy.

Reason 2: Opaque Pricing

Few things kill sales like a confusing price structure. While it isn’t always easy to determine exactly what the customer will have to spend, it’s important to make it as simple as possible. This is because people, like businesses, need to plan their budgets. A convoluted system might make sense to you. It might even be your way of trying to help the customer spend only what they need to. But if it’s too complex, it’s guaranteed to scare people off.

Especially when you’re selling a service, you’ve got to have clear, simple package prices. Hourly rates for things like graphic or web design are particular problems, because neither you nor the customer know how long a given project is going to take. Whatever you charge, make it as easy as possible for the customer to predict how much they’ll ultimately spend.

Charge for the result, rather than trying to charge for the exact time and resources you’re using. Set your prices from the customer’s perspective— all they want to know is what the result will cost them.

Reason 3: Burned by the churn

Churn, if you don’t know the term, describes the rate at which customers cancel their service or get refunds. It’s an especially dangerous business-killer, because it’s sneaky. It makes your sales stats unreliable indicators, because the money you’ve “made” gets un-made. That’s why it’s vital to track this metric. We use baremetrics for our analytics, which includes churn rates.

If your churn rate turns out to be significant, do whatever it takes to stop the bleeding. Find out what’s causing customers who were initially sold to change their minds. Give your customers a good reason to stick around. Improve support, improve communication; improve whatever you have to in order to keep the business you’ve earned.  

Reason 4: You’re spending too much

Like the churn problem, in this case the sales numbers can look deceptively good. But in reality, you’re not actually generating revenue. As I always preach, the most important statistic for any business is profitability. If what you’re spending to produce each unit is too close to (or heaven forbid, more than) its price, you’re spinning your wheels.

I had this problem when I ran a clothing line. My sales were great. Clothes were flying off the shelves. However, no matter how much I sold, I was never really making money. What it cost to produce each item was around 90% of the price. With soft products, it’s even trickier. You’ve got to factor in costs like hosting and third-party apps on which your product depends. You’ve got to track your costs honestly and thoroughly, leaving nothing out of the equation— including whatever you’re paying yourself.

Reason 5: You Ain’t Write Good

Finally, invest time in improving your sales copy. The words you use in ads, emails, blogs, and webinars are at the heart of your salesmanship. For help with that, I recommend reading This Book Will Teach You How To Write Better by Neville Medhora. It’s very short (100 pages), but it’s a fantastic primer on articulating yourself in a way that moves product. With the right messaging, you can reach customers who would otherwise ignore you.

When sales aren’t happening, it’s a horrible feeling. The end of your business isn’t around the corner, but you know it’s down the road. The cure is to stay in sales mode. Ask for the sale in every way possible, as often as possible. Offer value, prove yourself to the customers, and entice them with offers that make sense. Chase the sales, and orient your business practices around them.


How To Fight Attempted Charge Backs From Banks— And Win

Charge backs happen. Ideally, they don’t happen often. But it’s important to know how to deal with them when they do. The charge back is the “nuclear option” for the customer who wants a refund. Rather than requesting one from you, they send their bank in like a financial cavalry to demand it on their behalf. Usually, the bank is temporarily covering the customer’s refund with their own money, so it’s in their interest to use their considerable resources against you.

Usually, charge backs come from customers who are looking for a way to skirt your refund policy (assuming you have one; more on that later). They’ve missed the window for a refund, or they haven’t met the (hopefully clearly) stated terms to qualify for one. Sometimes it’s an honest mistake; they don’t recognize the charge, or forgot they signed up for your service, But mostly, they come from customers who feel entitled to a refund that’s outside the normal scope.

The good news is, you can fight the bank, assuming you’re in the right. More importantly, you can prevent charge backs from happening with some pretty basic pre-emptive strategies.

The Black-and-White Defense

The absolute best way to defend against charge backs is to keep them from happening in the first place. This is accomplished by having clear, precise terms and conditions in place that spell out your refund policy. A well articulated, airtight policy that lays out specific terms is the best way to win a refund dispute before it occurs. Somewhere before checkout, the customer should have to acknowledge and accept your terms and conditions. We’ve all checked that box when making an online purchase. It’s there for a reason!

For example, our policy at WebinarNinja is that the service is free for the first 2 weeks. After this trial period ends, the customer is charged. This is spelled out very clearly in our terms and conditions. When a customer is charged on that 15th day, there’s not much of an argument to made for deciding they don’t want the service anymore and demanding a refund. The key is to eliminate the element of surprise. If the customer isn’t surprised by the charge, then you’re not likely to be surprised by a charge back!

Keep Thorough Records

Be organized with your business correspondence, especially concerning purchases and refund requests. Keep a thorough record of emails, support requests and tickets, and every other kind of correspondence. With all of this information saved and time-stamped, it shouldn’t be difficult to resolve disputes in your favor.

This is especially important for your payment processor’s sake. A charge back differs from a refund in that instead of the customer getting a refund from you, the bank is demanding one from whatever payment processor you’re using. This creates a hassle for the processor as well as yourself. To make it easier for them (and maintain good relations between your business and theirs), make it as easy as possible to deny the refund. Have your stated terms and conditions plus your correspondence organized and easily accessible. Be able to present the evidence as soon as the question is raised. Be efficient, and it’ll pay off when you need it to.

Take It In Stride

The worst thing you can do in the event of a charge back is nothing. If you don’t fight it, the customer will more than likely get the refund. This not only costs you money, it can affect your reputation—  as well as your relationship with your payment processor. It’s extremely difficult to reverse a decision in favor of the customer, so stay on top of it. If the customer is in the wrong, you can’t let your business suffer for it.

Charge backs don’t have to be a major issue. If your terms are clear, your records are tight, and your customer service is good, they should be a rarity. When they do occur, it’s still possible to resolve in a way that takes the banks and processors out of the equation. If possible, reach out to the customer who’s requested the charge back and see if you can work things out.

There may be a simple mistake on their part that you can clear up. There may be a mistake on your part that actually warrants a refund. If so, it’s better to handle it privately, without the hassles that come with an official charge back. Either way, maintaining communication with customers from start to finish is the best strategy. If you do so, the sailing will be much smoother.

Entrepreneurship Finance

3 Ways To Start An Online Business (With Very Little Money)

The goal of entrepreneurship can be a broad one. Sometimes, all we know is that we want to be our own boss, live according to our own vision, and make our way independently. We may not have our whole future mapped out. We may not have the ideal product designed in all its detail. Most of all, we may not have much capital to work with.

That’s just fine.

In fact, when you’re in this more broad phase, you’re more “ready” than you think! Entrepreneurship isn’t about creating some magic product or taking the gamble of indebting yourself to investors. It’s about learning how to market, sell, innovate, and repeat the process. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And sometimes, the most important thing is just getting started.

If you’re looking to start your first business— or even your 5th— but you don’t have much by way of money, there are options. With very little startup cash, you can get in the game by choosing the right kind of business and taking advantage of the new economy. I’ve personally done it more than once. It’s a great way to minimize risk, test out ideas, and generally practice your entrepreneurial skills.

Service-Based Businesses

One thing you can sell that doesn’t cost a dime to produce: a skill you already have. Design, writing, photography, whatever it is you can do, sell that. The overhead is 0 or close to it, aside from whatever equipment you might need (but you probably already have that anyway). Selling a skill is the first and most obvious way to get your independent business rolling— but it’s not the end of the story.

One mantra we like to preach here at The $100 MBA is that time is NOT money. Trading time for money is a means to an end, not a business model. It’s not really possible to scale up a business when you’re the only source of labor! Therefore, the next step is to find others with your same skill, bring them onboard, and take your cut.

The term is arbitrage. For example, one of my early projects was a graphic design business. At first, I did the designing. As the business grew, I did less. Eventually, I did very little of it. I simply found other designers, and brought my clients to them. My business was the hub; my job was simply to arrange the service. The point is, starting a service-based business doesn’t have to mean you’re doing the service, at least not indefinitely. Of course, if the work is your passion (understandable for artists or writers), you’re free to do as much as you wish.

Service businesses, especially arbitrage, are perfect for low-to-no capital entrepreneurs. There’s no significant overhead, no inventory, no membership services. There’s just you, your brand, and a Paypal account. To expand your business, simply offer discounted services; as a graphic designer, I would offer a heavy discount in exchange for referrals. That’s exchanging time for growth!

Product-Based Business

While service-based arbitrage is a great way to go, there is a product-based version. Put simply, it’s the oldest model in sales: buy low, sell high. Cars, clothes, electronics, you name it. Scour the internet for the best deals, and resell at a profit. This is nothing new or revolutionary, but it is effective. Ebay and Amazon are rife with steeply discounted goods just waiting for a middleman to find greater demand for them. I personally bought and sold cars this way, making hundreds or thousands per transaction.

Affiliate Marketing

Another way to start turning a profit without investing much is affiliate sales. I’ve said and written a lot about this model, but in a nutshell it’s this: you become a salesperson for another business, leveraging your reputation to move their product. Commissions can be high— some affiliate marketers get from 50 to 90 percent of the profits, depending on the situation (it’s even not unheard of to get 100%).

Making money this way requires putting a great deal of time and effort into marketing, especially content marketing. If your recommendation is going to be worth anything, you have to be recognized as an authority in your niche. You have to consistently produce engaging, valuable content. You have to be someone that people trust.

A great example of this (and one that shows you how to avoid the pitfalls of affiliate marketing) is Pat Flynn of His ethical, honest approach to affiliate marketing utilized and boosted his own credibility to great effect. He only ever recommended products that he used, and that worked. Nowadays, he still does some affiliate marketing, but mostly he’s focused on his own products— for important reasons.

What’s crucial to remember is that affiliate marketing is a stepping stone, not a goal. If you overplay it, if you don’t have your own product to sell eventually, you won’t be able to sustain your business. Your audience will grow tired of getting nothing but sales pitches for other people’s products, and wonder why you don’t offer something of your own. Affiliate marketing can be a great boost, but only within its limits.

All of these three options can be used to build a foundation for your independent enterprise. They’re low-investment, low-risk, and practical. Most importantly, they help you develop the abilities you’ll need, no matter what industry you ultimately thrive in. These early projects are the first steps.

Don’t wait until you have the perfect product, the perfect plan, or a massive stockpile of capital. Start doing business now, and see where things go!

Entrepreneurship Finance Leadership Uncategorized

Time Is Not Money

“Time is money.” It’s an age-old business adage, popularized by Ben Franklin’s Advice To A Young Tradesman. Franklin argued “He that loses five shillings worth of time loses five shillings, and might as prudently throw five shillings into the sea.”  Since then, the phrase has been used to exhort business people of all kinds to work more hours.

No disrespect to Ben, but enough already.

The phrase was meant to encourage focus, to remind you that any time you spend not working is draining revenue. That may be technically true. But equating time with money doesn’t encourage productivity so much as it encourages misery. It turns work into a chore rather than a calling. It surrenders us to the idea that money is more valuable than time. It isn’t.

I propose we flip this equation. Time shouldn’t be something we spend in order to acquire money. Money is something we should spend to acquire time. That’s the point of business. That’s the point of entrepreneurship. By starting an independent business, you free yourself from someone else’s demands on your time.

Time Is The Most Valuable Commodity

Money can be spent, earned, loaned and recuperated. Time is different. There’s no getting it back once it’s gone. It can’t be regenerated or negotiated for or made to pour out of a slot machine. But like money, time can be invested in order to produce more of itself. We all know our business represents an investment of time. Rather than seeing the return on that investment as money, a healthier outlook is to see more time as the ultimate reward.

In Tony Robbins’ latest book Money: Master the Game the self-help legend details his philosophy of prosperity. The ideal earner, he argues, is ultimately a smart investor. He claims that the absolute worst investment one can make is an investment of time—if money is the expected return. The worst! This may fly in the face of conventional wisdom (and certainly in the face of conventional employment), but I couldn’t agree more.

Most people exchange time for money on a daily basis. We get paid by the hour, the month or the year. Every day, across the globe, people trade this precious, finite resource for money. We trade life itself for greenish paper. We trade happiness for numbers in an account. It’s like trading gold for pigeon droppings.

Instead, let’s think of time as the most valuable currency. Life gives you an account. This account accepts no deposits, only withdrawals. Every day you withdraw 24 hours. You spend 8 or so sleeping, leaving about 16 hours of irreplaceable denominations of existence. It’s definitely unhealthy to spend that time on a job you hate—but you shouldn’t spend too much even on a job you like!

I’m not suggesting we give up our livelihoods and live under a bridge, enjoying all the free time. What I am suggesting is that sometimes entrepreneurs get into business to free themselves, and instead end up enslaved. Devoting excessive amounts of time to your business in order to reach that next milestone, and the next, and the next, defeats the purpose. You can succeed on your own terms without sacrificing what matters most.

How To Take Back Time

Why did you get into business? How can you avoid trading one cage (conventional work) for another (independent work)? Once you’ve decided to prioritize time over money, how can you go about earning more of the former?

Planning. While it’s reasonable to devote a great deal of time and energy to getting your business off the ground, you need an exit strategy. Your exit is the moment you can hand over the reins of your business to people you trust. It’s the moment you finally extricate yourself from the day-to-day work. It’s the moment you’re free to live off of your creation, instead of it living off of you.

At some point, your business will reach what I call a “personal profitability marker.” That’s the point at which the business is sustainable. Revenue pays for all operations and for your own personal needs and living expenses, with money to spare. From here, you’ll be able to start moving towards that exit. As soon as you can afford to, pay someone else to take one task off your hands. Then, one by one, subtract more and more tasks from your own schedule.

As more revenue allows you to pay more people to produce more product which produces more revenue, you earn more time. This is the ultimate exchange. This is the transaction that makes independent business worth the effort. This is how you can—in the only real sense—buy time. It’s the greatest profit possible.

Start with something small, like emails. Train someone else to handle the crafting and sending of emails to your audience. Once they’ve mastered it, the time you normally spend doing it is returned to you. Then, move on to your blogs. Scheduling. Payroll. Customer service. The list goes on. Groom managers to make important decisions. Mold them into people you can trust to run operations. Keep files on your own decision-making process for your protégés to study. They get experience, skill, and pay. You get time.

In Robert Kiyosaki’s book Cashflow Quadrant, he describes a left-to-right continuum from employee to investor. The employee is at the beginning of his working life. He or she has the least favorable exchange: time for money. To the far right is the investor, who only exchanges money for time. That’s the goal of entrepreneurship: to be the person whose work creates something self-perpetuating. While Kiyosaki is under scrutiny as the kind of financial “guru” whose advice should be taken with a few grains of salt, the concept is valid.

I’m working on that process now. The $100 MBA Show podcast takes time. Refining our webinar platform, Webinar Ninja, takes time. On top of that, there’s speaking engagements, interviews, conferences, etc. But even all that is less than I used to do. Little by little, Nicole and I have unburdened ourselves of various duties by finding good people to do them for us.

It costs money. But in return, we get something so much more valuable.

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Spending Your Profits Wisely

So you’re making money. Revenue is outpacing expenses, and there are a few more zeroes in your bank account. Your labors are starting to bear fruit, and you’re at the point where all your “needs” are covered, and the door to “wants” is finally open.

This could be a problem.

The challenges of success require no less careful thought than the challenges of adversity. As an independent business person, you want to be prepared to make the right moves when the momentum is carrying you forward. You’ve got to be prepared for success, so that you can not only parlay it into even more success, but so that your business can maintain the identity and character that you envisioned. Most importantly, it’s necessary to define your priorities regarding wealth, work, and overall happiness.

That’s why this post is about “spending” rather than “investing” your profits. Investment is one way to spend your profits, and it’s definitely worth considering. At some point, however, you’ve got to pay yourself. Deciding how to do so in a way that’s consistent with your broader goals is part of the entrepreneur’s challenge, and an important component of maintaining long-term success.

What Are Profits For?

Let’s say, for the simplest example, that you’re a solopreneur with an online product. You’ve sold enough eBooks and courses to more than cover your overhead, and you’re left with a sheer net profit of $8k. What’s the best way to spend it? Do you have to plow it back into your business? Is there a certain ratio of business use to personal use that allows you to enjoy your life while still being a responsible business owner?

That all depends on you, and your own priorities. Naturally, what you pay yourself has to cover basic necessities like rent, food, and Netflix. Beyond that, what you choose to do with your money should be informed by what kind of business you want to run, and what kind of lifestyle you consider enjoyable.

What kind of growth are you ultimately looking for? Did you get into business hoping to build the next Google, or do you simply want the freedom that comes with supporting yourself on your own labor? Do you want to manage a business with multiple employees, or do you enjoy the peace and solitude of solopreneurship? Are you trying to maintain your current lifestyle, or are you preparing for the next plateau?

It’s important to ask yourself these questions as early as possible, rather than waiting to cross that bridge when you come to it. Having some guidelines as to the business and life you want to create will allow you to make decisions about your profits that will help you realize your own unique goals, not just some vague notion of “success.” The more specific your vision for yourself is, the better prepared you’ll be to turn profits into positive results.

Spending vs. Reinvesting

When you’ve got some extra capital on hand, the temptation to spend it is strong. Some people will want to spend it on luxury items like cars, clothes, travel, and fine dining. There is surely nothing wrong with that, if that’s what you want. But knowing you want those things is different from assuming you want them, and balancing those desires with your business goals is something that requires careful forethought.

The key is to decide on a ratio of personal spending to business reinvestment. What that ratio is will depend on how large you want your life to be, and how large you want your business to be. If you have that $8k in the bank, and all of your necessary expenses are met, try splitting the profits between your business and yourself. If $4k worth of equipment or training could elevate your business to the next level (and you want your business to be on that next level), then there’s nothing wrong with spending the other $4k on a much-needed vacation. If, however, you’re doing roughly the amount of business you want to be doing, and you’re financially secure, then spending all $8k on something personal may be a perfectly legitimate reward for yourself.

Types of Reinvestment

If you choose to devote some or all of your profits to reinvestment, make it skillfully targeted reinvestment. This breaks down into two categories: growing sales, and growing the business itself. These are related, but distinct categories.

For example, new equipment, a website overhaul, training, or hiring is an investment in the business. Investing this way doesn’t directly promote sales, it simply enhances the size, capacity, or capability of your company. This can be a precursor to more sales, but not necessarily. It could simply result in improved product quality or a diversification of your product line.

Directly boosting sales calls for a different kind of investment, generally a marketing one. Advertisements, email offers, promotional discounts (the decreased revenue from the lowered price being the cost of the promotion), and other forms of direct outreach are sales boosters. They may bring in loads of new customers, which you’ll then need the capacity to serve in the long term. This means more success, more profit, and more work- it that’s what you want.

Which form of reinvestment you choose depends on your own business plan. Do you want a big, sprawling business that serves as many people as possible? Would you rather have a niche business with a small, loyal following that prioritizes a more personalized approach? Neither answer is “correct;” it’s your business. But knowing which you prefer is crucial in deciding where to funnel your profits.

The Lifestyle Question

I’m fortunate enough to have had a few great mentors and guides in the world of online entrepreneurship. Michael Port taught me how to communicate. Noah Kagan taught me how to develop software. Another major influence in my approach to business has been Thrive’s Gary Vaynerchuk.

Vaynerchuk has made millions as a creative business thinker and entrepreneur, but his approach to personal spending is what had the most impact on me. He specifically avoids conspicuous consumption, eschewing flashy cars and other obvious signs of wealth. That’s not to say that conspicuous consumption is somehow wrong- it’s to say that a pre-determined notion of what lifestyle makes you happiest is a better goal than simply wanting “more.”

“More” is a vague and limitless goal, which is to say it’s not a goal at all. If the cost of a Porsche could buy your business the capacity it needs to sustain a modest, but stable revenue stream for the foreseeable future, a person with modest, but stable goals would do better driving a perfectly good Honda. If the cost of a Honda could allow you to see the French countryside, then someone with a travel bug would do better booking a plane ticket.

A lot has been written about how to grow your business and make as much money as possible. What you do when those efforts start to produce results, however, is something entrepreneurs might need to spend some more time considering. Start by defining what matters most to you, and as your business grows, balance the need to profit with the need to reward yourself for doing so. Rather than an open-ended quest for revenue in general, remember why you went into business for yourself in the first place- to build the life of your choosing.