Business Books to read this summer

I don’t know about you, but summer is the time when I really get the time to read books. I do try and read during the year, but don’t get through them at the same rate. In the summer I try to take time off from client work and focus on rest, relaxation, time with the family as well as making some time to focus on my actual business. Because of course when you take that time to relax and read, the ideas tend to come flooding in.

And I read. Business books. Because I’m not a big fiction reader. But I love to read non-fiction, especially business books and biographies.

Where do I get ideas for what to read?

If you’ve listened to any of the guest interviews on my podcast, the Website Coach, you’ll find I always ask the guest for business book recommendations. And asking other people for book recommendations is one really good way to find good books to read. Of course you do want someone with similar taste to yours – those friends who read psychological thrillers aren’t the ones I ask for recommendations. So find someone or some people who have loved the same books you have loved and ask them for recommendations.

I also listen to Chris Evans on Virgin Radio. He often has authors on as guests. People who have written non-fiction books. I love listening to their discussions and will often add these books to my list of books to read.

And of course I listen to podcasts, again mainly business podcasts including Steven Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO. Some of my favourite interviews of his are with interesting authors – non fiction authors mainly – adding to my list of books to read.

My daughter is a big reader (her tastes are different to mine), but if we’re out shopping together we always end up in a bookshop. As she’s browsing the fiction I’m in the business section. I’m looking at covers and reading blurbs (yes I judge a book by its cover. we all do. – this is marketing working). Adding to the list of books I want to read.

So I thought I would share some of my recommendations of business books to read this summer. I’m going to start with books I’ve read. Then I’m going to share some others that I have on my list to read this summer. I doubt I’ll get round to reading them all but they’re on my list.

Reading business books in the summer

1. Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller

This is an absolute classic book. If you haven’t read it I strongly encourage you to do so. It changed the way I saw marketing my business – for the better. I have already read it but plan to reread it again this summer.

It will blow your mind. You’ll want to take notes and really think about your business – how you position it and how you market it.

I want to encourage you to read it so I’m only going to give a small insight, but in this book Donald Miller talks about positioning your client as the hero and you as the guide that helps them succeed. Because every story always has a hero that needs help to get to that happy ending. And we all want to be the hero of our own success story (not the incidental in someone else’s success story).

I see so many people marketing their business (including via their websites) where it is all about them. When your clients are looking for someone to help them. A guide if you like.

So go and read it!

2. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazi

I’m actually reading this book at the moment. I’m about 3/4 of the way through. But I am absolutely loving it and highly recommend you read it. I’ve already told several people about it.

It is another classic. It first came out about 10 years ago I think. But I’d not come across it until recently.

It feeds into something which I had begun to realise and what a number of guests on my podcast have talked about which is networking. But it isn’t a book about networking meetings – in fact the author mentions he doesn’t go to them. It’s about what many people call marketing your business via “word of mouth” which is how a lot of people want to promote their business. But word of mouth marketing does take effort (that’s the bit most people miss). It’s about making connections with people. Some of those connections will be strong and deep – they need nurturing. Others will be weak (which is fine because we can’t nurture hundreds of relationships). It’s all about you helping the people you connect with and calling on their help when needed.

This has been a big focus for me this year because I realised this is how I have got a lot of clients – this and direct referrals from existing clients are my two biggest sources of clients.

And this books talks about why you should focus on making those connections and how to do so. Some of these I was already doing but I’ve also learnt so much from the book. Highly recommend.

Marie reading a business book in a cafe in the summer

3. No Filter by Sarah Frier

This is a slightly different recommendation. I read this book, which is all about the growth of Instagram, last summer. In fact I talked about it on another blog post Business Books.

So this is the story of Instagram, from the various start up ideas to Instagram, through its sale to Facebook for $1 billion (when it had just 13 employees and wasn’t making any money), the friction between Instagram and Facebook, some of the issues it had to grapple with, the story behind the innovations (or copying) and ultimately the exit by the founders and Adam Mosseri taking over.

It’s just a really good business story and an easy read. It was the Winner of the FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award 2020. If you’re a fiction reader or you like biographies then I’d highly recommend this. I really enjoyed it.

4. Atomic Habits by James Clear

This is another classic that I read last summer and talked about in the blog post Business Books.

I deliberated whether to include this on my list of recommendations or not, as I got more out of my next recommendation.

The reason I deliberated is because I found it hard going in places. I did get a bit bored and wondered how on earth I could apply some of the ideas to my own life. I “got it” – I saw that stacking good habits onto things you already do was a good idea, as was adding “friction” to bad habits to make them harder to continue with (the idea of putting the biscuit tin on the top shelf) but struggled to see how I could apply it. I mean if I want a biscuit I’ll climb or even drive to the shops. I can be pretty determined!!

That said, it is a classic and I know a lot of people recommend it so you should read it if you haven’t already.

5. Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky

This is the final book that I talked about in the blog post – Books I read in the summer from last year.

And I loved this.

It builds upon Atomic Habits. I read it after Atomic Habits. But I found it much more practical.

It gave real world examples of what you could do to “make time” for the right things. There’s more than 80 tips in the book. Not all of them will appeal – most won’t. But the idea is you try a few.

Things like reducing the amount of news you consume. On the basis that if something really important happens you’ll hear about it, there’s nothing you can do about it, and reading once a week is enough to know what’s going on in the world.

One of the best “productivity” books I’ve read and recommend you read it too.

Selection of business books to read this summer with cake

Books that are on my list to read

6. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

So I heard Chris Voss being interviewed on a show. To be honest I think I heard him on a couple of shows.

He’s an ex-FBI hostage negotiator. So if anyone knows how to negotiate it’s him. He has some amazing stories. He never had an amazing success rate despite not paying randsomes.

My years in investment banking taught me how to negotiate quite well eventually. Although having children was a different matter. Negotiating with a toddler or teen is hard work!

Yes I’m looking for some tips in this book but also I want to hear those stories from his work with the FBI and see how those tips work in real life.

7. Deep Work by Cal Newport

I don’t know about you but I find I get easily distracted. When I am designing and building websites for clients I really need to focus for long periods of time. And I do, it just takes me some time to get into that state.

I know lots of tactics for “productivity” but I find what works for other people doesn’t necessarily work for me. And what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for others.

So I’d love to learn some more tactics to add to my “tool box” of things to help me focus more and, probably more importantly, more easily. And I’m hoping this book will give me just that.

8. Effortless by Greg McKeown

This book is about a related subject. How to make it easier to do what matters most.

And frankly, I’d like to make my life and work easier. I have lots of goals. I don’t suffer from a problem of working out what I want, or even how to get there, but sometimes I know I am making it harder for myself to achieve these than it should be. So I am hoping this book will give me some tips to help me.

It is the successor to a book called Essentialism, which I haven’t read, but is about doing less. Doing the “right things” rather than everything. Maybe I should add that one to my list too, but I think making my life easier is a good place to start! Then if I like that book I’ll read Essentialism too.

Reading a business book in summer evening outdoors wrapped in blankets and clutching a coffee

9. Business Made Simple by Donald Miller

Having loved Building a Story Brand, I’d like to hear more from Donald Miller and Business Made Simple is his latest book.

Donald has done the podcast rounds. I heard him on Amy Porterfield and he has his own podcast. And he is good. He has some good stories which are very relatable. I like how he has focused on certain aspects of running a business and what you need to do – things like sales and marketing, your products, your team etc.

My only concern is whether, having heard him talk about this book so much, there will be anything new in it!

10. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

This is probably not a book I would have had on my list to be honest. Probably because I think it is more what I would consider a self help book rather than a business book, although there’s a lot of overlap between the two.

But it is on my list because it comes highly recommended by my friend and mentor Shaa Wasmund.

11. The XX Brain by Lisa Mosconi

One of my podcast guests, Lucy Holland who was on episode 88 recommended this book, all about the female brain.

It’s not a business book but it is non-fiction and it is an area that I am hugely interested in so it is on my list for the summer.

It is about women’s health and the ageing of women’s brains as we go through the menopause and estrogen declines. I know it sounds like a cheery read!!

But it is an important issue for us women to understand (and men to understand too) and this book talks about what we can do to protect our brains. Like most health advice I think it is always good to know what we should be doing, even if we then go back to the cake and wine…

12. Zero Resistance Selling by Maxwell Maltz

Sales is an area that I think I could improve on. Like most small business owners I don’t particularly like to sell, although I do like to help others – and my services do that – so I know I need to get over it. And I know I have a lot to learn about sales.

This book was recommended by another podcast guest, Samantha Goddard on episode number 90, and it sounds interesting so it’s on my list.

The book says it is about reprogramming your own self image to help you meet your selling and career goals.

13. Oversubscribed by Daniel Priestley

This is another recommendation by a podcast guest, this time Wendy Ross from Tonbridge Accountants in episode 69.

This book is about increasing the demand for your products so you are “oversubscribed”, ie you have clients queuing up to work with you.

The irony is that I am oversubscribed in that there is usually a 4 – 8 week wait to work with me. As I write this in July I am fully booked until October. But I’d like to understand how to keep it this way especially as I try to put in systems, processes and outsource some work to increase my capacity.

Marie reading the business book Playing Big, in the summer

Conclusion

I strongly encourage you to make time this summer to read some business books. I’ve learnt a lot from many I have read. I just need to put those learnings into practice (which is a bit harder!). Which ones of these are you going to add to your list?

* Please note all links in this blog post are to purchase books through bookshop.org, which supports independent bookshops. They are not affiliate links. I don’t benefit in any way