A Small Business Reading List

You all know this: the job of the small business owner never ends. Even after leaving the store, we’re thinking and processing and trying to find new ways to innovate. We’re trying to figure out how to get more customers, how to get those customers to spend more money, and how to reduce our overhead by developing greater efficiency. And most importantly, how we can get to a point so that we can actually go home and spend some time doing things for ourselves?

Well, I have good news for you! There are experts in retail and marketing out there, who have written books that will inspire you to think about things in a different way, and give you the tools and knowledge you need to make the changes to grow your business.

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber

Inside us are 3 people: The Technician, The Manager, and the Entrepreneur. Most small businesses start with The Technician at the helm. This is the person who loves playing Magic and opens a game store, because they know all about the product. But, the technician can only take a business so far. The Manager is the person who is obsessed with systems and creating ways of doing things. The Entrepreneur sees the big picture, has goals for the future, and structures every decision around reaching those goals. By embracing more of the Entrepreneur, you can start to work ON your business, rather than IN your business.  

I’ll admit this book does not provide much in the way of concrete instruction on how to achieve any of this. But it does tell you what the reality should be, and provides the inspiration needed to reach it. If you can cut through Gerber’s odd way of writing, you’ll find a lot of inspiration to examine your business through a different lens, and position your business for growth.

Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill

This one is an absolute MUST read. I reference this book constantly. Paco Underhill is one of the foremost marketing consultants in the world, and his book gives you concrete examples of how shelf layouts, colours, and aisles will change how people shop in your store. From making aisles wide enough to avoid the butt-brush, to making sure you have a “landing strip” at the entrance of your store, he’ll explain, in easily-executable detail, how to increase sales by changing your store layout.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk

This book blew my mind. Sure it’s 4 years old at this point, and in the world of social media, that’s a lifetime. But the wealth of knowledge in this book is staggering. Vaynerchuk walks through the use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest, delivering clear and concise instructions to develop your social media presence, including examples of good and bad content. Social media is one way that we, as small business owners, have a huge advantage over big business. While big business is bogged down in bureaucracy, we can get our message out there at the time at which it is relevant and can have the most benefit. And Vaynerchuk will tell you how to do that.

These three books have made me rethink everything about my operations, my physical layout, and my social media presence. Yes, it’s a huge amount of work, but the alternative is floundering around in the dark. I guarantee these three books will help you spearhead positive change in your business. But don’t stop there! Keep gathering resources and learning from the experts! What’s next on my reading list? “The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing your Business” by Bob Phibbs. I’ve been at this for almost 19 years, and I will never stop trying to improve what I’ve built.

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