Best Leadership Books for Small Business Owners

By business.com editorial staff,
business.com writer
| Updated
Jun 04, 2020
Image Credit: BongkarnThanyakij / Getty Images

These eight books can help you become a better leader for your company.

  • Building your bookshelf is an important step in building your business. Small business leadership books can give you insights on how to grow your startup.
  • Look for leadership books that discuss how working on yourself can help you improve your business. Some books that have influenced formidable leaders are Lean In and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
  • Small business leadership books can also provide advice on how to apply Fortune 500 principles to any size of company. Books with this theme include Anything You Want and The E-Myth Revisited.

Being a leader is not as simple or luxurious as it sounds. While many professionals dream of becoming a person of merit in the workplace, it doesn't come easy. With a highly respected title comes even higher expectations, which can be daunting – especially for new leaders.

All leaders need support and guidance along their journey, including our own business.com community members. Thankfully, they don't have to look much further than their bookshelves. Here are eight must-read books for leaders.

1. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Credit: Amazon

Ever wonder why some businesses thrive while others struggle? Start with Why (Penguin Group, 2009) inspires business owners and managers to stay true to their goals as a leader. Author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant Simon Sinek studied influential leaders, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Steve Jobs, and found one thing they all have in common: purpose. Sinek reminds readers to focus on what's most important to them and why they started businesses in the first place.

Buy on Amazon  

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Credit: Amazon


Businessman and author Stephen R. Covey recognizes the many obstacles leaders face today, including the flaws of human nature. By channeling his own experiences, he outlines principles to help leaders become more effective and adaptable, and to advance in their careers by seizing opportunities. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Free Press, 1989) empowers leaders through honest stories and disciplinary lessons.

Buy on Amazon

3. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
Credit: Amazon


Lean In (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013) was written by the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, specifically for women. The business world can be intimidating for women, especially those in industries where the majority of leaders are men. In this famous book, Sandberg discusses the reasons her fellow female professionals are struggling to make progress in leadership. She provides empowering solutions and inspiring ways to get more women in leadership positions.

Buy on Amazon

4. The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations

The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner
Credit: Amazon


The Leadership Challenge (Jossey-Bass, 2017) is the sixth edition of an older publication that sold more than 2 million copies in over 20 languages. Authors James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner conducted extensive research to discuss how to nurture leadership, and the differences between a good leader and a great leader. The sixth edition covers current organizational challenges, today's work trends and international examples of extraordinary leaders.

Buy on Amazon

5. Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box

Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute
Credit: Amazon


Leadership and Self-Deception (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2010) confronts the issues we create ourselves, like constraints and barriers that prevent us from reaching our full potential. The Arbinger Institute shows that through integrity and humility, you will become a better leader and individual, benefiting both your professional and personal life. The book focuses on concepts like team building, conflict resolution and personal growth.

Buy on Amazon

6. The Start-up of You

The Start-up of You by Reid Hoffman is a guide to how small business owners can accelerate their careers in a fast-paced market. The main point of the book is to internalize your goals and find ways to adapt your career goals and plans. It includes tips to strengthen your network and locate unique opportunities that provide you with unprecedented growth in your industry. The book aims to teach how to apply your entrepreneurial goals to your company.

Buy on Amazon

7. Anything You Want

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers is one of the more out-of-the-box leadership books available for small business owners. Instead of following a set formula, Sivers recommends following your passion as a way to achieve success. He tells his readers to use their dreams rather than a script as a guide. Sivers, a multimillionaire who has created music applications and websites, has a down-to-earth voice that makes him relatable to anyone who wants to succeed in the business world.

Buy on Amazon  

8. The E-Myth Revisited

The E-Myth Revisited is an updated version of The E-Myth from author Michael E. Gerber. The goal of the book is to dispel many of the myths associated with leading any type of business venture. Gerber points out the common problems that get in the way of running a successful small business. He goes through each step to get from startup to franchise and what to expect along the way. His most prominent lesson is to work on your business instead of working in your business. This bestselling book has sold more than 2 million copies since publication.   

Buy on Amazon  

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff
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