• Laura Mackenzie

Top 10 Must-Read Books for Creative Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners

I am a strong believer in books. The internet is great, but it's pretty overwhelming. Whereas a book can hold everything you need within its pages, and it won't lose you along the way.


When it comes to being a small business owner or creative entrepreneur, there are some incredibly inspiring books out there that I definitely recommend you read.


Here's a list of my top 10 must-read books for all things creative and business!


#1 ZAG: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands - Marty Neumier

"When everybody zigs, zag."

ZAG was a book that was introduced to me at Uni and though I read it at the time, I don't think I really found its relevance until later in my business career. This short but sweet book asks the question of how brands can harness the power of differentiation in an extremely cluttered marketplace. Today companies need “radical differentiation” to create lasting value for their shareholders and customers.

It’s based on a simple but challenging mandate: 'When everyone zigs, zag'. Zagging is the art of positioning a product or company in order to eliminate or minimize competition. Companies that zig (i.e., head in the same direction as their competitors) have no choice but to compete on price.


#2 She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur - Carrie Green

Carrie Green started her first online business at the age of 20, and so she knows what it's like to be an ambitious and creative woman with big dreams and huge determination... but she also knows the challenges of starting and running a business, including the fears, overwhelm, confusion and blocks that entrepreneurs face. Based on her personal, tried-and-tested experience, she offers valuable guidance and powerful exercises.

If you're a creative and ambitious female entrepreneur or are contemplating the entrepreneurial path, this book will provide the honest, realistic, and practical tools you need to follow your heart and bring your vision to life.


#3 Hyperfocus: How to Work Less to Achieve More - Chris Bailey

If you have read any of my blog posts before, or follow me on social media, you'll know that I'm all about productivity tips and time management tools. This book is a practical guide to managing your attention to become more creative, get stuff done, and live a more meaningful life

"The best productivity plans call for strategy, not just hacks or tactics—and Hyperfocus gives you strategy in spades. When you read this book, get ready to do your most important work!"

Merging neuroscience, psychology, and mindfulness with practical takeaways for being more focused in our work and wider lives, Hyperfocus will help you think about and manage your attention on a daily basis.


#4 How to Style your Brand - Fiona Humberstone

This book was actually recommended to me by one of my clients when I was looking for some creative knowledge and inspiration at the beginning of my brand journey. I still look back on it for reference now, it's a branding bible!

Fiona Humberstone is a brand styling guru. Her book How to Style Your Brand is a comprehensive workbook that will teach you everything you need to know to create a distinctive brand identity.

From finding your focus, creating an inspirational vision, and unlocking the power of colour psychology; Fiona will help you understand the design details that will make your business irresistible.


#5 The Grid: The Master Model Behind Business Success - Matt Watkinson

This ground-breaking book from award-winning author Matt Watkinson reveals the fundamental, inseparable elements behind the success of every business. Combining practical guidance with real-world examples, The Grid is designed to bring clarity and confidence to your business decision-making.

The book provides you with a systematic system to evaluate and refine product and service ideas, reduce risk by considering the broader impact of strategic decisions, identify the root causes of business challenges, anticipate the impact of changes in the market and turn them to your advantage and collaborate more effectively across teams


#6 Real Artists Don't Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age - Jeff Goins

We are often told that to be an Artist, Designer, Writer, Musician or other Creative, we have to be born with natural talent, to stand any chance of success in the Real World. Jeff Goins shows us in Real Artists Don't Starve that we can learn any Creative Skill and make a comfortable living out of it.

The myth of the starving artist has dominated our culture, seeping into the minds of creative people and stifling their pursuits. The truth is that the world's most successful artists did not starve. In fact, they capitalized on the power of their creative strength. Being creative isn't a disadvantage for success, it is a powerful tool to be harnessed.


#7 The Artists Way - Julia Cameron

The Artist's Way provides a twelve-week course that guides you through the process of recovering your creative self. It aims to dispel the 'I'm not talented enough' conditioning that holds many people back and helps you to unleash your own inner artist. Its step-by-step approach enables you to transform your life, overcome any artistic blocks you may suffer from, including limiting beliefs, fear, sabotage, jealousy and guilt, and replace them with self confidence and productivity. It helps demystify the creative process by making it a part of your daily life. Whatever your artistic leanings, this book will give you the tools you need to enable you to fulfil your dreams.


#8 Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative - Austin Kleon

Steal like an artist is a book on coming up with creative ideas. It is an illustrated guide to the creative life for writers, artists, entrepreneurs, designers, photographers, musicians, and anyone attempting to make things - art, a career, a life - in the digital age. Brief, direct, and visually interactive, the book includes illustrative anecdotes and mini-exercise sections calling out practical actions readers can take to unleash their own creative spirits.

The book focuses on 10 rules for people to follow in order to be creative. Rule number one is "Steal like an artist."

#9 Start With Why: The Inspiring Million-Copy Bestseller That Will Help You Find Your Purpose by Simon Sinek

Discover your purpose with one simple question: why?

Those who have had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate in the same way - and it's the opposite to most. In Start with Why, Simon Sinek uncovers the fundamental secret of their success - understanding their WHY - to help you find your own.

How you lead, inspire, live, it all starts with why. Because in business it doesn't matter what you do, it matters why you do it.


#10 You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life - Jen Sincero

In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word. If you're ready to make some serious changes around here, You Are a Badass will help you: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, blast past your fears so you can take big exciting risks, figure out how to make some damn money already, learn to love yourself and others, set big goals and reach them - it will basically show you how to create a life you totally love, and how to create it now.



What books have you read that inspired your creative business journey? Are there any other books that you think should be added to the list? Let me know in the comments below!

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