My Picks for the Best Business Books of 2020

Post by Alison Knott | Last Updated: July 8, 2021

Covers of business books: 'Linchpin', 'See You On The Internet', 'Money Rules', 'Making Your Website Work' and 'Rise & Grind'After many hours of reading, I present to you the best business books to take you through 2021. I find that something you read a few months ago finally comes into clarity when needed. Such is the magic of an inspirational business book. They get you thinking differently about your relationship to clients. How to conquer work/life balance without burning out. These books offer important business strategies wrapped in compelling stories. Straight-to-the-heart-of-it lessons you can apply immediately. Tragic situations and laugh-out-loud humour. These 5 books cover all that ground.

As I become more anchored in my consultancy, there’s less mentoring opportunities that challenge me how to run my business. But a great book is always there, ready to inspire and teach. Here are my picks for the best business books I thoroughly enjoyed.

1. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

This book. Woah. It fundamentally changed how I see myself as a business owner, and how I go about my work. He shifted my mindset from being ‘just another graphic designer’ to the web consultant I am today. Godin is one of the few people I’d readily lend the word ‘guru’ to.

Linchpin focuses on those that glue everything together, when there’s no rules or established path to follow. It’s about letting go of the status quo and your assumptions of your purpose. Then, to find the gaps in the world you have the unique skills to fill. Sounds a bit flaky? No way. It balances perfectly between marketing, branding, and creative truths. Need a push to differentiate yourself from colleagues and competitors? Listen to Godin’s wisdom.

 

2. Making Your Website Work: 100 Copy and Design Tweaks for Smart Business Owners by Gill Andrews

Some people keep the art of their craft very close to their chest. Then there’s Gill Andrews: one of the best website copywriters out there giving away trade secrets freely. This is a great business book for those of you that write your own website copy. Or designers looking to help with conversion. Or social media marketers who want to leave an impression.

The book is divided into ‘tips’, which cover blogging, copywriting, web design, strategy and user experience. Andrews’ examples are crystal clear, relevant and often hilarious. It’s not very often you’ll chuckle over how someone organizes bullet points. Time and time again, Andrews will remind you that your website is about your audience, not you. We all need that reminder. Want more people to throw money at you because of your website? Read this book!

 

Related: Fiddling With Your Website Is Ruining Your Chance of Success

 

3. Rise & Grind: Outperform, Outwork and Outhustle Your Way to a More Successful and Rewarding Life by Daymond John

What’s better than reading about one person’s journey to success? How about 15! This book bounce between John’s own strategies and that of others to illustrate his point. John is known for his appearance on Shark Tank and business/investment savviness. The overarching theme is his GRIND mindset: Get on it, Repeat, Insist, Navigate, Desire/drive/determination.

Don’t assume he only profiles the super-rich and famous, either. Yes, there’s Catherine Zita-Jones and Tyler, the Creator. But there’s also Lola Alvarez, a mother who helps her sons with ADHD and dyslexia that turns into a life calling. Or Kyle Maynard, inspirational speaker and MMA artist who happened to be born with no arms or legs. Each story covers unique practices, tactics and mindsets that produce amazing results. Some chapters go in interesting directions I was not expecting. Lots of twists and digging deeper into my own biases and self-imposed limitations. This is not your typical ‘hustle culture’ book.

 

4. Money Rules: Rule Your Money, Or Your Money Will Rule You by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

From the start, I knew this was going to be a great book about money management. It opens asking the reader to write “It’s my money” on several sheets of newspaper, roll them up and beat themselves over the head with it. Seriously. Vaz-Oxlade is known for being the host of the show Til Debt Do Us Part and writing for Moneysense. She delivers a lot of tough love in a humourous way.  And I deeply appreciate that.

This isn’t a business finances book specifically, but let’s face it: we’re in business to make money. Vaz-Oxlade’s goal is to make sure we handle our earnings wisely. There’s over 260 rules in short, digestible chunks. It’s easy to skip over things that don’t apply to you. She covers so much, I can’t list them all! Like spending habits, mortgages, investing, insurance and incredibly sobering truths about banks. Doesn’t matter if you’re a new freelancer or on your 4th enterprise; Vaz-Oxlade keeps you humble and alert about your financial literacy. This book is for Canadians, so special things like RESPs and the TSE are covered, too. Beauty!

 

5. See You on the Internet: Building Your Small Business with Digital Marketing by Avery Swartz

Have you ever picked up a book and said “Holy! This is the book -I- meant to write!” Avery Swartz, founder of Tech Camp, beat me to it. It is a great blueprint for digital marketing success. A solid primer for those starting out, or to better understand the wider picture of digital marketing. She even covers domains and email, so this book doesn’t shy away from explaining important tech. Which is often missing from similar marketing books.

You can flip around this book to the gaps you have, but do not skip Chapters 1 or 11. They both get into the details of strategy and measuring all your hard work. I know many people roll their eyes when they see the word ‘strategy’. Swartz encourages thinking about digital marketing through the lens of your business goals. If you’ve been feeling aimless or ready to get down to (online) business – this book is for you. Also, another Canadian author!

 

Related: The purpose of rebranding… do you need to make the shift?

 

These five business books are a great way to evaluation where you are, and where you’d like to go in business. Amazon links have been placed for convenience, but support your local book store if you can. If this list inspires you to pick one up, hit me up on Twitter and let me know what you thought!