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I’ll say it: lots of business books are a waste of time. They spend too much time of fluff and not enough time giving you practical advice. I don’t need to hear ‘you need to build something remarkable’ for 5 chapters (looking at you Seth Godin). I need to hear that in one chapter, and then have the next four be about how I can find the inspiration and tools to build something remarkable. 

Here are 5 business books that are actually worth your time, where you will learn practical things about running a business and how to stay motivated during your slumps.


Written by the co founder of Basecamp, Rework is an ode against a lot of common business advice. The main takeaway is to stand passionately for something. While this might sound similar to follow your passion or to love what you do, it’s not. It’s more about having a passionate belief system in place, and finding a way to create a product or company that supports that vision. This advice is different from solving a problem for customers, and that makes it more valuable.

Company of One

Company of One doesn’t advocate for only having one employee. Instead, it advocates for having just one simple and clear mission. Understand what your one, primary goal is, and pursue that and that alone. If you need to hire other people to help do that, that’s fine. But you shouldn’t get distracted or dissuaded from your original idea, your company of one.

Overcoming Underearning

Published in 2005, there are a lot of timeless lesson in this book. Barbara Stanny breaks down both practical and mental actions for people to take if they want to earn more. (This can be applied to traditional workers and business owners.)

Stanny advocates for a system of Inner and Outer work, and her advice is sometimes practical (ie what to say in negotiations) and sometimes more ethereal (ie re-wiring your inner narratives to achieve the life you want.)

Profit First

A system to organize your money and pay yourself? Yes please! This is an excellent business book, though the ideas were not invested by the author. He essentially takes the envelope budgeting system and applies it to your business, but it works brilliantly. By far one of the most practical business books in the arena today!


While not strictly a business book, this is a deep dive into the core reason any business makes it: grit. Duckworth provides thorough research and a compelling personal story to show how determination and grit are really two undervalued business tools. 


Kara Perez is the founder of Bravely, a company that connects women and money. She freelances in the areas of personal finance and travel, and she eats peanut butter straight out of the jar.

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