The Best Books for New Entrepreneurs and Small Business Leaders

The Best Books for New Entrepreneurs and Small Business Leaders

March 1, 2023 | Posted by Dan Purvis

This blog post originally appeared on Shepherd

Who am I?

When I went back to school for my MBA, I was looking for a way to apply the passion I’d found for changing lives for a better world. Studying business started my journey toward founding Velentium, a medtech engineering firm, in 2012. The pandemic was a make-or-break season for every industry, medtech included. We were determined to do our part, but were faced with an unprecedented challenge: boost the world’s emergency ventilator production from hundreds per month to thousands per week—in just 28 days. We succeeded—and it was a spiritually moving experience. I wrote "28 Days to Save the World" in hopes of inspiring other organizations to punch above their weight class like we did.


I wrote...


"28 Days to Save the World: Crafting Your Culture to Be Ready for Anything"

by Dan Purvis with Jason Smith

What is my book about?

After our company was recruited for "Project V", the massive ventilator production scale-up authorized by emergency production act, my marketing strategist and I got to tell the story of our experience. Serving on the frontlines of pandemic response is enough pressure to cause any size business to buckle. Our company didn't. In the book, we unpack how a small engineering firm tasked with completing a 7-month project in 4 weeks not only got it done, but thrived while doing it.

Our odds-defying success is the product of a carefully crafted company culture. Eight years in the making, it was culture that carried us through an unprecedented crisis. You can do the same for your team—we wrote this book to show you how.


The books I picked & why


Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business 

By Gino Wickman

Why this book?

I read a lot of business books. If you want to build a small business from nothing—if you want it to be sustainable and capable of long-term success—Traction is the authoritative work, the number-one must-read. Wickman walks readers through the step-by-step, six-part process of building your own personal EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System). You’ll progress from Vision, to People, to Data, Issues, Processes, and finally, to Traction itself. This process aligns with everything we did to build our company from a 2-person, six-figure operation in 2012 to a 120-person, $30m world-class medtech engineering firm today.


Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It...and Why the Rest Don't

By Verne Harnish

Why this book?

Is Scaling Up a textbook? Yes. Can it be a struggle to read cover-to-cover? Also yes. But once you’ve proven that your business model is viable, is Scaling Up a tried-and-true reference for keeping you encouraged and on track for taking your organization to the next level? Resoundingly: Yes!

But reading Harnish is more than an exercise in practicality. My mentor likes to say that leading a business often consists of making a decision in the face of extreme ambiguity… and then doggedly putting in the work to turn that decision into the right decision. Entrepreneurship, whether as a sole operator or heading an org chart, can be lonely. Harnish reminds us that we’re not alone: Many have faced similar challenges, and if they’ve found a way through, so can we.


Great By Choice

By Jim Collins, Morten T. Hansen

Why this book?

Is this my favorite Jim Collins book? Maybe! It is honestly hard to choose. I own, and regularly re-read, all of them. I find "Great By Choice" to be the most practical of the set, giving the entrepreneur meaty things to consider as they build the strategy of their next company—or the next strategy of the one they’re currently leading!


The Culture Solution: A Practical Guide to Building a Dynamic Culture so People Love Coming to Work and Accomplishing Great Things Together

By Matthew Kelly

Why this book?

From the author of The Dream Manager comes a book that will challenge and inspire the core of your organization. Kelly’s bread-and-butter as a business coach and motivational speaker shows in his writing style—be prepared to have the six key lessons reinforced through repetition (great for those of us who read in short bursts with lots of life happening in between). But this book has a strong practical aspect too. Applying its lessons will fill your to-do list for months to come!


The 6 Types of Working Genius: A Better Way to Understand Your Gifts, Your Frustrations, and Your Team

By Patrick M. Lencioni

Why this book?

Lencioni’s latest work gave words to inner frustrations that I’ve felt my entire life. "Six Types of Working Genius" finally gave me permission to admit that I’m not tenacious! As a leader, I need to lean into the geniuses I have and build a leadership team that complements me and shores up my weaker areas. And, I need to do the same at every level of my organization.

This book will be key to leaders for years to come, giving them the tools they need to build and grow teams that will be more enthusiastic, more energetic, and more effective than ever before.


Read Shepherd's curated top picks for great books for entrepreneurs here.


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