By Tom Nixon, Volunteer Mentor, Southeast Michigan Chapter of SCORE

[NOTE: This post originally published last summer, but it's been updated to include a new discovery that every entrepreneur-in-the-making should read before taking the entrepreneurial leap. Scroll down to the bottom to see the emended list, with a "1a" addition to follow #1 below.]

If you own a business or are considering starting a business of your own, the learning never ends. Each day, each moment, each challenge, and each triumph provide opportunities to learn and grow. But we shouldn't merely let learning happen to us; we should be active, engaged and purposeful learners. And there's no better way to learn than to be a voracious reader (or listener, if you prefer the audio format).

Here are my recommendations for must-reads. Whether you own a business, lead a business or plan to start a business, these are, in my view, the essentials:

1 - Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown

Start here. This is, pardon the pun, essential reading for startup entrepreneurs. If you want to have clarity about what you hope to get out of your business, you must first have the clarity regarding what you want out of life. This book will clear away the clutter and get you focused on what is truly essential to you.


2 - The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, by Patrick Lencioni

Do you ever wonder if you "have what it takes" to be an entrepreneur? While there is no single makeup of the perfect entrepreneur, this book will start to shape your thinking around what is expected of leaders, managers, innovators and doers. Again, less of a litmus test and more of a guideline.


3 - Traction, by Gino Wickman

Soon, if you haven't already, you'll need to start thinking of your startup as a company, and not just a dream. Successful companies rely on people, systems and vision to get them where they need to go. You may have started your company like most entrepreneurs do: hair on fire, responding to daily crises, chasing every opportunity that comes your way. This will need to change, and Traction is your system for effecting it.

4 - The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael Gerber

Once your business does evolve beyond just yourself and the kitchen table, things will become really complex really quickly. It may seem overwhelming, and you'll have no idea where to turn to make sense of this chaos. Read this book first, pre-emptively! The sooner you can create a business that is able to run without you, the sooner you will achieve what you identified upon reading Essentialism!


5 - The Go-Giver, by Bob Burg and John David Mann

This book may not make you a better business leader, but it will make you want to be a better person. Which, in turn (believe it or not), just may help you get ahead in business. And even if doesn't, you'll have the benefit of helping someone else. It's one powerful idea packed into one little story.


1a - The Entrepreneurial Leap, by Gino Wickman (new!)

Do you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur? Gino Wickman follows his prior works with a book that belongs at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey. Learn more here.


There you have it: your summer reading list!, updated for 2020! Now go learn a thing or two and report back to your mentor. Hoping to hear great things about lessons well as some suggestions for books to add to the list!


About the Author

Tom Nixon serves as volunteer mentor with SCORE of Southeast Michigan. He has spent his nearly 30-year career advising startups and established businesses in all areas of marketing, including advertising, public relations, corporate communications, digital marketing, social media and more. He currently serves as Principal + Chief Storyteller at HARRINGTON, a content marketing and brand strategy firm serving professional service firms.

Recommended Reading List for Startups (Updated)