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I love reading. At any time I usually have three different books I'm enjoying. A fiction, a non-fiction, and an audiobook. Typically at least one of those has to do with business or personal growth.
While I still have a lot of books on my "to read" list, there have definitely been some I've loved, and have changed me for the better. A few I've even read multiple times. So if you're new to business, or if you've already been at it for years, here are some of my favorite books for female entrepreneurs.
1. Playing Big by Tara Mohr
I feel like every woman should read this book. Even if running a business isn't your jam, this book is incredible.
It looks at the ways we "play small" and the reasons behind it. What really hit me while reading this book were the case studies of real women. These are women who are powerhouses; highly intelligent and super motivated. Yet, they aren't living up to their full potential because they are afraid of putting themselves out there and being seen.
It was also a good reminder that, as women, we tend to feel like we need to get permission before we do certain things. We often do this through over-educating ourselves in formal settings.
When I started my business I was actually looking at grad school or graduate certificate programs. On the low end, it would've cost me $16,000. But when I stepped back I realized I already knew what I'd be helping people with, and none of my clients were going to ask to see that piece of paper, I decided I didn't want to go back to school.
My money was better spent on hiring a mentor and investing in certain systems. One of the things I invested in was the mastermind that I'm in. As fortune would have it, I recently met Tara Mohr while I was at our summer retreat.
She's so lovely and inspiring. She also runs sessions of her Playing Big intensive online each year. I'm an alumna of the course and it was excellent. Check out this book right away, especially if you feel like you aren't living up to your highest potential.
2. The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks
This book touches on what an Upper Limit Problem is and how we can work past our own ULPs. He also talks about focusing on our Zones of Genius and how it's so beneficial to our businesses when we do.
We all have an internal thermostat of where we are the most comfortable emotionally. Or a level of money we feel ok making, even if we say we want something else.
So when we decide we want to "play bigger" we often bump up again the upper limit of our personal thermostat. Because we begin to feel uncomfortable, we tend to self-sabotage in all sorts of interesting ways. But if we can recognize what we are doing, and work past it, we can get to where we truly want to be.
We also have areas of our work lives that we really excel in and others where we struggle. This book gives the reassurance that we aren't designed to be really good at all things. Luckily, not everyone excels at the exact same things.
When we know this, and can narrow in on what we are really great at, we can leverage the skills of other people to help us fill in our weak spots. The more we remain in our zones of genius, the more fulfilled and energized we will feel in our work.
3. You are a Badass by Jen Sincero
For the longest time I'd pass the bright yellow cover of this book in stores and wouldn't actually buy it. It had nothing to do with the name (I use curse words all the time), I was just worried it was going to be fluff. I figured the name and cover were an easy way to sucker people into buying it, but there wouldn't be any substance behind it.
I was so wrong!
I've read this book multiple times and I adore it. Sincero has a great, funny, no-nonsense way of showing us that we are super great at fooling ourselves and making excuses.
She'll help you open your eyes to the fact that the reason you haven't written the book, started the business, moved to Europe (or any other super cool thing you've wanted to do) is because deep down you are worried what your great aunt Karen will say about you. Ok, ok, that might not be exactly why you aren't chasing your dreams, but we seriously hold ourselves back for weird and foolish reasons.
This book is good if you are in a slump or need something to pump you up and get you back on track. I plan on rereading it at least once a year, each year.
4. Get Rich, Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield-Thomas
Oh DDT...how I love this woman. I can say with absolute certainty that her Money Mindset Bootcamp* changed my life. But I initially read the first version of this book (she just updated it in 2018) a few years ago. And I promise, it's not some corny book about showing off your wealth.
This book is all about our upper limit issues around money. It also has quite a bit of "woo" in it (Sincero's book has some too), but I don't want that to scare you off. I promise you won't be encouraged to sacrifice virgins or anything like that.
Duffield-Thomas forces you to look at all of the crazy stories you've been telling yourself around money your whole life. You examine stories you've inherited from family as well.
It's a deep dive into how and why we tend to have this intense love/hate relationship with money, and how that's holding us back in our businesses.
Ever wonder how lotto winners could blow millions in a year? Or why you feel so uncomfortable when someone pays for your lunch? It's money blocks! But the best thing is when you recognize them, you can uncover them, and have more success and joy in your life.
Because wouldn't it be awful to work your business for years and have financial success, only to squander it because you feel icky having money? Yep!
5. Daring Greatly and/or The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
I seriously couldn't decide. The Gifts of Imperfection is a smaller, faster read, so perhaps you can start there. Both are so good. In fact, I love everything by Brown. She could write an essay about a cheese sandwich and I would buy it and then probably cry while reading it.
If you aren't familiar with Brown, she does a lot of work around vulnerability and empathy. It can be incredibly hard as a woman in business to feel ok being vulnerable. There are many reasons why we feel like we can't let our guard down, but in the long run, we end up suffering alone.
These books are perfect if you feel like you were created for something more or something different, but feel very scared by that. Often parents and society mean well by telling us we should be a this or a that, but it's not what we know is true in our heart.
By acknowledging our imperfections, by deciding to dare greatly, we can have greater peace and joy. And by being vulnerable ourselves, we actually cultivate deeper, more meaningful connections with others.
6. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
Do you ever wonder why you love starting something, but finishing it feels like a drag? Or if something is wrong with you because you absolutely need accountability or a deadline or you'll drag your feet? It's just your habit type!
Honestly before I read this book I thought I was broken. I thought other successful people had things figured out and I was just being a lazy slacker.
Why couldn't I wake up at 5am and bust out a ton of work by the time most people were waking up? Why couldn't I stick to a regular workout routine? Why did I love the "new-ness" of certain things, and then gradually lose interest?
I don't even remember how I learned about this book, but I'm so glad I read it! Rubin has you take a quiz to learn which of the 4 habit types you are, and she explains them more fully. She also gives suggestions on how to most effectively navigate your life as your type.
It turns out I just really need accountability. I need an end goal. I need someone who is counting on me to pull through and get done what they are expecting. And I love starting things, but I'm not so much of a "finisher."
Now, if you are thinking..."This sounds like a lazy way to never have to improve anything in your life," I'll say that's not the case. You can't fix something until you realize it's a problem. Knowing I'm a "starter" means that when the one tube of toothpaste is almost empty, and I'm itching to open that fresh, new tube, I remind myself to be patient. Or that I need to create clear timelines with myself and my clients to be the most efficient and effective.
It also means that I will most likely always need some sort of mastermind or accountability group to keep me on track as a solopreneur. On the flip side, by having these groups, it fulfills the part of me that likes to be a helper, because I also get to give value to the group.
Knowing why I am the way I am allows me to come up with practical solutions, rather than continue to beat myself up.
7. Start with Why by Simon Sinek
My sales course (Sell it, Sister!) starts off with finding your "why" for your business. I do that on purpose because I firmly believe Sinek when he says, "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it."
Our "why" can't just be to make money. There has to be more to it. He does have a follow up book called Find Your Why in case you are really stuck.
I think it's vital to have a deep reason as to why we are going to put ourselves through the trouble of being entrepreneurs. I mean, it really is easier to just work for someone else, even if the job is terrible. We have to have a reason to get up each day and chip away at our own goals without receiving a lot of fanfare or excitement.
I think it's best to have a personal "why" and a customer facing "why." It's ok if parts of these overlap as well.
The "why" I have for my business is to give women the shortcuts I've learned over the years to sell better and with more confidence. When women make more money with their businesses, it has a positive impact on the world.
8. All Marketers are Liars/Tell Stories by Seth Godin
This is a newer book for me, but it's such a quick and important read. Buying is not a logical process. We need to stop viewing it as one. When we can look at it as more emotional and reflective of who we see ourselves as, or who we hope to become, we can position ourselves better to our ideal clients.
Do you ever think about how some people brew their own coffee each morning, and others hit up their local Starbucks? It doesn't necessarily mean the person at the Starbucks makes more money, and therefore has more money to spend on $4 lattes.
And what kind of coffee is the person brewing at home? Is it the kind from the large can, or special, locally roasted beans they grind fresh each day?
By knowing why your ideal clients do what they do, and believe what they believe, you can more effectively show them why your product or service will be valuable to them.
However, if you are still stuck on the notion that what you sell "is for everyone" then this might ruffle your feathers. Or if you don't want your world view to be challenged. Or if you think marketing of all types is sleazy. But, if you are willing to position yourself better and have an open mind, it's a great read.
I may go back and add to this as I remember books I forgot to include, or read new, amazing books.
But let me know which of these you've read, and which you plan to read next! Share it with us in my free private Facebook group or drop a comment below.
If you need planning/strategy help now, or for next year, be sure to contact me and we can create a custom plan just for you and your business.
In the meantime, be sure to download my free guide to help you start selling smarter this week!