My Top 5 Business Books of 2018
I am so excited to write my very first blog post for Snap Happy Pics! It is critical to learn as much as you can before you ever step foot into entrepreneurship. It is equally as important to continue to learn as you grow your business.
I have heard the saying: “Don’t think, just jump into it and everything will eventually fall into place”. To be honest, I probably paraphrasing that. There is some truth; however, it is totally okay to jump into something that you have a drive and passion for. The only warning I have with that is to educate yourself first. You do not need to be a master at your craft…yet…when you begin your business but some good old fashion knowledge in the noggin’ is always a good idea.
I have personally failed at business…SEVERAL TIMES! I have had one previous family photography business and vintage clothing business years ago. Both ventures unfortunately failed, and one of the leading factors was a lack of knowledge and unwillingness to constantly learn and evolve. Whether you are thinking about starting a business or have been in business for years, I encourage you to pick up a book or select an audio book to empower yourself.
The following books are my top favorite reads from 2018. I have these reads listed in no particular order :)
The Business Boutique is written for women at any age who want to start anything from a side hustle, online business, full-time brick and mortar business and anything in-between. Most of the stories are pulled from the author’s experiences from her side hustle of renting out stalls for horses on her farm in her twenties and her mother’s experiences of running a bakery.
I am a huge fan of the Business Boutique and incorporated Christie’s teaching during my first year in business as a brick and mortar photography studio. My mission for my photography studio was to capture minimalist, stunning children portraits. Backgrounds were neutral and props were minimal. Unfortunately, I did not do my market research for the area and fell face flat months after the debut of my studio.
This book was a turning point for my business. Instead of giving up on myself…yet again…I decided to re-write my business plan and take a fresh, clear look of what the need was out there that I could fulfill and be happy doing. Through this process I realized that product photography was the right path for my business to take.
For a six month period I became a member of the Business Boutique Academy. Those six months served me well. Why did I stop being a member? Well; to be honest, I felt that I got as much information as I could during that time period and outgrew the coaching service that was provided. As an end-result, I did not renew the lease to my studio, sold most of my furnishings and set-up a home based studio in my basement to photograph products for my new set of clients. Did this hurt my ego? Yup, big time. I was depressed about it for months but also knew that it was the most responsible decision to make for the new turn of my business. With limited overhead, my cash flow is constantly positive and I am so happy to make a great impact on small business owners who want to resonate with their audience with their product photography.
Building A Storybrand caters to businesses of all sizes and not catered to only women. Donald Miller explains the process of explaining your business to your audience in the format of a story. The author does an excellent job breaking down and explaining each piece of a business story format so it is clear and simple to understand and apply.
I was introduced to Donald Miller’s book through Christie Wright’s Business Boutique Academy. He was featured in a video and I learned more about him during a Business Boutique Conference I attended last April. I was so enthralled his speech, I bought his book. I incorporated the step by step story telling method to how I talk to prospects when I run a vendor booth and also on my website.
Check out https://storybrand.com/ to create a free Storybrand script that you can incorporate for your business. I created a free account and filled out the Storybrand script at least three times already. All of the components of the script fit on one screen page (if you are working on a desktop or laptop). This is definitely a great read and can be applied for any business.
The Pumpkin Plan is one of two books I read in 2018 from Mike Michalowicz. I love these books so much that the cover jackets broke off…always a good sign of a great read. This read discusses the root (no pun intended) of pumpkin farmers. Pumpkin farming in and of itself is a multi million-dollar business that continues to thrive. While the art of pumpkin farming is provided in detail, the relevance is how each step a pumpkin farmer takes to grow the biggest pumpkins imaginable can be applied to any business.
This read was a game changer of how I thought about offering services for my product photography business. There was a time that I wanted to offer several related services for multiple streams of income. With the Pumpkin Plan, I focused on one service of providing product photography. I kept my pricing structure to be simple and straightforward. I decided to skip providing additional services such as coaching, website audits, and other fields of photography because I found that this could confuse my audience and deter them from purchasing the service I really wanted to sell, product photography.
Will I eventually add other services to my business? Of course, I will most likely plan to add one additional service per year to keep my business dynamic and offer the best possible photography and branding solutions for my clients.
Another favorite of mine, Profit First written by Mike Michalowicz, was another impulse buy of mine from Amazon last year. Michalowicz teaches how to transform your business from money constantly going down the tubes to a money generator. The title is a dead giveaway. Michalowicz urges his readers to stop putting profit last and start putting it first. Sounds like a dream, but he explains in detail the importance of doing this and the methods that he has used to put it into practice for his own business.
Another major downfall of my previous two businesses was the inability to manage my cash flow. I would spend as much (or even faster) than I was bringing money in. With that being said, every dollar that came went right out the window. To make matters worse, I NEVER PAID MYSELF! Yup, I never took a paycheck in my life in those two businesses. I am all for reinvesting in myself and my business to make it grow and succeed, but hey I also need to make a living here too. “Cringe” I did not follow all of the Profit First steps, but rather; took on my own interpretation for how I could apply the methods to my business.
My bank last year was eating me alive with monthly bank fees. I finally shut down my personal savings and business checking accounts and opened up accounts at another local bank in my community. I admit that I felt foolish when I opened up a total of four bank accounts. I now have a personal checking account, business checking account and two business savings accounts. I have also incorporated the a financial structure for my business that is similar to the examples provided in this book.
She Means Business written by Carrie Green lit a spark in me. This is the only business book I have read cover to cover three times (and I occasionally go back to particular sections for refreshers).
I am a true believer of the laws of attraction and visualization. Carrie did a beautiful job explaining those methods in She Means Business. This book is overflowed with different visualization techniques, so I cherry picked what I wanted to use and put my own spin on it to fit my lifestyle. During my morning shower I take the time to thank God (the universe or what fits in your belief system) for all of the beautiful things that have happened in my life. After my shower, as I continue to get ready for the day, I say five different mantras that start with “I am” five times each. “I am successful. I am ____________. Etc.”
My greatest takeaway from She Means Business, is Carrie’s take on her marketing formulas. I studied her formulas and created my own formula to fit my own business. In addition, I tailored a mini day calendar for my own magic marketing formula. Not everything goes to plan, but with this system I stay sane, keep organized and consistent for my audience.
My magic formula / mini calendar set-up:
Sundays: Write all of my tasks down in Asana complete with time deadlines.
Mondays: New client shoots.
Tuesdays: New stock shoot for the Snap Happy Stock Lounge.
Wednesdays: Put together and schedule my weekly blog post.
Thursdays: Put together and schedule my weekly newsletter email.
Fridays: Create and schedule my social media posts using Hoot Suite.
Saturdays: Update my bookkeeping and cash flow ledgers.
LET’S SUM IT UP
I hope that this list of awesome reads inspire you to take cruise Amazon tonight or spend a delicious Saturday morning at your local bookstore. Nothing for me beats to have an actual book in my hands. If you are tight on cash, go to the library. Most libraries will let you place an order request if a particular title is not available. For me, I tend to scribble, highlight and doggy ear my pages. Not the best habit, but one of the reasons why I love owning my own hard copies.
Invest in yourself. Incorporate reading or listening to audio books during your daily routine to not only improve your own well-being and add your knowledge-base, but also to use the information you acquire to take your business to the next level and increase your bottom line.
FREE WORKSHEETS DOWNLOAD
Note taking and highlighting in books is fun at the moment, but it can be impractical to remember to check back fifteen doggy eared pages complete with random highlights and notes scribbled along the margins after the book is back on the shelf. I have journals of notes that I have taken after reading books. My notes are so not organized and are useless to me in the long-run.
For practicality purposes, I created a fun worksheet to use for when I read a good non-fiction book. This is awesome for renting books at the library or reading on a Kindle. I like to print these little suckers out and place in a skinny three-ring binder. It is my go-to for refreshers, how-tos and inspiration for when I am feeling stuck.
Download your FREE copy of my book notes by clicking the button below. If you find this post valuable or have other great reads that you would like to share, let me know in the comments. I would love to hear from you!