As a business owner, what do you do when you’re seriously stuck but have no boss or partner to go to for advice?
Soak up the wisdom online or at the library for free.
This may sound like overly basic advice, but I can’t emphasize enough how much I’ve learned about running a business just by spending some time reading. I’ve applied systems, practices and tools to my own startup with visibly great results. Here are my go-to business books (some of them travel with me everywhere I go):
- “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm”: This book has helped me and my team focus on serious growth. Establishing a business that works is great, but the playing field does change when you’re trying to go from 100 customers to 10,000. I recommend it for anyone ready to take their success to a whole new level.
- “Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less”: Cameron Herold’s book is also focused on growing your business. What really opened my eyes about this book though, are the parts about building a team that will facilitate growth, and how to lead that team. This is one of those books I read over and over, and I would highly recommend it — especially if you’re looking to stop doing everything yourself and bring on one (or many) team members.
- “Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle”: This was the book I used as my guide when I was first starting out as a freelance web designer. When you’re a freelancer, finding the clients is just as important — if not more important than — actually executing work for them. One of the major things I got from this book is about going after what he calls the “red velvet rope clients.” In other words, these are your 100 percent ideal customers. It can be really hard to say no when someone comes to you saying “I want to work with you AND give you money!” But Michael Port breaks it down clearly and explains why being choosy is the absolute best thing you can do as a freelancer.
- “Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us”: Tribes is essentially our marketing bible here at Roeder Studios. It teaches you that building a fanatical community (your “tribe”) is far more important than the specs of your next product. Unless you run a collections agency, this book is for you.
I love books. But chances are you aren’t going to get through multiple books in one day. So when I can get an almost-daily dose of advice from the blogs of business-owners who are doing things right, I happily consume it as fast as a pint of ice cream. Below are my favorite read-first business blogs:
- Seth Godin: Seth has been writing about marketing and growing your business for so many years that you could basically devote your time to reading through the archives and you’d pretty much know everything there is to know. Lots of his articles are super-short and easy to consume while on the go.
- Derek Sivers: Derek, a friend of mine, writes this amazing blog on all aspects of life, camouflaged as a business blog. What I love about Derek’s writing is that it always makes you stop and think deeper, regardless of the particular topic of any given post.
- Neil Patel: Neil shells out the most practical advice about everything that’s currently happening in the world of marketing in Quick Sprout. His posts are extremely detailed and he’s constantly giving away the step-by-step systems that brought him such enormous success at a young age.
Finally, the only thing better than books and blogs for getting really tangible advice is in-person events and conferences. I try to never miss:
- Microconf: Microconf is a conference dedicated to bootstrapped startups. These are a collection of businesses that have unique struggles from the both the startup and small business worlds, and have some really amazing solutions to share with you.
- World Domination Summit: The absolute best conference for anyone thinking about making their mark in the world is World Domination Summit. I’ve met some of my closest friends at this inspiring event. Tickets sell out in about 30 seconds every year — it’s that good. (Here’s why I loved it.)
- Summit Series: This is a series of conferences that collect some of the brightest minds, thought leaders and entrepreneurs from around the world. Get ready to get blown away by what these people are up to.
There you have it: 10 free or inexpensive sources to turn to for advice as a solo business owner.
I’m not against paying for an experienced business coach to help you go after that big growth. In fact, I’ve been coached at different points in my business. But there’s nothing quite like having a free (or inexpensive) resource that you can turn to again and again. So fire up that library card. Your credit card bill — and your business — will thank you.
Laura Roeder is a social media marketing expert who teaches small businesses how to become known as #1 in their field and claim their brand online. She is the creator of Creating Fame and Social Brilliant.