19 books every creative entrepreneur should read this year
These must-reads will inspire, inform, and amplify the most important attributes of creative business owners.
First-time entrepreneurs face many of the same learning curves--mastering time management and productivity, learning the secrets of sales and marketing, building a brand, attracting and retaining a high-quality team, and handling the stress and emotional fluctuations that come with facing failure and taking your future onto your shoulders.
But creative entrepreneurs face an additional challenge: As they shift their passion into their full-time focus, they must also learn how to wrangle their muse to make sure she's showing up to work every day too.
That journey will undoubtedly involve lots of learning--often through online courses, informative podcasts, mastermind groups, or a network of supportive family, friends, and fellow entrepreneurs. Here are 19 books that will help in your journey to successful expression as a creative entrepreneur.
Creative Inspiration From the Greats
Whenever you're in need of advice, these creative masters will bring you back to your peak creativity.
- Damn Good Advice (for People With Talent!): How to Unleash Your Creative Talent, by George Lois, is a quick and dirty pep talk for when you need a boost.
- The Most Brilliant Thoughts of All Time (in Two Lines or Less), edited by John M. Shanahan, contains succinct musings on life, love, death, and everything in between from some of history's most intelligent people.
- The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, by Twyla Tharp, is a master class in living a creative life from an inspiring industry heavy hitter.
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert, is widely praised as a celebration of the creative life.
Keeping Your Creative Juices Flowing
When ideas are your business, you're bound to be frustrated by a creative block. These books offer tips, tricks, and exercises for avoiding obstacles and keeping you at the top of your creative game.
- The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8 a.m.), by Hal Elrod, will teach you how to ensure every day is productive, from the very start.
- The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment's Notice, by Todd Henry, is full of lessons on how to set up the space and processes you need to work creatively.
- Become an Idea Machine: Because Ideas Are the Currency of the 21st Century, by Claudia Altucher, is a workbook that will stretch the limits of your creativity and expand your critical thinking skills.
- Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day, another one by Todd Henry, walks through how to create your best work and put it all out there.
- Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative, is the book inspired by Austin Kleon's viral talk on unlocking your inner genius.
- Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration, by Ed Catmull, offers insights into the processes of some of the most creative businesses and their leaders.
Identifying the Truly Great Ideas
Not every idea is a winning idea, but how do you know which ones are worth pursuing full force? These reads will help you identify which of your ideas will rise to the top.
- Will It Fly? How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don't Waste Your Time and Money, by Pat Flynn, is a crash course in pressure testing your ideas before you get too far down the road.
- Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It, by Dorie Clark, walks you through identifying your "one thing" and building a brand around it.
- Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger, explains the key elements of memorable and impactful ideas and concepts, with clear examples from advertising, pop culture, and more.
Talking the Talk
All entrepreneurs have to articulate their ideas and vision, but that need is amplified for creative entrepreneurs. Learn the industry lingo and captivate every audience with these reads.
- Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds, by Carmine Gallo, distills the main public speaking lessons from the top TED speakers, helping you present more powerfully.
- Steal the Show: From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches, How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life, by Michael Port, applies lessons from acting and theater to the world of sales, speaking, and presenting to make your business pitch more compelling.
- #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur's Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness is an all-in-one crash course on the buzzwords, top tools, must-know key players, and modern market forces from entrepreneurial great Gary Vaynerchuk, to help you keep up with conversation topics.
Marketing Your Ideas Online
What good are ideas if you can't share them with anyone? These reads will get you up to speed on how to reach a digital audience, build a brand, and optimize your reach with available digital tools.
- Getting to Like: How to Boost Your Personal and Professional Brand to Expand Opportunities, Grow Your Business, and Achieve Financial Success, by Jeremy Goldman, gives an insightful overview of how to establish and grow an online brand that will bolster your blossoming business.
- Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers, by Jay Baer, will teach you how to handle criticism and negative feedback from consumers or clients.
- Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses, by Joe Pulizzi, will give you the secrets to creating and executing a content strategy that helps grow your audience and complement your business mission.
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It's quite a queue, but these reads are sure to take your creative business to the next level. Got more suggested books? Sound off below and share your recommended reads for creative entrepreneurs.