As a small business owner, you will need to wear many hats. You are the operations manager, finance director, sales and marketing manager, and customer service head.
You don’t need a formal business degree or work background. Many of the most successful home businesses were established by people who were just very passionate about a hobby and learned the rest of the business on-the-job. For example, Rachel and Andy Berliner started selling organic meals to save up money for their daughter Amy’s college tuition. Today, “Amy’s Kitchen” is a multi-million dollar business with 230 products, 2,500 employees, and production facilities around the United States.
However, they didn’t blindly go into the business. They actively took an entrepreneur’s mindset, studied the industry, learned business skills, and read everything they could. The “trained their business brain” – and you can too. Don’t know where to start? Here are some books that have inspired many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs.
Atomic Habits by James Clear
Feeling overwhelmed by the task ahead? Bestselling author James Cleary has assuring advice: tiny changes in your behavior can lead to big, life-changing results. His book maps out the steps to creating an “a positive system of habits” that will help you become “1% better every day.”
I heard about this book on Pat Flynn’s podcast Smart Passive Income when James Clear was a guest in late 2019. This is not just a positive thinking self-help book. While James Cleary has a very encouraging and motivational tone, he’s not just serving warm and fuzzy feels.
He helps you take concrete action and even anticipates all the excuses or obstacles that may prevent you from actually get things done. Clear lists common mistakes that people make, overcoming insecurity and lack of willpower, and how to break the habits that are holding you back. He’ll help you identify areas of your life where your new habit can make a big difference.
Busy entrepreneurs will also benefit from his strategies on designing your work and environment, so it’s easier to practice desired habits and achieve desired changes. If you get off course (it happens to everyone!), he’ll show you how to pivot back into the right path.
This book will help you grow your home bakery business and be more efficient and productive in all aspects of your life. Book critics and bestselling authors have praised it. Arianna Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post, says it is one of her favorite books. New York Times bestselling author Mark Manson says, “James Clear distills the most fundamental information about habit formation, so you can accomplish more by focusing on less.”
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
Nothing could be simpler than making a checklist, right? Wrong. Atul Gawande’s bestselling book will show you how to write a checklist with a clear purpose and structure, and make striking improvements in any situation.
I follow author and entrepreneur Ramit Sethi, and this book was recommended in one of his emails. I read Sethi’s book I Will Teach You to Be Rich several years ago, which I highly recommend. With the rec and being a proclaimed checklist nerd and general list lover, I was immediately intrigued by The Checklist Manifesto.
It’s practical and useful information for anyone running a home business because you’ll need those lists in every area of your work. But what makes this book so fascinating is the way that it’s written. Gawande fills the book with riveting stories of how checklists have been used in different industries and scenarios. He shares the story of how an emergency checklist helped save a drowning victim who had been underwater for 30 minutes, or how a simple ICU checklist helped a hospital eliminate a deadly infection. He talks about how checklists have helped doctors to airport pilots, homeland security to skyscraper construction.
You’ll discover new ways to use the checklist in incredibly powerful ways but also be entertained and engaged. While Atul Gawande wrote this book for the medical industry, a Businessweek review says: “The scope goes well beyond medicine…Read this book, and you might find yourself making checklists for the most mundane tasks–and be better off for it.”
The Beautiful No: And Other Tales of Trial, Transcendence, and Transformation by Sheri Salata
I heard Sheri Salata’s story when she was on Amy Porterfield’s podcast Online Marketing Made Easy. I was fascinated and wanted to know more, so I immediately bought the book.
Whenever you doubt yourself and start thinking, “I can’t do it!” reach for this inspiring memoir. Sheri Salata spent 20 years producing makeover stories for The Oprah Winfrey Show, Harpo Studios, and the OWN network. But when she quit, she struggled to find herself. She had focused so much on her dream job that she neglected the rest of her life—and now felt lost and unable to find a new purpose.
So, the woman who worked to makeover other people now had to makeover herself. This book documents her transformation. She honestly shares every pitfall and obstacle she faced and how she eventually found her footing. Humiliation, setbacks, self-doubt, betrayal, and disappointment—she went through it all. But, as she said, she decided, “it was time to produce my own life.”
So if you are starting your home business after retiring, quitting your job, or after years of being a homemaker and focusing on your family, then you will want to hear Sheri’s story. It’s genuine, relatable, and inspiring.
Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact by Phil M. Jones
A business owner is also a salesman. But you’re not just trying to convince customers. In the course of building and growing your home business, you will also be negotiating with suppliers, interacting with the press or potential investors, networking with other business owners, and meeting with local officials or community leaders.
Phil M. Jones will coach you on using words effectively to persuade other people and earn their attention, respect, and trust. He is one of the world’s most famous sales trainers, held workshops in 56 countries, and hired as a consultant by the biggest brands. He is also the youngest person to ever receive the British Excellence in Sales and Marketing Award for Sales Trainer of the Year.
As someone who can struggle with selling, I found Exactly What to Say very helpful. The book can be deceptive because of its 130 pages, easy to read format, but it’s packed with truths and wisdom bombs that shouldn’t be ignored.
If you ever thought, “I’m not a people person” or “I just can’t do sales,” this book is a must-have. You’ll become more confident and eloquent, and be able to handle any communication. This includes meetings and conferences, sales pitches and presentations, or even casual one-on-one conversations.
The tips will also help you craft your marketing, advertising, and email campaigns. As Phil M. Jones says, “Often the decision between a customer choosing you over someone like you is your ability to know exactly what to say, when to say it, and how to make it count.”
Other Business Resources
Those four books can help you gain basic communication skills and leadership skills and manage your time more effectively. But also look for resources that can help you understand specific aspects of the business.
- Research on marketing ideas for small businesses. You may not have the huge budgets of nationwide food chains, but there are ways to maximize your limited resources. Luckily, the web is full of tips and strategies that are specifically geared for entrepreneurs like you. Ahem, like this blog. I have dozens of articles all geared towards serving home bakers.
- Level up your social media strategy. One of the easiest ways to promote your business online is through social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. But creating a social media page is just the beginning. Learn the best practices for a social media business page: creating good posts, the best time and frequency, and how to do simple ad campaigns. You’ll also find free online templates for social media calendars and free design tools.
- Stay on top of trends. Follows bakers you admire and hashtags related to your business on social media. See what new things bakers are doing and get inspired.
- Take online classes. If you’re too busy to read a lot of books, sign up for a short online business course. There are many great programs on Accounting and Bookkeeping, Business Planning, Digital Marketing, Inventory Management, Customer Service. You can also sign up for specific courses related to your industry. For example, if you are starting an online food business, you may want to sign up for Food Styling and Photography, or baking courses to help you develop and improve your menu. They’re definitely worth your time—and a lot less expensive than doing things on your own by trial and error.
The Art and Science of Business
Growing your home bakery business will take time, patience, and perseverance. While books and other online resources will inspire and teach you, you will find what works for you at the end of you. Draw from their experience, glean the best advice, and try out their tips. But over time, you will work out your own management style and a process or system that is best suited for your business and personality.
Have you gotten my Essential 5 P’s for Perfect Product Pricing pdf yet? I created this freebie to take the guesswork out of determining how much to charge. Sign up for my email list, and your very first email has the pdf.
Check out my blog archive for more helpful articles. Follow me on Instagram at @whiskwarrior, where I post weekly tips, resources, and personal experiences operating a home bakery and retail bakeshop.