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The Founder’s Bookshelf

Looking for the best books for business owners? These are all books which have significantly influenced Aeolidia for the better, and which I recommend to any business owner. Links to purchase go to Powell's, my favorite independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon.

Strategy & Planning

ONE Thing book

The ONE Thing

The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

By Gary Keller & Jay Papasan

This book! If you're like me and have tons of ideas, get distracted easily, and maybe don't always follow through on everything, or have time to get everything done, this is going to be SO helpful for you.

Quit trying to do everything! Just do the ONE Thing that matters (and yes, there is just one). It’s a truly helpful and motivating book as far as focusing your days, weeks, months and years to only pursuing the thing that’s going to make everything else easier or unnecessary.

Running a Business

Traction books

We use EOS, the Entrepreneurial Operating System, to reach our business goals, and grow in a thoughtful way. This author has three books that have all been helpful to me in implementing the system.

  • Read Traction to learn how EOS works.
  • Read Get a Grip for a cheesy story about a team implementing EOS. It’s helpful in figuring out how to really apply it and in answering some detailed questions.
  • Read Rocket Fuel if you have a partner in your business, or suspect you need one.

E-Myth book

The E-Myth Revisited

Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work & What to Do About It

By Michael Gerber

There's a good chance you've read this. A LOT of business advice on the internet is inspired by this book. Ignore the cheesy writing and stories, because there is really good info underneath that. If you are a craftsperson or designer of some kind and you started a business because you were really great at art and design and then discovered that there was a whole lot of crazy BUSINESS stuff you then had to do, this book is for you.

It is unflinching about the realities of being an entrepreneur. It will either make you quit struggling and go get a job (could be the best thing that ever happened to you), or it will prepare you to dig in and figure out how to make a small business really work.


Profit First book

Profit First

Transform Any Business from a Cash Eating Monster to a Money Making Machine

By Mike Michalowicz

If you’re trying to figure out how much to pay yourself, how much to set aside for taxes, and when you can afford to hire help or purchase software? Profit First is eye-opening about what it takes to divide your income up in a sustainable way. And it makes sure you get paid, creating a healthy business!

You don’t need to follow his system exactly, and as your business grows, the way you plan your finances may change, but this is a fantastic book for anyone starting out in business, or anyone whose business doesn’t feel properly profitable yet.

Index-Card book

The Index Card

Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

By Helaine Olen & Harold Pollack

This is a simple book to make sure you’re saving wisely for your future. If you don’t need all the details, you can also just read the original index card for an overview.

Productivity & Focus

4000 Weeks book

Four Thousand Weeks

Time Management For Mortals

By Oliver Burkeman

If you’ve spent years trying different productivity methods and trying to turn yourself into some kind of superhuman task-doer, 4000 Weeks is a gentle, funny, and useful book about how we spend our time. It’s about how the pursuit of efficiency creates stress, frustration, and emptiness. Many of the thoughts in this book bring Buddhism to mind, though it isn’t mentioned.

As the wonderful Maria Popova says about this book, “Burkeman goes on to devise a set of principles for liberating ourselves from the trap of efficiency and its illusory dreams of control, so that our transience can be a little more bearable and our finite time in the kingdom of life a little less provisional, a lot more purposeful, and infinitely more alive.”

Unsubscribe book


A Modern Guide to Managing Your Inbox & Making Room for More Meaningful Work

By Jocelyn K. Glei

This one is for if you feel like your email inbox is taking over your life and your day. I have read a lot of things about productivity over the years, and I don't think there was anything in here that was brand new to me. But! It's a quick read, and it's motivating for actually figuring out a strategy to get back in control of your day. If you feel like email and social media are taking up all your time, this book will be helpful.

Life & Balance

Burnout book


The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

by Emily Nagoski & Amelia Nagoski

This book is SO great, and I heartily recommend it to anyone who ever feels stressed about anything. It's specifically written for women, pointing out the real enemy (the patriarchy! A term which they follow with "ugh" whenever they say it), and covering the particular types of stress that can pile up on women.

Burnout is practical, actionable, no-nonsense, and has a great sense of humor. I've shared tips from this book with my kids about how to release stress from their bodies, and this book feels transformative.

Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up book

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

By Marie Kondo

This book really did change my life (it led to my divorce and subsequent discovery of the love of my life; ask me about it someday). It helped me get clear about all aspects of my life, and what was cluttering it up. From work, to relationships, to responsibilities, it was so helpful to mentally hold up each thing I was filling my days with and decide whether it sparked joy.

I found after tidying my home the KonMari way that I started saying no much more easily to requests from others that didn't light me up. You don't have to agree to every meeting, interview, event, collaboration, partnership. Then the ones that you happily said yes to, you can show up 100% and wow everyone, instead of being stretched too thin among things you don't really want to do.

Leadership & Team

Radical Candor book

Radical Candor

Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity

By Kim Scott

Radical Candor is the art of caring personally and challenging directly. We first found this as an article online. The article is really all you need, but the book has some interesting info. If you aren’t getting the results you want from your team, it may be the way you talk with them. Learn how to do it right here.

Who book


The A Method For Hiring

By Geoff Smart

I sort of hate to recommend this book, because it’s got a very “old white man CEO” vibe and some weird bits of phrasing. However! It covers an extremely specific way of going through the interviewing process with potential job candidates that I never found while googling interview questions.

It’s extremely time-intensive and detailed, so it is meant to be used when hiring CEOs and managers. The method worked very well for us, and there were lots of principles we could also use to apply to simpler interviews and hiring processes.

If you read any of these books for business owners, we'd love to hear what you thoughts! Get in touch.

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