If you’re setting up a small, creative business, if you’re wanting to launch a side hustle and freelance or if you just want to upskill in your fulltime job or business, these are must-read books. If you have friends or family who are unhappy in their current jobs or even their current lives, give them a couple of these books as a present. They’ve all been inspirations, lifesavers and signposts for me at different points as a blogger, freelancer and small business owner and I recommend them all the time.
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During this freelance journey of mine – right from when it was just a dream/side hustle whilst I worked full time, all the way through now, 18 months down the track of running my business – I’ve tried to make a point of reading and upskilling myself, trying to work through blocks and overcome challenges.
I used to regularly reviewed books here on the blog – and have always meant to share some of the practicalities of working for myself – so this seemed like an ideal place to share some of the books that have helped me. All of these must-read books are written in an engaging way – these aren’t boring pages of waffle – and are full of real-world applications of advice.
Working out where to start and what to do
‘Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.’ – Lao-Tzu. This book lives in my top desk drawer and is one of my must-read books. It’s a wonderful combination of theory, real-life examples and practical exercises that help you see inside yourself in such a positive way. This practical and succinct book aims to revolutionise your life by helping you to identify what exactly makes you happy so that you will make the right choices; decide whether a job, activity or course is right for you; and understand why things seem to flow with some activities and some people, and not others. The Strengths Book is also essential when you’re writing a CV/Portfolio/Bio or LinkedIn profile – they are the shop windows of your business.
I’m in my thirties now, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. But, when a good, incredibly intelligent friend of mine recommended that I look into The School of Life, I discovered the fantastic ‘How to Find Fulfilling Work.’ It’s wonderful for honing in on exactly what you want out of work – it explores the competing claims we face for money and status while doing something meaningful and in tune with our innate talents. It’s also the perfect size for a commuting read.
Monika’s book interviews two dozen inspiring women in various roles and at different levels of success – and then lays out a 24 step plan guiding you how to achieve your own success in creative industries. It’s a wonderful place to start planning out your own business – especially when you’re moving into a new field.
Want to be more cat?
Setting Routines Up & self-motivation
Practically the one thing everyone says to me (after complimenting me on my business) is that they don’t think they would be able to run their own business because they wouldn’t concentrate or get the work done without a boss to oversee them. I always joke that not earning a living swiftly sharpens your concentration but really the very best tool in my arsenal is the routine I’ve developed after reading (self-help help cornerstone) The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs.
Ok, ok, technically this isn’t a book authored by anyone bar yourself, but, it is the blueprint and backbone of my business. All of my creative ideas, to-do lists, plotting out how much time I’ve spent on clients, thoughts on how to move the business forward, notes from meetings and the all-important notes to pick up cat treats keeping my executive assistant happy, go into this book that never leaves my side. I searched high and low for the perfect planner/diary and the size plus combination of pages means that it’s my work bible. Oh, and the pleasure of physically crossing off jobs done makes me very happy indeed.
Working for yourself is a sure way to learn all about yourself – and this Sunday Times Bestseller by Susan Cain had me nodding along the whole way through. I recognised so much about myself in these pages which helps me work better in so many ways.
Finding Courage and Inspiration
Without a story, you just have heartless marketing – and one of the cornerstones of business social media is telling the story of the company and their services. Bobette Buster is a story consultant, lecturer and screenwriter who works with the major studios such as Pixar, Disney and Sony Animation, and in top film programs all over the world. In this book she shares the tools and principles used by some of the world’s best storytellers and helps you apply them to your own.
Every so often, you’ll find yourself faced with a creative block and unable to find those all important words. By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear.
If I’m really honest with myself, I should have read this years and years ago when it was a sensation, known as one of the must-read books of 2015. It’s a book that has one aim, and one aim only – to help you assess when you should give a f**k. One of the lessons you’ll learn as a freelancer/small business owner/blogger is that some things are simply not meant to be – not dwelling on these is an art in itself.
Practical tips & Overcoming Anxiety
This could almost be the most important book on this list – it’s an essential part of my research arsenal when I’m working from cafes both in the UK and abroad. The best 150 baristas and coffee experts share their secrets – 600 spots across 50 countries – revealing where they go for coffee throughout the world.
How to Survive the End of the World (When it’s in Your Own Head): An Anxiety Survival Guide – Aaron Gillies
I’ve never read a funnier and more reassuring book about overcoming anxiety in my entire life. I spent my time alternately nodding my head as I recognised so much of what was locking me in my own anxiety and giggling at the allegories that Aaron drew to his own battle with anxiety – and there isn’t any unhelpful waffle in here, just pure practical, understanding advice – one of my absolute must-read books.
This was a birthday present from a good friend, and it’s a great mini pick-me-up whenever I’m a little down.
What must-read books have inspired, motivated or caffeinated you?
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