The world’s most successful business owners will agree: It’s essential to constantly learn and seek knowledge in order to develop your personal and business growth. But, don’t worry; that doesn’t mean you need to take a time-consuming course, much less go for an MBA. Fortunately, there are so many ways to gain knowledge. One of the easiest and most accessible ways is simply to read a good book or two.

So, what should you add to your reading list this year? We’ve rounded up the top five must-read books for small business owners.

1. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business

By Gino Wickman

Focus: Staying in control and avoiding burnout

Every small business owner can relate to feeling stressed, unfocused and ready to throw in the towel. Feeling frustrated, burned out and overwhelmed are common problems for all entrepreneurs and business owners. Traction aims to help you overcome those challenges by implementing The Entrepreneurial Operating System®, a method Wickman designed for achieving the business success. This book is brimming with tools and techniques that will help you regain control over yourself and your business through a strategic, measured process. Best of all, Wickman’s writing is straightforward and easy to read, making it accessible to everyone (no MBA necessary!).

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2. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone

By Simon Sinek

Focus: Developing leadership skills

Every small business owner can benefit from developing strong leadership skills, whether you employ just one person or have a staff of 50—and this book argues that inspired leadership is a key factor for success. Sinek explains that all great leaders think, act and communicate in the same way, and this common behavior is the key to successfully building business, organizations and movements.

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To become an inspired leader, Sinek tells readers that they must reconnect with the reasons why they started their business in the first place (hence, it all starts with “why?”). Sinek explains that by focusing again on why you started your business—as opposed to the day-to-day of running it—you will feel reinvigorated and become better able to inspire your employees.

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3. Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

By Charles Duhigg

Focus: Improving productivity

If you’re looking to boost your productivity, this is the book for you. Smarter Faster Better centers on eight key productivity concepts—like motivation, goal setting and decision making—that explain how the most productive people and companies get so much more done. Duhigg draws upon both research findings and anecdotal experiences to explain what drives productivity and how the reader can become more productive on a personal and professional level. Duhigg gives you the insights and tools to build work smarter and harder across all aspects of your business—from building better teams to making better decisions and optimizing your personal time as well.

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4. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

By Angela Duckworth

Focus: Working hard to achieve results

Pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth delivers an extremely powerful message in Grit: No matter what your natural-born talents you’ve been given, you can become the best version of yourself through plain hard work and perseverance. She explains how anyone—from students to parents and athletes to business owners—can achieve success with “grit,” which Duckworth defines as a special combination of passion and persistence.Through research and anecdotes, Grit shows that success is not based on talent but on passion and a strong work ethic. Basically, she tells readers how and why they can achieve their goals as long as they are committed to working hard for it.

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5. The Power of Broke

By Daymond John

Focus: Bootstrapping

If you think your bootstrapping is holding you back, read this book and think again. Author, FUBU founder and ABC’s Shark Tank star Daymond John humbly started his business with only $40 in his pocket. John’s lack of financial resources drove him to be more innovative and dream up creative, cost-efficient campaigns that eventually launched his fashion brand FUBU into a $6 billion dollar global phenomenon. But had he started with more funds, he might never have had the desperation to do things differently. The Power of Broke explains how financial strife can actually be your greatest competitive advantage as an entrepreneur or small business owner because it inspires and demands creative thinking. Being “broke” forces you to use resources more efficiently and strategically because there is no room for loss.

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Written by Rachel Solomon
Rachel is a Content Crafter at WiseStamp and a journalist who loves sharing information that helps small businesses, startups, entrepreneurs, freelancers and all kinds of independent spirits. She believes that innovative, socially-driven business will save the world.

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