12 Inspirational Books for Entrepreneurs & Creatives

January 15, 2018

Many of our favorite books to read (or listen to) inspire us become better versions of ourselves, whether it’s personally, financially, spiritually, or creatively.  Throughout our journey from making the move from NYC to Columbus, to buying our first investment property, to taking on our first design client, to deciding to take the leap into full-time entrepreneurship, hearing other peoples’ stories and advice and wisdom has helped us along the way.

Here are 12 inspirational books that have impacted our lives in a really big way.  If you have favorites of your own that you think we should check out, tell us in the comments!  We’re always looking for new inspiring reads.

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The One Thing by Gary Keller and jay papasan

So, so good. The One Thing is all about figuring out what the ONE thing is that by doing it, everything else in your life becomes easier or unnecessary.  It gets you thinking about what’s really important, prioritizing tasks, eliminating distractions — all to help you achieve your goals.

You are a Badass  by Jen Sincero

This book is a great (and funny) read, and especially great if you’re ever in a rut.  Here’s the blurb from the back cover:

“In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, Create a life you totally love. And create it NOW, Make some damn money already. The kind you’ve never made before. By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.”

PS, Jen has a spin-off book called You Are A Badass at Making Money, which I just ordered, too!

Thrive by Ariana Huffington

This book helps redefine success in the best possible way.  I have burned out more than once from previous jobs, and this book has helped me see success in a different light.  It’s not about money and power.  It’s about thriving, living a great life, giving, trusting our intuition.  This book has made me reflect on what I’d want my ideal lifestyle to be, and how to shape our business to achieve that.  Here’s a bit more from the back cover:

“As more and more people are coming to realize, there is far more to living a truly successful life than just earning a bigger salary and capturing a corner office. Our relentless pursuit of the two traditional metrics of success–money and power–has led to an epidemic of burnout and stress-related illnesses, and an erosion in the quality of our relationships, family life, and, ironically, our careers.  In being connected to the world 24/7, we’re losing our connection to what truly matters. Our current definition of success is, as Thrive shows, literally killing us. We need a new way forward.

We need a third leg–a third metric for defining success–to truly thrive. That third metric, she writes in Thrive, includes our well-being, our ability to draw on our intuition and inner wisdom, our sense of wonder, and our capacity for compassion and giving. As Arianna points out, our eulogies celebrate our lives very differently from the way society defines success. They don’t commemorate our long hours in the office, our promotions, or our sterling PowerPoint presentations as we relentlessly raced to climb up the career ladder. They are not about our resumes–they are about cherished memories, shared adventures, small kindnesses and acts of generosity, lifelong passions, and the things that made us laugh.”

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

This is a great book for new year reading, and is all about how powerful your mornings can be.  Starting the day hitting the snooze button 13 times vs jumping out of bed to meditate, exercise, create — all before everyone else is up — has more of an impact on your day, week, and life than you might think.  This book shows you how to wake up each morning with energy, motivation, and focus, and, it works!

The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines

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We loved reading about the entrepreneurial journey of Chip & Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper.  They have an inspiring story that reminds you that that the path to success isn’t easy, and that faith and hard work will get you to where you’re meant to go.

Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

We were introduced to the world of personal finance by a friend who had just paid off her debt using Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball method.  We were intrigued so we read The Total Money Makeover and began listening to his podcast.  It changed our lives by encouraging us to pay off debt that was weighing us down, get on a budget and be mindful about how we spend money.  It also made us realize how important it is to be on the same page about money in our marriage.

Big Magic BY Elizabeth Gilbert

All people who feel called to create should read this book, especially those of you who have doubts about getting started.  Designers, writers, artists, musicians, bloggers, whatever it may be, this book encourages you to move beyond your fears and start creating the things that you were meant to create.

In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney

This book is a compilation of stories of over 100 female entrepreneurs, makers and artists with photos and Q&A w/each one about sacrifices made when starting business, overcoming adversity, what success means, what inspires creativity, and more.  As a female entrepreneur and creative, I loved reading through the stories of these talented women and learning from their experiences.  Bonus: it’s a pretty book that looks great on a bookshelf or coffee table when you’re not looking inside for inspiration 🙂

Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeir Hansson

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This is one of Bryan’s favorites.  Here’s the blurb:

“Rework shows you a better, faster, easier way to succeed in business.  Most business books give you the same old advice: Write a business plan, study the competition, seek investors, yadda yadda. If you’re looking for a book like that, put this one back on the shelf.

Read it and you’ll know why plans are actually harmful, why you don’t need outside investors, and why you’re better off ignoring the competition. The truth is, you need less than you think. You don’t need to be a workaholic. You don’t need to staff up. You don’t need to waste time on paperwork or meetings. You don’t even need an office. Those are all just excuses.

What you really need to do is stop talking and start working. This book shows you the way. You’ll learn how to be more productive, how to get exposure without breaking the bank, and tons more counterintuitive ideas that will inspire and provoke you.

With its straightforward language and easy-is-better approach, Rework is the perfect playbook for anyone who’s ever dreamed of doing it on their own. Hardcore entrepreneurs, small-business owners, people stuck in day jobs they hate, victims of “downsizing,” and artists who don’t want to starve anymore will all find valuable guidance in these pages.”

Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job by John Acuff 

For anyone thinking about quitting their steady, perhaps well-paying job that they hate… this book encourages you to take a practical look at your situation before making any rash decisions.  It was helpful to me when I first started thinking about leaving my job.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman 

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Full disclosure:  We haven’t finished this one yet, but we’re sharing it anyway.  Here’s a bit from the back cover:

“In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation―each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives―and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow is destined to be a classic.”

Profit First by Mike Michalowicz

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Usually, people think of profit as Sales – Expenses = Profit.  As a result, they don’t prioritize profit in their equation and many times, end up losing money or not making as much as they should.  This book teaches you why this method is wrong, and how to prioritize profit instead of treating it as the leftover after all expenses are paid.

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