Reading is one of the best things I've done for my business! I'm a big believer that learning is a life-long process and that investing in myself and my knowledge is foundational for my long-term business success.

Our industry is rapidly changing and ultra-competitive, so the only hope we have of building a business that lasts longer than 5 years it to become experts at adapting. We must first and foremost be professionals who grow and learn.

And we can't succeed just by being good at photography and marketing! We need to have a solid foundation in finance, systems, management, and a host of other skills.

Today I'm sharing my picks for the 10 books every wedding photographer should read. But really, this list could most definitely extend to every small business owner.

1 -- The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey

I'm putting this book at #1 because financial fitness is such a foundational asset to have as a small business owner. If you are even thinking about starting a business at some point in the future, this would be a great book to start with. While this book can be revolutionary for anyone who is HUMAN, it is even more vital for someone who is running a business and making decisions that will not only impact their own finances, but the health and longevity of their business endeavor.

2 -- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This is another foundational book, but this one tackles the topic of communicating with other human beings -- a skill we could all benefit from being experts at if we want to run a business! This is one of those books that you can come back to again and again, and still feel like you have something to work on and improve.

3 -- The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber

This book is one of the most highly acclaimed reads for small business owners. And rightly so! The author talks about 3 different roles that need to be covered in order for a small business to succeed: the technician, the manager and the entrepreneur. Most everyone who starts a small business does so because they like the technician work -- in my case, taking and processing photos. But if they continue to cling to that role the business will ultimately, and fairly quickly, fail. They must be a manager and even more importantly, an entrepreneur -- having a vision and thinking about the big picture of where they want their business to go. In order to do this, the business owner needs to learn to outsource, hire and systematize. I really can't overstate how influential this book was for me towards the beginning of my business journey.

4 -- Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing by Harry Beckwith

This book is written with service businesses in mind -- those of us who are selling something that is invisible at the time we are selling it. In my case, I'm trying to sell someone their future wedding photos. Man, if I could show them what THEIR wedding photos would look like, that would make the sale SO MUCH EASIER! Can I get an amen!? This book really helped me to put myself in my customers' shoes and get to know more intimately what fears and obstacles my potential clients are faced with when I first meet with them. The author explores so many different areas of marketing -- getting customer feedback, knowing your client & what you are selling, positioning and focus, pricing, naming and branding, communicating and selling -- all with the service industry in mind. His chapters are short and to the point, with the point literally spelled out in bold faced type at the end of each one. There is such a wealth of information in this book, and it really inspired me.

5 -- Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky

This book is written to those of us who have plenty of ideas, but who sometimes struggle to execute them. The author covers the topics of organization, communication and leadership as they relate to the effort to make our ideas happen. I especially enjoyed the section on organization and productivity. It had so many practical tips that I was able to implement into my day-to-day work life instantly and see results!

6 -- One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer

This book focuses on the art of making great and lasting change in small, steady increments -- a skill every small business owner needs! This book was such an easy read, but it was a light-bulb moment for me. It helped me to recognize some of the fears and hang-ups that keep me from change, and gave me concrete tools to reach my goals.

7 -- Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends by Tim Sanders

In this book the author talks about giving away your intangibles -- specifically your knowledge and network -- for FREE, and how doing this can ultimately end up blessing you and your business in the long run. Gone are the days when business owners benefited from isolation and holding tightly to "trade secrets!" Today, those who are most successful are givers. This was another foundational read for me early on that shaped the philosophy by which I would run my business and interact with others in the industry.

8 -- Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job by Jon Acuff

I read this book in ONE day! It was a great read and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to quit their day job in pursuit of their dream job. It will really help you think through the timing of this transition carefully, so that you don't take the leap before you're ready.

9 -- 12: The Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner & James K. Harter

Thirteen years ago, when I started my photography business, I figured I'd stay small and run my business on my own for the rest of my career. Heck, all I cared about was creating something that WOULD run for the foreseeable future. I couldn't see beyond the end of my nose. But in the process of just putting one foot in front of the other, I've ended up building five streams of income and now find myself managing 13 people! Yikes! Not what I signed up for! I'm not sure I thought this all through -- haha! I never set out to become a manager, but a manager is what I now am. In addition to being a photographer and entrepreneur, I am responsible for mentoring, guiding and inspiring 13 other souls. Cue the cold sweats and hyperventilation. This book was just what I needed! It reviews a Gallup poll study of 10 million employee and manager interviews to discover the keys to sustaining employee engagement. In effect, millions of workers were saying, "If you do these things for us, we will do what the company needs of us." Definitely a must-read for anyone who is taking on a managerial role.

10 -- Launch: An Internet Millionaire's Secret Formula to Sell Almost Anything Online, Build a Business You Love, and Live the Life of Your Dreams by Jeff Walker

This book isn't for every business owner. But if you have plans to launch a product and market it online in the near future, this is a great read! I found it particularly helpful when I set out to sell products designed to help other photographers in their business journeys. I would encourage every small business photographer to think long-term and to develop other streams of income -- preferably some that are largely automated and provide passive income. This book can help you think in those terms, and it gives you a practical field guide to launching a product toward that end.

SO many great books! Want to grow personally and help your business reach its maximum potential? Get reading!

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