top of page
Self-Employed BUSINESS INSTITUTE Cropped.jpg

12 Best Books for Self-Employed


As founder of the Self-Employed Business Institute, I read nearly 100 books a year to prepare for interviews on my podcast, The Self-Employed Life. The following 12 books are those I believe are most helpful specifically for self-employed business owners.


Top 12 because if you read one of these wonderful books each month, you would gain a great deal of the information that is needed for your personal development, business growth, and mindset to create the business and life of your dreams.


Being self-employed is a unique experience and requires different strategies. Your level of success is relative to your level of personal development and you need business strategies for your size business. These are the books most likely to support your self-employed success.


by Dorie Clark

It’s odd that so many short-term attitudes are associated with entrepreneurship, like hustling, grinding it out, and go big or go home. The truth is, when you’re self-employed, you’re in it for the long haul. The goal is longevity and sustainability. That’s what makes this book by Dorie Clark so important right now. We need the business world to start thinking long-term. Especially self-employed business owners. This book will change you and your habits and provide you with the strategies you need to stay in business for the long game.


by Mike Michalowicz

One of the greatest benefits of being self-employed is you are the decision-maker. You can choose to make bold moves and creative ideas to make your business stand out without a committee decision. Of course, you know standing out is critical in your marketing. That’s what makes this book important for your marketing efforts. Feel stuck on coming up with creative and different marketing ideas? No problem! Author Mike Michalowicz leads by example and provides strategies for you to find your best ideas to create marketing that can’t be ignored.


by Leslie Ehm

Being self-employed takes a certain amount of swagger to begin with! But then we go into business for ourselves and all our insecurities may show up. Am I good enough? Do I have what it takes? Why does it look like everyone is doing better than me? What was I thinking leaving my corporate job? And it doesn’t seem to matter whether you’ve been in business one year or twenty years! But now you can be equipped to shut down the insecurities and bring out your most swagger-licious self. Leslie Ehm doesn’t just inspire you, she provides actionable steps for you to choose swagger each and every time insecurity shows up so you can become everything you want.


by Jeffrey Shaw

I mean, I have to include my own book! We can’t have a best books list for the self-employed without including what many refer to as the guidebook for the self-employed! In The Self-Employed Life, you are introduced to the Self-Employed Ecosystem, a holistic way of looking at your business. You already know that when you’re self-employed, there is no line between your business and yourself. That doesn’t mean you don’t have boundaries. It means your level of success is relative to your personal development. It also means you’re not like other businesses and need the marketing strategies that actually work for your size business. This is a book you read, leave handy, and refer to often. It’s practically an entire business system in a book.


by Susanne Mariga

There are some books that as you're reading them you become keenly aware that the message is even bigger than the book. This is one of those books. While full of practical, actionable strategies, it also tackles the more challenging issues of financial management amongst minority business enterprises. The limiting beliefs and mindsets that hold many back and that often, this is just the beginning of creating generational wealth. This is a book that is truly an act of service for a group of under-represented business owners.


by Len Herstein

As the world turned upside down over the last couple of years, the buzzword seemed to be pivot, encouraging business to adapt and change to the changing world. Not that this is a bad thing but pivoting is not always the best thing for self-employed businesses. Pivoting is also a reactionary strategy. In an ever-changing world ( it always has been and always will be), to sustain your business over the long haul, a better strategy is to be proactive. Be vigilant. Be on the lookout for potential hazards for your business and be prepared. Vigilance is an essential business strategy and thankfully, Len Herstein is bringing this preventive way of thinking in business to the forefront.


by Mary Tess Rooney

A very high bar to set but this book can be compared to the classic book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s an emotionally moving book, full of insightful stories that make you look inward while at the same time being an actionable workbook. For the self-employed business owner, this book offers an opportunity to get to know yourself, what your heart truly values, and choose only the course in business and life that brings you joy.


by John Jantsch

This book could be referred to as the “anti-guru” book. Instead of being baseless, hyped up, rarely-tried advice, this book is one of the most practical and applicable books you’ll read by one of the best known business authors, John Jantsch. Clearly written by someone whose been there, you can expect to leave this book on your desk and refer back to it often. Terrific marketing advice that is broad enough to be applicable to many businesses but specific enough you can adapt the ideas to your own business. The best part is it’s the real deal and this makes it an essential book to have on hand.


by Linda Ugelow

Here’s a thought-provoking idea this book offers which is what makes it a must-read for self-employed business owners. Everyone is a speaker today. Even if you have no aspirations to be a speaker on stages, or in the limelight, if you do Zoom calls, promo videos, social media live streaming or presentations in a boardroom, you’re a speaker. With that, often comes a sense of dread and fear. What author Linda Ugelow does so well is she doesn’t just give your skills to conquer the fear, she offers a process to get to the root problem to clear the fear. Many of your best marketing efforts will require you to be seen. This book will bring out the best of yourself and help you delight in the limelight too!


by Don Khouri PhD

There are plenty of books about time management and productivity, but this one helps you get out of the busyness trap we all know far too well and learn to become purposefully productive. There’s a big difference! One of the greatest challenges of being self-employed is feeling like we’re pulled in a million directions. This book offers an actual strategy to determine when to say yes and when to say no. Things like explaining why to-do lists don’t work and how prioritizing your relationships makes it more clear as to what to prioritize in your business. This book can be a game-changer for making the best use of your time and making work easier.


by Dan Gingiss

Here was a surprising take-away from this book. While 30% of customers surveyed say they will share a negative experience, 49% say they will share a positive experience. Doesn’t it seem like bad experiences travel faster? What this tells us is one of the best ways to get people talking about and sharing your business is to create a remarkable customer experience. What does that take and how to do it? This is the book for you. As small and nimble businesses, we can adapt and personalize customer experiences in ways that big companies cannot. This is what gives self-employed businesses the customer experience advantage.


by Anne Bartolucci Ph.D. and Kerry Higgins Wendt

What makes this book outstanding for self-employed business owners is you truly come to understand that many of the attributes that make you exceptional–the kind of person that goes into business for themselves, is also working against you in sleeping well. And way beyond stress being the culprit. Whether you struggle with sleep or not, there’s so much to learn about yourself in this book that you will be equipped to manage your self-care better. Self-employed and overachievers are practically synonymous. Yes,this book is for you.

The Self-Employed Business Institute is a five-month live online business training and coaching program designed to provide self-employed business owners with all the business strategies and mindset coaching they need to succeed. All in one place. A blend of group training, one-to-one coaching, and community, the curriculum suits almost all businesses yet is individualized for your specific needs. To find out more, go to

bottom of page