10 best business books to read in 2021

Chantelle Little
July 29, 2021

Whether you’re sitting by the lake on a family vacation, tucked away in a coffee shop, or simply relaxing on the couch – there’s nothing like a good book in your hands.

But with so many options to choose from, it’s hard to find a really good read. To help you narrow down your picks we put together a list of our top 10 business books to add to your 2021 reading list.

Some of these great business books will get you thinking deeply about the processes and systems you use to run your business. Others will inspire you to invest more in your team culture and chemistry. And a few non-fiction stories that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Pick up one, two, or all of them, and get reading!

niche down book cover

1. “Niche Down” by Christopher Lochhead and Heather Clancy

If you want to scale your business it may seem counterintuitive to niche down. But Christopher Lochhead and Heather Clancy provide plenty of sound evidence to suggest it’s the very thing you should do to go big. This book will challenge you to take a hard look at how you position your business in the market and explains how harnessing your differentiators is key to long-term success.

its not how good you are it's how good you want to be book cover

2. “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be” by Paul Arden

If you’re in a creative role of any sort – entrepreneur, marketer, creative director, designer, copywriter, artist, etc. – you’ll love this read. It’s broken into short, thought-provoking chapters that are packed with nuggets of wisdom like:

  • Don’t seek praise. Seek criticism.
  • Don’t covet your ideas. Give away everything you know.
  • Don’t look for the next opportunity. The one you have in hand is the opportunity.
  • When it can’t be done, do it. If you don’t do it, it doesn’t exist.
  • The person who doesn’t make mistakes is unlikely to make anything.
  • If you get stuck, draw with a different pen.
Measure what matters book cover

3. “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr

Goal-setting is a critical component of leading any company or team. This book outlines the goal-setting technique called OKRs (objectives and key results). This framework has inspired and enabled Google, The Gates Foundation, and even Bono (yes, Bono the lead singer of U2) to achieve ambitious goals. We’re using it now at Tiller too. And it’s been a game-changer.

When properly implemented and executed, an OKR system can help teams set specific stretch goals that support the broader company mission and propel everyone towards exponential growth.

never lose a customer again book cover

4. “Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days” by Joey Coleman

You often hear how important customer experience is for customer acquisition, satisfaction, and retention. But rarely do you get a clear and practical breakdown of how you can deliver a great experience for your customers.

In this book, Joey Coleman takes you through the eight stages of customer experience and offers practical ways to take action and improve the experience at each stage.

tribal leadership book cover

5. “Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization” by Dave Logan, John King

This book was recommended to us by our Novus Global business coach, Janet Breitenbach. It explores what corporate culture is, why it matters, and how to successfully create a culture where your team can grow, thrive, and succeed together.

More often than not, corporate culture isn’t what leaders want it to be. Tribal Leadership will help you measure the temperature and health of your culture today and then take steps to upgrade it. If you’re curious about how effective your company culture is before reading the book, you can start by taking this short quiz.

die empty book cover

6. “Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day” by Todd Henry

This is an incredibly inspiring read and definitely a favourite. Todd Henry (who also authored a few of our other favourites: Accidental Creatives and Herding Tigers) explores the cost of inaction and how to avoid going to your grave without unleashing your best work.

This book will challenge how you think about hard work, including why it’s a “get to” not a “have to”, and how changing your attitude towards work can unlock opportunity and allow you to impact the world in ways you never thought possible.

Startupland book cover

7. “Startupland: How Three Guys Risked Everything to Turn an Idea into a Global Business” by Mikkel Svane

This is one of our favourite tech startup stories. Zendesk was founded in a Copenhagen loft by three friends looking for a change from the monotony of corporate life. Their story is full of ups and downs (and a few close calls when they nearly went broke). But they did something right along the way and became one of the best-known enterprise software companies in the world.

Startupland is an excellent choice for anyone looking for an easy, story-driven read that still delivers real-world business applications.

the spider network book cover

8. “The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Math Genius, a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers, and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History” by David Enrich

Forget serial killer novels. Business thrillers are where it’s at! This true story recounts how a group of esteemed bankers, traders, and brokers (dubbed “The Spider Network”) slipped into the dark, cutthroat world of financial fraud. Their mission? Manipulate bank interest rates around the world to glean a fortune for themselves. They won for a while, but once the backstabbing began, they slowly lost control of the ruse. And themselves.

Take this book with you on vacation and we doubt you’ll be able to put it down. It’s a gripping story of business gone bad and a lesson in what not to do.

bitcoin billionaires book cover

9. “Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal, and Redemption” by Ben Mezrich

Ben Mezrich’s 2009 bestseller, “The Accidental Billionaires” is the definitive account of Facebook’s founding and the basis for the Academy Award–winning film (The Social Network) that introduced us to the iconic identical twin rowers Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss.

Well, Bitcoin Billionaires is the story of the brothers’ redemption and revenge in the wake of their epic legal battle with Facebook. This is a crazy read complete with copies of email exchanges between Zuckerberg and the twins. It’s a story that not only takes you behind the scenes of the scandal but also leaves you inspired and believing that great success truly is the product of great failure.

to pixar and beyond book cover

10. “To Pixar and Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History” by Lawrence Levy

Who doesn’t love Pixar? We certainly do. We’re huge fans of “Creativity Inc” by Ed Catmull, the President of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation. This is yet another great Pixar story that shares how Steve Jobs and lawyer Eugene Levy did the impossible, transforming Pixar from a failing graphics company into a Hollywood powerhouse.

Get the inside scoop into Pixar’s humble beginnings, Jobs and Levy’s unlikely partnership, and the company’s shocking rise to success.

Chantelle Little
Chantelle founded Tiller in 2008, with a vision to build out a digital agency that would help companies express their brands and grow their revenues. She’s grown Tiller from a tiny one-woman-shop into a thriving agency with clients all around the world. Naturally curious about the world around her, Chantelle is constantly focused on learning, growing and broadening her perspective so she can better partner with Tiller clients across industries. She’s also especially passionate about getting to know Tiller’s team members on a personal level, and then helping them grow professionally inside of the company. On Chantelle’s expansive list of other interests, you’ll find real estate, coffee, golf, more coffee, seeking out and trying new restaurants, and winding down the day with something to read. All of which helps her get up the next morning and do it all again.

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