Business success requires an almost obsessive desire to constantly learn and grow. And reading is a fantastic way to do that. As I’m sure you’ve heard before, your business is a direct reflection of you. The more you strengthen and grow your mindset and your business knowledge, the better you’ll do in business.
Here’s a list of fifteen books that I think every female entrepreneur needs to read. These are my favourites and the ones that have had the biggest impact on me. Whether you’re just starting out or you have an established business, the following books are guaranteed to give you many “ah-ha!” moments and inspiration. There’s always more to learn. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did.
1. Out of the Closet: A Business Book for Women (Marnie LeFevre, 2016)
Topping my list is the wonderful book written by our Fempire founder Marnie LeFevre. I’ve always found it really helpful to learn how other women have managed to create a business from the ground up and in this book Marnie does exactly that. She describes with authenticity and vulnerability how she started her first business in her tiny closet, next to the ironing board, shoes and clothes, while raising her two small children. Having gone from working for Richard Branson and large corporations to becoming a stay-at-home mother and wondering if she could survive another Wiggles video, Marnie finally realised that staying at home was not serving herself or her family.
In her book she describes how she built her very successful marketing agency from scratch while raising her family and growing several other businesses locally and globally, receiving awards and recognition for her work.
What I love most about this book is not only the step by step guidance on how to brand, market and grow your business, but also the specific focus on what it’s like to be a woman in business. As women we face different challenges that only a woman can truly understand, which is why Marnie wrote this book – as a female entrepreneur – for female entrepreneurs, so that you feel understood and supported on your journey. Filled with practical advice and actionable strategies, Marnie writes with humour and grounded wisdom, making this book a page-turner and oh so enjoyable to read.
2. Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity & Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur (Cara Alwill Leyba, 2017)
Cara Leyba writes about personal growth and entrepreneurship in a way that’s unique, glamorous, and refreshing. She first became famous through her blog The Champagne Diet, which started out being an outlet for her to chronicle her own personal transformation. She ended up with a huge following and her blog connected her with thousands of women around the world who were experiencing similar things. She realised that no matter where we come from, we all share the same fears and desires.
Cara explores the important questions:
“Why do women keep falling victim to the traps of jealousy, comparison, negativity and cattiness?”
“Why hasn’t everyone discovered just how fabulous life can be when we empower each other rather than tear each other down?”
In her eight rules of Girl Code, Cara describes how we, as women, need to do the work to rewire our thought patterns, shift our mindsets and truly practice Girl Code so that we can become more successful than we ever dreamed possible. She steps you through exactly how you can do this and there’s some great advice in this book. If you’re in need of a mindset shift and some fantastic motivation, this book is for you!
3. Unstoppable Influence: Be You. Be Fearless. Transform Lives (Natasha Hazlett, 2018)
I had a light bulb moment while reading this book. I’d never really understood why I feel so much fire and passion in my belly to make a positive difference. Natasha Hazlett explains it in a nutshell in her book. It’s because I have ‘influencer DNA’.
Are you someone who can’t help but always try to positively influence those around you and inspire to them to do more and be more? Do you have influencer DNA? If so, you need to read this book. It’s full of nuggets of wisdom and insight to help you on your journey to creating the impact you desire.
Hazlett is a former attorney, a speaker and a business coach and she gives practical advice and strategies to kick your approval addiction and negative self-talk to the curb, reboot and recharge your life and business to make the money you deserve without working longer hours, and to instead welcome true freedom, happiness and abundance into your life.
Sounds great, right? And it is! I highly recommend getting your hands on this book. You won’t regret it. It will give you the inspiration you need to create your biggest impact as an entrepreneur.
4. Chillpreneur: The New Rules for Creating Success, Freedom, and Abundance on Your Terms (Denise Duffield-Thomas, 2019)
Finally! Here’s a book for female entrepreneurs that explains how running your own business doesn’t have to be all about hustle and grind. Denise shows you how you can make great money doing what you love, while taking great care of yourself and your family along the way. She defines the rules for running a business without the stress or the burnout.
Denise gives practical advice on how you can trade in stress and overwhelm for strategic flow. And get richer while doing it. She’s the ultimate money mindset mentor, and has a masterful way of helping you see where your mindset is holding you back in business. Denise shows how each one of us has the ability to create so much success when we let go of our limiting beliefs and substitute them for the Chillpreneur business principles.
If you’re not yet making the money you deserve, you need to read this book!
5. Everything is Figureoutable (Marie Forleo, 2019)
It’s no surprise that this book is amazing because everything that Marie Forleo touches turns to gold. This book was inspired by Marie’s mother who once told her:
“Nothing in life is that complicated. You can do whatever you set your mind to if you roll up your sleeves. Everything is figureoutable.”
This one, single belief paved the way for Marie to create her multi-million dollar business, the life of her dreams and to be able to impact hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs worldwide.
Marie describes how there are no ‘quick fixes’ in business, but rather it’s all about how we respond in the face of obstacles, challenges and setbacks. She shares the attitudes, beliefs and mindset that have enabled her to become one of the most sought after coaches, speakers and writers worldwide. This book is guaranteed to get you inspired and focused and if you follow her advice you’ll become…. unstoppable.
6. She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur (Carrie Green, 2017)
Carrie Green started the Female Entrepreneur Association as a business woman who felt lonely and realised there wasn’t a platform to support female entrepreneurs worldwide. She turned it into a thriving membership hub that now supports 350,000 female entrepreneurs across the globe.
I loved this book because Carrie describes in logical steps how you can up-level your business and life and get your ideas and messages into the world with maximum impact. It’s no surprise that once again, so much of what she shares is about mindset and developing positive inner self-talk. Her perspective and ideas are refreshing and very practical. If you need some tangible strategies around how to develop a positive mindset and put yourself out there in the market in an impactful, get yourself a copy of this book.
7. Untamed: Stop Pleasing, Start Living (Glennon Doyle, 2020)
While this book isn’t written for women in business specifically, it’s a book that every woman needs to read. My copy of this book has post-it notes and highlights all through it because there are so many powerful sentences and nuggets of raw wisdom that really touched and changed me.
As a female entrepreneur, you need to learn to live by your own rules and expectations and trust your own inner voice and intuition. And that’s exactly what Glennon explores in this book. She describes with raw authenticity and humility how she finally discovered peace and joy when she stopped striving to meet others’ expectations and started to trust the voice deep within herself. She shares, through telling her own very personal story of bulimia, divorce, and finally marrying her love Abby Wambach, how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, honour our anger and heartbreak, and unleash our truest, wildest instincts so that we become powerful women, grounded in our own self-love and truth.
8. The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know (Katty Kay & Claire Shipman, 2014)
Authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman are journalists, reporters, and founders of Womenomics – a movement based on the idea that women’s economic advancement improves economies. In their book, they discuss how some of the greatest female leaders have an extraordinary, almost unimaginable belief that they can succeed, even when the odds are stacked, boulder like, against them. They have unshakeable confidence. As it turns out, these women are Unicorns because they’re so rare.
Over two decades, Kay and Shipman have researched confidence and interviewed some of the most influential women around the world. They realised that even these powerful women swim in self-doubt. During their research they discovered that low self-confidence is prevalent amongst most women, even when holding high positions in leadership and outwardly appearing to be very confident.
The authors discovered that self-confidence is in fact partly genetic – some of us are simply born with more confidence than others. But newest research shows that we can literally change our brains at any age (the scientists call it plasticity). Which means that if you choose to, you can develop this essential quality. Apparently confidence is what psychologists call volitional: our choice. With diligent effort, we can expand our confidence. And in this book they tell you exactly how. If your self-confidence is holding you back in your business, then you need to ready this book!
9. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (Brene Brown, 2012)
I read this book soon after it was first published in 2012 and it was a major turning point for me. Starting off with Theodore Roosevelt’s famous “The Man in the Arena” speech, Brene makes a case for how vulnerability is the key to a successful and fulfilling life. She says:
“Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity for both; it’s engaging – getting in the arena. It’s being all in.”
– Brene Brown
When I read this book I was in the process of launching my own business. And it gave me the courage and confidence to just do it. I put aside all my doubts, fears and insecurities, and fears of what other people would say, and I just decided to go ‘all in’. And it was the best decision I ever made.
If you’re struggling to go ‘all’ in with your business, or you’re stuck in procrastination or afraid of criticism or judgement, you need to read this book!
10. Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich: 75 Avoidable Mistakes Women Make with Money (Lois P. Frankel, 2005)
If you want to be a successful business woman, you need to learn how to get smart with money. There’s no two ways about it. Business women who pay close attention to their money and consciously apply strategies to grow their revenue, end up succeeding. And those who don’t stay stuck in scarcity.
Lois describes the key behaviours and beliefs that keep women from being financially independent and following their dreams (and I’ve been guilty of many of them!). She shares her tried-and-true coaching tips on how to take control of your money and your life. She describes all the ‘nice girl’ behaviours that sabotage your success and gives you specific strategies to overcome them.
If you’re serious about succeeding in business, you need to get your hands on this book, read it front to back, and apply everything she suggests!
11. Why Didn’t Anybody Tell Me This Sh*t Before? Wit and Wisdom from Women in Business (Marcella Allison & Laura Gale, 2019)
There’s nothing better than reading stories from women who have blazed the trail before us. This book is a collection of more than 60 letters from female leaders of multi-million dollar companies, solopreneurs, and every kind of woman in between. Each woman explains in detail what it’s like to be a female business leader, and shares her story in order to help other women succeed.
The stories are filled with truth, experience and hard-won wisdom. Because as the authors say “the only way we can begin to change the world is if we break the silence and begin to speak.”
I found these stories to be a lifeline and a road map to navigate our increasingly complex business world. Some of the stories describe extreme hardship but there’s also laughter, growth and triumph, and there’s so much to learn from these stories.
This is a comforting and inspiring read and it allows you to learn from the experience of business women just like you. Their stories of strength, courage and a fierce will to succeed will inspire you to continue on and build the business and life of your dreams.
12. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder (Arianna Huffington, 2015)
Arianna Huffington knows a thing or two about starting and growing a business into a global phenomenon. She co-founded the media company Huffington Post (which she sold for $315 million in 2011), before launching her extremely popular global wellness site Thrive Global, which provides science-based solutions to end stress and burnout. She’s a serial entrepreneur, mother, author of fifteen books and a highly sought after speaker.
Arianna had a big wake up call when she injured her face severely after falling down from exhaustion and lack of sleep. She realised that she’d sacrificed her health and well-being for the sake of her career and she knew she had to do something different. She’s since been on a mission to try to change our corporate business culture from stress and overwhelm into a culture where self-care is at the centre of our agenda.
Her story is incredibly interesting and she talks candidly about her own challenges with managing time and prioritising the demands of her businesses and raising two daughters, juggling deadlines and family crises. She has a very analytical mind and draws on the latest groundbreaking research and scientific findings in the fields of psychology, sports, sleep, and physiology that show the profound and transformative effects of meditation, mindfulness, unplugging, and giving. There’s a different way to do business and Arianna describes exactly what that looks like. Every business woman needs to read this book.
13. Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business (Barbara Corcoran, 2003)
Real estate mogul Barabara Corcoran tells her captivating and entertaining story of how she grew $1000 into a multi-billion dollar Fempire. It’s an inspiring story that all female entrepreneurs should read. What struck me is the key ingredient that plays out in the background, all throughout her book. And that is, her unshakeable belief in herself and her abilities, in part thanks to the great role modelling and support from her mother and her grandmother.
Barbara proves that if you believe you can do it, you absolutely can. Once again, her story highlights just how incredibly important self-belief is for success. She proves how unstoppable we can be when we’re not held back by limiting self-beliefs.
Her story also shows how important strong and positive female role models are in our lives. And if you haven’t been fortunate to have strong female role models in your own life, then now is the time to step up and be that inspiring role model for the women coming behind you.
14. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It (Michael E. Gerber, 2001).
Every person who’s determined to succeed in business needs to read this book. Gerber is an incredibly experienced entrepreneur, having helped more than 25,000 businesses worldwide since 1977, and he knows what it takes to achieve business success. As he often says, there’s no ‘magic bullet’, but it’s about doing ‘the right things’, consistently.
When I first read his book it was a revelation, because he finally articulated what I had already grappled with over the years, and that is that as business owners we need to wear three uniquely different hats – that of the Technician, the Entrepreneur, and the Manager. We need to develop a level of mastery in each of these areas in order to success, and he explains how.
As Gerber says “This book is about an idea – the idea that says your business is nothing more than a distinct reflection of who you are. If your thinking is sloppy, your business will be sloppy. If you are disorganised, your business will be disorganised. If you are greedy, your employees will be greedy, giving you less and always asking for more. …. So if your business is to change – as it must continuously do to thrive – you must change first.” And armed with the insight and knowledge in this book, you’ll finally know how to go about doing this.
SELL LIKE CRAZY: How to Get As Many Clients, Customers and Sales As You Can Possibly Handle (Sabri Suby, 2020).
As a woman in business, the single, core competency you need to master is the art of selling. Having the best product or service won’t get you there on its own. You need to know how to sell your great product or service in order to thrive.
My copy of this book has more than 100 post-it notes and highlights in it. It seems every page contains some important nugget of wisdom that’s worth remembering. Suby’s ruthless, direct, and honest style shakes you up and makes you realise that selling is all about mindset and the application of tactics that work.
Suby describes his eight phase ‘secret selling system’ that’s earned he and his clients over $1 billion. His advice is practical and actionable and will help you understand how to optimise your sales funnel to achieve sustainable success.
Are you starting or growing your own business?
Get your FREE copy of The Fempreneur Success Handbook: How to Start & Grow Your Wildly Successful business and discover everything I wish I’d known back when I was starting my business!
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In service to your success,
Kate De Jong, Ph.D
Fempire Coach for Thriving Female Entrepreneurs
+61 424 176 658