Running a small business in Canada is not easy. According to Industry Canada, 15% of small businesses fail before their first birthday. Fewer than 70% survive for two years and only 51% make it to five. That’s why it can be very valuable to have expert advice at your fingertips and available for whenever you feel uncertain about what step your business should take next. The following five books provide easy-to-understand and actionable advice for Canada’s small business owners.
1. Small Business Leadership
No matter your leadership style, ultimately, your job is to make decisions and get stuff done. That’s the theme of New York Times bestseller “Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done” by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. The authors detail their own experiences with companies that went from small to great, and why two things really matter for leaders: discipline and hiring the right people. What you’ll get from it: a set of behaviours and techniques that companies can use to create a competitive advantage. Specifically, you’ll read about a three-part execution process to improve communication with your team and how to set goals and priorities that people can realistically follow.
2. Small Business Marketing and Customer Service
The easiest way to create cheap marketing is to build an awesome, referral-driven customer base. That’s why you should pick up a copy of “Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service” by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. What you’ll get from it: what it looks like to have empathy for your customers. You’ll learn to define a service vision, how to discover what your customers really want, and why great customer service is built on creating promises you know you can exceed, and then always exceed.
3. Small Business Financing
Cash is the lifeblood of any business, and small businesses can be particularly vulnerable to financing problems. The “Banker’s Guide to New Small Business Finance” by Charles H. Green is a modern tour through venture capital deals, crowdfunding, private equity, bank loans, and the possibilities opened up by new technology. The book is written from the perspective of innovative lenders. What you’ll get from it: an insight into financiers and lenders, and how you should engage them. You’ll learn practical tips on out-competing other borrowers for loanable funds. If that doesn’t work for you, the book goes through nontraditional funding vehicles that you might try. You’ll also receive pricing grids and pricing models against which to compare your financing decisions.
4. Developing Successful Habits
It’s a little cliche, but “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” remains a timeless masterpiece and one of the best business books that isn’t just about business. Stephen Covey built a massive business empire on the back of his success habits, and they’re applicable to any small business owner. What you’ll get from it: how to separate urgent tasks from nonurgent tasks, and how to maximize work effort. If you feel torn between too many potential business paths, this book may make it easier to remove that indecision so you can get down to meaningful action.
5. Comprehensive Review of Small Business Questions
Perhaps the most famous map for running a small business in Canada is Douglas and Diana Gray’s “The Complete Canadian Small Business Guide.” This 650-page strategy session covers every issue you are likely to face, from starting and opening to selling and exiting. What you’ll get from it: each of the 21 chapters covers a different aspect of small business ownership. The book is organized so readers can quickly scan or jump around to find the information they most need. Also included are dozens of charts, checklists, and sample forms.(As a bonus, check out “The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup,” by Noam Wasserman.)These books alone won’t guarantee you results. Nevertheless, they can be useful allies in your journey from startup to business success. If nothing else, such books can keep you from making catastrophic errors or wasting time reinventing the wheel.