Avalon's Top 5 Books for Running a Thriving Business

Reading books is a great and inexpensive way to tap into the knowledge and experience of successful business owners.  Not all books in the business genre are created equal, though. Here are Avalon’s top 5 books that we would recommend to anyone starting or running a business.

Simple numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits!

Greg Crabtree (Amazon)

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Clickbait title aside, this book presents a clear and no BS way of running a small business.  It teaches business owners what to look for in their financial statements, how to keep that picture clear and uncluttered, and how to maintain profitability as the business grows.  We’ve incorporated many of Crabtree’s philosophies into how we operate Avalon Accounting.

It’s not a long book, but the information is valuable. I’ve read it three times to date and have purchased an additional copy on Kindle to refer back to on my phone at any time.

Making Money is Killing Your Business

Chuck Blakeman (Author’s Site)

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The second part of the title is “how to build a business you’ll love, and have a life, too” and that’s exactly what MMIKYB (“Mickey B” as we refer to it internally) teaches.  The basic premise is to map out all of the roles and tasks that are necessary to run the business so that you can begin to replace yourself and have a business that works for you.  This book has helped us understand what we want Avalon to look like as a mature business. We’ve even set a deadline for “Avalon Accounting version 1.0,” it’s August 10, 2020.

What does your business look like when it’s “done” and when you plan on that happening?

They Ask You Answer

Marcus Sheridan (Amazon)

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“They Ask You Answer” shows how to use inbound marketing to increase demand, educate customers, create trust, and speed up the sales cycle through client education.

As accountants, we’ve found marketing to be a bit of a foreign concept, but we have a lot of experience teaching - teaching clients about their financials, explaining complicated tax concepts, explaining to CRA why they’re wrong.  Good news for us, we can combine the two concepts to successfully market our business by answering the questions of our clients and prospective clients. The only cost to this approach is the time it takes to document and answer common client questions.  The result is a multi-purpose database of information that attracts new business and can be used over and over again to answer client questions quickly.

This is easily my favourite book on marketing.

The Great Game of Business

Jack Stack and Bo Burlingham (Amazon)

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We use open book management at Avalon Accounting.  This means that everyone in the company knows how we are doing financially from one month to the next.  This way of running a business may not be for everyone, but it’s one of the main points we’ve taken away from “The Great Game of Business.”  

This book uses the real-life experiences of the authors to show how employees become motivated and stay engaged when they are invited to participate in the successes and failures of the organization.  If workers know how their contributions help the business to succeed, and they share in that success (we share our profits with employees equally), then they will be more motivated to do their best work and to find better ways of operating.

The E-myth Revisited

Michael E Gerber (Amazon)

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The myth is that businesses are started by entrepreneurs.  However, in most cases, businesses are started by people who were initially working for others (sounds like Avalon).  This book helps those business owners to think outside of their role as a technician (someone who does the work) and to start thinking like the other business owner personae: the manager and the entrepreneur.  These other roles are important for growing a successful business that you can both work in, and that can work for you.

The book continues to provide a business development process that helps you to create a business that works for you and supports your life goals.  This is done by borrowing from the concept of franchising: map out each role that is required in your business and create a recipe for each role. You’ll end up with a turn-key operation that could be easily replicated without you.  

Joe and I took the time to go through the exercises in this book and it helped us to clarify what needs to be done and how.  We are still in the process of creating the recipe for each role at Avalon, but now there is so much more clarity on how things work.  Get all of that information out of your head and into a business manual so that the business can operate without you around. This not only improves your life, but helps to manage risk in the business. For example, if you were to get ill, you could still have an income stream and your employees would still have secure employment.

Other Books?

We would love to hear about some of the other business books that you’ve found helpful or made you look at things in a new way.  If you’ve got a recommendation, please fire it in the comments below or you can send us a message here.