Meet Our Expert Panel
There are so many great business books to choose from. Which ones should you read? To pick the top business books of the year for the entrepreneur, we turned to Inc. magazine's editor at large Leigh Buchanan, who writes Inc.'s monthly "Skimmer's Guide" book review; editor-at-large Bo Burlingham, the author of Small Giants; contributing writer John Warrillow, the author of Built to Sell; BrandAsset Consulting president John Gerzema, the co-author of Spend Shift; contributing writer Suzi Sosa, the founder and president of the MPOWER Foundation; and Jack Covert, founder of, an influential blog that tracks new releases. Here are their top choices for 2010.

Reposted from Top Business Books

"Switch" by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Forget about the "sophomore slump." Switch might even be better than this duo's first book, Made to Stick. Switch is about making change happen, despite our tendency to fight it. Change management traditionally focuses on process. But brothers Chip and Dan Heath are nontraditional guys. So they focus on psychology—specifically what is it about our wacky human minds that make us embrace some changes and cringe from others. Like Stick, Switch makes its points with humor and diverting anecdotes. (Pssst: You'll never view the food pyramid the same way again.) —Recommended by Leigh Buchanan and Jack Covert
"Social Entrepreneurship" by David Bornstein and Susan Davis
Bornstein and Davis put together the basic primer on social entrepreneurship that has been badly needed to establish some fundamental vocabulary and foundation concepts for this space. The book is neither too technical nor too superficial. Social Entrepreneurship skillfully balances sufficient introduction to the concepts with supporting examples while also being accessible and engaging. —Recommended by Suzi Sosa
"Zilch" by Nancy Lublin
Zilch is a lovable book. It's all about creating something out of nothing. Nancy Lublin has done it in the not-for-profit world, and she has all kinds of useful advice about doing it in for-profit businesses. Now if only she could teach the same lessons to the leaders of our government… —Recommended by Bo Burlingham
"Zingerman's Guide to Good Leading" by Ari Weinzweig
At last, we have the definitive work on the management principles and methods that have made Zingerman's Community of Businesses a paragon of the trust-and-track approach to running a business. You won't find it at Amazon, however. Zingerman's Guide to Good Leading, Part 1: A Lapsed Anarchist's Approach to Building a Great Business is available only through the company. —Recommended by Bo Burlingham
"The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention" by Pamela Mitchell
We constantly hear that each of us will have multiple careers in a lifetime. The trick is to know how to switch from one to another. No one understands the process better than Pamela Mitchell, and she shares her secrets here in the The 10 Laws of Career ReinventionRecommended by Bo Burlingham
"The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention" by Pamela Mitchell
Imagine Keith Richards speaking at your corporate retreat. Well, if you filter out the drugs, groupies and trashed hotel rooms, Richard's autobiography, Life, has some very valuable business lessons—from dealing with longstanding partner conflict (e.g. Mick Jagger), how to create the right conditions for creativity (recording Exile on Main Street the basement of his house rather than a studio) and how to innovate around an existing product (Keith discovered open G tuning using only 5 strings, which gives the Stones their unique sound). True, the book has more discussion about roadies than revenue forecasting, but it's a remarkable story of endurance in the pursuit of creativity, which isn't easy in any business. —Recommended by John Gerzema
"Rework" by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson are founders of 37signals, and this book contains the lessons they learned while building and running that iconoclastic software company. Their pronouncements are simple, anti-intuitive, and sometimes profound. It is a hugely inclusive book with a disarming common sense. Underdo your competition. Learning from mistakes is overrated. Hire great writers. Reading ReWork is like sitting down with the savviest, most plain-spoken entrepreneur you know and saying, "OK, what's your secret?" Rework is practical, offering logical ideas that are instantly applicable to the solo entrepreneur, the team leader, or the company owner. —Recommended by Leigh Buchanan, Jack Covert and John Gerzema
"Bury My Heart at Conference Room B" by Stan Slap
Stan Slap has penned one of the smartest and most compelling books on leadership I have been lucky enough to read. Slap uses his research with over 10,000 managers from seventy countries to point out dichotomies that encapsulate the problems modern business manager faces. Bury my Heart in Conference Room B will help managers become better leaders and, on the way, become committed managers. Slap's methodology is to help managers become committed first to themselves, to live their personal values at work which is why people become leaders in the first place. —Recommended by Jack Covert
"Building Social Business" by Muhammad Yunus
Yunus has been talking about social business as a concept for many years but this book finally goes into detail explaining what social business is and giving specific examples of how it works. The nuance here is a form of business that reinvests all of its profits into the enterprise, which Yunus argues is essential when you are serving the poorest of the poor. Building Social Business provides a valuable contribution to the social entrepreneurship world by introducing a new business model that uniquely balances social mission with financial sustainability. —Recommended by Suzi Sosa
"Delivering Happiness" by Tony Hsieh
Zappos is a very modern company that's focused on values, culture, and dignity of the individual, which manifests itself in outstanding customer service. Having spent a day with their customer call center team, I can tell you they live what Tony Hsieh espouses.Delivering Happiness is relatable, practical, and intimate. —Recommended by John Gerzema
"The Little Big Things" by Tom Peters
The Little Big Things is vintage Tom Peters, the Red Bull of management thinkers. If the economy has got you down and you're feeling out of sorts, a shot of Peters is guaranteed to pick you up and put you back on the road to excellence. —Recommended by Bo Burlingham
"The Facebook Effect" by David Kirkpatrick
The movie The Social Network was for anyone who likes a good story. Journalist David Kirkpatrick's The Facebook Effect is for entrepreneurs interested in how to take a business from dorm room to the big time—and who also like a good story. Kirkpatrick's a fan, so he doesn't dissect the endless conflicts and missteps of Facebook's past and present—which would be more of a problem if everybody and his uncle wasn't already doing so. This book is a solid company-building story about one of the most influential companies of our time. Until Zuckerberg writes his memoir, it's as close to a "How I Did It" as curious parties are likely to get. —Recommended by Leigh Buchanan
"MacroWikinomics" by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams
We've seen a glut of books on crowdsourcing lately, but MacroWikinomics paints an unusually panoramic picture of how collaboration-on-steroids will play out. Don Tapscott, a business consultant, and Anthony Williams, a fellow at the Lisbon Council, have done a grand job ferreting out exciting examples in everything from R&D to education to health care. They then extrapolate the current state of the art to a credible future where, for example, average citizens going about their daily lives can easily collect information on things like food safety and air quality to feed back to regulators. Sounds far-fetched? Street sweepers in San Francisco are already measuring pollution levels. You'll say "cool" repeatedly. —Recommended by Leigh Buchanan
"You Are Not a Gadget" by Jaron Lanier
After you read MacroWikinomics, pick up Jaron Lanier's screed, "Linchpin" by Seth Godin
"Where Good Ideas Come From" by Steven Johnson
Steven Johnson has written a brilliant analysis of creativity and innovation. Johnson lists seven patterns that help innovative thinking and structures his chapters accordingly. Through sometimes-unusual research and always interesting, intricate storytelling to back it up, Johnson reveals how innovation comes into being in many different shapes and sizes—and many times in counterintuitive ways. Where Good Ideas Come From is a book that requires some investment from the reader because of the complex nature of idea creation and evolution, and the fact that Johnson digs deep into it. But the great research and engaging stories make that investment small compared to the rewards. —Recommended by Jack Covert
"The Upside of Irrationality" by Dan Ariely
One of the hardest things to do is to follow up a great success with another one. Dan Ariely had a smash success with his first book, Predictably Irrational, but he clearly overcame any sophomore slump because his new book, The Upside of Irrationality, is brilliant. Ariely is clearly an extremely intelligent and educated person, and still, his writing reads like he is just a buddy you bowl with every Wednesday night. His many fascinating antidotes can change your way of thinking about many everyday things, like money, work, friendship, and happiness. —Recommended by Jack Covert
"Business Model Generation" by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pignuer
In Business Model Generation, Osterwalder encourages owners to plot out their business model using something he developed called the "business model canvas." It forces entrepreneurs to communicate their business model visually, which Osterwalder says sharpens their thinking and allows them to get what's in their head onto a canvas for others to see and contribute to. Once your vision has been exported from your head onto a canvas your employees helped to create, you'll have a business that can grow without you calling all the shots—which is the essence of a sellable company. This is by far the most innovative book on how to think about putting together a business. —Recommended by Suzi Sosa and John Warrillow
"Islands of Profit in a Sea of Red Ink" by Jonathan L. S. Byrnes
For those uneasy about new initiatives in a sour economy, Islands of Profit explains how to make more money from the business you already have. Jonathan Byrnes, a lecturer at M.I.T., makes the shrewd observation that no one in companies actually manages profitability. As a result, opportunities go unexplored and inefficiencies are allowed to linger. Worse, the mindless pursuit of new business means companies bring on customers who actually end up costing them. This enormously practical book shows readers how to rethink every part of their companies—from sales to supply chains to service—with an eye toward sweeping up money currently left on the table. —Recommended by Leigh Buchanan
"Smart Growth" by Edward D. Hess
The definitive rebuttal to the myth of "grow or die." Professor Hess's examples in Smart Growth come mainly from public companies, but his insights, conclusions, and advice apply equally to privately owned businesses of all shapes and sizes. —Recommended by Bo Burlingham
"Good Boss, Bad Boss" by Robert I. Sutton
There's a reason Stanford professor Robert Sutton uses the word "boss" instead of "manager" in his book's title. Sutton is fascinated by personal dynamics. He understands that managers don't just manage. They manage people. Consequently their effectiveness depends on how those people perceive and react to them. Good Boss: Bad Boss draws on a wealth of anecdotal experience and academic research to lay out what leaders and managers should be doing every day. But Sutton, author of The No Asshole Rule, is also a connoisseur of misbehavior. You'll enjoy all the stories of bullies and badgerers: the scuffmarks as opposed to the benchmarks, if you will. Read about what they do. Then do the opposite. —Recommended by Leigh Buchanan
"How Companies Win" by Rick Kash and David Calhoun
These days not even the slickest salesman could sell ice to Eskimos. But companies that make portable ice-fishing shelters have a shot at the Intuit market. Ditto purveyors of beaver-fur hats. In an economy of chronic oversupply, business success depends on capturing pools of high-profit demand. Rick Kash, founder of the Cambridge Group, and David Calhoun, CEO of the Nielsen Company, explain how to divine what customers need and why they buy the way they do. After reading How Companies Win you'll never do market research the same way again —Recommended by Leigh Buchanan
"The Mirror Test" by Jeffrey W. Hayzlett and Jim Eber
Jeffrey Hayzlett is the wonderful maverick from South Dakota who is the king of common sense in business. The Mirror Test is an inspiration, very relatable and somehow seems to impart valuable business wisdom while not talking down to its reader. —Recommended by John Gerzema
"Spend Shift" by John Gerzema and Michael D'Antonio
Americans emerging from the recession are different from the Americans who went into it. And not just because we have less money. Consumers who once sought status and luxury now prefer goods that speak to enduring values like optimism, resiliency, self-reliance, community, and respect. John Gerzema, the chief insights officer and Young & Rubicon, and business author Michael D'Antonio traveled around the country to find surprising—often delightful—examples of entrepreneurs and business models that satisfy our new sense of self. Spend Shift is not some rote call to social responsibility but rather an insightful field study of the way we live now. —Recommended by Leigh Buchanan
"Built to Sell" by John Warrillow
Drawing on his own experience, Warrillow has produced a short, entertaining guide—in story form—to creating value in a service business. Built to Sell should be must-reading for everybody who starts one. You'll build a better business if you do. —Recommended by Bo Burlingham

Reposted from Top Business Books

The Best Books for Business Owners 2010

There are so many great business books to choose from. Which ones should you read? These were's picks for top business books in 2010.

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