Abraham Lincoln once said, “My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.” While I cannot give you these books, I can tell you about them. My list of favorite 2020 business books will offer information or inspiration (or both) to help you start or grow smarter and faster.

Building for Everyone: Expand Your Market with Design Practices from Google’s Product Inclusion Team

The premise of this book, written by Annie Jean-Baptiste, the head of product inclusion at Google, is that it is a business—and economic—imperative for all businesses to become diverse and inclusive organizations.

Agreeing with her point is the easy part—then you need to how you can adapt your business to the diverse world we live in and “build more inclusive products for people of color, women and other underrepresented groups.” Jean-Baptiste and her team at Google share their experiences, key strategies, and step-by-step processes creating Google’s award-winning products.

Buy the Building for Everyone on Amazon ->

Building for Everyone Book Cover

Crisis Ahead: 101 Ways to Prepare for and Bounce Back from Disasters, Scandals and Other Emergencies

The timing for this book by Edward Segal, a renowned crisis management expert, couldn’t have been more perfect. As bad as the COVID-19 pandemic is, this is hardly the first crisis businesses have had to face in the country—and, unfortunately, it won’t be the last. Segal filled his book with numerous examples of how companies have dealt with previous crises. And it is packed with checklists and exercises to help business owners prepare for the next one, as well as help you get through today’s coronavirus crisis.

Buy Crisis Ahead on Amazon ->

Crisis Ahead Book Cover

Delivering Happiness

This book, written by Tony Hsieh, the man who joined Zappos as an advisor and transformed it into a mega-success, is an inspirational lesson for all business owners. Hsieh, who tragically died recently, made it his mission to give people what they want, whether it was his customers or his employees.

Many people remember Zappos because of how Hsieh transformed the customer experience, surprising and delighting customers with super-fast delivery, for free. But that was just part of the transformative path. In Delivering Happiness, Hsieh explained how focusing on creating a different corporate culture was the key to his success.

In addition to sharing business lessons, not just from Zappos, but from the lemonade stand he started as a kid to the startup he sold to Microsoft for $265 million before joining Zappos, this book explains how Hsieh used “happiness as a framework to produce profits, passion, and purpose.”

Buy Delivering Happiness on Amazon ->

Delivering Happiness Book Cover

Driving Innovation from Within: A Guide for Internal Entrepreneurs

Although published in 2019, Driving Innovation from Within by Dr. Kaihan Krippendorff, an expert on growth strategies and innovation, is still relevant for small business owners today. For the last several years, it has been accepted the theory that “visionaries” who found startups are the disruptors fueling innovation. But Krippendorff argues it’s intrapreneurs (those working as employees inside businesses), not entrepreneurs, who are responsible for some of the world’s most significant innovations, such as personal computers, mobile phones, and email.

The key for business owners is to figure out how to create an environment that welcomes innovative employees. The book helps with that by offering a framework you can use to  drive growth by “activating employee-driven innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Buy Driving Innovation from Within on Amazon ->

Fix This Next: Make the Vital Change That Will Level Up Your Business

Do you often feel overwhelmed? Are you trying to identify your business’s biggest problem? You’re not alone; many small business owners think this way. Author and serial entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz says the problem is most entrepreneurs don’t know how to prioritize their problems, so the real issues go unidentified or ignored and never get addressed.

In Fix This Next, Michalowicz explains his system, which helps small business owners identify what needs to be “fixed next” so you can address the issue and keep moving your business forward.

Buy Fix This Next on Amazon ->

Fix This Next Book Cover

Home-Based Business Start-Up Guide: A Step-By-Step Road Map

If you’re thinking about starting a business today, chances are you’ll be starting from home, which is not necessarily as easy as you might think. This book, published by Home Business Magazine and written by small business expert Barbara Weltman, is a useful guide to help you determine if you should start from home and then how to run your home-based business.

The guide’s chapters cover, step-by-step, how to get started, including topics like how to establish your business organization to marketing to how to set up a productive home office. One of my favorite features about the book is the checklists at the end of every chapter. They’re handy for helping you focus your thinking.

Buy Home-Based Business Start-Up Guide on Amazon ->

Home Based Business Start Up Guide Book Cover

Selling Naked: A Revolutionary Approach to Launching Your Brand Online

One of the biggest trends this past decade has been the success of so many direct-to-consumer (DTC) businesses. Selling Naked, written by Jesse Horwitz, the co-CEO and co-founder of Hubble Contacts, a DTC company, examines the DTC trend and explains how you can start and grow your own e-commerce business using social media platforms.

Horwitz got 2,000 signups in four days when he launched Hubble Contacts, which led to him raising $3.5 million in seed capital.
DTC products are ideal for consumers wary of heading to stores to shop—so it’s a good time to consider starting a DTC company. This book is a valuable guide to DTC startup.

Buy Selling Naked on Amazon ->

Selling Naked Book Cover

Super Attractor: Methods for Manifesting a Life Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

Remember, in The Wizard of Oz, when Glinda tells Dorothy she always had the power, she just had to learn it for herself? Reading Super Attractor, by New York Times best-selling author Gabrielle Bernstein, reminds you that you have the power to “Tap into the infinite source of abundance, joy, and well-being that is your birthright.”

Bernstein, who was featured on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday as a “next-generation thought leader,” lays out the steps you need to follow to “co-create the life you want.” Becoming a “super attractor” means “you don’t have to work so hard to get the life you want.” Bernstein believes it’s “imperative” to connect your spiritual life with your day-to-day experiences so you can learn to let go of the past and embrace the future without fear.

If you want to manifest a life of purpose and happiness, let Super Attractor be your guide.

Buy Super Attractor on Amazon ->

Super Attractor Book Cover

The Practice: Shipping Creative Work

Are you stuck? Are you afraid to put your work out there and share it with the world? Do you suffer from “imposter syndrome”? First, know that millions of other people face those same challenges.

And legendary marketer Seth Godin wrote this book, based on workshops he pioneered, to help you solve them. Whether you’re a creative facing writer’s block (which Godin says is a myth) or a business owner saddled with imposter syndrome (something he says is proof you’re a well-adjusted human), Godin explains how to get over your fear and take the risks worth taking.

Godin wouldn’t be Godin if he didn’t attack some “truths.” For instance, Godin agrees that there’s value in being authentic, but he adds, it’s more important to be consistent.

Buy The Practice on Amazon ->

The Practice Book Cover

Time to Lead: Lessons for Today’s Leaders from Bold Decisions that Changed History

Some people are born leaders; others learn to lead, sometimes in times of great crisis. Author Jan-Benedict Steenkamp, a distinguished professor and former chairman of marketing at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, offers leadership lessons showing how famous leaders faced “a life-changing dilemma” that possibly “changed the course of human events.”

But the book doesn’t just recap historical moments—it goes deeper as Steenkamp explains how these men and women solved the problems they were confronted with and how their personality and character traits played a role.

Steenkamp maintains there are seven leadership styles, adaptive, persuasive, directive, disruptive, authentic, servant, and charismatic, and four personality classifications, fox, hedgehog, eagle, and ostrich. Which are you? The book offers assessment tools so you can figure it out.

Buy Time to Lead on Amazon ->

If you’re looking for more business book recommendations, check out Fast Company’s must-read books for startup leaders navigating the pandemic and The Wall Street Journal’s list of books you should read before you startup. And for further reference, here’s the Business Bestseller list for November from The New York Times.