8 Game-Changer Books for Creative Solopreneurs

books creative solopreneur review Feb 22, 2020


There are lots of business book reviews and "recommended" reading lists but this one is different. My list is especially for you creative solopreneurs. As you know, we take a more thoughtful, expressive, intuitive approach to our businesses. Also, as solopreneurs, we like to keep things simple and streamlined.


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So I picked 8 of my favorite books that have been super helpful in my journey so far as a creative solopreneur. I share a bit from the Amazon description to give you an idea what the book is about, and then a mini-review about why I found the book helpful.

If you're interested in learning more about a book, each title, book image, and bolded link are clickable links to the Kindle version on Amazon.

If you prefer hardcover, paperback, MP3, or CD, there's also a link to each book over on Bookshop.org. It's an online site that helps support indie bookstores by sharing a percentage of sales with them. What a great way to support our bookstores!


8 Awesome Books for Creative Solopreneurs


1. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear 
by Elizabeth Gilbert

From Amazon:
She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

What I found most helpful:
I read Big Magic when it was first released in September 2015. I'd just done B-School in Spring 2015 and they were a really good match for each other. It helped me inject the creativity back into my daily work after having spent so much time on the technical and rational sides of it. Big Magic made me think about creativity in new ways and also give it the appropriate importance in my work and in my life. 

Big Magic in hardcover, paperback, and CD on Bookshop.org



2. The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months
by Brian P. Morgan and Michael Lennington


From Amazon:
Most organizations and individuals work in the context of annual goals and plans; a twelve-month execution cycle. Instead, The 12 Week Year avoids the pitfalls and low productivity of annualized thinking. This book redefines your "year" to be 12 weeks long. In 12 weeks, there just isn't enough time to get complacent, and urgency increases and intensifies. The 12 Week Year creates focus and clarity on what matters most and a sense of urgency to do it now. In the end more of the important stuff gets done and the impact on results is profound.

What I found most helpful: 
Like many of you, I came from the corporate world before striking out on my own as an entrepreneur. I always planned my business annually because that's all I'd ever been taught. This book really opened my eyes to this alternate way of planning and goal-setting. I do "12-week years" each quarter and definitely feel more productive. Also, as solopreneurs, we CRAVE flexibility! This type of planning works perfectly for us.

12-Week Year in hardcover at Bookshop.org



3. Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen
by Donald Miller 

From Amazon:
Building a StoryBrand (teaches) readers the seven universal story points all humans respond to, the real reason customers make purchases, how to simplify a brand message so people understand it, and how to create the most effective messaging for websites, brochures, and social media.

What I found most helpful: 
If you're a fiction writer, you've learned about The Hero's Journey which is the basic plot of most successful novels. As a student/former student and reader, you've been reading this format over and over, whether you realize it or not. The Hero's Journey involves a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed (think Harry Potter, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Wizard of Oz, ...). Donald Miller proves why we business owners and marketers must apply The Hero's Journey to our MARKETING, where the customer is the Hero and we are their Guide. This was an absolute game-changer of a book for me!

Building a StoryBrand in hardcover, MP3, and book on CD at Bookshop.org



4. Marketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step StoryBrand Guide for Any Business
by Donald Miller and Dr. J.J. Peterson


Per Amazon:
Marketing Made Simple provides a "five-part checklist that helps marketing professionals and business owners apply the StoryBrand messaging framework across key customer touchpoints to effectively develop, strengthen, and communicate their brand’s story to the marketplace."

What I found most helpful: 
After you read Storybrand, keep going and put what you learned into practice by reading Marketing Made Easy by the same author. While reading Storybrand, I created a free BrandScript and now with this 2nd book, I'm putting it to good use as I follow the 5 steps to incorporate it all into my messaging. 

Marketing Made Simple on CD and MP3 at Bookshop.org



5. Everything is Figureoutable
by Marie Forleo


Per Amazon:
While most self-help books offer quick fixes, Everything is Figureoutable will retrain your brain to think more creatively and positively in the face of setbacks. ... If you're having trouble solving a problem or reaching a dream, the problem isn't you. It's that you haven't yet installed the one belief that changes everything. ... Marie's mom 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.'"

What I found most helpful:
As a B-Schooler and huge Marie Forleo fan since 2015, honestly, I've heard most of this before. I also saw her speak at Oprah's Super Soul Sessions where she told the "everything is figureoutable" story. But it never gets old. I always need the reminder again, no matter how many times I've heard it. There are so many struggles and challenges in life and in entrepreneurship. This book reminded me that we can get through it all with tenacity, smarts, and creativity. 

Everything is Figureoutable in hardcover and book on CD at Bookshop.org



6. Marketing Made Human: The Art and Science of Creating a Lovable Brand - Marketing for Personal Brands in the 2020s
by Malene Bendtsen



Per Amazon:
Marketing Made Human is mindset-shifting personal branding book and a practical guide for marketing in the 2020s. It breaks down cemented perceptions and beliefs around marketing and empowers entrepreneurs to fall in love with marketing, so they can have a bigger impact in the world and unlimited business success. NOW is the best time ever to connect with your true tribe and build a lovable personal brand that customers will happily and voluntarily promote.

What I found most helpful: 
Okay, full disclosure - I know Malene, the author of this book. We met in April 2019 at the Kajabi Impact Summit. We talked for hours over several gab sessions and found that we were on the same page about 2 very important things: 1. KAJABI ROCKS, and 2. authentic, genuine marketing is the desire of creatives and it's possible to sell your stuff without feeling icky or using all the "bro marketing" tactics taught in so many venues. In her amazing book, Malene made me understand and feel better about why I'd developed such an aversion to "marketing" over the years - and then what to do about it. 



7. Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered
by Austin Kleon


From Amazon:
Show Your Work! is about why generosity trumps genius. It’s about getting findable, about using the network instead of wasting time “networking.” It’s not self-promotion, it’s self-discovery—let others into your process, then let them steal from you. Filled with illustrations, quotes, stories, and examples, Show Your Work! offers ten transformative rules for being open, generous, brave, productive.

What I found most helpful:
This book was such a surprise! The whole idea of just sharing what you're up to openly with your tribe is frightening to me. Like many people, my natural inclination is to feel "if I show them, they may judge me for my stumbles or uncertainties, they may not like my work, they may STEAL my work, etc." But Austin explains how instead it's actually quite rewarding - and smart - to share your process. I have to admit I'm still quite private (it's more a personality trait than a business tactic, lol) but this book is #goals. Someday, I hope to be as open and giving as Austin is because I truly believe that when you give, you always get back more in return.

Show Your Work in paperback at Bookshop.org 



8. The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea
by Bob Burg and John David Mann


 From Amazon:
The Go-Giver tells the story of an ambitious young man named Joe who yearns for success. Joe is a true go-getter, though sometimes he feels as if the harder and faster he works, the further away his goals seem to be. Desperate to land a key sale at the end of a bad quarter, he seeks advice from the enigmatic Pindar, a legendary consultant referred to by his many devotees sim­ply as the Chairman.
Over the next week, Pindar introduces Joe to a series of “go-givers” ... Pindar’s friends teach Joe the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success and help him open himself up to the power of giving. Joe learns that changing his focus from getting to giving—putting others’ interests first and continually adding value to their lives—ultimately leads to unexpected returns."

What I found most helpful:
This was a very quick read but so impactful. It really made me think about success and what it actually means. It's different for everyone but if it's only about money, entrepreneurship will likely be a struggle. I'm a huge believer in what I call "authentic marketing" and this book supports that concept. It's not about having a business so people will buy your stuff, buy your stuff, buy your stuff. It's about serving others, being selfless with your talents, and then being rewarded in countless ways because you were coming from the right place. 

Go-Giver in hardcover at Bookshop.org


As a little bonus - here are the "Five Laws of Stratospheric Success" from the book ...

  • The Law of Value: Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment
  • The Law of Compensation: Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
  • The Law of Influence: Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.
  • The Law of Authenticity: The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
  • The Law of Receptivity: The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.


I hope you're able to check out some or all of these books. I think they'll be game-changers for your creative solopreneur business like they were for mine. 



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