Best Books For Starting A Business (or growing an existing one!)- Books for Photographers

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I never read, or at least I never used to.

Over the years I’ve purchased a lot of books on a huge range of subjects. The shelf above my desk has a wonderful array of books from Botanical Illustration to Astronomy, House Building to SAS training methods.

I’m currently not a Botanical Illustrator, an Astronomer, A House Builder… or an SAS-er. (I’m a photographer.)

I think perhaps that is because I’ve only read a few paragraphs from each of those books. I’m told becoming an Astronomer requires somewhat more effort.

You see after the Amazon man delivered them, I opened them full of the excitement of learning a new skill, before putting them down and thinking I’ll read that later.

Later never came. I don’t know why – it’s never been a conscious ‘I’m not going to read that’… I guess the excitement of buying and the rush of endorphins from the potential of learning something new wore off.

Or perhaps I was just more excited about buying the book than putting in the effort to learn about it’s subject.

Sadly buying books doesn’t come with an osmosis effect, whereby the knowledge finds its way into your skull just by being in close proximity. Unless you consider Audiobooks, which is sort of the same thing.

The power of reading business books in growing your business

Now though, I read a lot. Over the past few weeks I’ve read about 6 different books, so what changed? What happened to that guy who spent more time shopping for books than he did reading them?

Simply, I found the right sort of books to read. Books that furthered the pursuit of my passions, books that aligned with my beliefs or challenged them in some way. I came to realise that I love business books and do you know what? Since coming to that realisation and reading a metric ton of business books (and even some self-help books) my business has gone from strength to strength.

I’ve booked lots of new work, I’ve massively refined my business and offers. I’ve launched a few new businesses, I’ve trained people, I’ve grown as a business and as a human.

I’ve personally found, that the act of reading business books isn’t just about learning what’s in the book, it’s about putting yourself in the right mind space to think deeply about making changes and growing your business.

A book I recently read (I think it may have been ‘Creative Calling’ by Chase Jarvis. Damn good book that one!) mentioned that books are a brilliant way of getting the knowledge of pioneers, creators and entrepreneurs that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

Think of people like Richard Branson – how often do you get the chance to sit down with him and learn about his life, his thoughts on business, or the struggles he had launching many hugely successful businesses.

I’d hazard a guess, that the answer to that would be somewhere between rarely and never.

But you know what, you can pick up Losing My Virginity, Finding My Virginity or Like a Virgin and get a huge amount of insight direct from his mind. That’s a powerful opportunity right there.

So the books I tend to read and recommend to the people I’m teaching are usually written by powerful, successful, inspiring or just plain interesting individuals.

Photography Business Books

This list is a few of the books I’ve read recently – along with some old favourites that I recommend everyone read, whether you’re starting a Photography business, trying to grow an existing one or maybe starting any business.

Business Books I’ve Read, Loved & Recommend –

Creative Calling – Chase Jarvis

This book was game-changing for me. I read it at the start of the COVID pandemic and it fueled me through what could have been a truly difficult time. All of our weddings postponed and we lost our entire income overnight. I’ve long admired Chase, from his work on CreativeLive and foundations as a brilliant Action Sports photographer – he’s an inspirational guy and views the world from a perspective I can relate to. It’s not just that though, the book is a massive kick up the backside for creatives, like myself, who spend too much time thinking and not enough time doing.

If you are a creative and you buy just one book on this list – make it this one.

This Is Marketing – Seth Godin

Seth Godin is top tier when it comes to marketing, if you search for books on starting a business, his name will come up lots. A long time ago I read Purple Cow, which I’d say is one his most famous books. But I don’t think I was in the right place to truly appreciate what he was saying. Ten years down the line, I really must re-read it.

‘This is marketing’ is his newest book and it is jammed full of ideas, thoughts and guidance from one of the best in the business of marketing – If you don’t come up with some new ideas, new ways of doing things or at least a new understanding of marketing from reading this book, then I don’t know what to tell you.

The 10X Rule – Grant Cardone

Grant Cardone is a big brash American, but if you can cut through the bravado and chest pumping – you’ll find some real nuggets of wisdom in his books. I have a lot of time for the knowledge he drops in this book. He has a cult following with a certain type of entrepreneur and mainly talks on finding success by working harder than the next guy and putting in way more effort than anyone else. The 10X rule was my audiobook companion on the walk back from taking my daughter to nursery and I always arrived home ready for work – enthused, inspired and ready to 10X my day.

Crushing It – Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vee, are there any that haven’t heard of Gary Vaynerchuk? If you haven’t you’re missing out. If anyone can be the embodiment of hard work, I think it’s Gary Vee. Love him or hate him, He’s a hard worker and drives others to aspire for more. Crush it and the follow up Crushing It, were one of my first entries into reading business books and I’ve not looked back. Until you’ve read this book, you won’t realise how hard the power players in our world work.

If you’re looking to boost your work ethics and get a boost of energy – you won’t go wrong with Gary Vee.

Crush It was the first book and talked about the process of hard work and hitting everything harder than the next person, Crushing it came next and included case studies from people putting the system into practice. Inspiring stuff.

Talk Triggers – Jay Baer

We listened to this whilst driving to a family holiday – it was a long drive – our little girl was busy watching Shrek on the iPad and we were listening to Talk Triggers. There are chunks of this book that could easily be chopped out and there’s a decent amount of waffle. But the concept is solid and really applies well to photography businesses – read this and then get thinking about what you can do to make your business trigger those word of mouth conversations. We came back and implemented our own talk triggers and bookings went up in a noticeable way!

Building A Story Brand – Donald Miller

A recent read for me, and one that I thoroughly loved. Donald Miller is onto some good things with Storybrand and those that Implement his teachings have made big, positive changes to their businesses. The principle is that your audience is the protagonist in their own story and if you aren’t there to help them with their journey – you’ll be left behind. We love Storybrand and always try to keep it in mind when working on our businesses.

Dotcom Secrets – Russell Brunson

I’ve gotten into Russell Brunson books in a big way lately. If you can get past the weird ‘this looks like a cheesy sales book’ covers and the sales approach he runs online – you are in for a treat. There is solid gold throughout every one of his books. So many things that will have you thinking about how to run your business or inspire you to do things differently. He’s written a series of books Expert Secrets, Traffic Secrets & Dotcom Secrets – All of them with a focus on sales and building traffic for your business. He’s a big advocate of sales funnels and I’m loving reading all about it. Some things I’ll implement into my businesses – some things are just really interesting to know ‘how things work’.

Either way – you can’t go wrong with any of his books.

Copywriting Secrets – Jim Edwards

A bit of a spin-off from Russell Brunson’s books above, this has a foreword from Russell and then the reigns are handed over to expect copywriter Jim Edwards to teach you tips and tricks on getting conversions with your sales copy. Good copy is one of the biggest drivers of sales and it’s well worth investing in.

Hey Whipple, Squeeze This – Luke Sullivan

I spent ages trying to track down a copy of this, widely regarded as ‘the’ book to get better at copywriting and now they seem to always have it in stock on Amazon. I’m currently reading it and finding it a little heavy going – but really interesting and will no doubt contain some gems to improve my copywriting – something I sorely need!!

Marketing: A Love Story – Bernadette Jiwa

Another that I listened to on Audible on the way back from Nursery dropoffs – a short but sweet book, pondering the relationships between you and your clients. Certainly, put me in the right mind space to work on the business.

Books on Mindset

It’s not all Business Books

Creative Calling – Chase Jarvis

Yes, I know I’ve snuck this in twice… but honestly, Chase’s book deserves to be in this list twice – I read it, my partner read it and we both found it hugely inspirational. It’s full of business thoughts, but its also just a big kick up the backside for any creatives. Our mindset is usually what holds us back – confidence, self-doubt, too much planning and not enough doing – whatever – this book will put you right.

Solve For Happy – Mo Gawdat

I love Mo Gawdat, I’ll listen to his podcasts and instantly feel calm. Mo was a top dog at Google X, Google’s moonshot factory and his book, Solve for Happy. It’s a book about loss, about love and about finding happiness. It’s not a business book per se – but every business decision you make comes from within and if you can take care of yourself and learn to be happy or at least in control of your feelings – all your choices will be that much better.

Never Split the Difference – Chris Voss

Chris Voss is a former hostage negotiator and a best selling author writing about negotiation tactics – This is another of the Nursery walk series and one that will serve you well in your dealings with suppliers, clients or car salesman. No joke – this book saved me money. Knowing how to read people, how to take and negotiate properly is a huge one for confidence and something I recommend to a lot of my mentoring students.

On my list, but I’ve yet to get to!

Company of One – Paul Jarvis

Start With Why – Simon Sinek

An Audience of One – Srinivas Rao

Start Now, Get Perfect Later – Rob Moore

Ironically, I started Rob Moore’s book, and didn’t finish it – well worth a look though and I do intend to go back to it.

Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t – Steven Pressfield

Atomic Habits – James Clear

Deep Work – Cal Newport

Ego is The Enemy – Ryan Holiday

Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert T Kiyosaki

I’ve been meaning to read this for nearly a decade after a recommendation by Stewart Randall, the founder of Folio Albums, I promise this is the year I will finally get around to it.

Sell or Be Sold – Grant Cardone

The Chimp Paradox – Dr Steve Peters

Zero to One – Peter Thiel

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson

Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter – Curtis Jackson