Twenty years ago, I had a dream to build a firm that would provide unbiased financial advice. I created Wiser Wealth Management ultimately to be a place where clients could gain peace of mind about their financial futures. In order to be successful in executing this mission, I started out small scale by delivering a great service mostly as a solo advisor. But as a small business owner, I always wanted to see the firm grow to reach more clients. As I traveled down the road of growing the company, I hit a few plateaus. I quickly realized that it took a different skill set to drive a team to deliver the same service with the same passion as it did to do it myself.

I am not alone. Business ownership is part of the American dream for many people. Successfully growing a business from a one-person operation to one with thousands of employees can reap great monetary benefits and build legacies that last for generations to come. However, very often business owners have what Michael Gerber calls, in his book The E-Myth Revisited, an “entrepreneurial seizure.” They decide to leave the big firm to work for themselves because they could make a widget or service better while putting more money in their pocket. They become in great demand because they are good at what they do, however, all they have really done is create a job for themselves that becomes more and more demanding. The danger comes when that job is no longer fulfilling, and profitability starts falling or never really materializes. This creates frustration and a business that just puts out fires versus the dream that once was.

As I experienced a scenario similar to this, it made me increasingly aware of how foolish it would be to think that I already had all the knowledge I needed to continue to grow Wiser into a billion-dollar firm. What did I do? I sought the help of others.

One key way I sought advice from other people was by reading more. And I found myself reading almost as if my life depended on it. I was eager to see what others had done, what worked and what didn’t work, how to avoid mistakes or at least how to learn from them. In my reading, I have focused on hospitality, team goal setting, marketing and even books on how to make time to read more books!

Some were good and others were great. Here are two of the great ones that I think every business owner should read, probably once a year. I chose these two because the authors highlight ideas that aren’t really taught in school, yet are so vital to business success.

Michael Gerber’s “The E-Myth Revisited” – This book will make you realize that many business owners should have probably just been employees somewhere else! Better yet, this is your guide on how not to be that business owner.

Donald Miller’s “Building a Story Brand” – This book and its follow up, Marketing Made Simple, have changed our business message and we have seen great growth because of it. Business owners that implement these two books should see an increase in their business.

Bonus Book:

Danny Meyer’s “Setting the Table” – In 2018, I set out on a quest to learn as much as I could about how to offer the best hospitality to our clients. I learned that hospitality is empathy + action. Danny’s story impressed me so much that I flew to his NYC restaurant just to see if his book translated into reality. My family and I were not disappointed.

You must take a step away from the day to day routine, to learn and to dream. If not, you will find yourself stuck.

These are the books that have had the greatest impact on me. What books have you learned from the most?

Casey T. Smith