20+ Great Books for Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners

If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.

ĖRalph Waldo Emerson

Screen shot 2014-02-08 at 12.39.10 AMI have a confession to make: I love reading great books.

For quite some time, I have kept a Google Document with an ongoing list of all the books I read. I realized this list could be helpful to others, so I decided to post a list of the best books I’ve read here.

As you will see below, these books are primarily non-fiction business books.

I’m going to be updating this list over time, so please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments at the bottom.† I’d love to hear what books you’ve read and loved.

(Most of the links below are referral links, meaning if you click through and buy a copy, I will receive a small commission. If you do purchase using my link, thank you!)

What books do you recommend? Please add your suggestions below.

11 Things I Learned in 2 Years of Being an Entrepreneur

entrepreneurToday is my son Mason’s 3rd birthday.† Of course, today brings back a flood of memories not just from Mason’s birth, but from exactly a year later, when I decided to quit my job and become an entrepreneur.

Looking back now, I didnít have a great plan, but I knew I would figure out a lot as I went along.† That was both a good and a bad plan (as I’ll explain in a moment).

Since then, Iíve had many ups and downs and Iíve learned a lot.

Although I had done a fair amount of advance planning, there were many lessons I learned that you canít absorb from books or endless research. Some of these lessons will only come from doing it for yourself.

So if you are an entrepreneur or you’re thinking about becoming one, I have some advice for you.

Here are 11 things I have learned in the past two years of being an entrepreneur:

1. †Provide 100% Kick-Ass Service to your Customers

[Read more…]

How to network with A-Listers in any industry webinar recording

I recorded this webinar recently on “How to network with A-Listers in any industry.”

The video is about 46 minutes long so get comfortable. But I think it’s packed with very practical advice on how you can use relationship networking to build deeper relationships with key people who can help you in your journey – whether you are an employee or own your own business. Enjoy!


How I Got Rob Lowe to Play Me on TV

Rob Lowe 2

How @JohnCorcoran got Rob Lowe to play him on TV (Click to tweet)

Have you ever heard anyone say this? When they make a movie about my life, I want to be played by Brad Pitt. Or George Clooney. Or Rob Lowe.

In my case, that actually happened.

Hereís the story. Many years ago, when I was working at the White House, a friend who I had worked with in Hollywood called me up.

She knew a guy who was working on a new TV pilot about the staff at the White House. Would I mind talking to him about what it was like working at the White House?

I said sure.

It turned out the guy was Aaron Sorkin, and the TV pilot was for The West Wing.

Sorkin had a couple movies called The American President and A Few Good Men under his belt so I knew exactly who he was.

[Read more…]

New Free Ebook: “10 Ways You Can Use Political Strategies and Tactics In Your Business”

10 Ways to Use Pol Tactics 175px wideIn The Tipping Point, author Malcolm Gladwell made a very unorthodox comparison – drawing the connection between the spread of sexually transmitted disease in inner city Baltimore and the dramatic resurgence of the Hush Puppies shoe brand.

It sounds rather odd. What do the spread of venereal disease and an unexpected and sudden business turnaround have to do with one another?

It turns out they have a lot in common.† New Yorker writer Gladwell produced a wonderful, practical and engaging read which leaves you engrossed, or at least not questioning the wisdom of making such an unusual comparison.

But The Tipping Point got me thinking more broadly about what other kinds of unorthodox comparisons could be made that would prove useful to the business world.

Too often business comparisons rely on tired clichťs – analogies to war, to athletics, to coaching. It’s all been done before.

Then I started thinking about my background in politics. And I realized that the political world – both campaigning and governing – can serve as a great model for business.

Campaigns are very similar to businesses, in that they have a product to sell and a very competitive environment to sell it in. They also have to recruit, train and motivate large forces of inexpensive labor on a shoestring in a short period of time and need to get this cheap workforce to work together, over long hours, in an endeavor that could very easily end in total and abysmal failure.

The comparisons go on but you get the idea.

As I researched it further, I found that there were actually dozens of examples of people who have worked in politics – like me – and then turned around and taken their experiences and knowledge and employed it in the world of business – whether on Wall Street or in Silicon Valley, in a small business or in service of a startup of their own making.

This was really interesting to me. How are these people using what they learned in the cutthroat world of politics in service of the cutthroat world of business?

I finally decided to put all my thoughts in a new 19-page 100% free ebook I’m releasing today titled “10 Ways You can Use Political Strategies and Tactics to Grow Your Business.”
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Why Politics Does Not Have to be Dirty

Before you download the ebook, I want to share what I believe.

“Politics” does not have to be a dirty word.† Too often political strategies and tactics are considered shadey, unethical, or underhanded.

I disagree. Of course, there are always bad apples. In my opinion, those folks are always ferreted out sooner or later, just like a rotten business.

I am not advocating a bunch of under-handed tactics. I am advocating looking at the best political tactics and strategies – those employed by those who have achieved great success in the world of politics – and using them in similar ways in business.

Here’s a quick look at what is included in this ebook:

  • the story of how I got Rob Lowe to play me on TV (you’ll want to hear this)
  • how one veteran of the 2008 Obama Presidential campaign took the software he used to help that campaign break fundraising records and created a software startup with over 50 employees
  • how Senator Ted Kennedy’s hopes of becoming President were dashed by his failure to identify his greater purpose – and what this means for your business
  • how campaigns implement discipline across the board – and how businesses can too
  • the importance of social proof in politics and business
  • what the “Master of Disaster,” a Clinton White House veteran, can tell you about communicating effectively in a business crisis
  • how getting your customers to buy is similar to getting your supporters to the polls on election day

Enjoy! You can download it now here:
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Life In a Hurry: Love, Life and the Birth of my First Son

John Corcoran, Smart Business Revolution, SmartBusinessRevolution.com, NOTE: I recently published this article in my wife’s Mothers’ Club newsletter. Why am I publishing it here? Good question. Although it has nothing to do with business, it does show a different side of me and my purpose in doing what I do. What is your purpose? Share it in the comments below. Enjoy.


The early summer evenings around northern California remind even the most jaded Californian why we live in the Golden state.

It was just May but the unseasonably hot weather that evening meant it was still in the low 90s, even though the sun was rapidly fading.

It may have been the heat outside, or the lack of air conditioning inside my apartment, that inspired me to go out for a run that night, back when I was prone to do such a thing.

I was nearing the end of my run when I noticed an attractive woman running in my direction. As she got closer I realized I knew her.

We had been coworkers once. Her name was Nicole, and she left before I had the chance to get to know her.

I waved her down, and my heart jumped as the look of recognition crossed her face. She flashed the bright-eyed ear-to-ear smile which had so attracted me when I first met her.

We ended up talking for 20 minutes as the sun slipped behind the trees. The conversation was seamless and effortless.

It was almost completely dark by the time I finally got up the nerve to ask if she would meet me for a drink later that evening.

ďSure,Ē she said, smiling. ďSounds like fun.Ē


Nicole and I married four years later, and by that point I had followed her to Marin.

Life wasnít easy but it was fun, and free. We were busy: first graduate school for Nicole, then law school for me.

We could take off on a last minute weekend getaway, or eat out at a momentís notice.

Itís easy to think back on your life before kids and wonder why you didnít do more. Why you didnít dart off to Venice on a momentís notice. Why you didnít hop in the car on a Saturday morning to go skiing in Tahoe, without having planned it weeks in advance.

Life has a funny way of speeding up on you.


Ten years had passed since that chance evening encounter, and we were expecting our first child. The due date was still weeks away.

It was a Sunday morning, and I was settling in to watch a football game as Nicole was getting in the shower.

The hospital bags remained unpacked. Piles of baby clothes were covering every surface of the babyís room.

Then my wifeís voice tore across the house. ďI think my water broke!Ē she said.

Moments later we were in the living room, my wife dripping wet in a towel and me fumbling with my phone, trying to call the hospital for advice.

We left our home in a hurry, and by the time we reached the Golden Gate Bridge the contractions were coming on nearly every 60 seconds. Nicole started pushing the minute we got to the hospital.

It soon became apparent that this was a kid who wasnít going to wait.


Perhaps it is appropriate that two parents whose destiny together hinged on one fateful run would give birth to a kid who lives life in a hurry.

The funny thing is, Mason has never slowed down.

From the moment he wakes up to the moment he goes to bed, heís constantly on the go.

Itís enough to make you want to hold him squarely by the shoulders and tell him to slow down and enjoy the moment. If he would only listen.


Looking back, our 12 years together seem to have gone by as quickly as that drive to the hospital.

One day youíre falling in love. The next youíre having your first child.

I look at my son now and all I can do is slow down and sit and appreciate the little moments. Heís two now, still moving at warp speed and picking up words every day.

He looks up at me now and flashes that familiar ear-to-ear grin. I recognize it instantly. He has Nicoleís smile.