7 books to take your business to the next level

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John Nieuwenburg

John Nieuwenburg has been a professional business coach since 2004. Prior to becoming a coach, he held executive positions with Tip Top Tailors and BC Liquor Stores. In 2019, MacKay CEO Forums awarded him with Canada’s CEO Trusted Advisor Award in the Small Business category. Since becoming a coach, John has worked with over 350 clients, taking them through a systematic process that helps them feel organized, confident and in control of their businesses.

At W5 we say that if the owner wants a better business, first the business needs a better owner.

One of the best ways to become a better business owner is through reading.

My clients often comment on how I have “just the right nugget of information” that they need to solve the issue at hand.

Much of this ability comes through reading.

Over the years, I’ve read well over 500 books on the topics of business, entrepreneurship, personal growth, and leadership.

I won’t overwhelm you with the full list 😉

Instead, I’ll recommend the top 7 “best of the best.”

1. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

If you’re like most business owners, you got into your business because you are excellent at the thing you do.

A lot of people spend years studying and learning to become great at their craft – and they become a great accountant or electrician or advisor.

Then they start their own business and discover that there are a lot of things about business that they didn’t learn in school. As one of my clients put it:

“There is no business education in Grad School for psychology or medicine. You learn your trade and you come out of that well prepared to practice in your field, but with zero knowledge about the business world.”

The first book to read in order to GET that business education is The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber.

You can read my notes on the e-myth here: John’s key concepts notes on the E-myth

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey

You can use the 7 habits in this classic book to improve your life as well as your business.

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive
  • Habit 2: Begin With The End In Mind
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First
  • Habit 4: Think Win-Win
  • Habit 5: Seek First To Understand Then Be Understood
  • Habit 6: Synergize
  • Habit 7: Sharpen The Saw

You can read the personal notes I made on this book here: John’s notes on the 7 habits

3. Crucial Conversations by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, Emily Gregory

As business owners and leaders, we need to be willing to have hard conversations – with our customers, our employees, our suppliers, and ourselves.

Crucial Conversations provides powerful skills to ensure every conversation—especially difficult ones—leads to the results you want

When stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong, you have three choices:

  1. Avoid a crucial conversation and suffer the consequences
  2. Handle the conversation poorly and suffer the consequences
  3. Apply the lessons and strategies of Crucial Conversations and improve relationships and results

Read this book to learn how to conduct these crucial conversations.

4. Mastering The Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish

Read Mastering the Rockefeller Habits to learn a handful of fundamentals that haven’t changed for over a hundred years.


  • How to create a one-page strategic plan
  • 8 practical actions you can take to strengthen your culture
  • Best practices from some of the best-run firms on the planet

And my personal favourite: the daily huddle – a practice that can give you back your time and remove you from the centre of the hub and spoke.

5. Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

Often, when we think of “systems” we think of convoluted multi-step processes.

In reality, the best systems are simple.

A simple thing like a checklist can make a massive difference.

In this highly readable book, filled with stories from medicine, aviation, construction, and security – you’ll be inspired to use checklists to achieve stunning results.

6. The Lost Art of Closing by Anthony Iannarino

Because sales is an issue for many of my clients, my final 2 recommendations are books about selling.

A lot of negative beliefs about selling originate from pushy sales techniques – often designed to “close the sale.”

Anthony Iannarino has a different approach geared to the new technological and social realities of our time.

In The Lost Art of Closing, he proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process – if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close.

The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.

The Lost Art of Closing will forever change the way you think about closing, and your clients will appreciate your ability to help them achieve real change and real results.

7. Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson

This one is a must-read. Especially if you are selling complex, large-scale business-to-business solutions.

The authors’ study found that every sales rep in the world falls into one of five distinct profiles, and while all of these types of reps can deliver average sales performance, only one – the Challenger – delivers consistently high performance.

The good news is that the things that make Challengers unique are replicable and teachable to the average sales rep.

Read The Challenger Sale to learn how.

Want to skip all the reading and head straight to the fast track?

Helping owners get better at running their businesses is the primary thing I help my clients with.

If you’d like to bring the benefits of my skills and experience to your business, I invite you to book a 15-minute Fast Track Call.

There’s no fee and no sales pressure.

You can book your call here: book 15 minutes with John

The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Better Business Owner

become a better owner

If an owner wants a better business, first the business needs a better owner.

This post is part of my Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Better Business Owner. Visit the guide homepage to get my best advice and coaching exercises to help you with:

  • Mindset. Thinking like an owner and seeing the big picture of your business.
  • Planning. Deciding what you want, setting a goal, and making plans to get after it.
  • Habits. Changing your behaviours to help you get what you want.
  • Learning. Getting new information and developing new skills.
  • Growth. Facing your fears, stepping outside your comfort zone, and doing what it necessary to create the business of your dreams.