John Nieuwenburg’s Best Book Recommendations

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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.

As the oldest of 8 children, I used to ride my bicycle 3 miles to the library every 2 weeks to get books for my siblings.

I would carefully select 3 books for each of my brothers and sisters based on their age and interests.

Now in my coaching practice, I often respond to the challenges my clients bring me by recommending a book.

Whether you prefer to hold a hardcover book in your hands, read online, or listen to audiobooks – if you want to gain an in-depth understanding of a topic – nothing beats a great book.

Here are my best book recommendations for business owners, categorized by the business challenge they help with.

If you don’t see your challenge listed here, shoot me an email and I would be delighted to recommend a book for you!

Start Here: Books that Will Help You Become a Better Business Owner

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

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. Then you discovered that there are a lot of things about business that you never learned in school. The first book to read in order to GET that business education is The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber.

The E-Myth Revisited

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

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. For the cliffs notes version, you can read my summary here: John’s notes on the 7 habits

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Time Challenges: books to read if you have too much to do and too little time to do it

The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

In the book “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, the authors suggest using a focusing question:“What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

The ONE Thing

Getting Things Done: the Art of Stress-free Productivity by David Allen

This classic time management book will help you get organized and stay productive.

Getting Things Done

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

The Checklist Manifesto

Team Challenges: books to read if you want to become a better manager and leader

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. My personal favourite? The daily huddle – a simple team management practice that can give you back your time and remove you from the centre of the hub and spoke.

Mastering the Rockefeller Habits

Money Challenges: books to read if you want to improve your success at sales

The Lost Art of Closing by Anthony Iannarino

Many of my clients find “closing the sale” to be the hardest part of selling. In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony Iannarino proves that this 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 Lost Art of Closing

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 Challenger Sale

Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff

According to Klaff, creating and presenting a great pitch isn’t an art—it’s a simple science. In this book he breaks down his methodology for remaining in complete control of every stage of the pitch process.

Pitch Anything

Personal Development Challenges: books to read if you want to improve your habits and grow as a business owner and leader

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.

Crucial Conversations

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

The best way to implement change – in your business and in your personal life – is by developing better habits. In Atomic Habits, James Clear shows how small, consistent changes in behavior can lead to significant improvements in one’s life. He also  outlines a system for developing habits that stick.

Atomic Habits

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Susan Cain highlights the strengths and unique qualities of introverts. If you (or some of your team members) are on the quiet side, this is a must-read.


Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business by Gino Wickman

Are you a visionary or an integrator? Learn which one you are – and which one you need to team up with to achieve greater success.

Rocket Fuel

Business Differentiation Challenges: books to read if you want to stand out above your competition

Sales Differentiation: 19 Powerful Strategies to Win More Deals at the Prices You Want by Lee B Salz

Selling in a competitive market where dropping your price seems like the only way to compete? This one’s for you.

Sales Differentiation

The Invisible Promise: A Field Guide to Marketing in an Upside-Down World by Harry Beckwith

This one is a must read if you offer consulting or advisory services. How to build digital and nondigital messages that enhance your reputation for integrity; that stand out from the clutter; and that can produce exponential growth while saving you both time and money.

The Invisible Promise

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

The founder of Zappos explains how he created a unique culture and commitment to service that aims to improve the lives of employees, customers, vendors, and backers.

Delivering Happiness

The Absolutely Critical Non-Essentials by Paddy Lund

How skilled is your accountant? Your doctor or lawyer? Your favourite technical guru? Unless you’re also an expert in that area, you can’t judge their skills. So, instead, you assume that “how they do one thing is how they do everything” – and you judge their competence based on other attributes of their business. These are what author Paddy Lund calls the “critical non-essentials.”

You can read my summary of this book here: The Critical Non-Essentials

The Critical Non-Essentials

Motivation Challenges: books to read when you feel discouraged

The Dip by Seth Godin

Every new project (or job, or hobby, or company) starts out exciting and fun. Then it gets harder and less fun, until it hits a low point: really hard, and not much fun at all. And then you find yourself asking if the goal is even worth the hassle. Maybe you’re in a Dip.

The Dip

Soundtracks: the Surprising Solution to Overthinking by Jon Acuff

Overthinking isn’t a personality trait. It’s the sneakiest form of fear. It steals time, creativity, and goals. This book shows how to overcome it.


The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz

In The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, the The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love.

The Four Agreements

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

Information is easy to access.

The challenging part is figuring out how to apply this new information to your business and how to stay accountable to making the changes.

That’s where a business coach can help.

If you’d like to get faster results, let’s talk about coaching. You can book 15 minutes on my calendar here: book time 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.