10 Business Books to Read if You’re a Consultant

By MBO Partners | August 18, 2016


Professional development is all about making the right connections, but it’s important to achieve the right balance. Garnering the right attention to who you know while honing your craft and what you know is essential to properly packaging your expertise and services.

Last fall, we shared Six Business Books Independent Consultants Must Read. This post continues to be one of our most visited resources on our blog, so we wanted to give an updated version for 2016.

We highly recommend adding these 10 books (and authors) to your “must read” (and follow) lists before the fall season gets in full swing.

1. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

While many may not agree with everything the author preaches, this book offers good insight into the mind of a Silicon Valley mogul. – Filip Sufitchi, Software Engineer

2. Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling

As I rise up the career ladder, it becomes more and more apparent that soft skills like emotional intelligence are as important, if not more so, than the hard skills we all worked so hard to develop. This book flips the concept of management and leadership on its head by allowing the reader to understand that interpersonal relationships in the workforce may just be our most powerful “to develop” area of our entire careers. – McLean Robbins, Director, Content Strategy

3. Emotional Intelligence 2.0

If you’re working for yourself, you have to wear multiple hats, which means interacting with many different types of people in many different capacities. You can’t just push off the sales work or the client relationship work off to someone else while you do all of the solo delivery work. If an independent contractor has trouble building and maintaining good relationships, or just wants to get even better at it, this book will help develop those skills. – Cyndi Zaino, Director, Digital Marketing and Customer Experience

4. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

I strongly recommend this book, as it is incredibly valuable in showing the virtues of hard work and what one can accomplish when they stick to their moral values, even in a world where cheating and underhanded deals are the norm. – Dayna Mabry, Senior Project Specialist

5. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

As an independent, you value your client relationships, and the last thing you’d want to do is damage that relationship because your sub-contractors haven’t met client expectations or plain just haven’t done things the way you would have. Helping your sub-contractors understand how to deliver unexpected and unbelievable service to your clients is critical for an independent when they un-expectantly need to scale but deliver to the same standards. – Cyndi Zaino, Director, Digital Marketing and Customer Experience

6. Think and Grow Rich

This choice may be obvious to some, but the book is a classic, nonetheless. The book, originally published in 1937, tells the story of an interview with Andrew Carnegie, in which Carnegie hints at a “master power” he used to achieve his entrepreneurial success. – John Piazza, Senior VP, Solutions Delivery

7. Start Your Own Consulting Business: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Success

[This book] provides the real basics for those looking to start their consulting business, and can also help serve as a refresher/reminder/re-inspirer to those just getting their businesses up and running. – Sara Conde, Director, Consultant Services

8. Smarter Better Faster:  The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

Running your own business, which I did in the early ‘10s, often means that you are required to be networking guru, development executive, pitch author, contract negotiator, bookkeeper, tax strategist, presentation binder, and, oh by the way, you have to get the work that you’ve sold done. This requires a tremendous amount of time, energy and focus, so any opportunity to be more efficient is welcome! This book is in the vein of some of the “productivity hack” books out on the market today, but what’s different here is that each concept is reinforced with an anecdote – from companies such as Google to Disney – that demonstrates how these principles are applied. – Kris Stevens, VP Marketing

9. Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life

While this book may be basic and general to many, I love it. The book is a short read that carries a powerful message, and addresses the issues that may emerge from corporate change. It can be incredibly useful for independent professionals who may be afraid to take the leap into the consulting/contracting world. – Matt Small, Customer Experience Specialist

10. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

This book shares inspiring stories, expert insights, and actionable items and exercise, and some colorful language in educating growing professionals to stop holding themselves in their pursuit of the life and career the truly love. Witty, inspiring, and an easy read! – Lauren Stearns, UX Designer

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