From the high-concept ideas to the nitty-gritty details, plenty of entrepreneurs think they need to do it all on their own…
But that doesn’t mean they won’t need help along the way.
No matter what it is about your business that you want to improve, someone out there has probably come up with a few successful solutions. They might be lurking in a book, hiding in a podcast, or waiting to be heard at one of your local small business organization meetings.
So why not find them?
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, after all. Just find the right business resources to learn from—and you’re good to go.
Whether you’re trying to grasp the fundamental economics behind the business you want to run, understand how to market or manage or price or seek financing (or anything else you want to know), or just make the ins and outs of running your business a little simpler and smarter, you’ll need to learn from some of the best tried-and-true business resources.
From popular websites and applications to business podcasts, news sources, thought leaders, books, organizations, and more, our list of 45 business resources will help you start, run, and succeed with the business you want to own.
(We’ve also got an infographic down at the bottom if you want to share with a friend!)
Best Business Resources: 10 Great Books
There are countless books that the hungry entrepreneur can use as business resources. From self-help and motivational stories to management advice—and even economics textbooks—your local library is as good a resource as any.
We picked out just an armful of books that all business owners should read if they want to grow their business, feel more motivated, and make smart decisions.
1. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
In this world-class bestseller, Stephen Covey explains 7 behaviors he has observed in successful people of all kinds, from managers to parents.
His 7 steps can help you diagnose problems in your business, gain the motivation you need to work hard, and find that sense of accomplishment that all small business owners should have. Reading this book would go a long way in making you feel sure of your career choices—and entrepreneurs, especially, could always use some encouragement that their difficult path is a worthwhile one.
2. The Networking Survival Guide
By Diane Darling, this valuable guide will teach you the skills to create and cultivate a professional network—one of the most important tools in every business owner’s toolbox.
Whether you want to look for financing, new employees to hire, stellar business advice, or interested clients, a network of people with overlapping experience and interests can go a long way.
3. The War of Art
Steven Pressfield originally published The War of Art to inspire writers to follow their creative impulses. But it’s become recognized as a source of energy and motivation for anyone pursuing their passions, from dancers and painters to business owners, too.
If you sometimes feel like your energy or dedication is at a low point—or you question whether running a small business is worth all the work—then this book could help remind you of the big reasons you started that company in the first place.
4. Lean In
By Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, this famous book looks at the relationship between women and work. Whether or not you’re female, Lean In can help you understand what it takes to put your best foot forward and to ditch the big worries you have over your career.
5. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Autonomy, mastery, and purpose: these are the 3 things that Daniel Pink says motivates us to work hard in this great business resource.
By looking at the scientific data behind motivation and comparing it to how businesses and individuals actually try to motivate themselves in practice, Daniel Pink shows us just what we’re doing wrong—and how we can do better. For entrepreneurs looking to grow their teams or feel more motivated by their own ventures, this isn’t a book to miss.
6. How to Win Friends & Influence People
An oldie but a goodie, Dale Carnegie’s book was an overnight sensation because it hit on all the best truths about human nature—and tied them to personal and professional success.
There are no easy tricks or simple life hacks here. Dale’s suggestions are all deep and thoughtful, ranging from “Treat others as though they have the virtues you wish they had” to “Remember people’s names!” This is timeless advice that anyone—and especially an entrepreneur—can make good use of.
7. Delivering Happiness
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, discusses the importance of company culture on a business’s bottom line success. If you’re looking to build a business that grows and has a serious impact on its employees, invest in company culture, customer service, and happiness across the board—and your business will thank you.
8. Built to Last
By Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, this book delves into the habits of companies that have found great success, from startups to massive organizations. If you’ve ever been curious what makes those world-famous companies (like Disney) grow to be industry powerhouses, look no further for a business resource to show you the answer.
9. Crush It!
Gary Vaynerchuck will show you “why now is the time to cash in on your passion” by using the Internet to turn your hobby into your career. And it’s not all just lip service: he transformed his family’s wine store into a national company, then developed himself as a definitive source of business information and advice. Crush It! will teach you how to dream big—and accomplish those business goals you’ve dreamt up.
10. Creativity, Inc.
Written by Ed Catmull, one of the original founders of Pixar, this book will inspire you to follow your passions with determination—and intelligence. Part memoir, part management training, this is a book you won’t want to put down… And one that will change how you run your small business.
Best Business Resources: 10 Fascinating Podcasts
Prefer to learn with headphones on? Or is your morning commute the ideal time to think about those big business ideas?
If so, you’re in luck.
We’re lucky enough to be living in the golden age of podcasts, and there’s no shortage of business resources in the podcasting world. Check out just a few of the top business resources you can stream in the subway or play in your car.
Created by Alex Blumberg, former NPR employee-turned-entrepreneur, StartUp takes its first season to go through the trials, challenges, and successes of Blumberg’s own startup venture. Its second season then analyzes Dating Ring, a female-led startup.
Every episode is chock full of experience, advice, and useful tips for those thinking of launching their own businesses—plus, it’s an entertaining way to learn how to run your own business.
2. Entrepreneur On Fire
Run by John Lee Dumas and published 7 days a week, this podcast hosts a different entrepreneur each episode for a half hour absolutely stuffed with words of wisdom. Listen to the failures and wins of an entrepreneur every single day, learn from their mistakes, and get motivated by your fellow small business owners.
3. Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
This podcast’s name might be a mouthful… But at least you know what you’re getting into.
Each week you can tune in to hear a lecture by a Stanford business school professor, a venture capitalist, or a successful startup founder—all for free. If you’re looking for big lessons and major takeaways you can use for your own business, this isn’t a podcast to miss.
4. Breaking Down Your Business
If you’re looking for short and sweet business resources only, search no further than Breaking Down Your Business. Each episode is only 20 minutes, centered around “5 Things” you’ll learn (like networking), useful tools, and other small business advice.
5. Business Insanity Talk Radio
Run by Barry Moltz, Business Insanity Talk Radio dives deep into what “gets small businesses unstuck.” If you want a meaty podcast that you’ll enjoy listening to—and learning from—then this might be the business resource for you. There are also a number of notable guests on the show.
6. The Bottom Line
If conversation is more your style, check out The Bottom Line. Evan Davis hosts a roundtable discussion of business ownership and management each episode, tackling tough problems that entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes will face.
7. Home Work
Does you run your business from home? If so, Home Work will help you with issues that plague telecommuters, freelancers, and home-based entrepreneurs alike. Look into this weekly podcast—or even submit your own questions for them to discuss—if you fit the bill.
This Week in Startups, or TWIST, looks into a different startup company each week, as well as industry-wide trends that could affect anyone. While StartUp spends a full season digging into a startup, TWIST more quickly to analyze what went right—and wrong—for the entrepreneurs they host.
Like many of the business resource podcasts on this list, Mixergy features famous company founders and industry experts to share their advice.
What sets it apart, though, is that Mixergy comes in both audio and video formats. If you prefer, you can watch Mixergy whenever you want. Or if not, you can also download the audio and give it a listen instead. Depending on how you focus and learn best, this option could make a big difference.
10. The Economist
Last but not least, The Economist magazine has a podcast that could definitely help you understand bigger trends in the economy or ideas in business management. It might not be as full of direct small business advice, but there’s still plenty you can learn from and act on.
Best Business Resources: 10 Community Forums
Sometimes the best way to learn isn’t from a book, article, or podcast.
It’s old fashioned, sure, but sometimes talking to other business owners can go a long way.
Not only can you make connections to business owners in your area or industry, but you’ll also have a chance to candidly ask questions, listen to advice, learn from mistakes, and even teach others in a judgement-free zone.
Take a peek at these forums where small business owners help each other out—so everyone can succeed.
It might not be directed solely to business owners, but Quora has a strong entrepreneurial presence and plenty of industry leaders online who can answer your tough questions.
Just keep in mind that some people use Quora to promote themselves, so the answers you get might not always be 100% accurate—or bias-free, at least.
From marketing and management to taxes, accounting, payroll, and much more, SmallBusinessForum.net is truly by the people, for the people. There aren’t many better places to seek out honest business experience and advice from people eager to help.
The above two forums aren’t too different—so why not post your problems on both and see the different answers they come up with.
On SmallBusinessForums.org, by the way, you can also find professionals to help you with marketing, financial planning, and so on. These are great business resources that no entrepreneur should leave unexamined.
4. QuickBooks Forums
That’s right—your accounting software has a community forum dedicated to small business. Whether you’ve got questions on taxes, vendor payments, accounting reports, or even just starting a company, give these boards a visit.
5. Warrior Forum
If you run—or would like to run—an Internet-based business, then the Warrior Forum should be your first stop. Full of blogs, social media, a product marketplace, and the hottest tips on Internet marketing around, this forum is a gem for online business owners.
6. Bank of America Business Forum
Got a question about your business credit cards? Looking for a line of credit? Want to know whether you should self-finance or look for equity or a loan? Best resources like these can help answer your dilemmas, and this forum would be the right place to go.
It’s not a traditional forum, but LinkedIn has an extensive network of business-oriented groups where you can read helpful advice, ask questions, and solve problems. Plus, being active on LinkedIn groups will garner you respect and attention—that your business could benefit from.
Alignable is a forum with a deep foundation in relationships. Finding and meeting local business owners, coordinating customer referrals, and getting the best advice around: those are what Alignable wants you to be able to do with ease.
Sometimes general business advice just doesn’t cut it. You need to get industry-specific.
That’s where FohBoh comes in—if you manage a restaurant, at least. Discuss restaurant-related problems like tipping and loyalty programs with other like-minded professionals to get the best insights on issues that are actually affecting your small business.
10. CNET Small Business Forum
If you’ve got technical questions—ranging from what mobile devices are better for entrepreneurs to which manufacturers make the best hardware—then CNET, a technical site, is the place to go. You get to profit from the experience and expertise of business owners who also happen to be very technically inclined!
Best Business Resources: 5 Small Business Organizations
Depending on the kind of advice you’re looking for, online forums might just not cut it. While they can be valuable for a number of reasons—ease of access and convenience for starters—you do miss out on the human connection that can actually make a big difference.
That’s why you should look at these business organizations, too. Meeting real fellow business owners in the flesh and blood can go a long way, whether or not you have a pressing business problem to solve.
Maybe you’ll get great advice or a business mentor when you weren’t even looking, or maybe some of the entrepreneurs you meet won’t help you until months or years down the road.
Either way, local small business organizations are an important resource for entrepreneurs who want to always be growing. These are just a few general recommendations, so be sure to look out for more specific groups in your area.
1. SBA Community Groups
While you might recognize the Small Business Administration as the institution that partially guarantees affordable loans for small businesses, the SBA has many different initiatives to help entrepreneurs succeed.
Arguably one of the best resources out there, the SBA includes regional and district offices you can go to if you want to meet other business owners, take classes and bootcamps, learn more about business financing, secure special contracting opportunities, and much more.
Don’t miss out on everything the SBA offers! Connect with your local peers and learn the best practices to managing your small business.
Connected to the SBA is SCORE, a humongous network of business mentors that spans across the country.
And the best part?
It’s absolutely, completely, 100% free.
These volunteer mentors will help you create a business plan and find customers, increase your profit and customer satisfaction, and juggle your work life with your personal life. No matter what kind of entrepreneur you are or what sort of business you run, SCORE can help.
3. Local Chamber of Commerce
There’s often a small membership fee, but joining your local Chamber of Commerce could pay off in a big way. More than 3 million businesses across the country belong.
You’ll get the opportunity to meet other business owners—which is especially useful if you’re running a B2B company, since they could become your customers down the road—and you can get your business featured in local conventions and trade shows, too. Plus, you’ll have access to professional development workshops, exclusive newsletters, and even FedEx shipping discounts. As far as business resources go, your local Chamber of Commerce is a big one.
It might sound a little too simple, but even joining local meetups on websites like Meetups.com can help your business out.
By getting to know other business owners in your area, you’ll have a group of people who understand what your obstacles are like—and what your victories mean. You can celebrate or commiserate together, brainstorm ideas for each others’ companies, ask for and offer advice, or even come up with unexpected partnerships.
And, at least, you get the chance to make a few friends who understand the daily joys and struggles of being a small business owner.
5. Industry & Trade Associations
Do some research or take a look at some lists of trade associations to find some you might belong to. Joining an industry or trade association will give you access to business resources like special directories, conferences, events, and classes, as well as business purchase discounts, insurance, and more, depending on your association.
There are also associations for women, minorities, and veteran entrepreneurs with similar business resources available—so make sure to look into all your small business opportunities for learning and growth!
Best Business Resources: 10 Informative News Outlets
Moving past advice, tools, and networking, there’s another business resource all entrepreneurs should be tapping into:
Small business news.
What’s happening in your industry, your neighborhood, and your economy can have a big impact on your business. Staying informed will help you manage your company as smartly as possible—and these business resources will help.
1. Business 2 Community
A magazine with over 10,000 contributors, Business 2 Community discusses topics as diverse as the global economy, entertainment, and new technology.
2. Venture Beat
If you’re looking for news on cutting edge technology and entrepreneurship, VentureBeat—read by Mark Zuckerberg—is the way to go. Though they cover a wide range of issues, you can look especially at the small business section for relevant news.
Covering every small business topic under the sun, SmallBizDaily (started by our very own writer Rieva Lesonsky) is a great business resource no matter what your interests are. They also run a weekly small business newsletter that summarizes the notable events that you can subscribe to if you’re crunched on time.
4. National Federation of Independent Businesses
The NFIB, with over 325,000 member businesses, is a strong force in state and federal governments. It’s also one of those priceless business resources that most entrepreneurs should take advantage of: their website offers news and commentary on relevant current affairs, as well as educational content.
5. Entrepreneurship Section of The New York Times
Whether or not you live in New York, the Entrepreneurship section of the New York Times brings together compelling profiles of business owners alongside high-quality news reporting.
6. Above the Fold, Chamber of Commerce
Joining your local Chamber of Commerce will help you meet other business owners—but there’s more to this government institution. Check out the national chapter’s Above the Fold section to learn more about national and international issues relating to business, the economy, technology,
7. Fit Small Business
Fit Small Business is less about news and more about reviews: what software, equipment, and services are best (or not) for small businesses. Looking for vetted tools you can use to help your company out? Fit Small Business can help.
8. National Retail Federation
The National Retail Federation’s newsletter will help you learn the data behind recent retail trends—including holiday buying behavior and how the economy will affect retail spending, and in which industries. If you own a retail small business, consider becoming a member of the NRF.
9. Small Biz Answers
Part news, part “actionable” articles that can teach you how to run a better business, the Twitter feed Small Biz Answers is updated daily with new articles for you to check out. It’s also connected to yet another forum for you to run those entrepreneurial ideas by other business owners and find out what others think about them.
10. Small Business Trends
Small Business Trends is exactly what you’d expect—plus cartoons. Besides their articles on the latest in small business, this site offers other guides and tools for aspiring entrepreneurs, a downloadable magazine, and a humor section for when you need to take a quick break.
No matter who you are or what sort of business you’re running, finding the right business resources will help you learn, connect, stay informed, and move forward.
The life of an entrepreneur is a busy one—but by finding the right mentors, websites, books, and newsletters, you can tackle more challenges and watch your business succeed.
Plus, here’s your bonus infographic: