Recommended Reading

Straight Talk, Big Profits!: 4 Keys to Unlock Your Business Potential
by Greg Crabtree

Take the mystery out of small business finance with this no-frills guide to understanding the numbers that will guide your business out of any financial black hole. Author Greg Crabtree, a successful accountant, small business advisor, and popular presenter, shows you how to use your firm’s key financial indicators as a basis for smart business decisions as you grow your firm from startup to $5 million (and, more!) in annual revenue. In this fascinating book you’ll discover:

  • Why your numbers are lying to you (and why you are the cause!)
  • How labor productivity is the key to profitability and simplifying human resource decisions
  • Why the amount of tax you pay is your #1 key performance indicator


Financial Intelligence
by Joe Knight

This accessible, jargon-free book is filled with engaging stories of real companies and gives nonfinancial managers the confidence to understand the nuances beyond the numbers. Inc. magazine calls it one of “the best, clearest guides to the numbers” on the market.



Built to Sell
by John Warrilow

Many business owners start companies in a search for more freedom. They want to control their own schedules. They want a higher level of compensation. And they often hope to retire with satisfaction from those labors. But most owners find themselves trapped in their own businesses because their companies can’t succeed without their involvement. Warrillow shows exactly what it takes to create a solid business that is valuable—and sellable whenever an owner wants out.




Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers
by Alexander Osterwalder and Alexander Osterwalder

Business Model Generation is a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers striving to defy outmoded business models and design tomorrow’s enterprises. If your organization needs to adapt to harsh new realities, but you don’t yet have a strategy that will get you out in front of your competitors, you need Business Model Generation. It features practical innovation techniques used today by leading consultants and companies worldwide, including 3M, Ericsson, Capgemini, Deloitte, and others.



The Automatic Customer
by John Warrilow

Having repeat customers is the lifeblood of any business. So how do you ensure a steady flow of repeat business? The secret—no matter what industry you’re in—is finding and keeping automatic customers.

These days you can conveniently purchase virtually anything you need through a subscription. According to John Warrillow, this emerging subscription economy offers huge opportunities to companies that know how to turn customers into subscribers. Automatic customers are the key to increasing cash flow, igniting growth and boosting the value of your company.
This book also shows you how to master the psychology of selling subscriptions and how to reduce churn and provides a roadmap for the essential statistics you need to measure the health of your subscription business.


by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He studies the riddles of everyday life—from cheating and crime to parenting and sports—and reaches conclusions that turn conventional wisdom on its head.  Freakonomics is a groundbreaking collaboration between Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning author, and journalist. Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, they show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives—how people get what they want or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing.




Keys to the Vault
by Keith Cunningham

If you have a great idea for a business but don’t know what to do next, this book was written for you. Keys to the Vault will help you finance your idea, ignite your business, and beat the odds. It covers everything you need to know, from how professional investors think to the nitty-gritty of developing a solid business plan and choosing the right legal and capital structure for your business. If you need the formula for finding the money and building a successful business, you will find it in Keys to the Vault.

The Ultimate Blueprint for an Insanely Successful Business
by Keith Cunningham

Candid and even blunt at times, businessman, entrepreneur, international speaker, and author, Keith Cunningham, reveals his core business principles, including why great operators get tired and how great business owners get rich. Cunningham outlines critical skills, tools, and strategies required to drive profits and maximize cash flow for any business, regardless of size or industry.

Getting to Plan B
by John Mullins and Randy Komisar

You have a new venture in mind. And you’ve crafted a business plan so detailed it’s a work of art. According to John Mullins and Randy Komisar, you shouldn’t get too attached to it. Getting to Plan B explains how new businesses are fraught with uncertainty and require real time changes to the plan in order to succeed. In fact, studies show that entrepreneurs who stick slavishly to their Plan A stand a greater chance of failing. The authors provide a rigorous process for stress testing your Plan A and determining how to alter it so your business makes money, solves customers’ needs, and endures. You’ll discover strategies for: Identifying the leap-of-faith assumptions hidden in your plan; Testing those assumptions and unearthing why the plan might not work; and reconfiguring the five components of your business model-revenue model, gross margin model, operating model, working capital model, and investment model-to create a sounder Plan B.



The Customer Funded Business
by John Mullins

More than two generations ago, the venture capital community (VCs, business angels, incubators and others) convinced the entrepreneurial world that writing business plans and raising venture capital were the foundations of any entrepreneurial endeavor. But the vast majority of fast-growing companies never take any venture capital. So where does the money come from to start and grow their companies? They get their cash from a much more agreeable and hospitable source: their customers! That’s exactly what some iconic brands such as Dell, Microsoft, Banana Republic, and other did. In The Customer Funded Business, best-selling author John Mullins uncovers five novel approaches that scrappy and innovative 21st century entrepreneurs have ingeniously adapted from these innovative icons:

  • Matchmaker models (Airbnb)
  • Pay-in-advance models (Threadless)
  • Subscription models (TutorVista)
  • Scarcity models (Vente Privee)
  • Service-to-product models (GoViral)

Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur lacking the start-up capital you need, an early-stage entrepreneur trying to get your cash-starved venture into take-off mode, an “intrapreneur” seeking funding within an established company, or an angel investor or mentor who supports high-potential ventures, this book offers the most sure-footed path to starting, financing, or growing your venture.

Financial Modeling for Business Owners and Entrepreneurs
by Tom Sawyer

Financial Modeling for Business Owners and Entrepreneurs: Developing Excel Models to Raise Capital, Increase Cash Flow, Improve Operations, Plan Projects, and Make Decisions may be one of the most important books any entrepreneur or manager in a small or medium-sized enterprise will read. It combines logical business principles and strategies with a step-by-step methodology for planning and modeling a company and solving specific business problems. You’ll learn to create operational and financial models in Excel that describe the workings of your company in quantitative terms and that make it far more likely you will avoid the traps and dead ends many businesses fall into. Written by serial entrepreneur and financial expert Tom Y. Sawyer, this book shows how to break your company into basic functional and operational components that can be modeled and be used to:

  • Raise capital for startup or any stage of growth
  • Plan projects and new initiatives
  • Make astute business decisions, including go/no-go assessments
  • Analyze ROI on your product development and marketing expenditures
  • Streamline operations, manage budgets, improve efficiency, and reduce costs

Value the business when it is time to cash out or merge

Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine
by Michael Michalowicz

Conventional accounting uses the logical (albeit, flawed) formula: Sales – Expenses = Profit. The problem is, humans run businesses, and humans aren’t always logical. Serial entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz has developed a behavioral approach to accounting to flip the formula: Sales – Profit = Expenses. Just as the most effective weight loss strategy is to limit portions by using smaller plates, Michalowicz shows that by taking profit first and apportioning only what remains for expenses, entrepreneurs canl transform their businesses from cash-eating monsters to profitable cash cows. Using Michalowicz’s Profit First system, readers will learn that:

  • Following 4 simple principles can simplify accounting and make it easier to manage a profitable business by looking at bank account balances.
  • A small, profitable business can be worth much more than a large business surviving on its top line
  • Businesses that attain early and sustained profitability have a better shot at achieving long-term growth


A Stake in the Outcome
by Jack Stack

No one knows more about building a culture of ownership than CEO Jack Stack, who’s been working on one for the past twenty years with his colleagues at SRC Holdings Corporation (formerly Springfield ReManufacturing Corporation). Along the way, they’ve turned their company into what Business Week has called a “management Mecca,” attracting thousands of people representing hundreds of businesses to SRC’s home in Springfield, Missouri. There the visitors learn how to incorporate the ideals and values of SRC’s remarkable corporate culture into their own organizations–and then they go back and do it.

In A Stake in the Outcome, Jack Stack, CEO of what Business Weekhas called a “management Mecca,” offers a master class on creating a culture of ownership, presenting the hard-won lessons of his own twenty-year journey and explaining what it really takes to build for long-term success. Stack discovered that long-term success required constant innovation–and that building a culture of ownership involved much more than paying bonuses, handing out stock options, or setting up an employee stock ownership plan.

A Stake in the Outcome isn’t about theory–it’s about practice. Stack draws from his own successes and failures at SRC to show how any company can teach its employees to think and act like owners, including how to implement an effective equity-sharing program, how to promote continuous learning at every level of the organization, how to fire up employees’ competitive juices, how to broaden the concept of leadership and delegate responsibility for the business, and how to build a workforce that is fast on its feet and ready to take advantage of every opportunity.




Spoiler alert! Cash Flow Storyisn’t actually a book! It’s a website that simply offers what Verne Harnish (Scaling Up) calls some of “the easiest and most practical tool for scaling a firm’s cash flow. That provides your leadership team real insight into the 7 critical levers for driving valuation. There is no simpler tool to give real visibility into the financial workings of your firm.” Cash Flow Story has been designed so that both financial and non-financial people can understand the numbers. They’ve eliminated accounting jargon and made complex concepts simple, so that everyone can understand and enjoy talking about the numbers with an ultimate objective to improve the profit, cash and value of their business.