The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey – This is all about personal finances but it doesn’t matter how successful your business is if all the money that comes home is poorly managed. This book can be a true life changer for you, your family, and your employees. Most people who follow Dave Ramsey’s teachings, specifically budgeting, feel like they got a raise. Want your employees to feel like they got a raise, pay for them to go through Financial Peace University (the class version of his teachings) or give them a copy of the book if they promise to read it. Showing you care about their personal finances (outside of work) makes a great impression on your employees and shows you care about them beyond just what they’ll do for you on the clock.
EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey – Even though some people disagree with some of his teachings, I’m a big fan of Dave Ramsey. His teachings and methods can really help people get control of their finances and pull themselves out of some really bad situations. This book is specific to running a business, something he’s been doing very successfully for a very long time.
The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton – This has a very different approach than Dave Ramsey, pretty much the complete opposite. It shows how simple it can be to automate the important financial things which can have some very significant results over time. More than worth a read. This isn’t a how-to on how to run a business, more of just a way to handle your finances which will have a big impact on your personal and business finances.
The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel – This is a great one on understanding why people misunderstand and make certain mistakes with money.
Everything I Know About Business I Learned at McDonalds by Paul Facella – You may not like McDonalds but no one can deny they know how to run a business. From how to treat the people working for you, to never being above picking up trash in the parking lot, this is a great book for business owners.
The Founder – The true story of how McDonalds got started. It shows the McDonald brothers with their innovative ways that made their original location so different from other similar restaurants at the time and completely changed the entire fast food industry forever. It shows how Ray Kroc managed to take the entire business from the brothers and turn it into the empire that it has become.
Moneyball – The true story of how a baseball team with a very small budget was able to find the most undervalued players and put together a team that was able to pull of a surprisingly successful season.
Chef – This is a really good movie on its own. It’s about a chef who leaves the stress of a nice expensive kitchen to clean out a nasty old food truck and work for himself. It shows a great appreciation of food and shows the attitude that can help a business owner succeed. There’s a scene where his son doesn’t understand why they re-make some sandwiches that didn’t come out properly for people who weren’t paying for them anyway. The father explains that if that’s what you do, you have to stand behind it 100% every time. If it’s not good enough, it’s not good enough, whether they’re paying or not.
There are many other movies that at least include work, employees, etc. Some are better than others, but most importantly, you’ll see how common the theme of mistreated or unappreciated employees is. There’s a reason why so many people relate to this and it should tell you how valuable it is to simply treat your employees well, even in the non-financial ways.
Some of these are great for understanding other businesses, some are more entertainment but still offer the opportunity to learn and gain a new perspective.
The Profit – Although sometimes a little dramatic and probably not purely documentary, this show does a really good job of getting into the details about why each business is struggling, what needs to be fixed, and how to fix it. It can really help get you thinking in a different way, a purely business perspective can help remove a lot of the influences that prevent business owners from making the changes they need to.
Startup – This PBS show is a mini-dive into multiple businesses each episode. Instead of drama and made up reality, it just talks to real business owners about how they got started, the challenges they’ve faced, etc.
The Food That Built America – This is a really engaging dive into the surprisingly dramatic and innovative ways that specific companies not only changed food, but also entire industries, manufacturing, etc. Some of the stories sound too dramatic to be real and the show does a great job of telling the stories.
Undercover Boss – Sometimes very dramatic, this show helps show how easy it is for the people in charge of leading a company to become so out of touch with their own businesses. It also shows the importance of training and treating your employees properly.
Shark Tank – Not my top choice anymore, but it is still a quick and to the point approach to businesses. Not quite as educational as some of the others, but it can still help with developing the perspective of an innovative business owner, even if your business isn’t all about innovation.