20 Business Books Recommended by Entrepreneurs

20 Business Books Recommended by Entrepreneurs

We all need a pick-me-up every once in a while, whether it comes in the form of a compelling novel, a heartwarming self-help book, or a business book with a little inspiration. We collected some of the best business books according to our Forge members. Check out our list of the best business books below, complete with an opinion of why this book was chosen by each person!
  • Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
    • “Growing up a terrible student, this book gave me hope I could build a business!” – Sam Hill of Big Lead Gen. Inc.
  • Good to Great by Jim Collins
    • “One quote I’ve never forgotten from it is, ‘To go from good to great means transcending the curse of competence.’ This has been a core value in my professional life for the past two decades years, and the mission, vision and goals of our company are really built on the foundation of that premise.” – Jennifer Solt of 24 Communications
  • Weird in a World That’s Not by Jennifer Romolini
    • “This book had a huge impact on me as a reminder that you can stay true to yourself and when you’re with a company that wants to change you, you’re in the wrong place.” Rebecca Dobrinski
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
    • “I think it’s fascinating to consider why people, and organizations, act the way they act.” – Donnie Garvich of Two Ravens




  • The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
    • “It goes deep into the (at the time new) idea that by being true to your rabid fans, you can generate a stronger business over time. So instead of trying to sell the lowest common denominator product, target exactly who you want with what *they* want. Lots of good crunchy examples too.” – Scott Pierce of Two Ravens
  • Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail
    • “This book demonstrates how any organization can streamline growth and accelerate it using technology and nine other core characteristics. Any business hoping to avoid becoming a slow, inefficient company should adopt what Ismail outlines in his research.” – Josh Rhodes of Big Lead Gen Inc.
  • The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
    • “It helped me think strategically about making foundations decisions about starting my business.” – Jacqueline Jones of One Degree MMM
  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
    • “Great book on human behavior and how we make decisions. I reread it every other year or so because it’s that good.
      – Perry Still of HNS Partners




  • What Should I Do With My Life? by Po Bronson
    • “It helped me rethink my priorities and long term goals.” – Alex Grodner of Cambria Solutions
  • A Sense of Something Greater: Zen and the Search for Balance in Silicon Valley by Les Kaye and Teresa Bouza
    • “I enjoyed the book because the authors bring together interviews of and short pieces by people who work in the tech industry, offering advice on how to deal with the high stress, burnout, etc. that modern work produces. Even though it’s focused on Silicon Valley, the concepts apply anywhere.” – Kerry Smith of ecoTexual
  • Zero to One by Peter Theil
    • “This book is a must read for entrepreneurs. Peter push’s you to become a contrarian and shares many of his most thought provoking insights.” – Connor Hand of Big Lead Gen Inc.
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
    • “Lencioni breaks down the building blocks for an effective team. By writing the team in a fable it is very practical and very easy to apply to your own organization. You can easily read the entire book in a few hours and walk away with a clear understanding of the building blocks that need to be in place to create a team that will function cohesively. Implementing all of the building blocks is a much tougher process, but you finish the book with a framework of where you should be headed.” – Kim Lee of Forge





  • A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink
    • “It’s my recommended read for every new graduate or person trying to figure out what they want to do in life. Helped me understand work and career beyond the boundaries of academic majors and industry definitions.” Autumn Foster of Quire Consulting
  • How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg
    • “If you are looking for a primer on how misinterpreting data leads to bad decisions, look no further.” – Nathan McMinn of MNMX.io
  • The Third Door by Alex Banayan
    • “Not only is it full of advice form some of the world’s greatest business leaders. But the documentation of what Alex Banayan went through to make the book possible is absolutely amazing at the least. This book is a great example of the kind of relentlessness that is necessary to bring big dreams to reality.” – Stanley Stevenson of Stevenson Designs
  • The Accidental Salesperson by Chris Lytle
    • “It talks about how sales techniques are essential across all industries whether you are in marketing or a dentist.” – Russell Hooks of Happenins In The Ham




  • Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
    • “Social media has made us writers but the majority of us aren’t professional writers. Our words carry our marketing messages. Everybody Writes is a go-to guide for how to communicate well in writing in order to attract and retain customers.” – Donna Gilliland of MOSTraining
  • Management by Peter Drucker
    • “So much is changing in our world, and some things don’t change – focus on leading people, focus on doing the right things and not just doing things right. This book really helps cut through a lot of the noise you find in most business books.” – Austin Senseman of MNMX.io
  • The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
    • “When we were first starting out, my business partner, Krista Baker, and I were energized by The $100 Startup. It reinforced for us the notion that you already have what you need to change course and create what you want; you just have to take action.” – Kelli Eldridge of Race Quest Travel
  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott
    • “In the South, we are raised to not say anything at all if we don’t have anything nice to say.  Walking on eggshells and talking around the truth restricts the ability to develop your team, and brutal honesty can do the same by making you out to be an asshole.  I like Radical Candor because it clearly illustrates how personally caring for your team earns you the right to challenge them directly.” Trey Noland of Trek EC






How To Start a Podcast

How To Start a Podcast

Do you love podcasts? Have you ever thought about starting one? If so, we’ve got valuable insight from Knox McCoy and Jamie Golden of The Popcast. They have over 1800 five star reviews on iTunes podcasts- so we can trust what they say. The Popcast is a weekly pop culture podcast and if you’ve never listened to it, you can download it here.


Knox McCoy, Erin Moon (The Popcast COO) and Jamie Golden


Here are some things to think about before you record….


What’s Your Goal?

  • Build an audience. A sticky one.
  • Build a personal connection to your existing audience.
  • Create valuable and reusable content.
  • Develop your speaking skills.
  • Make money!


Do everything in your power to figure out who is your listener avatar. And when looking for hosting software, Knox and Jamie suggest Libsyn and PodBean. The most important thing is making 100% sure you own your content!


What is your show’s format?




When producing content, let your mission/vision inform your content. Knox and Jamie believe that the three components of an excellent podcast are repetition, an early call-to-action and crazy valuable content.


Of course podcasting software is important- The Popcast uses Garage Band but they also suggest Audacity as a great option. Knox and Jamie both record from “studios” in their own homes- Jamie uses a large closet so there’s no need to be fancy. Just make sure you limit your hard surfaces using blankets and curtains.


Knox and Jamie never record together in person- they are always in their own homes so they use Call Recorder for Skype to record their dialogue! Look it up if you plan to podcast with another person in separate locations.


Editing is very important- will you subcontract it or learn to edit yourself? Knox is the editor of The Popcast and he admits its not easy. It can take him several hours to edit one episode. They provided a couple of screenshots of their editing software to show a before and after.




Think about what you want the length of your show to be and stick with it! Knox and Jamie feel like 20-30 minutes is the sweet spot for most audiences.


5-10 Minutes : Up First

20-30 Minutes: The Daily

45-60 Minutes: The Popcast


One of the last steps is to get feedback- not just from your family and friends. Send it off to other podcasters to get their opinion!


Now you’re ready to give it to the world! Upload it to iTunes, Spotify and Google Play.





But you might be asking yourself, how do I find listeners?

  • Be sure you’ve made something good.
  • Experiment with social media.
  • Ask your listeners to share.
  • Track the analytics.
  • Listener surveys!
  • Network with other podcasters (conferences are good opportunities!)
  • Be ready to spend some money.


HUGE thanks to Knox and Jamie for sharing all of their wisdom and secrets with us! Be sure to check out The Popcast if you haven’t already!





Learn more about coworking at Forge in Birmingham and meet Kim Lee, founder of Forge

Learn more about coworking at Forge in Birmingham and meet Kim Lee, founder of Forge

This article was written by Lauren Bedford for Bham Now!


Have you ever wondered what coworking is? Have you seen #workatforge floating around Instagram or Facebook? Do you work remotely or from home? Self employed? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be interested in learning about Forge coworking space.


What is Forge?


Forge is currently Birmingham’s first and only professional coworking space. Other coworking spaces in Birmingham include The Hub, MAKE Bham and Social Venture. Forge is currently the only coworking space that is geared toward professionals only. A coworking space is a space from which all kinds of people can work. This includes entrepreneurs, those who work remotely, and the self-employed creatives with big dreams. The facilities at Forge are state of the art and the space is stylishly decorated. Kim Lee, founder and CEO, is committed to those that call Forge their home 40+ hours a week and does everything she can to make sure they have what they need.


Forge is located in the Pizitz building and overlooks the Food Hall. The working space runs around the edges of the building. Next time you’re grabbing a drink at The Louis or breakfast from Alabama Biscuit Co., look up. See those people? They’re working in Forge.



Happy Birthday, Forge!


Forge recently celebrated its first year of business with a lunch party. There was balloons, champagne, lunch catered by Ono Poke and cupcakes. The Forge community came together for a celebration of the space and the founders. After just one year, the space was full of people celebrating and spending time together — a huge testament to the supportive environment found at Forge.


A Little Background


The fearless leader: Kim Lee, Founder of Forge


Lee has a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Samford, and a Master’s in Counseling from Covenant College. Her first job after graduation was for a window-washing company as a business-development team member. Though this seems like a sharp detour from a path that would lead to coworking, Lee cites this job as the place where she really fell in love with business in this way — business as service and hospitality.


“When we moved back to Birmingham and I went back to work, I discovered this concept of coworking. I thought to myself, ‘This, somehow, combines everything we love. We love building community, serving the city, growing the city, providing ways for people to work and building an ecosystem for small businesses.’”


Some people may come to lament the fact their job becomes monotonous, the same thing day in and day out. That is not the case when running Forge. Kelsey Sizemore, Marketing and Community Manager at Forge, feels like there is never a dull day — and that is one of her favorite things about working at Forge. She also notes one of her favorite things as the fact that she gets to meet so many different types of people based on all the unique people that call Forge their work home.



“I like the variety of getting to interact with a lot of people here. It’s fun that there are people doing a lot of really different jobs, so I get exposed to a lot of different things I never would have known about otherwise.”


Apart from the difficulty of finding the perfect downtown location, Lee basically had the idea from the start and has been able to execute her plan well. Although Forge opened later than she had originally planned, it has been an immense success and something that brings both her and Forge members joy and utility everyday.


How Does Bham Feel About Coworking?


The response from the community has been supportive and people are very interested in the concept of coworking. Not only that, but people are coming from all over to check out Forge. Many of the companies that work from Forge have noticed that their client meetings tend to be onsite simply because people really want to check out Forge and see what’s going on. That is definitely a perk of working from Forge — everyone wants to come to you!


The kitchenette on site features fruit-infused water, coffee, tea and snacks. The black / brown / white / gold color scheme is modern but still funky and creative. Natural light floods the workspace. Forge features three conference rooms, plenty of workspace, rentable desks and full offices available for rent. The location is unmatched, especially when the lunch hour rolls around. You can easily pop downstairs to the Pizitz Food Hall and choose from poke bowls, sandwiches, mediterranean food and more.


Lee is also dedicated to furthering the education of all Forge members. She hosts events like lunch-and-learns and happy hours that allow members to meet each other and learn more. Events held include marketing seminars, discussions on small businesses and more.



Forge Testimonials


“Working at Forge has reinvigorated my business. I am more motivated, productive, and fulfilled now that I have the balance of self-employment and workplace culture. The best professional decision I have made was to move to Birmingham and start my own company…the second was to develop this company while working at Forge.” – Suzanne Humphries, Interior Designer


“Since day one there has really been a sense of community and collaboration at Forge. There is something to be said for the creative and entrepreneurial spirit you find here, that you can’t find working from home or your typical office.” – Connor Hand, Agent Leads for Big Gen Inc.


“I’ve been working at Forge for a year now.  I have found a strong sense of community working at Forge.  The familiar faces and great business connections really have helped me as an entrepreneur and my company move forward.   Kim and Kelsey have been so wonderful and helpful every single day. The events that happen at Forge are so helpful to the journey of a small business owner.  I’m grateful to have them happening right there in my workspace. I can partake of continuing education while I eat lunch and still stay focused and on track with work.  Working at Forge has been a game changer for my journey as a small business owner and I’m grateful to work there.” – Jacqueline Jones, Owner of One Degree MMM Marketing and Creative Agency



3 New Birmingham Business Concepts

3 New Birmingham Business Concepts

On September 18, we hosted our second pitch night at Forge. Your Big Idea is a place for entrepreneurs to share their new business concepts in front of panelists and an audience to receive valuable feedback. We love celebrating the growing small business community in Birmingham! We want to tell you more about these 3 new businesses.


1. It’s Poppin! Vintage

Keisha Paige Drammeh recently moved to Birmingham from Detroit and she’s settling into the entrepreneurship community here! In both Detroit and Atlanta, Keisha sold vintage clothing online but she’s looking to start something new in the Magic City. It’s Poppin! Vintage will be a sustainable cultural arts boutique for young kids. Keisha has a talent for finding used clothes and recycling them.



Vintage vs Modern: The Need for Sustainable Practice

  • 64% of Americans reported they throw out used clothing instead of donating
  • 62% threw clothing away because they didn’t think anyone would take them
  • 26 million lbsof clothing & textiles go into land fills each year yet 95% could bereusedor recycled



Keisha focuses on recycle, reuse and repurpose! There are no art programs in Birmingham that specify in sustainable fashion so Keisha will be filling in this gap. She has secured a location in East Lake for these classes but she is still working through details to begin the program soon! Be sure to follow her on Instagram and see updates of her progress!


2. Access BHM


Kennan Henderson is the Founder and CEO of Access BHM– a new way to earn rewards for helping the Birmingham community! Birmingham citizens want to improve their community but they don’t know how. Access BHM is a way to generate local charity, philanthropy and activism. It’s also a method for promoting local businesses and entrepreneurs.



Join the Access BHM club to get access to everything from free meals around town, to free activities like local runs, bowling, rock climbing, daycare and even free access to some of the biggest and brightest events in Birmingham. Access BHM members hold the power to choose what events they host and sponsor each month. The top 3 ideas are voted on by members!



We can’t wait to see Access BHM as it grows! Check out there Instagram account here.


3. S(w)ervice


Thomas Walker started S(w)ervice– an auto-tech startup company that provides digital service experiences to independent auto shop owners and their customers. S(w)ervice makes auto maintenance easy! They help auto shops maximize engagement value by providing faster and easier customer experiences with auto valet.



4 Key Services that Solve the Digital Gap Between Auto Shops and Customers:

  1. On- Demand Auto Valet
  2. 1:1 Customer Communication
  3. Data and Social Insights
  4. Meaningful Outreach



S(w)ervice focuses on:

Revolutionizing the customer experience for automotive retailers.

Developing digital experiences that break socioeconomic boundaries.

Repurposing routine car maintenance transactions into a purposeful opportunity to serve.


Thank you Gatehouse Law for sponsoring September’s pitch night. We love hosting Your Big Idea and look forward to the next one on October 16! RSVP by clicking here. Your Big Idea is free and open to the public!




5 Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Make Concerning Holiday Sale Season

5 Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Make Concerning Holiday Sale Season

Forge Member Jacqueline Jones of One Degree MMM wrote a blog post to warn small business owners as they prepare for the holiday sale season. Pay attention entrepreneurs! You need this info:


We all know that holiday season comes at the same time every year.  But for some reason, entrepreneurs and small business owners tend to treat it, each year, as though it’s a brand new concept.


Jacqueline Jones of One Degree MMM



While complaining about big box stores having their Christmas decorations up in October, they neglect to turn their attention to their own brand’s holiday plans.


Because the words holiday and sale are practically synonymous in the United States, let’s address where small business owners fall short in taking advantage of a seeming buffet of open wallets and thoughtless spending consumers.


5. Small Businesses Fail to Establish Their Marketing Process in Advance.


Figuring it out as you go along shows that you didn’t believe that your products would fly off the shelves or your services would book to capacity.  In a perfect world, small business owners would establish a sales funnel that met prospective buyers at each level of their journey of interaction with their brand.


Marketing at each step helps to push your audience closer and closer to their final commitment.  Further, it gives the business owner something to track to figure out where the sale gets lost in translation.


Establish your process and work on your sales funnel.  If you don’t know how to pull this plan together, consult with a marketing professional to get on the right track!


4. Small Business Don’t Engage Their Audience Before The Ask.


Unfortunately, a large number of small business owners don’t speak to their audience until they have something to sell.   That’s never really a good idea.  It’s a worse idea in the busiest sales season of the year.  Further, most small businesses primarily use social media as a way to promote and advertise their product or service.   By now, we all know that algorithms favor those who are consistent.



Once you’ve made a plan for your sale, turn your attention to what you will do between now and that sale.  Interacting with your customers will help build your relationship to both avoid being ignored because you only show up when you want money, and rank higher in platform algorithms.  Interacting with your audience may even lead you to adjust what services or products you’ve chosen to highlight for your holiday sale.   Put your ear to the streets early!



3. Small Business Don’t Invest in Promotion or Advertising to Increase Brand and Sale Awareness.


If only letting your circle friends know what you have to offer is enough for you to grow your business, GREAT!  KEEP AT IT!  If you are looking to scale your business and pick up new customers and clients during this busy sale season, start now figuring out what you can budget to support your fantastic holiday sale.



We’ve all heard the phrase, “You have to spend money to make money.” Well, it’s true.  Social media, Google, and other platforms practically do the work for you.  Your job as the marketer of your brand is to research to figure out what will work best, then put your money where your audience is.



2. Small Business Don’t Ask The Price That Generates Revenue.


The word “sale” can quickly make small business owners forget they have a bottom line.  Getting caught up in the competition of it all makes brands feel forced to go lower and lower on the price curve.    Stand your ground.  Ask what you’re worth, even while it’s on sale.



The first step to accomplishing is having done the work of understanding your pricing in the first place.  Since you’re starting early, if you haven’t done so, do it.  Then stand tall and ask for the sale.


1. Small Business Wait Until The Last Minute To Make Holiday Sale Decisions.


You can’t possibly be surprised by this.   This #1 mistake is the entire reason why this post exists.  My team and I strive to help business owners level the sale season playing field single-handedly.


For this reason, I’ve introduced a new and limited-time consultation.


Check out the Small Business Holiday Prep Consultation available now through October 15!


Go on… GO BE GREAT! 🔥