Why Reading Business Books May Actually Help You Get More Money
Let’s be honest. Most people read business books because they want to learn how to get more money. But, there may be a bit more to it than that. Let’s have a deeper look at the connection between reading habits and business success. To get started, let’s begin with a question.
What’s one habit that financially successfull CEOs and founders have in common?
They read. A LOT.
According to Sales & Marketing Executives International, those who read at least 7 business books per year earn more money.
In fact, they earn 2.3 times more than people who only read one book per year.
Reading seems to be one of the major habits successful people have in common. You may notice they often have beautiful bookshelves filled with books that have inspired them. They will often give credit to the books that taught them the secrets of their success.
Research by Tom Corley, author of “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals”, found that 85% of ‘rich people’ (i) read two or more education, career-related, or self-improvement books per month. That’s compared to only 15% of ‘poor people’ (ii).
Corley also found that 88% of rich people devoted 30 minutes or more each day to self-improvement reading.
When Warren Buffet was asked about the secret to his success,(iii) he said, “Read 500 pages every day.” He pointed to his stack of books and explained that knowledge is accumulated over time, “it builds up, like compound interest.”
A study of 1,200 wealthy people (iv) found that they ALL had reading in common as a pastime.
Bill Gates has said that he reads 50 books per year. Warren Buffet says he still devotes about 80% of his day to reading. Mark Cuban, billionaire entrepreneur, and Shark Tank investor reads for more than 3 hours per day.(v) When Elon Musk was asked how he learned how to build rockets he answered, “I read books.”(vi)
Tony Robbins says that a speed-reading course was his secret to reading 700 books in 7 years.(vii) They were all books on physiology, psychology, and anything else that could “make a difference in life.”
So, how can reading books teach you how to get more money?
For one, it’s important to set realistic expectations. The relationship between reading business books and earning more money is not a mathematical formula. The number of business books that you read will not increase your earning potential one for one.
Rather, there is a strong positive “correlation” between reading business books and respective business success. The correlation has more to do with 1. healthy reading habits (e.g., what you read, how you process that information, and how you apply your learned knowledge; and 2. important side benefits of those habits (e.g., impact on mindset, business acumen, and subsequent actions).
To explain this a bit further, the following are examples of why reading business books can better position you to earn more income and achieve heightened business success:
📗 You’ll Learn Actionable Techniques & Strategies
As you read more business books, you’ll discover more ideas and strategies that you can apply to your career. Each book will offer you a different perspective and ‘lessons learned‘ from real-life situations.
You’ll collect actionable techniques you can use right away in your business. Plus, you’ll also be able to learn from others’ mistakes and avoid their pitfalls, rather than having to learn everything the hard way.
📗 You’ll Keep Your Subconscious Mind Focused On Your Goals
By reading about business strategies often, you’ll keep your mind focused on the topic. That means your brain will be processing ideas even while you’re doing other things.
In this state of mind, you’ll be more open to inspiration and more likely to come up with your own next brilliant idea.
📗 You’ll Boost Your Vocabulary
The link between large vocabularies and high earnings is clear. A study by the Human Engineering Lab and the Stevens Institute gave vocabulary tests to 100 professionals who were applying for CEO positions. Five years later, every single one who had passed the test in the top 10% had achieved executive positions. None of those who scored in the lowest 25% had become an executive.
The more you read, the more words you are exposed to. When you have a better vocabulary, you’ll be better able to articulate your points, goals, and beliefs. These improved communication skills will help you in many business settings, from networking to presenting to pitching your ideas.
📗 You’ll Improve Your Memory
There’s been plenty of research on the effects of brain-stimulating activities. Reading is thought to be one of the best ways to keep your mind fit. A study in the journal Neurology found that life-long readers reduced their memory decline by more than 30%, compared to other forms of mental activity.
A good memory will serve you well as an entrepreneur in a number of ways. It will improve your ability to socialize with new people, keep you organized and help you learn faster.
Additional benefits of reading
Remember point #2 mentioned above (side benefits of healthy reading habits)? Although these may not be 100% specific to business books per se, they are important to keep in mind and play an important role.
Here are some more stats about the benefits of reading:
- According to a study from the University of Liverpool, those who described themselves as readers were 10% more likely than non-readers to have higher levels of self-esteem.
- A 2009 study by the University of Sussex found that reading could reduce stress by up to 68%. The effect was better and faster than other relaxation methods such as listening to music or drinking tea.
- These statistics by SleepJunkie show that 50% of those who read before bed report getting a better sleep than non-readers. Plus, the same study found that bedtime readers slept an additional hour and 37 minutes per week, compared to those who didn’t read in bed.
- Reading has been shown to make you 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, compared to those who spent their time on less mentally stimulating activities.
Fun Facts: Books read by leading founders, CEOs & entrepreneurs
Here’s a glimpse of what some familiar names are reading:
Mark Cuban – American billionaire entrepreneur, television personality, and media proprietor
Rework shows you a better, faster, easier way to succeed in business. Most business books give you the same old advice: Write a business plan, study the competition, seek investors, yadda yadda. If you’re looking for a book like that, put this one back on the shelf. Read it and you’ll know why plans are actually harmful, why you don’t need outside investors, and why you’re better off ignoring the competition. The truth is, you need less than you think… Read more
Larry Page – Co-founder of Google
One of the greatest physicists of the twentieth century, Richard Feynman possessed an unquenchable thirst for adventure and an unparalleled ability to tell the stories of his life. Among its many tales―some funny, others intensely moving―we meet Feynman’s first wife, Arlene, who taught him of love’s irreducible mystery as she lay dying in a hospital bed while he worked nearby on the atomic bomb at Los Alamos… Read more
Sheryl Sandberg – CEO of Facebook
The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched. Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business… Read more
Marissa Mayer – Former CEO of Yahoo!
The charisma myth is the idea that charisma is a fundamental, inborn quality—you either have it (Bill Clinton, Steve Jobs, Oprah) or you don’t. But that’s simply not true, as Olivia Fox Cabane reveals. Charismatic behaviors can be learned and perfected by anyone. Becoming more charismatic doesn’t mean transforming your fundamental personality. It’s about adopting a series of specific practices that fit in with the personality you already have. The Charisma Myth shows you how to become more influential, more persuasive, and more inspiring… Read more
Bill Gates – Co-founder of Microsoft
What do the $350 million Ford Motor Company disaster known as the Edsel, the fast and incredible rise of Xerox, and the unbelievable scandals at General Electric and Texas Gulf Sulphur have in common? Each is an example of how an iconic company was defined by a particular moment of fame or notoriety; these notable and fascinating accounts are as relevant today to understanding the intricacies of corporate life as they were when the events happened. Stories about Wall Street are infused with drama and adventure and reveal the machinations and volatile nature of the world of finance… Read more
Want to see more books like these? Head on over to this Business Books List to see what else top founders, CEOS, and entrepreneurs are reading.
So what’s the real way to learn how to get more money with business books?
If you guessed ‘improve your reading habits,’ you’re ahead of the curve.
To help, here’s how you can jumpstart your reading habits starting today:
📗 Read In Those Small Pockets of Time Throughout Your Day
You might think you don’t have enough time to read business books. But you’d be surprised by how much you can read by taking advantage of small pockets of time throughout your day. For example, you can read while you eat breakfast, or while you’re on your commute to work, or during your lunch break. Read in short bursts wherever and whenever – it adds up!
Also, try deleting social media apps from your phone and limiting your scrolling time. Statista Research Department says the average adult spends 145 minutes per day on social media. That adds up to 16.8 hours per week! Why not carry a book around with you and used your downtime for reading instead? You could read a LOT of books in 16.8 hours per week.
📗 Make a Reading Plan, Instead of a List of Books
When you get started, you might be tempted to create a long list of every business book you want to read. BUT, don’t overwhelm yourself. If your list is too large and ambitious, it might work against you. Instead, make a plan.
Pick a few books that are relevant to helping you achieve your goals, and set a timeline for when you will begin and finish each book. Read with a notebook next to you, so you can jot down any brilliant insights.
📗 Read Books By People You Know and Trust
Don’t just choose business books at random. Instead, read the writings of your business heroes. Read books by the people you admire, so you can learn about how they got to where they are now.
Then, read the books your heroes mention when they are asked in interviews about who they admire. Reading books that inspired the people who inspired you, can teach you a lot. (And after that, you can read the books that inspired them, and keep on going!)
📗 Start Building Your Own Library
Having a shelf full of books in your house is a great reminder to read. You’ll have a wealth of choices at your fingertips whenever you’re ready to dip in.
Unlike novels, business books are designed to be referenced and referred to often. You can always go back and read the relevant sections whenever it’s appropriate. Don’t be afraid to use sticky notes to mark important lessons you want to return to!
Ready to start building your library? Take a look through this List of Business Books For Entrepreneurs for a head start.
The list features books written by and recommended by successful founders, CEOs and entrepreneurs. Every book in this directory is a handpicked selection from a Natfluence editor. These books offer valuable insights into business, leadership, habits and more. Building your library of business books might just be the best investment you ever make in yourself.
(i) Corely defines “rich people” as those who have an income of more than $160,000 USD per year, and a liquid net worth of $3.2 million or more. He defines “poor people” as having an annual income of $35,000 or less and a liquid net worth of $5,000 or less.