Bennett: 10 Must-Read Books for Auto Repair Shop Owners

June 19, 2023
Columnist Mike Bennett outlines 10 books that can help shop owners gain a deeper understanding of business.

In a world that moves at an unprecedented pace, we as leaders and shop owners must equip ourselves with the knowledge necessary to navigate the complexities of our evolving roles and the greater industry. One of the best ways to brush up on our skills is to read leadership books in your downtime. What better time of year to do this than in the warmer months when we’re on vacation or spending more time out in the sun?  

It’s important to constantly seek ways to stay ahead of the curve and maintain a competitive edge. While there are numerous strategies and skills that can contribute to their success, one often overlooked but powerful tool is reading. Diving into a good book can unlock a world of knowledge, inspiration, and personal growth that can significantly impact leadership abilities and entrepreneurial endeavors.  

Grab a cup of coffee, find a comfortable spot and discover why becoming an avid reader can be a game-changer for leaders and entrepreneurs. 

Why Shop Owners Should Prioritize Reading  

There are tons of reasons why leaders and entrepreneurs should prioritize reading. Here are six key ways growth and development through reading are instrumental in transforming you and your organization: 

Knowledge acquisition 

Reading allows leaders and entrepreneurs to gain valuable knowledge in their field and beyond. It exposes them to new ideas, perspectives and insights that can enhance their decision-making abilities and problem-solving skills. 

Continuous learning 

In today's fast-paced world, staying up to date with the latest trends, technologies and industry developments is crucial for success. Reading enables leaders and entrepreneurs to engage in life-long learning, ensuring they remain current and adaptable in an ever-evolving industry. 

Inspiration and creativity 

Books can inspire and spark innovative thinking and creative problem-solving. Reading exposes leaders to diverse perspectives, ideas and stories that can ignite their imagination and help them think outside the box. 

Personal development 

Reading enhances professional growth and contributes to personal development. It can provide valuable insights into leadership principles, communication techniques, emotional intelligence and unique growth strategies. Leaders who invest time in reading often have a broader understanding of themselves and others, which can improve their overall effectiveness. 

Building empathy and emotional intelligence 

Books, particularly fiction and biographies, offer a glimpse into the lives and experiences of others. Reading can foster empathy and emotional intelligence, enabling leaders to understand and connect with their teams, customers and stakeholders. It promotes a more inclusive and compassionate leadership style. 

Stress reduction and well-being 

Reading can be a form of relaxation and stress relief. It provides an opportunity for leaders and entrepreneurs to unwind, recharge and escape from the pressures of their professional lives. Adopting a reading routine can contribute to improved mental well-being and work-life balance. 

Before we delve into the list of recommended books, it's essential to acknowledge that they are specific to leaders and entrepreneurs, and titles are vast and diverse. Each book offers unique insights and perspectives that can benefit different individuals based on their interests and specific needs. I have shared just a few of my personal favorites, but there are so many more and I’d love to connect and maybe suggest something more specific if there is a topic you are particularly interested in.  

The following selections encompass a range of topics, including leadership principles, personal development, innovation and strategic thinking. Whether you're a seasoned executive or an aspiring entrepreneur, these books have the potential to inspire, challenge and guide you on your journey to becoming a more effective and insightful leader. Let's explore just a few of what I believe are truly transformative reads that have garnered acclaim and proven influential in business and leadership. 

1. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action 

Ever wonder why some businesses thrive while others struggle? Start with Why encourages business owners and managers to stay true to their goals as leaders to keep their enterprises on track. Author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant Simon Sinek studied influential leaders, from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Steve Jobs, and found one thing they all have in common: purpose. Sinek reminds readers to focus on what's most important to them and why they started businesses in the first place. 

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change 

Businessman and author Stephen R. Covey recognizes the many obstacles leaders face today, including the flaws of human nature. By channeling his own experiences, he outlines principles to help leaders become more effective and adaptable and to advance in their careers by seizing opportunities. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People empower leaders through honest stories and thought-provoking lessons.  

3. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead 

Lean In is authored by Facebook's former chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, specifically for women. The business world can be intimidating for females, especially in industries where most leaders are men. In this bestselling book, Sandberg, a trailblazing woman in business herself, discusses why her fellow female professionals struggle to progress in leadership. She provides empowering solutions and inspiring ways to get more women into leadership positions. 

4. The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations 

Across many editions, The Leadership Challenge has sold more than 2 million copies in over 20 languages. Authors James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner conducted extensive research to discuss how to nurture leadership and the differences between good and great leaders. The book examines current organizational challenges, workplace trends and international examples of extraordinary leaders with each new edition. 

5. Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box 

Leadership and Self-Deception confront the issues we create ourselves, like mental constraints and barriers that prevent us from reaching our full potential. Written by The Arbinger Institute, the organization shows that you can become a better leader and individual through integrity and humility, benefiting both your professional and personal life. The book focuses on team building, conflict resolution, and personal growth. 

6. Anything You Want 

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers is one of the more out-of-the-box leadership books for small business owners. Instead of sticking with a set formula, Sivers recommends following your passion to achieve success. He tells his readers to use their dreams rather than a script as a guide. Sivers, a multimillionaire who has created music applications and websites, has a down-to-Earth voice that makes his approach relatable to anyone who wants to succeed in the business world. 

7. The E-Myth Revisited 

The E-Myth Revisited is an updated version of The E-Myth by author Michael E. Gerber. The book aims to dispel many myths associated with leading any business venture. Gerber points out the common problems that get in the way of running a successful small business. He goes through each step from start-up to franchise and what to expect along the way. His most prominent lesson is to work on your business instead of working in your business.   

8. Smarter Faster Better   

Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg is the go-to book for learning about productivity, efficiency, and building your business model on the right footing. Focusing on key concepts like enhanced decision-making skills, increasing motivation and setting practical goals, this book explains how successful companies maximize their time and profits by giving you the tools you need to succeed similarly. 

9. Rich Dad, Poor Dad 

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki touches on the value of being willing to make mistakes and bounce back from them, a lesson that successful people know all too well. In the book, the author compares the life of his blue-collar father to that of his friend's wealthy dad and delves into concepts like leadership in business, investment principles and risk-taking. 

10. Dare to Lead 

In Dare to Lead, Brené Brown explores how significant it is for entrepreneurial leaders to take the initiative regarding vulnerability and emotional integrity in difficult business circumstances. She inspires her readers to build a positive workplace and culture that encourages hearing different perspectives, implementing new solutions, and leaving room for failure so employees can build resilience, creativity, and invention at work. Find out more about learning from failure. 

If you are an avid reader, these 10 books will provide value and inspiration. If you haven’t gotten into a groove of growth and development through reading and discovery, what’s stopping you? Now is the perfect time to start a new habit or better yet, trade an old habit for a new one. What habit or routine do you have that you might be better served to drop—social media, watching the news, video games?  

Make the new habit saleable. Start with just five minutes a day to read a book or listen on Audible. Maybe your team can be part of the new accountability to habit change. Think about a book club and use the theme as an opportunity to build comradery and capacity. And finally, be committed to change. Try to find one thing from any new book that you can utilize, implement or adapt. It’s said that knowledge is power. 

Embracing the habit of reading is a powerful way to expand horizons, foster personal growth and stay ahead of the curve. These recommended books are a mere glimpse into the diverse and varied books and titles available to leaders seeking inspiration, guidance and personal growth.  

By immersing yourself in these transformative reads, you can enhance your decision-making skills, fuel your creativity and cultivate a deeper understanding of yourself, your team, and your business. Remember, leaders are readers. So, let these books be your companions on your journey to becoming a more impactful and influential leader. Open the pages, embrace the ideas, and unlock the door to your fullest potential. Happy reading! 

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