From Founder to Leader: How Reading Can Help Entrepreneurs Grow Their Business

As an entrepreneur, one of the most powerful tools you have for growing your business is a simple one that is often overlooked. I’m talking about reading.

In the day-to-day hustle and bustle, it’s easy to get caught up in the ongoing demands of running a company, but finding the time to read on a regular basis can pay huge dividends.

In this article we will look at 5 reasons why reading can help you make you a better leader, and help you grow your business to new heights.

Businessman reading books

Reading Helps You Stay Informed About Your Industry

One of the key benefits of reading for entrepreneurs is that it allows you to stay up to date on the latest trends and developments in your field. Things move quickly in the business world, with new technologies, strategies and best practices emerging all the time. By regularly reading industry publications, influential blogs, and books by thought leaders, you can make sure you don’t fall behind.

This is important not just for staying competitive, but also for spotting new opportunities. The more in tune you are with where your industry is headed, the better positioned you’ll be to innovate and grow your business in the right direction.

You may get ideas for new products or services, identify an underserved customer segment, or see how you can leverage an emerging trend.

Reading Expands Your Knowledge and Perspective

In addition to keeping you informed about your specific industry, reading also expands your overall knowledge and perspective. It exposes you to new ideas and ways of thinking.

The broad range of subjects that leadership books delve into gives you a more diverse and creative lens through which to examine challenges and approach strategic decisions.

This is especially important if you’re the founder and leader of a company. As your business grows and becomes more complex, you’ll face increasingly nuanced and multi-faceted issues.

The mental flexibility and wide base of knowledge that you gain through reading prepares you to navigate these challenges more effectively. You’ll be a more agile and open-minded thinker.

Reading Enhances Key Business Skills

Beyond expanding your knowledge, reading also strengthens core skills that are invaluable to entrepreneurs. Two such core skills are communication, and critical thinking and analysis.

  • Communication: Reading broadly improves your vocabulary, your understanding of tone and style, your ability to structure compelling arguments. This translates into being a more persuasive and articulate communicator, whether you’re pitching investors, rallying your team, or negotiating a key contract.
  • Critical thinking and analysis: Engaging with an author’s ideas, questioning their assumptions, and comparing their arguments to your own experiences, are all exercises that train your critical thinking muscles. Over time you’ll get better at assessing information objectively, spotting flaws in reasoning, and reaching your own thoughtful conclusions. Considering issues from multiple angles is an essential skill for a business leader.

Reading book and drinking coffee

Reading Sparks Creativity and Innovation

Perhaps most significantly, reading fuels innovation. It fills your mind with knowledge, ideas and inspiration that can then recombine in novel ways. The biography of a successful CEO, for example, may spark an insight about your own leadership style. An article about a company in a completely different industry may trigger an idea for your own business model.

The key is exposing yourself to diverse perspectives and letting your mind make surprising connections between seemingly unrelated things.

A famous example of this is Steve Jobs’ interest in calligraphy. In college, Jobs took a calligraphy class that seemed to have no practical application to his future plans, however he used to credit it with giving him an appreciation of aesthetics and design that Apple later became known for, shaping everything from their distinctive fonts to the intuitive interfaces of their devices.

You never know how something you read today will influence a breakthrough idea tomorrow.

Reading Supports Mental Clarity and Stamina

Finally, on a personal level, reading offers significant benefits for busy entrepreneurs, especially because it gives you a chance to unplug and let your mind relax and recharge.

After a day of constant distractions and decision making, losing yourself in a book can relieve stress, improve your mood, sharpen your focus, and even improve your sleep if you read before bed.

Researchers at the University of Sussex conducted a study on the stress-reducing benefits of reading and found that reading for as few as six minutes reduced stress by as much as 68 percent.

For many founders, it’s also a source of motivation and emotional stamina. Reading about the challenges other entrepreneurs have faced and overcome can give you the determination to persist through your own tough times. Their wisdom and insights act as mentors, helping you approach problems with new perspective.

In the solitary and high-pressure world of entrepreneurship, reading can be a lifeline.

Businesswoman reading business book

Tips for Incorporating Reading into Your Busy Schedule

With all these benefits in mind, how can entrepreneurs make time to read more regularly? Here are a few tips:

  1. Always have a book with you (either a physical book or on your phone/tablet) to take advantage of short windows of downtime, for example when waiting for appointments, waiting for your flight, or when commuting.
  2. Set a daily goal, even if it’s just 10-20 minutes. Build a ritual around it (over morning coffee, before bed, etc.) to turn it into a consistent habit.
  3. Use audiobooks to ‘read’ while driving, working out, or doing chores.
  4. Create a reading list that aligns with your business goals. Ask for recommendations from mentors. Be intentional about choosing books that will deliver the most value.
  5. But also read things purely for fun and enrichment, not just business. Let your curiosity guide you.

The key is to start small but stay consistent. Stephen King once said said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot”.

I would argue that the same holds true for entrepreneurs. If you want to be successful in business, read a lot and apply what you learn. The time and energy you invest in reading will pay off exponentially over the life of your entrepreneurial journey.