10 Business Books That Every Life Coach Should Read

He built a life coaching business around one technique, one word.

The word is a common one, but not used enough in today’s world.


He believes in the word why. It’s how he sells his business coaching services. He got the idea from the first book on this list.

He knew the power of the word and has used it to his full advantage.

There are times I don’t even like talking with him because he can’t help but go into coach mode. He loves to ask me “why I said that.”

That can be an extremely powerful question if used well.

“Oh, you just said I would rather work for anyone else. Why did you say that?”

“You said you would enjoy getting away from it all. Why did you say that?”

He uses “Why?” in his coaching practice as one of his unique selling propositions (USP). It’s the where he starts every conversation…

“Why do you need a business coach?”

…and much of his marketing outreach.

He does this because now he can claim to be the “why” guy.

Tim doesn’t like the word “why” because it can put the client on the spot by asking them to defend their position. Also, it is is problem rather than solution focused.

However, it is far less confrontational when used to ask about your business and can be very effective.

When you first start, life coaching is probably 30% actual coaching and 70% marketing/business.

Few coaches ‘get’ this and that is why so many struggle, because they don’t understand the importance of running their practice as a business just like any other.

As you grow you’ll notice that you can do less marketing because referrals come in more regularly, but that doesn’t happen over night and even then a 50/50 split of probably needed.

10 Business Books That Every Life Coach Should Read

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

As you already read I’m a big believer in the word “why?” and use is much more often with my clients because of my friend and this book.

It helps me understand what is going in inside a client’s business.

As I’m working on this list…guess what popped into my inbox?

An email about find your why!

I probably shouldn’t oversell this book, so go and check it out.

2. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

I love this book. I’ve read it twice. Watched the documentary and continue to talk about it.

Tims Note: I too have read the book twice and watched the documentary!

It got me into A/B testing and user experience (UX), something that we now use extensively here on Coach the Life Coach.

Numbers can be very powerful, or very misleading.

Tim generated almost 1,000,00 views for a post he once wrote that went viral on A Daring Adventure.

Ask him how many clients it brought him, and he’ll tell you a big fat duck egg.

They are what we call in the trade ‘vanity stats’.

It’s finding the right numbers to help your business grow in the right direction that’s important.

3. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber

Your life coaching business should not rely on you to be available 24/7.

It would be too exhausting.

You need to create a business that fits to your needs and personality with multiple streams of income wherever possible.

This book helps explain why you need to think about what kind of business you want to create and how to start putting the pieces together so you are happy and healthy as you grow.

If you have ever heard of the expression that you should be, “working on your business, and not in your business” – this is where it emanated from.

4. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

This book is all about getting a simple product to the market, then looking to get customer feedback to improve the product and make adjustments to meet the market’s demands.

I enjoyed this book because of all the examples it gave to help understand real world examples and how I could apply it to my business.

We don’t encourage coaches to start up with nothing as you will incur certain fees, but equally you don’t need $20k to kick off a successful practice.

5. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

One of the first business books I ever enjoyed.

I stopped reading business books for a few years after college because I was just sick of reading about the subject.

Then this book came out and it caught my attention. It got me back into the groove and I haven’t stopped since.

This is a great beginners book for people who don’t like to read business books.

It helps explain why things take off and why some things never catch on, and it’s not always as obvious as it may seem.

6. Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley

Tim and I always talk about the importance of writing and creating content that helps you reach people with your ideas.

‘Everybody Writes’ walks you through how to attract and retain your clients. It’s one you should read before you write your next blog post.

7. Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition by Michael A. Stelzner

Everything that you do in business should have some sort of launch sequence. Even a blog post. What do you do to get people to read it and share it with their friends?

‘Launch’ takes you through Michael Stelzner’s best tips on how to get people to pay attention to what you are doing.

8. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

All these books are amazing, but this is one that truly opened my ideas to how branding truly works.

What is the difference between one soda and another? One phone to another? Or one car to another?

Branding helps people understand your unique selling proposition (USP).

You can be a life coach who doesn’t have a niche, but it’s an uphill battle.

People won’t know how to recommend you. They need to know what you do and why you do it.

This book will help you get clear on your niche and how to dominate the market.

9. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Sales is never about convincing someone to buy what you have. It’s about getting them to believe that what you are offering is the best solution to their pain.

Robert introduces you to six principles of ethical persuasion: reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency.

Each principle is broken into chapters to show you the scientific evidence behind how our brain works. It’s quite a brilliant book and one every person should read.

We all have to sell ourselves so may as well do it the best way possible.

One great example from this book was when a woman who owned a trinket and jewelry store in a tourist town was getting exasperated by her lack of sales.

In desperation she left a note to her assistant before leaving town to mark everything down by 50%.

Her assistant misread her note and thought she meant to double everything.

She did, and on the owners return, the items were sold out. That is the power of perceived value and why trying to be a cut price life coach rarely succeeds.

10. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk

I saved this book for last on this list because it truly is the best book on social media out there.

Social media is always changing, but Gary digs down and helps you understand how to create a message that meets your customer’s interest.

He shows you a businesses mistakes using Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. and how they missed the mark and what they could have done to improve results.

And make no mistake, some of these mistakes were made by massive organizations that really should have known better.

Honorable mention

The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman

This didn’t quite make it into my top 10, but it truly is packed with awesome information.

It’s really the A-Z business book and one you might want to start with if you’ve never started a business, went to business school, or want to start from ground zero.

It covers different types of businesses that you can start and why they work, marketing, sales, creating value, finance, human mind, etc.

It’s a very detailed and well thought out read.

You should also check out the resource section. We have an extensive lineup of books to help you improve as a coach and grow your practice.

Tim’s Note: The links are affiliate links and if you buy one or more Karl will make a massive 6% commission!

* Image courtesy of Christopher.


  1. I haven’t personally read these books but they’ve been recommended to me by people whose opinion I value:

    1) The 7 Day Startup by Dan Norris
    2) Email Persuasion by Ian Brodie
    3) Ask by Ryan Levesque

  2. Great list, Tim! Here are some I love that I’d add to those:

    1) The Tao of Negotiation (Joel Edelmen)
    2) Taking Responsibility (Nathaniel Branden)
    3) How the World Sees You (Sally Hogshead)
    4) Choose Yourself (James Altucher)
    5) Second Circle (Patsy Rodenburg)
    6) Real Skills, Real Income (Diana Schneidman)
    7) StrengthsFinder 2.0 (Tom Rath)
    8) 168 Hours (Laura VanderKam)

    –Sharon Woodhouse

    • Tim Brownson

      I’ve only read 168 hours of those and liked her unorthodox approach.

      I have just finished reading James Altuchers latest book, The Choose Yourself Guide To Wealth and that kicked ass!

    • Karl Staib

      Hi Sharon! I’ve read a few, but most of them I have not. I also had someone on social media tell me Double Double is a great business book too.

  3. Michael Wecke

    Another great list! The “Y-Man” – I Iike that…

    One book that I really liked- and applied its principles as an HR Manager – came out in 2001 – so a bit dated perhaps, but “old” does not necessarily equate to “outdated”, not when it comes to dealing with people. It’s called “The Trusted Advisor”, by David Maister. It’s more relevant to consulting, but the question it may ask is “what would be the benefits if your clients trusted you more”? It is about bringing real authenticity to the relationship with your clients – to borrow a succinct comment from an amazon.com commentator, who also liked the book.

    Y – I mean, Why should one read it? Answer: “It teaches the ‘little things’ that make a big difference when dealing with clients”.

    Cheers, MW