There are many ways to write a business book, just as there are many types of businesses.
Bankruptcy stats show us that plenty of business leaders are in need of guidance—not just initially, but year after year. And that creates opportunities for authors who write books offering such guidance. But how does one go about writing a business book? How is it structured? And which topic(s) should be discussed?
There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to writing a business book. However, it can be helpful to structure the book using one of these 12 popular approaches:
1 – Legal Start-Up Stuff
Example: The Small Business Start-Up: A Step-by-Step Legal Guide, by Peri Pakroo, J.D.
One way to write a business book is to focus on what every organization needs to do at the outset.
Founders may feel overwhelmed when thinking about all the paperwork necessary just to open the doors. Thus, a reference manual explaining how to wade through the legal paperwork and red tape can be very helpful. The “legal start-up stuff” book clearly outlines items to be considered or tasks that should be done. It might look at the fees, forms, and bureaucratic technicalities encountered while getting a business up and running. It could be a stand-alone book or part of a series that examines different important areas and includes case studies, quizzes, or websites to visit for more information.
2 – Entrepreneurial Start-Up Stuff
Such as Starting a Business QuickStart Guide, by Ken Colwell, Ph.D., MBA
Everyone with a crackerjack idea for a business can use a book that explains how to turn that idea into a profitable reality. The “entrepreneurial start-up stuff” book could look at creating a business plan, estimating a budget, finding a location, hiring the best people, acquiring financing, and marketing the business with maximum effectiveness. It could also include common mistakes made at any point during the journey but especially at the beginning.
3 – Business Basics
Example: Business Made Simple, by Donald Miller
A popular way to write a business book is to focus on the basics.
In order to run a business effectively, leaders need to know at least something about every aspect of their organizations. This is especially true in smaller enterprises, where execs and top managers cannot rely on area experts. Instead, they must wear multiple hats and perform duties they have not prepared for. The “business basics” book takes a close look at the fundamentals of running a business. It covers everything from sales funnels to developing and executing a strategy, from closing sales to inspiring workers to function as a team.
4 – Leadership Theory and Skills
Such as The 5 Roles of Leadership: Tools & Best Practices for Personable and Effective Leaders, by Wladislaw Jachtchenko
Writing a business book about leadership is a big step away from the “business basics” books discussed so far. Now you’re dealing with theory and personal relationships, which can be tricky.
Managing a company is one thing; leading it is quite another. While management duties can be documented, leadership is a difficult-to-define set of skills that varies according to the needs of a particular company. And the skills may have to evolve over time as the situation within the company, industry, and larger social changes. The “leadership theory and skills” book explains how to lead. It examines communication, problem-solving, inspiring others, and other issues that will help leaders who wish to improve and grow their companies.
5 – Dealing with Change
Example: The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton M. Christensen
Change isn’t coming—it’s here, and it’s not going away. Unfortunately, as Blockbuster, Borders, Kodak, and many other companies learned, insisting on doing things the old way when change rears its challenging head is dangerous, and often fatal. The “dealing with change” book looks at understanding innovation and change—teaching how to recognize, absorb, and capitalize on it. As the pace of technological innovation continues to increase, leaders will need to anticipate and recognize innovation just to survive.
6 – Effective Communication
Such as Can We Talk? Seven Principles for Managing Difficult Conversations at Work, by Roberta Chinsky Matuson
You may not be thinking about chit-chat when you sit down to write your business book.
Yet, few skills are more important than communication, and a leader’s particular style of communicating can determine the success—or failure—of the business. A book about finding and adopting the most effective communication style may just be the most important book most leaders will ever read. The “effective communication” book could include a look at various communication styles and which are appropriate for which situation(s)—such as the difference between aggressive and assertive communication, how to ask questions that produce results, how to manage difficult conversations with employees, how to be an effective group member, and so forth.
7 – Business Improvement
Example: Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine, by Mike Michalowicz
There are plenty of guides available to help entrepreneurs get started but fewer are aimed at those with businesses that are already off the ground and still need some guidance. “Business improvement” books are less about philosophical and foundational information, and more about practical matters like keeping the doors open, boosting orders, and keeping both employees and clients happy.
8 – Success Habits
Such as Effective Entrepreneurship: The 7 Key Habits & Principles of Elite Entrepreneurs, by Walter Grant
Among all the questions people should ask themselves before starting their own business, this one reigns supreme: Do I have the heart and mindset of an entrepreneur? Some may say that the best businesspeople are visionaries, that they see things the rest of us don’t or are willing to walk on a high wire without a safety net. That’s not always the case. In fact, many high achievers owe much of their success to perseverance and other rather “regular” traits and habits.
The “success habits” book helps budding entrepreneurs ask themselves the hard questions, beginning with: Am I willing to engage in a risky endeavor for the long term? Do I relish the idea of wearing several hats? Am I calm, steady, and focused, even when things aren’t going right? Do I have marketing savvy and knowledge of my business? Am I disciplined and hardworking? Unless they can say “yes” to all of these questions, they should probably rethink the idea of becoming an entrepreneur.
9 – Workplace Etiquette
Businesspeople are focused on metrics, but oftentimes metrics are trumped—or crushed—by interactions between people and personalities. The “workplace etiquette” book offers readers tips on improving their personal behavior and developing better habits. These tips can cover everything from effective time management to being a good role model, from accepting personal responsibility to being prepared to listen empathetically. The importance of good office etiquette, tips for working effectively with others, and ways to become more tactful and diplomatic when dealing with others, might also be good topics for discussion.
10 – Biography with Lessons
Such as Bill Marriott: Success is Never Final, by Dale Van Atta
Writing a book about a successful business person, and the lessons we can draw from that person’s life, is an opportunity to personalize a business book.
The “biography with lessons” book combines the pleasure of reading about someone’s life with the excitement of discovering how they succeeded. There’s already plenty in the media about Amazon’s Jeff Bezos or Tesla’s Elon Musk. But many lesser-known folks succeeded admirably in business. Distilling what these leaders learned can help entrepreneurs and established businesspeople hone their own ideas and skills.
11 – Biographical Compilations
Example: Forbes Greatest Business Stories of All Time, by Daniel Gross and the Editors of Forbes magazine
Rather than a deep dive into one person’s cache of experience and wisdom, an anthology of quick snapshots of top leaders, their approaches, and lessons learned. Readers get a close-up view unique challenges leaders in different industries have dealt with.
They see the ideas and traits many of them have in common that helped them become so very successful.
12 – Autobiography
Such as Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys, by Joe Coulombe with Patty Civalleri
If you’ve enjoyed success in business, you may wish to share your story with others.
You can tell your story with an emphasis on the story points, or you can highlight the lessons you learned on your journey to the top.
As You Can See…
…there are many ways to write a business book! The dozen types above are just the beginning. There is no right or wrong way to structure and write a business book. There’s only the approach that works best for your book.
IF YOU’D LIKE HELP WRITING YOUR BUSINESS BOOK…
We’re Barry Fox and Nadine Taylor, professional ghostwriters and authors with a long list of satisfied clients and editors at major publishing houses. We can write books in any of the above-mentioned styles, plus others!
You can learn about our business ghostwriting work and credentials on our Business Ghostwriter Page.
Call us at 818-917-5362, or use the contact form below to send an email. We’d love to talk to you about your exciting business book idea!
P.S. You might also enjoy “Options for Publishing Your Business Book.”
Please Note: Although we’re based in Los Angeles, California, we travel around the U.S. and abroad to meet with our authors. We do not ghostwrite screenplays, books for children, poetry, or school papers.