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Words By Tara Wagner

Top 3 Books for Overwhelmed Entrepreneurs (Maaaaybe 4?)

Woman sitting in bed with a book in her hands reading intently

If I were to ask any group of entrepreneurs how they feel on a day to day basis, the large majority of them are gonna say overwhelmed.

But overcoming overwhelm is not just about having less on your to-do list, it’s also about changing some really fundamental things.

So to help you to understand what those changes need to be, I’m gonna recommend three books to you that are gonna help you to overcome overwhelm…(maybe four or five books, don’t let that overwhelm you).

Watch this video for the top books for entrepreneurs struggling with overwhelm or scroll down if you prefer to read.

Top 3 Books for Overwhelmed Entrepreneurs (Maaaaybe 4?)

Books to overcome overwhelm as an entrepreneur

As a small business owner I understand overwhelm and how hard it can be to even know where to start. That’s why I have put together the top books for entrepreneurs that need to know how to overcome overwhelm.

In the video, I’ll go through the books one at a time and help you to see which ones are gonna be most useful for you.

Learn how to read these books and others faster and more efficiently with Shortform.

Click below to read through the transcript or use to follow along with the video.

If I were to ask any group of entrepreneurs how they feel on a day to day basis, the large majority of them are gonna say overwhelmed. But overcoming overwhelm is not just about having less on your to-do list, it’s also about changing some really fundamental things. 

So to help you to understand what those changes need to be, I’m gonna recommend three books to you that are gonna help you to overcome overwhelm…maybe four or five books, don’t let that overwhelm you. I’ll go through them one at a time and help you to see which ones are gonna be most useful for you.

I’m Tara Wagner, Breakthrough coach and lifelong entrepreneur. I help other entrepreneurs use a holistic approach to business so they can create profits they can depend on without burning themselves out. If that sounds like your jam, be sure to check out my free training on how you can do the same

Book #1 – Essentialism

Book number one is Essentialism and this book literally changed my life. I think I was already pretty much on a minimalist path or pretty much was already there, but I hadn’t really applied it to my business and the way that I was doing things in my business. This book changes all of that. It’s really going to change your mindset more than anything else. It’s gonna convince you why you need to become an “essentialist” basically is what he calls it, which is getting rid of the lots to be able to focus on the few, to be able to get more of the right things done without wasting your time on the wrong things. 

The author describes a non-essentialist as being all things to all people, having the undisciplined pursuit of more, and living a life that does not satisfy. While the essentialist is doing less but better, using a disciplined pursuit of less, and lives a life that really matters.

I really think that this is about mindfulness and being deliberate and understanding what you really want. Having clarity on your direction and learning, figuring out how to actually take action in one direction. 

The book is broken down into four parts. 

  • The first is Essence, and this is really where he’s just describing this and really getting you on board with the concept. 
  • The second is Exploring, looking at the things that really matter to help you to be able to do this. 
  • The third part is about Elimination, which is letting go of stuff, really deliberately choosing what you’re gonna let go of so that you can focus on the most essential things. 
  • And then number four is Execute, which is just basically being more productive, being more efficient at those right things, the things that are still left on your plate because you chose to leave them there because they are essential.

I would recommend this book to anyone who thinks that they have to do more. If that’s where your mindset is and you think you need, or you have a sense that you need a radical shift in perspective, this book is gonna do that. It’s not gonna be as practical as some of the other books I’m about to tell you about, but if you’re not there yet, you gotta get your mind there before you can get your body taking action. And so I would definitely start with this one book. 

Book #2 – The E-Myth Revisited

Number two also changed my freaking life. This is The E-Myth. Now he’s got a couple different versions of this for different business types, but from what I’ve understood, this one will do you just fine. The E-Myth Revisited is what it’s called. This book uses storytelling to paint a picture of how most of us do business. He talks about the owner versus operator. Most of us get into business with an operator mindset, and we go about operating the business, and then we get inundated with it. And he talks about how to get yourself out of operator mode and into owner mode where you’re not having to do all of the things, because the things are actually simpler, easier, outsourceable. 

And so this book is really gonna teach you how to have a very different concept for your business. He talks about it like a franchise prototype. If your business were a franchise, meaning it was totally turnkey, it had a manual that you could hand over to someone else, what would that look like? He walks you through the things that you would have to do to be able to make that happen. 

This is actually a lot of what we do in the Inner Circle as well, a lot more support, a lot more guidance, and some changes to it to make it more practical as well as more up to date. But this is a fantastic book for anybody who is struggling with burnout, struggling with overwhelm, and they need to understand how do I actually make over my business to be able to do these things. 

I do find that most people read it, they understand the concepts, and they really do struggle to implement it on their own, which is why we have the Inner Circle for you. So if this is something you read and you’re like, hell yes, this is what I need, but how do I do it? Definitely join us in the Inner Circle. You’ll learn this, but you’re gonna learn a lot more as well. 

Book #3 Free to Focus or Getting Things Done

For book number three, you have a choice of two books, depending on where you are at in terms of productivity and efficiency and that sort of thing. There are a lot of books on this topic, I had a hard time narrowing it down, but I wanted to narrow it down to this choice of two. Again, depending on where you’re at. 

The first option would be Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt. The second option would be Getting Things Done by David Allen

Now here’s how you can choose between the two of these. 

If you are new to productivity, you need it simplified or this sort of stuff just overwhelms you, it’s not in your wheelhouse, it’s not your natural go-to mode of doing things, but you do know you need some better systems in place and when I say systems, I don’t just mean tangible systems in your business, but systems in terms of a way to approach things, a way to organize things, but again, you need this simplified I would say go with Free to Focus. Michael Hyatt is really good at making simple processes for things. 

So he’s broken this book down into three steps: Stop, Cut, and Act.

  1. Stop are the things that you are going to stop and figure out. This is where you’re really gonna slow down and make some decisions. Get yourself into a place where you have the energy and the focus and the ability to actually be more productive. So he is talking about actually setting your goals, deciding on what you want, determining your course, and re-energizing your mind and body. 
  2. With Cut, he’s gonna talk about how to actually get rid of things and walk you through some really practical ways to help you to do that. Specifically eliminating things or saying no to it, automating, delegating, and basically just getting into the habit of not doing everything yourself, taking things off of your plate. 
  3. And then what he calls step number three is Act. This is: consolidate, designate and activate. This is where you’re gonna plan out your ideal week, you’re gonna prioritize your tasks, and you’re going to beat interruptions and distractions is what he calls it, which is basically just get yourself set up for success so that you aren’t as distracted as often. 

The thing I really like about this book, although it doesn’t go into everything that you might need, it goes into the most important pieces and it’s super, super practical, meaning you can actually put it into action. Whereas with Essentialism, it’s really super helpful and impactful, but not necessarily as practical. There’s not as many action steps that can tell you how to do something when to do it in what order to do it in. Michael Hyatt’s really good with that kind of stuff so Free to Focus is definitely worth a read if that’s where you’re at. 

However, if you’re a little bit beyond the basics, meaning you have the principles down, you already like organization and productivity and efficiency, those are all kind of your jam and you wanna take it up a notch then I would tell you to go with Getting Things Done. This book is like productivity on steroids to the point where if you are new to something, this is probably gonna be too much. It is so freaking nitty gritty in terms of productivity and getting things done in the most efficient way possible. 

One of the things you’ll learn over and over again in this book is his process of managing your workflow, which is basically just how you handle things. It could be email things, it could be conversations, it could literally be anything in your life, but you’re gonna really ingrain this in you in terms of, if something comes in, what do you do next? 

There’s actually a step by step process that he will show you in this book in terms of how to process through things in the most efficient way possible. But there’s so much more to this book that I always struggle to describe it because literally it is one of the most nitty gritty books. This is probably the Bible on productivity, but again, I don’t think you can start here. If you’re new to this type of stuff, you kind of already have to love productivity or at least have a pretty good handle on it before you can take it up a notch with this book. Otherwise I think this book will overwhelm you more because there’s more things for you to do in it. And it’s gonna be a lot of new things that you’re learning and practicing, which means you’re using a very active part of your brain because it hasn’t become a habit yet. I would get some other habits in place before you started this book. Or if you do read this book, read it a little bit at a time, stop, implement what you’ve just read, and I mean like a page or two at a time, that’s how nitty gritty it can be sometimes, implement it a little bit at a time and then come back for more so that you’re actually retaining what you’re reading and not just feeling like you got fire hose.

Okay, so those are the top three, maybe four books that I would recommend if you’re dealing with overwhelm. This fifth one is a maybe for everybody, no, sorry fourth one. Fifth one? Fourth one? We’ll just call it a fifth one. Assuming you’re gonna read all of the other four. 

Book #4 (or 5) Rocket Fuel

This book is called Rocket Fuel. I’m gonna describe what the book is about. And then I’m gonna describe why I think it’s a maybe for you and how you can decide whether or not it might be the right fit. 

Rocket fuel introduces the concept of a small business having two primary or most important seats: The Visionary, which is usually the CEO, and The Integrator, the person who’s getting things done.

Now, in most small businesses, we are both the visionary and the integrator. We have the vision, we are coming up with the ideas, we’re putting ourselves out there, we’re doing the marketing, we’re doing all of that. But then we also have to sit down and get things done. And that’s why we end up so overwhelmed. What he talks about in Rocket Fuel is this idea that if you have somebody else that can keep things on track, keep things organized, keep things clear, keep things moving forward then you can stay in your visionary role and you can have somebody else taking care of that nitty gritty stuff that tends to fry your brain. 

So what the authors talk about here is the difference between those two roles, what the roles of those two roles are, like who’s responsible for what in the business, how that fits into your organizational chart, as well as how to find that person, how to find an integrator if you’re a visionary, how to find a visionary if you’re an integrator. 

So here’s why this book is a maybe. The concept is amazing. And when you read the book as a small business owner, you are going to immediately want to go out and hire an integrator. However, I don’t think it’s practical for all small businesses. I think that this might depend on your type of business. It might also depend on your stage of business. If you’re newer to business, if you have a very small team like under five or 10 people, this book will probably introduce you to something that’s might not be realistic either right now or ever, might make you feel like you are not going to succeed without this other person in this other role, and might end up actually frustrating and overwhelming you more. 

So I say this with a caveat; If you have a growing business, you’re getting to the point where you have a team of five, 10, more people. If you are definitely a visionary and you need somebody to take those details off your brain, or if you know that that’s the direction you’re going, and you just wanna understand the concepts so that you can make any shifts right now that are gonna set you in that trajectory to be able to bring on that integrator. Then this might be a good book for you, but I just want you to be mindful that if it’s not the right business, the right timing, the right pace, if you don’t have the budget for it, or if the idea is just gonna be another thing that you have to do, that makes you feel like you can’t do it and you’re not cut out for it. Skip this book, okay? 

You can be a very successful business without an integrator. I don’t have an integrator. I don’t plan to have an integrator. That is a topic for another day on why I don’t think an integrator really is a good fit for a lot of businesses or what you can do instead. But suffice to say this one is a maybe. 


If you’re a small business owner who is dealing with overwhelm and dealing with burnout and want the support to make over the mindset, the business plan and all of your habits that are gonna lead to success be sure to check out my Healthy Hustle Roadmap.

This free class, How To Use a Holistic Approach to Create a Profitable Business Without Burning Yourself Out will teach you the three mistakes small business owners are making and introduce you to the tools and strategies that will help you create reliable profits working less than 40 hours a week.

You can grab a free seat for that class by clicking below.


Which of these 5 books have you read? Which do you need to read first?

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Tara Wagner

I’m Tara Wagner, creator of the Breakthrough Boss®. I help small biz owners overcome burnout and create part-time schedules with full-time profits. Not with some new marketing strategy, but with a holistic approach to how you operate. Click here to learn more.
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How To Upgrade
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How to Upgrade Your Business So It Doesn't Burn You Out (3 Mistakes to Correct Right Now)

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