Business Finance Books for Small Businesses and Startups

This year it has been tough to find great finance books. Many of 2010’s finest have examined the recent Wall Street collapses so thoroughly that it seems every conspiracy theory that ever existed in a casual conversation has become a bestseller. So in trying to round up great finance books, I sat back and thought about what books really educated me on financial concerns. Here are a few good ones–some that I read long ago, but still turn to when I need a refresher or added perspective.

Financial Intelligence: A Manager’s Guide to Knowing What the Numbers Really Mean
by Karen Bergen and Joe Knight with John Case

This book is perfect for those who are not finance savvy and haven’t taken that accounting course. The processes behind common accounting terms are explained so that you can understand why some things are adjustable and why some terms, such as “one-time charge,” should send a cautionary message.

Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional’s Guide to Growing A Practice
by Alan Weiss

Weiss’s advice covers the concepts of managing clients and addressing typical challenges consultants face. Any consultant will find his segments on pricing particularly helpful. He prefers a flat fee rather than hourly rates because rates focus clients on the activity, not the value of the service.

Venture Capital Investing: The Complete Handbook for Investing in Small Private Businesses for Outstanding Profits
by David Gladstone and Laura Gladstone

This book is now 20 years old, but is still the most painstakingly thorough book out there to help you anticipate a venture capitalist’s concerns when considering an investment. Sixty of the 300-plus pages are questions to ask about a considered venture. If you are starting a business, read this book and you’ll be ahead of the curve in deciding how investors will react to your business plan, pitch and road show.

The Financial Numbers Game: Detecting Creative Accounting Practices
by Charles W. Mulford and Eugene Comiskey

This book is not a new-fangled measurement of balance sheets. Instead, it covers how to keep the balance sheet old-fangled through recognizing how revenue recognition goes astray. This is especially valuable for software development firms, which typically run into challenges of matching revenue recognition to services provided. Both existing entrepreneurs and startups should really consider giving this near-textbook a go. The authors, both Georgia Tech MBA professors, are highly regarded, having discovered a number of accounting shenanigans that were later identified as the causes of the Enron scandal.


Pierre DeBois Pierre Debois is Associate Book Editor for Small Business Trends. He is the Founder of Zimana, a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and medium sized businesses that rely on web analytics data. A Gary, Indiana native, Pierre is currently based in Brooklyn. He blogs about marketing, finance, social media, and analytics at Zimana blog.

6 Reactions
  1. BlackWarrenBuffett

    Thanks for the suggestions. I plan to read the book below. Should be helpful on a financial consulting business I would like to develop. Are there are sections I should pay particular attention to?

    Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional

  2. @BlackWarrenBuffett

    Besides pricing, these are a few good comments on how to speak to clients, even if there are few exchanges after an agreement is forged. I think if you are interested in starting a consultancy of any kind, the book is extremely helpful for it.

  3. Pierre,

    Thanks for the book list. I recently attended a tax event arranged by Grant Thornton. It is a jungle out there!

    I will add Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional’s Guide to Growing A Practice to my buying and reading list.

    Do you have more book tips for consultants and freelancers?

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