The Best Business Books 2018 for Makers + Product Designers

I recently asked the Lucky Break community to chime in with their favorite business books.

  • Beloved books that are brimming with actionable advice.
  • Writing from authentic voices that skip the hype to deliver meaty advice.
  • The best business books that have truly helped propel them forward.

Several hundred of you answered my rallying cry (thank you!) and I wanted to share the best small business books that makers and product designers have found most helpful.




My sole aim here is to help you identify solid books that are a good investment of your time and energy, so there are no affiliate links in this list. Each book title  links to Powell’s, the largest independent bookstore in America. Yes, you’ll likely find them cheaper on Amazon… but you’d make me even happier if you hit up your local bookstore. *wink*


Author of cult classics The Pumpkin Plan and The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur offers a simple, counter-intuitive cash management solution that will help small businesses break out of the doom spiral and achieve instant profitability.


It’s not how good you are. It’s how well you tell your story.

Big corporations might have huge marketing and advertising budgets but you’ve got a story. Your brand story isn’t just what you tell people. It’s what they believe about you based on the signals your brand sends. The Fortune Cookie Principle is a brand building framework and communication strategy consisting of 20 keys that enable you to begin telling your brand’s story from the inside out. It’s the foundation upon which you can differentiate your brand and make emotional connections with the kind of clients and customers you want to serve.

The most successful brands in the world don’t behave like commodities and neither should you. A great brand story will make you stand out, increase brand awareness, create customer loyalty and power profits. Isn’t it time to gave your customers a story to tell? The Fortune Cookie Principle will show you how.


Book2    Book1     Book3


Bringing a Product to Market (FREE Product Development Worksheet!)

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As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently journeyed to West Africa to participate in the 2013 Global Shea Conference. Lucky Break Consulting was proud to be a contributor to this amazing event, designed to promote shea butter and empower African entrepreneurs. Funlayo and Shola Alabi of Shea Radiance orchestrated a series of small business trainings and I was excited to teach a product development workshop at their invitation. I spent several hours with sixty-five attendees (more than 90% of them women) as we discussed the art of bringing a product to market. Despite differences in geography, socioeconomics and language, we came together to share our wisdom.  The energy in that room was electric!


Taking notes during my product development workshop at the Global Shea Conference

Taking notes during my product development workshop at the Global Shea Conference


My presentation was designed specifically for emerging African entrepreneurs interested in bringing finished cosmetic products to market.  However,  the product development process is a pretty universal affair, whether you’re selling in Mumbai, Mozambique or Montana. It applies to all types of finished good: cupcakes, legwarmers, earrings and lotion. The development process we implement as small businesses is a critical cog in the wheel of our sucess. My particular process was developed over the last decade as the founder of Bella Lucce. Ten years in, product development at my company has followed a consistent pattern, resulting in the successful launch of 130+ products both under our label and as branded goods for other companies you likely know and love. Our products are now offered in more than 1,000 spas and boutiques in thirty countries.


I’m sharing my process here, with the hope that it will prove useful for other creative entrepreneurs. At the bottom of this blog entry, I invite you to download my eight-page Product Development Worksheet as well.



The Story of Shea

A few friends I made at the 2013 Global Shea Conference in Nigeria

I’ve just returned from a trip to Nigeria (my very first, in fact). I have long indulged a love affair with Africa which has landed me in a few varied spots around the continent (Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, Mali and Uganda), but Nigeria was a first for me. Setting aside the tales of northern unrest and escalating security concerns, the Nigerian people proved to be a warm and friendly bunch, eager to learn and hungry for information.


I was in-country to attend the 2013 Global Shea Conference, a collection of several hundred stakeholders culled from around the world. From nut gatherers to butter processors and exporters to manufacturers,  we chatted all things shea butter for three solid days. My mission in Nigeria was multi-fold: as a beauty entrepreneur (I cut my teeth in business via Bella Lucce, my spa product company) I wanted to support the women who produce shea by spreading their message and arming cooperatives with the information they need to gain access to lucrative Western markets). As a small business consultant (via Lucky Break), I desired to teach key business skills to African entrepreneurs who are getting their legs beneath them. My roles at the event included leading a workshop on product development, sitting on a panel to discuss the needs of western shea buyers, and assisting in a series of soapmaking workshops lead by my friend Stephanie Craig of  embodico (in which 120 African women made their very first batches of soap!).


A few friends I made at the 2013 Global Shea Conference in Nigeria

A few friends I made at the 2013 Global Shea Conference in Nigeria