The Best Books Every Independent Consultant Should Read

blog article Apr 18, 2023

Estimated time to read: 10 minutes 

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As a consultant, you’re an expert in your areas of specialization. You know your stuff. And, you’re likely a lifelong learner, always wanting to learn and improve in your consulting craft, as a business owner, and as a human being.

To assist with your passion for learning, I’ve written an article for you on the best books for consultants. The following books provide a range of tools, insights, and strategies for your continuous improvement as a consulting business owner and as a person. 

I frequently am asked, “Which books do you recommend for independent consultants on this topic?” So in today’s article, I’m proactively answering that question for you. I will continue to add to this list as I read the books in my queue and new books are released.


What are the best books for consultants?

The best consulting books for you depend on what are the particular challenges you face with growing your independent consulting business. 

If your challenge is selling, then I recommend checking out Selling to Big Companies or Value-Based Pricing.

But if you are looking for an all-time classic, The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients is a great book to start with that every consultant should read at least once.

For a comprehensive step-by-step book that will help you grow your consulting business and achieve your business goals, I recommend Grow Your Consulting Business: The 14-Step Roadmap to Make Your Independent Consulting Goals a Reality.


My criteria for recommending the consulting books in this article

I have hundreds of books on the shelves in my office and also in my Kindle app. I’m obsessed with reading everything I can get my hands on, ranging from consulting-specific books, general marketing and sales-specific books, and personal development books. 

It’s a challenge to narrow down these books into a top list of consulting books. But, I did it for you. Here are the criteria I used to select the 11 best consulting books I share with you in this article.

Criterion 1: Write a comprehensive list that covers the range of topics required to succeed as an independent consultant.

Succeeding as an independent consultant requires a wide range of skills starting with the mindset and branching out to marketing, sales, delivery, and time management skills. I included books in this list intended to help you with that wide range of critical skills. I want to make sure you have the resources that help you excel at all aspects of growing an independent consulting business

Criterion 2: Provide best-in-class books for each discipline required to run a successful solo consulting business. The books don’t need to be consulting-specific.

While there are many books geared specifically to independent consultants (and several are included at the beginning of this list), it’s also important to pull in concepts and methodologies that are most effective in each discipline required to succeed as an independent consultant. For example, instead of listing a consulting-specific marketing book, I shared one of the best, most practical general business marketing books I’ve read. 

This list is intended to provide you with the best-of-breed books for each discipline and to avoid being myopic by limiting them to consulting-focused books.


The 12 best books for consultants

Best Overall Books for Running a Consulting Business

1. The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients: 6 Steps to Unlimited Clients & Financial Freedom by David A. Fields

This book lays out all the fundamentals of running a consulting business ranging from lead generation to sales to delivery. It explains all the concepts using a straightforward approach and the hand-drawn illustrations further simplify the concepts so they’re easy to apply and implement to each reader’s situation. Simply put, it’s a classic for anyone running an independent consulting business.

Best for

This book is especially helpful for independent consultants who must wear all the hats in their businesses, whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for 20 or 30 years. The book serves as both a great starting point and a refresher. 

It’s a book I’ve read multiple times and also one I frequently reference when working with my clients, as a good reference point for the fundamentals of growing a consulting business.

What you’ll learn

This book teaches you how to define your consulting offer, build visibility, create opportunities, become the obvious choice for each consulting client, and how to propose, negotiate, and close. 


2. Grow Your Consulting Business: The 14-Step Roadmap to Make Your Independent Consulting Goals a Reality.

This book is a comprehensive guide that any independent consultant can leverage to create consistent, predictable business results. It covers the range of strategy, tactics, and mindset required to be a successful business owner.

Best for

This book is best for an independent consultant who wants to grow their consulting business into a predictable, repeatable, and profitable business engine. It’s a practical book filled with actionable steps and case studies.

What you’ll learn

You’ll learn how to establish the 14 systems required to run a successful consulting business and learn from detailed, real-life stories of other consultants who have faced and overcome the common challenges and mistakes consultants commonly make.


3. Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional’s Guide to Growing a Practice by Alan Weiss

This book is another classic for anyone running an independent consulting business. While a $1M consulting practice may not be your specific goal, this book lays out the building blocks required to run a successful consulting business at any revenue level. 

Best for

This book is best for a consultant who wants to grow their existing consulting business. It’s filled with actionable steps and case studies.

What you’ll learn

You’ll learn how to market yourself so you have a high-quality pipeline. You’ll also learn how to sell yourself, including value-based pricing and maximizing fees.


Best Books For Marketing Your Consulting Services

4. Building A Story Brand by Donald Miller

In Building A Story Brand, Donald Miller shares his proven framework for creating a BrandScript™️, a tool that helps you clearly talk about and powerfully engage with your potential customers. Ultimately, by defining your unique BrandScript, you’ll have a guide that informs all of your marketing and lead generation activities.

Best for

This book is a practical tool that’s a must-have for anyone wanting to market their business. It’s especially useful for independent consultants who are building a brand around their expertise, unique value proposition, and intellectual property. 

This book isn’t commonly listed on lists of best consulting books, so it can be a differentiator for you as an independent consultant who wants to stand out from your fellow consultants.

What you’ll learn

Building A Story Brand walks you through how to be seen, heard, and understood by your ideal consulting clients. It includes Donald Miller’s Simple 7-part framework to define your unique StoryBrand™️ and then helps you build out a specific marketing roadmap to implement the StoryBrand™️ as a brand guide for all your lead generation activities, ranging from networking to your website and collateral.


Best Books For Selling Your Consulting Services

5. Selling to Big Companies by Jill Konrath

Selling to Big Companies is packed with actionable strategies and advice on how to crack into big corporate accounts, shrink your sales cycle, and close more consulting business with enterprise clients.

Best for

Selling to Big Companies is geared toward consultants who want to work with large, enterprise clients. And, while the book focuses on the uniqueness of selling to large corporate clients, the concepts also apply to those consultants who are working with mid-sized companies. 

What you’ll learn

You’ll learn how to build a pipeline of ideal clients by using targeted strategies. You’ll also learn how to leverage the account entry approach to get your foot in the door at large clients. The book then walks you through how to overcome obstacles and objections and how to have powerful sales meetings from the initial call to the contract close.


6. Value-Based Fees: How to Charge What You’re Worth and Get What You Charge by Alan Weiss

This book takes the mystery out of value-based pricing for consulting services. It’s basically a textbook (in both format and cost) that walks you through how to transition into value-based pricing for your consulting business, including what types of consulting services to offer, how to position consulting services to set up for value-based pricing, and how to lead your consulting prospect through a sales cycle that leads to easier buy-in for your value-based pricing solution.

Best for

This book is written specifically for independent consultants and boutique consulting firm owners. 

What you’ll learn

Value-Based Fees provides you with a roadmap on how to implement and transform your independent consulting business into value-based pricing so you no longer set yourself up to exchange time for money, underearn, and overwork.


Best Books For Delivering Consulting Services

7. Flawless Consulting: A Guide To Getting Your Expertise Used (Third Edition) by Peter Block

Flawless Consulting is a go-to guide for consulting practitioners. It’s been called the “consultant’s bible.” It covers both contracting with clients as well as tools you can use to effectively manage your consulting engagements.

Best for

Flawless Consulting provides tools for both external and internal consultants. 

What you’ll learn

It provides specific, actionable frameworks ranging from how to think about yourself as a consultant, how to think about your clients, how to facilitate the sales and contract process for new clients, how to undercover and manage through resistance, how to facilitate discovery, how to uncover capacity, how to manage a meeting for action, how to implement, and how to facilitate change for your clients. The book ends with actionable checklists so you can quickly pull out and apply the techniques to the consulting scenarios you encounter.


8. The Trusted Advisor: 20th Anniversary Edition by David H. Maister, Robert Galford, and Charles Green

The Trusted Advisor is another classic book that walks you through all the angles for building and strengthening your relationship as a trusted advisor with your ideal clients.

Best for

The Trusted Advisor is a guidebook for any consultant who wants to establish and deepen their relationships as a trusted advisor and isn’t focused on more transactional type engagements.

What you’ll learn

The Trusted Advisor tackles all the practical dimensions of becoming a trusted advisor for your consulting clients, including earning trust, giving advice, the 4 components of a “trust equation’, getting clients to engage, the art of listening, building trust, re-earning trust, and ends with a quick-impact list to gain trust.


9. The McKinsey Mind: Understanding and Implementing the Problem-Solving Tools and Management Techniques of the World’s Topc Strategic Consulting Firm by Ethan M. Rasiel and Paul N. Friga

Consultants are frequently looking for new ways to make greater impacts for their clients. This book helps with providing methodologies and frameworks for consultants to leverage as you’re working with clients in the consulting delivery phase. The McKinsey Mind shows you how to apply McKinsey techniques in your consulting engagements. 

Best for

This book is best suited for independent consultants who want to continue adding to their bag of tools and methodologies, so you’re able to feel more confident in delivering outcomes and value to your consulting clients.

What you’ll learn

The McKinsey Mind dives into the specific approaches to implement McKinsey’s problem-solving process, including framing the problem, designing the analysis, gathering the data, interpreting the results, and presenting your idea. It also walks through techniques to manage yourself and your client. It includes several appendices with checklists and lessons.


Best Books For Independent Consulting Mindset

10. The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman

Todd Herman is a high-performance coach and strategist for entrepreneurs, athletes, and leaders who want to achieve “wildly outrageous goals.” He’s created a proprietary tool he calls the “Alter Ego” to help you overcome adversity, resistance, self-doubt, and challenges as you pursue your own goals.

Best for

The Alter Ego Effect is a tool that can be used by anyone who’s committed to pursuing and achieving a goal. It’s especially relevant for independent consultants who are wrestling with self-doubt and dips in confidence, either situationally or overall.

I frequently leverage the Alter Ego tool (with full credit to Todd Herman) when I’m coaching independent consultants so they’re able to manage and facilitate situations that are typically stressful, such as networking calls, speaking, and facilitating sales processes.

What you’ll learn

You’ll learn all about the Alter Ego tool, including why it works, how it works, and how to apply it in various scenarios, both personally and professionally.


11. The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks

The Big Leap is a book I read and listen to over and over again, whenever I hit a ceiling in my life or business. I recommend this book to my independent consulting business owner clients as well. It’s a quick read and will help you recognize and overcome all those times in your consulting business when you hit a plateau or ceiling.

Best for

This book is best for anyone who is interested in personal development, achieving goals, and fulfilling your potential in life. It specifically helps consultants who want to push through rough spots, dips, and plateaus in their business.

What you’ll learn

The Big Leap will teach you to identify your zone of genius and how to use the “big leap” process to move past your current plateau or place you’re stuck to break through to a new level of results, such as higher revenue, increased profitability, and growing your free time and flexibility without sacrificing your income.


12. Grow Your Consulting Business: The 14-Step Roadmap to Make Your Independent Consulting Goals a Reality.

Building a strong business owner identity and mindset is a key to independent consulting success.

Best for

This book is best for anyone who wants to create and grow a consulting business, and to stop worrying about sustaining their success.

What you’ll learn

In Grow Your Consulting Business, you'll read detailed examples of what a successful business owner mindset sounds like, what a self-sabotaging mindset sounds like, and take away the practical tools to develop a confident business owner mindset.


How to apply this knowledge in your consulting business

For more resources on how to grow your independent consulting business, here are several next steps for you:

  1. Listen to the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast
  2. Read Grow Your Consulting Business: The 14-Step Roadmap to Make Your Independent Consulting Goals a Reality.
  3. Download the tools at the Independent Consultant’s Toolkit → IC Toolkit
  4. Uncover opportunities to improve your consulting pricing: How Independent Consultant Rates and Retainer Fees Work

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