top of page
  • Sarah Parisi Dowlin

Five books to fuel your business growth

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

In fifth grade, I famously read the entire manuscript of Gone With the Wind – yes, all 418,053 words. If you are looking for a good read of historical fiction that captures the complexity of war amidst the backdrop of an all-too-famous romance, then Gone with the Wind may be your next right thing.

But, if you need a less ambitious read – and one that will likely help you move your business forward – consider one of these five books I re-read every year and that actively inform my Cincinnati photography business every day.

Fresh from a layoff at my dream job and newly pregnant, I grabbed this title because of its emphasis on design-thinking as a way to prototype life plans – (‘cause, let’s be honest: I was going to need one, and stat). It ended up being a critical learning tool as I reworked Parisi Images to serve brands, not brides, all while adding the role of “Mom” to my resume. My biggest takeaway: Practice a bias toward action. Recommended for: Anyone wondering “what’s next” whether it’s a new job, new life season, or even a new hobby.

Before reading Profit First my business accounting amounted to piling all the funds into one account and “saving” it until something urgent came up (hey, a business outfit I sometimes wear to shoots counts, right?!). This book helped me allocate specific funds for operating expenses, taxes, and yes, owners' compensation and profit. This year marks the fourth year of using the system in my business and trust me: it works. My biggest takeaway: Use five core bank accounts for easy analysis of how much money is available for each business expense category. Recommended for: Business owners who want a clear and easy way to organize business income and expenses.

I thought I knew how to use stories to build a brand (I’m a photographer, after all) but this book helped me clarify the essential messages that need to be on a website and, more importantly, what doesn’t belong (like that 849-word essay on your company’s history). My biggest takeaway: A solid framework for my website’s homepage. Recommended for: business owners and marketers who need to clarify their message with confidence.

Cal Newport is quickly becoming a brand name in entrepreneurial circles, and for good reason. If you find yourself being sucked into the glow of your phone’s aura or Instagram’s never-ending scroll, this book provides a strategy-induced philosophy for using digital tools with intention. Pair with Newport’s earlier book Deep Work for an even better experience. My biggest takeaway: It’s ok to not be on Instagram. Really. Recommended for: Anyone wanting to lessen their dependency on screens and reclaim that time for work that matters.

Micahel J. Maher

So many sales books can feel aloof. Not this one. 7L is truly a treasure trove of super practical ways to nurture relationships and stay top-of-mind of your biggest fans. The best part: it is written for the skeptic who is consistently asking: Does this work? and Does it matter? My biggest takeaway: Pick up the phone and call people. Seriously. Recommended for: Anyone looking to have some tangible, action-oriented ways to connect with the people you already know.


Psst: This content contains affiliate links for books I truly love, recommend, and often gift. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links I’ll earn some additional income, 100% of which will be donated to charity. Scout's honor.


bottom of page