Recommended books for IT managers & MSP owners

On 17th April 2020, I published my second book, MSP Secrets Revealed.

In September 2019, my original plan was to put the call out for contributions and have a great resource of secrets and tactics for 100 people by the end of that year.

It turns out that life doesn’t work like that 😮. It’s actually quite hard to write a book (even when you’re hoping that many others will contribute).

Despite it being harder than I thought, I loved the process. I interviewed at conferences, on the phone and on the street if I had to. Eventually I had managed to cajoule 85 contributors into giving me a secret – something which would help other MSPs and IT managers to improve their department or business. In total I had 101 secrets and I am still incredibly proud of the end result.

I personally learnt a huge amount about both writing and editing – but also about business itself – thanks to the conversations I had.

Books for IT managers

Part of the way through the interview process, I thought it would be interesting to get a book (and software/service) recommendation from each of the contributors as a bonus. Let’s face it, most of us read, based on recommendation and so I added their thoughts at the end of each secret.

Today, for the first time, I thought it would be interesting to bring that list of books for IT managers and MSP owners together and share it with the world.

Some of the books you will have heard of below – some you may not have.

I’ve done my best to categorise them below. I hope you find the list useful.

I’m also going to keep comments open on this post forever – please do add yours below and I’ll update the list regularly to provide a definitive ongoing list.

A list of books for IT Managers and MSP owners – as recommended by IT professionals from around the world.

Most recommened:

Traction, Gino Wickman

A number of my contributors selected Traction. It’s coming up for 10 years old now at the time of writing and is still a #1 best seller on Amazon.

So many MSPs I know run this process in their business and are all the richer for it. It’s definitely worth reading (and implementing) if you’ve not considered it before.

Rocket fuel  (by the same author of course) was also recommended too.

Second most recommended:

Incredibly, only two other books were recommended more than once –

The classic, Good to Great, Jim Collins

and

Never Split the Difference, Chris Voss – Tools for effective negotiation

In addition, another author was recommended multiple times. He is a favourite of mine – Daniel Priestley, the founder of Dent Global. His entrepreneurial books are must-reads.

If you’re looking to become an influencer in your niche, Key Person of Influence is essential reading. Oversubscribed and 24 Assets are also brilliant.

Autobiography

What’s not to love about a set of true stories, encapsulating the ups and downs of life and business?

Riding the storm, Duncan Bannatyne
Henry Fraser, The Little Big Things

General business books

A set of general business books were recommened. Most here are well known and all have a slightly different take and set of lessons within them. Excuse the self-promotion at the end of the list. To be fair it was a recommended book! Helpdesk Habits was ‘born’ the year before MSP Secrets Revealed was published.

Profit First, Mike Michalowicz
Subscribed, Tien Tzou
Humans Need Not Apply, Jerry Kaplan
BOOM! – Blow the doors off business as usual, Kevin Feiberg
Predictable Success, Les McKeown
Value-Based Fees, Alan Weiss
Getting Naked, Patrick Lencioni
Pumpkin Plan, Michael Michaelowics
The E Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber
Helpdesk Habits, by errrrr, Mark Copeman

IT specific business books

There are a number of consultants in our industry who have  been recommended within this list. You may also want to check out Paul Green’s free book too.

Managed Services in a Month, Karl Palachuk
The IT Business Owner’s Survival Guide, Richard Tubb
The Phoenix Project – Gene Kim, George Spafford, and Kevin Behr
Package, Price, Profit: The Essential Guide to Packaging and Pricing Your MSP Plans, Nigel Moore

History

I was surprised more fiction or off-business books weren’t recommended. Here’s just the one.

Devil in the White City’, Erik Larson

Books on leadership

Running a successful team rarely comes naturally and I think it speaks volumes that so many recommended books on leadership in a quest to improve how teams are managed.

Radical Candor, Kim Scott
The One Minute Manager – Ken Blanchard
Effective Executive, Peter Drucker
The ride of a lifetime, Bob Iger
What Successful People Know about Leadership, John Maxwell
Great Game of Business, Jack Stack

Personal development

The last chapter of the MSP Secrets book contains a number of revealing personal stories. So often it’s impossible to split business from our personal lives. I’m still grateful to the contributors about how candid they were. So many of us are always looking to improve in different ways. This list certainly can help with that.

The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict, the Arbinger Institute
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth
The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
The Fred Factor, Mark Sanborn
The Go-Giver, Bob Burg
Atomic Habits, James Clear

Sales & marketing

This is the largest category – and possibly for good reason. It’s one of the most difficult areas to get right when running a business – particularly, if your background is in IT. Having a grounding in this discipline is key. Know enough to hold a sensible conversation with experts. Be able to challenge and question what an agency recommends.

Selling the Invisible, Harry Beckwith
Fanatical Prospecting, Jeb Blount
Pitch Anything, Oren Klaff
They Ask You Answer, Marcus Sheridan
F🤍cking Good Content, Dan Kelsall
Words That Sell, Richard Bayan
The Power of Moments, Chip & Dan Heath
Measure what Matters, John Doerr
Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing, Drayton Bird

As a reminder, I’m also going to keep comments open on this post forever – please do add yours below and I’ll update the list regularly to provide a definitive ongoing list.

Please note – I need to tell you that all links are Amazon affiliate links. Should you click and buy something – eventually, that may just buy me a cup of coffee – so thank you.

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