It’s time for a jolt of Monday Morning Motivational ideas. This kind of motivation is easy for us: We see small business motivations and lessons everywhere we turn … even in those novels we had to read in school.

Because these classics of American literature were required reading, it’s probable that you skipped major parts of the books and, depending on your age, relied on either Cliffs Notes or Spark Notes for catching the drift of the narrative.

Big mistake. Now that you run a small business, we encourage you to pick up and actually read some of those American classics of fiction and non-fiction. You’ll be amazed by the inspiration and insight you’ll find in them that even Cliffs missed.

Need some examples? Here are four classics and their lessons for owning and managing a business.

1. Knowledge is Power: Narrative of the Life Of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave


(Image: via University of North Carolina)

Later in his life, Douglass would write his autobiography, but he was still in his 20s when he wrote this 1845 classic. It became an instant bestseller that not only profoundly changed the context of his era, but also helped change the course of American history. But you may have missed some of that impact as a teenage reader. Reading it now through the lenses of experience, polished by facing challenges and knowing both failure and success, the words of Douglass will touch you in a different way. While the journey of Douglass from slavery to international influence and inspiration is far more than most of us will accomplish, we all face challenges that will test our determination and commitment. And the more such challenges you face, the more inspired you will be by the core of Douglass’s message that the power of knowledge is the path to freedom.

(Bonus: You can download a free ebook version of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave from Project Gutenberg.) 

2. Don’t Lose Sight of Your Goal: Moby Dick


(Image: via deviantart)

If you haven’t read Herman Melville’s classic since school—if then—download the free ebook below and read it as a small business owner or manager. You’ll experience something akin to a small business primer penned by Stephen King. Captain Ahab’s obsession with pursuing the giant white whale at all costs causes him to lose sight of all else–(spoiler alert) damning himself and his crew in the process.

(Bonus: You can download a free ebook version of Moby Dick from Project Gutenberg)

3. Nothing Is More Important Than Your Integrity: To Kill a Mockingbird

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(Image: via wikimedia commons)

Harper Lee’s novel is riveting and inspiring when read at any age or circumstance. But as a small business owner or manager, you’ll be profoundly moved by the way that the moral center of the novel, Atticus Finch, teaches his children the critical importance of preserving one’s integrity. He does it not merely by the eloquence of his words, but in the way he lives those words. Integrity, Atticus teaches us, is more than just a word on a Successory poster you hang on the office wall. It’s everything.

4. Find Innovative Ways to Meet Your Customer’s Needs: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

(Image: on Flickr via opensourceway)

You were taught that Tom Sawyer “tricked” his friends into paying him to do his job. However, as a small business owner, you should recognize that lesson was a sham. Tom is a natural-born small business manager who has set up an innovative intern program and for-profit occupational training school. He has discovered the un-met need his community has to help under- and unemployed youth, and he likely will soon receive a federal grant for his innovative program.

(Bonus: You can download a free ebook version of Tom Sawyer from Project Gutenberg)



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