If you’re an entrepreneur, then you know that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to business. Every company is unique, and every entrepreneur has to find their way to succeed. That said, certain books have stood the test of time and can teach entrepreneurs a lot about running a successful business.
Whether you’re just starting or you’re looking for new ideas to take your business to the next level, these books have something for everyone. So dive in and start learning. The books are listed in no particular order.
1. “The Lean Start-Up: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” by Eric Ries
Eric Ries’s book, The Lean Start-Up, is all about the concept of ‘Build-Measure-Learn.’ He defines this as “a cyclic process through which you build a minimum viable product (MVP), put it out into the world, measure how customers respond to it, and then learn whether or not to pivot — or change direction — and what to do next.” This is very important for any entrepreneur because coming up with an idea that will not provide value once it is released to the public is a waste of time and resources.
The Lean Start-Up also focuses on ‘validated learning,’ which Ries describes as “the application of scientific method to business.” This means that entrepreneurs need to truly know what their customers want before they go ahead and create it for them, rather than just creating something they think people will want.
If you’re considering starting a new company, this book will give you some insight into how successful businesses have been built in the past –including Uber, SpaceX, and Zappos — so that you can apply those concepts to your project.
2. “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg
Although this isn’t a book written solely about entrepreneurship, it is one that any young entrepreneur should read. The co-founders of Google wrote this book because they want their knowledge to be available to everyone, not just people looking to become executives at the company.
This book includes information on how the search engine works, as well as valuable advice on how you can build teams and accomplish your goals. There are also some great thoughts on personal productivity, which is something many entrepreneurs have trouble with due to all the distractions they are faced with every day. If you are struggling to manage your time or reach a goal, reading “How Google Works” could help you out.
3. “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz
Ben Horowitz’s book focuses on what he calls ‘the realities of management.’ Instead of focusing on the concept of leadership, which Horowitz believes is overrated, he discusses how one can lead a team effectively. He writes about how you should be willing to ‘get your hands dirty and not shy away from what needs to be done.
“The Hard Thing About Hard Things” is important for entrepreneurs because most companies fail, and this book will help you understand what it takes to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.
Most importantly, it explains that the key to success as an entrepreneur is understanding that times are going to get tough — especially if you’re the only person working on your project — but it’s important not to give up. If you have doubts about whether or not entrepreneurship is for you, this book will help you make up your mind.
4. “The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World” by Chris Guillebeau
Chris Guillebeau is a very successful blogger who has traveled to every country in the world — before most people could drive — and he shares his story of success in “The Art of Non-Conformity.”
He believes that everyone has within themselves all they need to be happy and successful. It’s just about finding something you love doing so much that other things don’t matter anymore.
This book includes anecdotes from many other entrepreneurs, as well as pieces of advice on how to live life on your terms. There are also many resources in the back, where you can find other entrepreneurs to follow or books that will help you learn more.
5. “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss
“The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss
“The 4-Hour Workweek ,” is a must-read for anyone who wants to escape the 9 to 5 and live life on their terms. It’s all about working smarter not harder, reprogramming your mind to focus only on what you want, and utilizing technology to be more productive.
If someone knows how to run their business without losing too much sleep at night, it’s this guy. This is one of those books that I come back to time after time because it is such an eye-opener. There are some great tips and tricks inside as well as practical advice. This book also covers all aspects of life from making money online to understanding foreign languages. If you are an entrepreneur, this book will help you out in more ways than one.
6. “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable” by Nassim Taleb
Nassim Taleb wanted everyone to understand that things happen beyond our control all the time — especially in business. He tells us through this book, “The Black Swan,” that we should embrace uncertainty instead of trying to avoid it because there are some things that simply can not be planned for.
He also says that you can’t rely on statistics to predict what’s going to happen in your business, because even the smallest things (like if someone sends out a positive tweet or not) can make huge differences in performance. This book has many great lessons about how you should view risk and success, but most importantly it teaches you to take risks when it comes to your business.
It’s easy to play it safe, especially when no one else is trying new things. But by taking more risks, like experimenting with new ideas, you will increase the chance of succeeding as opposed to playing it safe. “The Black Swan” uses stories from historical events as well as modern ones, so reading this will be good for your business education.
7. “The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century” by Thomas L. Friedman
This book, “The World is Flat ,” talks about globalization and how companies today can take advantage of it to succeed. It’s a rundown of why outsourcing works, how technology has changed the face of production, and why communication with people all across the world is important now more than ever before.
This book will make you want to look at things differently — if you are someone who is used to doing things in a certain way or buying from one main supplier, this book will make you think twice about what you are limiting yourself to. This book also gives real-life examples that show what being a “twenty-first century business person” means and how it can help your company grow.
8. “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
Carnegie’s book focuses on the idea that you should be nice to everyone, even if they are mean or rude to you. It’s basically about knowing how people think and what makes them respond so that you can get what you want using this information.
The main point of this book is to look at things from other people’s points of view because most people do not see themselves clearly — especially when it comes to why they act the way they do. Real-life examples from historical events as well as modern ones make this an enjoyable read for people working in the business because it shows you how to manage everything from your employees to those outside of the company, such as customers and those who affect your business.
9. “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu
“The Art of War ,” is a great read for anyone who is looking to be successful. It’s a guidebook on how war can be turned into peace — which relates directly to business.
Since working with other companies (and sometimes even between internal teams) is like having an interoffice battle, reading this book will show you how to avoid conflict and get what you need without having to fight for it. This book has inspired many movie plots, including that one about the heroic hacker in The Matrix. So, even if you aren’t specifically looking to be a businessperson, this book will still teach you what to do and how to do it when it comes to working with others.
10. “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” by Eckhart Tolle
“A New Earth,” essentially talks about living life fully now instead of trying to live for your future or past. One main point that this book makes is that we should always strive towards pure happiness because then nothing can bother us. Living without fear, guilt, or attachment will allow you to be happy all the time.
This book is not about business, but when you are in a business environment, it can be hard to focus on being happy 24/7. This book will help you keep things in perspective and stay neutral no matter what is going on around you.
11. “Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
This book is a personal favorite for many people. It’s about how chance plays a bigger role than most people realize which means you need to be prepared for anything that comes your way — including bad luck.
Taleb shows why we shouldn’t trust successful companies or people who seem to always win because there is a very good chance that they are actually “ fooling us by randomness .” This book will change the way you think about your daily life because it can show you why you shouldn’t let yourself be fooled into thinking something is more important than it is.
12. “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki
This book talks about how different two people’s points of view on money and success can be. It’s written as if Robert Kiyosaki was having a conversation with his father trying to teach him what he should have known but didn’t because his dad grew up in poor circumstances.
The rich dad tells his son stories about his wealthy life and how it differs from the poor dad. It’s a really good look at how you should think about money, especially if your parents didn’t teach you anything or taught you wrong things.
13. “The Effective Executive” by Peter Drucker
The Effective Executive,” can help leaders become more effective no matter what they do. The main message is that there needs to be a balance between planning and doing to work efficiently and meet deadlines while still making sure everything gets done properly.
This book can help with managing employees, planning meetings, and staying organized so that everyone knows their part of the plan and when to carry it out. Even though this book is old (it was written in 1967), none of the principles are outdated. This book is great for entrepreneurs or managers because it can be applied to anything you are trying to accomplish.
14. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill
In “Think and Grow Rich,” Hill talks about how much success is possible if someone works hard enough for it. Many people know this book just from all of the references in other books, movies, etc.
The main theme is that anything you want in life — money, wealth, power — comes from thinking about it constantly until opportunities present themselves. It goes into detail about how to be patient and prepare yourself so when your chance presents itself — whether it’s an idea, a person, etc. — you are ready to take it. Not only does this book help you figure out what you want in life, but it emphasizes how important persistence is to get what you want.
15. “The Little Red Book of Selling” by Jeffrey Gitomer
In “The Little Red Book of Selling ,” Jeffrey Gitomer weaves all the information together so that nothing is forgotten and nothing gets overlooked — making sure everything makes sense easily and doesn’t sound like gibberish.
It’s written as if the reader was having a conversation with the author and he told them everything he knows about selling. This isn’t just for salespeople though because anyone who wants to be good at persuading others should read this book.
It’s filled with examples of good and bad sales pitches so the reader can see what works and what doesn’t. Gitomer also gives you ways to remember everything in case you forget something. This book is great for entrepreneurs because it puts selling into perspective, instead of just seeing it as an annoying thing that they have to do to get their business off the ground.
16. “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell
“The Tipping Point,” discusses how sometimes all it takes is one little thing to change everything. It’s not always about having the perfect plan or knowing every detail; instead, some people are successful because they know how to pick out small details and make bigger picture connections.
It’s about how word of mouth plays a really important role in society and can make or break a product. This book shapes how you look at situations, especially if you are an entrepreneur because it helps you see where your business is going, why customers join your business, etc. If you want to make something more mainstream, this book will help you understand the importance of little changes that have a huge impact.
17. “The One Minute Manager” by Kenneth Blanchard & Spencer Johnson
This book teaches you about being a good leader. It deals with time management and knowing when to step up and take charge. In short, it’s all about building trust so the people around them will listen to what they have to say and be willing to follow their lead.
The book is divided into three sections: how to get more done in less time, how to become a better leader, and how to teach others all of this. It’s good for anyone who wants to be a more efficient person and can’t afford to waste their time.
18. “The Personal MBA” by Josh Kaufman
“The Personal MBA,” focuses on learning the business skills you need to know to succeed. This doesn’t just apply to entrepreneurship, but can also be used if you are looking for a promotion or to change your current role within your company.
The author believes that there are some things every employee should know about their career, so they don’t feel like they’ve been left in the dark on anything. He talks about different topics such as marketing, accounting, etc., and how they all work together. It’s good for anyone looking into starting their own business or trying to understand more about what goes into running it.
19. “The Art of Social Media” by Guy Kawasaki
In “The Art of Social Media,” Guy Kawasaki talks about how to use social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook for beginning entrepreneurs. It’s all about using those two sites in a way that will help your business grow, no matter what kind of business you have.
There are some great tips and tricks on there, along with explanations for why you need them. This book is good because it shows you not just how to use social media, but also how to measure and monitor your results so that you can tell what’s working and what isn’t. And if anything goes wrong, this book has strategies for fixing those problems as well. If you are a business, this book will help you learn how to market on social media, and will give you tips for what works best.
20. “Disrupt You!” by Jay Samit
In Samit’s book, you’ll learn all about harnessing the power of technology to change your life. It talks about how to take advantage of where we are in today’s modern society, and use it to your advantage.
An entrepreneur with a good idea might not always have the funds to make that idea happen, so this book gives some great tactics for finding investors and pitching ideas online along with gaining exposure.
This book also includes interviews with successful entrepreneurs and some can’t-miss stories from those who have paved the way for everyone else. If you are an entrepreneur looking into making that next big move, this is one you should check out.
Bonus: “The $100 Startup” by Chris Guillebeau
“The $100 Startup,” is quite an interesting book. It It talks all about starting your own business with little to no start-up funds required. It’s so much easier than most of us think it would be, and this book helps show the way.
It offers practical advice on how to get things done without having to break the bank or mortgage your house trying to make it happen. This is a great read for anyone who has an idea but isn’t sure where they should go from there, or even those entrepreneurs looking for new ideas on what they can do next.
There are some helpful tips in there on finding your niche to sell your product. Not only that, but the author has some really good points when it comes to mastering marketing skills. If you are an entrepreneur with little or no startup funds, this book will help you get moving.
Whether it be through the entrepreneurial journey of someone else, or by analysing your own unique situation, these books are sure to provide insight into what is needed to get ahead in today’s competitive business world. No matter where you are on your path as an entrepreneur, there is something here that will help guide you forward. Though most of them are old, the knowledge they contain is timeless.
Thanks for reading!