The entrepreneurial journey can be quite daunting, especially if you’re doing it without help from others who have gone down the same path before you.
Because of this, it can be helpful to read books on entrepreneurship to gain insight from experts and professionals who have experienced what you’re going through firsthand.
Here are some of the best books on entrepreneurship you should add to your library.
1) The Lean Startup
This book is a staple for any entrepreneur that has ever launched a business. In The Lean Startup, you’ll find lots of actionable advice about how to start, grow and sustain a startup venture. Many entrepreneurs consider it required reading for anyone interested in entrepreneurship because it gives you an insider’s perspective about what’s really going on behind every new business.
Whether or not you agree with everything offered in this book, it will make you think differently about creating a business and make your own path more deliberate. It’s an easy read and offers great insights into getting any startup venture off to a good start. This is one book that should definitely be added to your bookshelf if you are considering becoming an entrepreneur.
2) How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale
This book is a classic, but it’s more than just a pop-psychology read; it’s practical in its approach and outlines specific tactics you can use to influence others. It’s a great read for anyone trying to get ahead—which is why everyone from teenagers to senior executives has read (and loved) it.
This classic self-help book was first published in 1936 and has since sold 15 million copies. While it’s primarily a book about sales and human relations, it offers insights that apply to any business.
On top of that, there’s a reason it continues to sell—the concepts are timelessly useful for both personal and professional life. The author is popularly known as Socrates because he has been acknowledged as one of history’s greatest thinkers. Despite the time it requires!
This book is worth it! In fact, if you can read only three books from my list (which wouldn’t be too shabby), make sure How to Win Friends and Influence People makes the cut.
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
It might sound trite, but things do happen at lightning speed nowadays. Technology moves fast, ideas spread rapidly and trends become viral overnight. Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point analyzes exactly how that happens—and what companies or individuals need to do to be one of those big successes at lightning speed.
The Tipping Point outlines three things that Gladwell considers laws of behavior—three principles that together explain how trends start, why they become popular so quickly, and why they continue to grow.
Those laws are
- law of the few,
- law of unexpected behaviors, and
- law of word-of-mouth communications.
Each section goes into detail about what those laws are, how to apply them, and whether or not they have actually been proven to be true in real-world scenarios. If you want a better understanding of what makes a trend go viral, The Tipping Point is an important read.
3) Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Sinek’s Start with Why remains a seminal work, one that’s still quoted by young entrepreneurs all over. It takes time to read (and even longer to truly understand), but if you want an introduction to Sinek and his idea of starting with why you do what you do, it’s as good a place as any.
Start with Why by Simon Sinek is an excellent starting point for anyone looking to start a business. Written by a professional TED speaker, Start with Why looks at branding and human behavior as it relates to businesses, more specifically why some brands become world-renowned and others fade away. It’s important for any entrepreneur to have a solid grasp of marketing and branding in order to make their business successful. So if you haven’t read Start with Why yet, you should—now! (link)
4) The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
If you’re going to succeed as an entrepreneur, you’ll need mental toughness. This book details how to develop that toughness and navigate life’s obstacles. While there is a lot of information in it, some readers may find it too philosophical.
If you’re willing to read through those parts, however, you’ll learn a lot of valuable lessons about perseverance and following your dreams in business. Use these tips to build your confidence and persevere through challenging situations that come with starting up a new company.
If you have an interest in starting your own business, or are trying to figure out how to make something happen for yourself, Holiday’s book is a must-read. It helps you think outside of your current situation and focus on what matters in getting from point A to point B. The best part? His inspirational quotes stick with you long after you’re done reading.
Decisive by Chip Heath & Dan Heath
If you’re looking for a book that will help you make confident, informed choices as an entrepreneur, Chip and Dan Heath’s Decisive is for you.
The Heath brothers examine why we often feel paralyzed by so many choices available to us and explain how we can hone our ability to narrow down the options available to us and make better decisions when choosing between them. This book helps readers of all walks of life make better choices in their professional and personal lives.
By reading Decisive, entrepreneurs can gain a greater understanding of their decision-making process and create a plan for making more sound business decisions in future endeavors.
This book can help entrepreneurs identify what they want (and don’t want) in their business life. It also provides readers with a list of questions to ask themselves to make good decisions.
5) Zero to One by Peter Thiel
This book is a must-read for anyone interested in starting their own business. The authors are well-known bloggers who have now compiled some of their most important insights into a book that has become required reading for any would-be entrepreneur.
At its core, Rework provides nine key lessons in how to launch and run a business effectively; its simple, no-nonsense approach is direct and extremely readable. A worthwhile read for both established businesses or those just starting out.
Anytime someone asks for book recommendations about entrepreneurship, I immediately say Rework. It’s a very short read, which is sometimes good for entrepreneurs because it means you don’t get bogged down in detail; however, its message is simple: Stop doing stupid things and start getting results.
There’s no filler content in Rework—just hard-hitting truths delivered with some humor and a lot of candor. Learn to let go of your preconceived notions about how businesses are supposed to be run and embrace a new way that focuses on speed and nimbleness over bureaucracy. Don’t have time to read? Try listening to it as an audiobook!
6) Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Although Think and Grow Rich was written nearly a century ago, Napoleon Hill’s advice still applies to entrepreneurs today. If you’re looking for a basic primer on how to start your own business, there is no better book than Think and Grow Rich . The New York Times has called it the bestselling success manual of all time. This isn’t an exaggeration; there are over 100 million copies in print. Originally published in 1937, it’s been updated to reflect modern thinking.
With over 70 years of success secrets, Think and Grow Rich is a book that can bring you to your next level of greatness. This classic will teach you how to turn your ideas into reality, how to develop determination and willpower, and how to tune out distractions so you can get more work done. Even if you don’t consider yourself an entrepreneur or business person, there are lessons in here for everyone. We highly recommend it!
7) Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson
If you’re looking for a good book to get you started in entrepreneurship, check out Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson. Brunson shares his step-by-step process for creating an entrepreneurial empire and has inspired thousands of entrepreneurs around the world. If you don’t have time to read all 360 pages of Brunson’s guide, consider watching his free course instead. Trust us; it won’t disappoint.
It’s incredibly common for people to think that if they work hard, keep their nose to the grindstone, and follow instructions, success will come. In reality, many are working just as hard as you but taking a different approach. That’s what it means to truly be an entrepreneur—you need to do something that nobody else is doing in order to get ahead of your competition.
In Expert Secrets, Brunson shows you how he did just that by creating a successful business based around his knowledge of digital marketing. By identifying trends and gaps in the market (and there were plenty), Brunson was able to grow a multi-million dollar company while only making $12 per hour himself at one point!
The Five Temptations of a CEO by Patrick Lencioni
In The Five Temptations of a CEO, Patrick Lencioni lays out five common pitfalls that afflict new CEOs and helps them avoid these critical errors by offering concrete advice based on actual examples. Written as a parable, it’s a quick read and is essentially free, since you can get it online. Given its list price of $21.95, we like to call it 10% cheaper than if you bought it at Barnes & Noble!
In The Five Temptations of a CEO, Patrick Lencioni lays out five common pitfalls that afflict new CEOs and helps them avoid these critical errors by offering concrete advice based on actual examples. Written as a parable, it’s a quick read and is essentially free, since you can get it online.
Lencioni’s take on leadership is that it isn’t about being an expert, making yourself look good or being brilliant. Instead, he argues it’s about self-discipline and self-sacrifice — including remaining grounded while others try to puff you up.
8) Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
I could write volumes about what makes Tools of Titans stand out among other entrepreneurial books. Ferriss, a best-selling author and one of Inc’s Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30, has interviewed hundreds of successful people like Tony Robbins, Jamie Foxx, Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert), Adam Robinson (founder of EntreLeadership), and Sharon Salzberg (one of the most inspiring Buddhist teachers in North America). He knows that everyone is looking for success shortcuts—or as he puts it in his first book The 4-Hour Workweek:
The true entrepreneur views business not as building something but as doing something. So he asks a simple question to these interviewees: What do you believe contributes most to your success? The answers are compiled into a list of life hacks—many centering around ways to reduce stress, fear and overwhelm in order to work more effectively.
In fact, aside from getting away from routine tasks or focusing solely on high profile projects/tasks, some of my favorite pieces of advice include: breaking down complex projects into small steps; using social media rather than email when possible; going to bed early every night;
taking regular vacations so you have time away from work, and practicing generosity with friends/family by mentoring them or listening intently when they need someone to talk to. This isn’t just nice-sounding platitudes here–Ferriss digs into each topic with practical suggestions based off the personal experience with many different experts.
Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson
Rework isn’t so much a how-to guide as it is a philosophy on getting things done. But what makes it so valuable to aspiring entrepreneurs is that, while some people might read it and think, Easier said than done, or I can already see myself failing at that—the points in Rework have been proven by entrepreneurs.
No matter what your company does or who you are trying to market to, there’s no arguing that every entrepreneur will go through similar experiences in their journey. Rework demystifies those struggles and adds reality to success stories, making them easier for any entrepreneur to relate to.
The most basic of basics Rework is a book that’s boiled down to its title: what you need to know about getting your business off the ground and keeping it running. The best part about Rework is that it’s packed with examples and cases, making it an easy book to read (and remember). In other words, start here before diving into more technical or detailed resources.
If you’re serious about entrepreneurship, you’ll love Fried and Hansson’s irreverent approach to launching your own company. Many entrepreneurs recommend reading it three times — once for content, once for jokes and again because you’ll probably need a refresher between reads!
9) Elon Musk – Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
Elon Musk’s journey from South Africa to Silicon Valley and back again is a tale of perseverance, passion, drive, and brilliance. The billionaire entrepreneur was once in dire straits after multiple failures with his early companies.
He knew if he didn’t get his act together soon he could lose everything. In 2000, faced with bankruptcy, Musk could have turned back; instead, he pressed forward with Tesla Motors and SpaceX. Today those two businesses are worth billions of dollars each—and it’s because Musk refused to quit.