18 Must-Read Books For Entrepreneurs

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If there were one right way to win at business, everyone would do it. So here are eighteen different approaches to getting you motivated, organized, streamlined, and ready to grow your operation (or get one started). These books for entrepreneurs should be on the bookshelf of anyone who realizes that working for themselves and cashing in on their own efforts and energy is the wisest approach (though many of these books will help those working within an organization too).

Some of us just want some inspiration (check out The Compound Effect or Grit). Some of us need to see examples (try The $100 Startup or Think and Grow Rich). And some of us want deep theory (The Lean Startup and The Innovator’s Dilemma) or a book that turns our thinking on its head (Zero to One and The 4-Hour Work Week). There’s something here for every personality type (even introverts) because there is no one-size-fits all approach. But there is one common theme in every one of these books: the only way to get to your goal is to constantly move toward it. Buy yourself one (or a few) of these must-read entrepreneur books and get moving.

The 4-Hour Work Week

The 4-Hour Work Week

If the idea of retiring while you’ve still have both of your original hips appeals, Tim Ferriss’s book will too. Instead of the traditional approach of working hard now to live off your savings later, The 4-Hour Work Week shows you how to streamline your efforts, intelligently manage your time, and get the most out of every hour you spend so you can live a luxury lifestyle right now. You’ll learn how to outsource the mundane, set up automatic income, work from anywhere, and travel like a millionaire (even if you aren’t one — yet).

The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup

If you like your how-tos with a formula, a method, a bit of science, The Lean Startup will tell you what to do, how to do it, and when. While the principles of lean aren’t new (they were derived from the way Toyota improved their manufacturing processes back in the 80s) the way Eric Ries applies the principles towards leveraging innovation is. With particular attention paid to bringing products and services to market people actually want, this will show you how to make better business decisions through continuous innovation.

Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence

Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence

Growing a business and growing an online presence are no longer independent aims. Written by the founder of a successful social media digital marketing agency that made it to AdAge’s A-List, Crushing It! Is the follow up book to the 2009 bestseller Crush It!. With up-to-the-minute advice on how to create, refine, and most of all promote your personal brand on every social media platform, the book is part how-to strategy guide and part inspiration for living your best life — and making sure it’s well-amplified.

The $100 Startup

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

To understand something, some of us benefit from seeing multiple examples. The author of The $100 Startup researched 1,500 people who had made $50,000 or more from businesses with small initial investments. Deep-diving into 50 of them, the concrete examples offered here also come with checklists, advice, and actionable steps that get you closer to working for yourself. Instead of “someday when…” the book tells you to start today using what you already have in terms of talent, know-how, and money.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Anyone who believes it takes a genius with unique inborn talents to become a success should read Grit. The author is a psychology professor who has been an advisor to the NBA, the White House, and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and she argues that it’s not a matter of having a high IQ or being a “natural” at something that brings success, it’s your mindset, your passion, and continually not giving up — aka, grit. And the best part is, grit can be learned and this book will show you how.

The Innovator's Dilemma

The Innovator’s Dilemma

You could say this guy wrote the book on disruptive innovation, because he did. Clayton Christensen’s classic business book has been read and applied by many heavy hitters in business and tech, but it’s required reading for anyone looking to maintain any success they may gain. By proving how certain new products, or innovations, can completely change the market, and quickly push market leaders aside — the book shows you how those on top can stay there, and how those not on top can get there.

The Compound Effect

The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success

If you need a little inspiration to make some changes, Darren Hardy has provided that for thousands of people already. While being very clear that this method is not a magic “one weird trick” solution, The Compound Effect promises measurable results over time through small positive daily changes to your life. Here you’ll get guidance to help you get rid of excuses, find gratitude, and track your goals while you learn the habits that make for success — in every aspect of your life from business to relationships to fitness.

The Introvert Entrepreneur

The Introvert Entrepreneur

So you weren’t voted “Most Likely to Succeed” in high school because most people didn’t know you were there. Doesn’t mean you won’t one day rule your chosen sector of the business world. The Introvert Entrepreneur makes the case that many introverted personality traits lend themselves to getting ahead — from a love of research to the tendency to get deeply involved in a task. But the book also helps introverts win at those things most introverts try to avoid — self-promotion, networking, leadership — while still staying true to your personality type.

The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs

The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs

To win, you have to get your head right. That’s the goal of this book. In a hundred chapters, The Entrepreneur Mind offers up a hundred lessons, each showing you a way of thinking, an action, a habit, or advice based on what highly successful entrepreneurs do and think. With topics ranging from strategy to marketing to finance to motivation, the field covered is vast, yet the lessons themselves get very specific, from choosing banks to choosing a spouse.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

No one ever got big doing things the way everyone else does them. If you’re looking for a book that will challenge your thinking and your assumptions, buy Zero to One. Written by Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and Palantir, and investor in Facebook and SpaceX, the book gives no formula for success — as genuine success in business comes from doing something entirely new, therefore no formula can exist — rather the book will make you ask yourself questions that will lead to the creation of that future-changing new thing.

Think and Grow Rich

Think and Grow Rich

First published in the 1930s and based on author Napoleon Hill’s study of millionaires — Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller — Think and Grow Rich is the original must-read for entrepreneurs. In his version of the motivational book, Hill offered thirteen steps to riches. In the updated version, all thirteen steps are still here, but they’re accompanied by anecdotes of more recent millionaires and billionaires to illustrate the steps. The new version also smooths over any olde-timey speak or references that might make the book tougher for a modern audience to grasp.

Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World

Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World

If you’ve googled SEO strategies you’ve probably come across Rand Fishkin, or the marketing analytics company he founded, Moz. The book he’s written is an honest look at what it takes to start and grow a company, stripped of all the hero-worship startup mythology that surrounds so many great success stories. Here he presents what he did wrong so you can learn from his mistakes. He also presents what he did right, so you can jump to the right answer instead of crashing and burning first. With humor and insight, and a rare dose of candid introspection, Lost and Founder tells it like it is.

How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs

How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs

Drawing from four years of talking to innovators and entrepreneurs on his podcast, How I Built This, Guy Raz has learned a thing or two about building a successful business. With insight from the people behind Clif Bar, Airbnb, Shopify, and countless others, the book takes you from ideas and fundraising to setbacks and success. The book is rich with examples and packed with advice from people who have built businesses from nothing more than a good idea and a lot of determination.

100 Side Hustles: Unexpected Ideas for Making Extra Money Without Quitting Your Day Job

100 Side Hustles: Unexpected Ideas for Making Extra Money Without Quitting Your Day Job

Maybe you’re not looking to completely change careers. You just want a little extra income at the end of the month. The guy behind the Side Hustle School podcast knows just what you need. Featuring stories from people who’ve made a little or a lot of extra money on the side 100 Side Hustles will help you mine your passions while teaching you the skills and showing you the steps to take to turn a good idea into cold hard cash money. 

Your Next Five Moves: Master the Art of Business Strategy

Your Next Five Moves: Master the Art of Business Strategy

Do your eyes go a little glassy when you read the phrase “business strategy”? Then this book is for you. Your Next Five Moves distills the necessary drudgery that is planning, tracking, and methodology into five easy chapters that help you see five steps into the future. Starting with self-awareness, and moving through decision-making, team-building, scaling, and mastering power plays, this book teaches you to think like a chess master, a general, and a poker player, seeing your next set of moves long before you take them.  

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

The man behind Nike doesn’t do a lot of interviews. Phil Knight’s memoir Shoe Dog is a rare look at the man’s journey — from selling shoes out of the trunk of his car to helming the brand behind the swoosh. He doesn’t hold back on sharing the disappointments, mistakes, mishaps, and disasters that preceded success and he’s sure to include the relationships that turned a belief in the power of sports into the most powerful sports brand on the planet. 

Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business

Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business

We always highlight the conquest of the individual in our mythology of success, but this book proves that real growth usually comes from a combination of two types of people: the Visionary, and the Integrator — one sees the future, the other gets stuff done. With examples from smaller companies and giants like Disney, McDonalds, and Ford, Rocket Fuel is written to help both types of people win at business. And perhaps most importantly, it helps those two types of people find each other. 

Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business

Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business

The old saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself,” has to be thrown out the window if you want to get ahead and grow your business. While those just starting out might not be ready to hire a full- time staff, this book shows you how to leverage the massive (massive) number of freelancers and virtual workers to help you build. From hiring and managing to encouraging and connecting your virtual people, Virtual Freedom is a necessary book, especially right now. 

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