As musician Frank Zappa once said, “So many books, so little time.” For a business owner or budding entrepreneur, books can be a life preserver. Of course valuable lessons often come from doing. Business lessons can be learned by trial and error and putting yourself out on the line. But the same lessons can also be had from a book. Reading about the errors and triumphs of other business leaders can prevent you from making mistakes and push you in the direction of success. Beyond lessons, a good business book can inspire you to lift your business to an even higher level. Below are a selection of business books chosen as favorites by entrepreneurs and business owners.
Jim weaves personal experience and thorough research together into a book that takes any company or department back to the very core of their existence. Grow demands that business reexamine their main ideal – how their company makes peoples’ lives better – and learn to operate out of that. This isn’t just a book of platitudes, as Stengel goes to great lengths to show that companies operating out of the ideal paradigm outperform their peers by a wide margin. The advice is sound, data-driven, and immediately actionable. It’s a must for anyone planning to start something, and just as important for turnarounds or re-brands.
Thanks to Steve Wimmer, Gold Eagle Company!
#2- Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation
Out of the hundreds of business books I’ve read in the past couple of years, Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation has been by far the most lesson packed book for me. It’s about how the underfunded SEGA used effective business strategies and resourcefulness to tackle a much larger and industry leading giant named Nintendo. While the book doesn’t prescribe specific lessons, there are so many important lessons and strategies hidden within each story. This book teaches you how to think.
Thanks to Sydney Liu, Commaful!
#3- The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Currently, I am enjoying Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. I recently quizzed my team on what traits they think contribute to success the most and as it turns out, grit is the number one predictor of success. In this book, Duckworth argues that the key to success is not in talent but in identifying your passions and following through on commitments that ultimately fuel our achievements. There’s also a lot of incredible insight into learning from failures and how to avoid overreacting to setbacks that I think every entrepreneur will find relatable.
Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation!
#4- Blue Ocean Strategy
I have three favorite but Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne continues to be one of my all-time favorites. I love how Kim and Mauborgne frame competitive advantages and disruption. They show how startups in seemingly impossible market like Barefoot Wine and Cirque du Soleil not only thrived by completely rewrote the rules of an entire industry.
Thanks to Aaron Norris, The Norris Group!
#5- You Can’t Ruin My Day
While not technically a “business book”, I consider You Can’t Ruin My Day an essential tool for anyone in business. Lots of things can go wrong when you are running a business. There are good days and bad days. This book will you take control of your reactions to what happens and make sure you have more good days than bad. One of the truisms of the book, and one that business owners need to take to heart, is that there is no inherent meaning in anything. We put a meaning on everything. For example, if you have been doing a lot of sales calls without much results you can see that as failure. Or, you can see that as helping you to be one call closer to a great big sale.
Thanks to Allen Klein!
#6- How to Win Friends and Influence People
How to Win Friends and Influence People” has proven to be the most impactful book in countless business people’s lives. Dale Carnegie teaches readers how both make others like you more and win others to your way of thinking. What makes this so powerful is that the tips and teachings given are completely genuine. As a businessperson looking to expand their network and reach more influential positions, this book can be a game changer. I have been able to build better teams, close better business deals, and work in a much more harmonious environment
Thanks to Trent Silver, StickerDoo!
#7- Tools of Titans
My current favorite business book is Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. It is the ULTIMATE guide for all things business, entrepreneurship, lifestyle and personal growth. It’s a summary of all his top notes and things he learned from all his podcast guests along with his own habits, advice and lessons learned. If there is something I need help on, I can refer to one of the areas in his book and get the insight I need.
Thanks to Marian Bacol-Uba!
#8- How to Launch a Brand
My favorite business book is How to Launch a Brand by Fabian Geyrhalter. I recommend this book to all my early stage startups that I work with. The book covers all the steps on how to launch your brand by design – creating a brand platform, devising a brand name, designing your brand’s identity and crafting your brand atmosphere touch points. There are fun exercises in the book so it also serves as a hands on workbook. At the end, you will uncover practical tips on how to launch your brand.
Thanks to Kristen Tischhauser, talkTECH Communications!
#9- Don’t Make Me Think
I love the book DON’T MAKE ME THINK by Steve Krug because it stresses the importance of considering the ease of usability of your website from the POV of actual users. I frequently say to my colleagues at Enplug when we are considering website changes, Don’t make me think!
Thanks to Phyllis Zimbler Miller, Enplug!
#10- No Fail Hiring
No Fail Hiring by Patrick Valtin and L.D. Sledge. One of the biggest hurdles to growing your business (and you want to do that, right?) is finding the right people to hire and knowing who NOT to hire! This book breaks both down for you very simply, so that you and your HR team will know what to look out for. We have thoroughly implemented this system (from top to bottom) at my company, PostcardMania, and we’re still growing. We just hit 213 employees!
Thanks to Joy Gendusa, PostcardMania!
#11- Think and Grow Rich
The most important business book you can read is also the one that remains overwhelmingly influential: Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill. He studied up close the most of the successful (and richest) business people of his time. He shares the characteristics that they exhibited which were fundamental to them achieving the success they gained. It might seem dated to some in the internet Age, but while technology has changed, the characteristics of successful people haven’t changed. Marcus Aurelius’s “Meditations” in philosophy and Niccolo Machiavelli’s “The Prince” are classics in philosophy and politics. Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich is a classic in the businesses world because the principles remain the same: nuggets of unadulterated gold for a roadmap to success that you can follow. All you must do is pick up the book, think about it and then apply what you learn. It WILL make a difference in your business universe and your life.
Thanks to Anthony Mongeluzo, PCS!
#12- Start with Why
Simon Sinek’s Start with Why is definitely the book I recommend to my friends, managers & employees. It really changed the way I motivate employees, make hiring decisions and the way we build our internal brand. The idea that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it was vital in our mission to differentiate ourselves as a startup in a competitive industry and I owe that to Simon Sinek’s masterpiece.
Thanks to David Kosmayer, Bookmark Website Builder!
#13- Made to Stick
Made to stick by Chip Heath taught me foundational principles behind marketing communication. From wording and positioning to communication theory and salesmanship, this book is a must have for any marketing-driven entrepreneur. Medical School taught me a lot, but it did not teach me how to run my own practice or market it.
Thanks to Dr. Alex Roher, San Diego Botox!
#14- 80/20 Principle
The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch is a must read for any CEO or aspiring CEO. This book teaches how to identify and improve the areas of your business that produce the majority of your successes. After learning and applying these principles to my business we experienced a marked increase in multiple areas, in particular efficiency and profit. Without these tools you risk putting valuable time and energy into things that won’t help you or your business grow. This is required reading for anyone looking to grow or run the most profitable company possible.
Thanks to Sean Hampton, Crash Site Films!
#15- How The Mighty Fall
One of the best business books I’ve read and used is HOW THE MIGHTY FALL by Jim Collins. It is an uncomfortable book which is why I like it. The book gives key indicators about company health or decline which tell what developmental stage the business is in. I have found the stages to be accurate in my 25 years of experience doing organizational development as a global executive. The book helps top level people look around their blind spot, or spin, to get a sense of what might be going on in their organization and what to do about it. It creates the right discussion.
Thanks to Joyce Wilson-Sanford!