10 Entrepreneurs List Their Favorite Inspirational Business Books

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.

#1- Shoe Dog

Photo Credit: Vinayak Ranade

My favorite business book is Shoedog by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. It's authentic, personal, and frames business as a part of the founder's life, instead of being a laundry list of case studies, research, or sound byte aphorisms. It's a true account of the crucible of real life in which companies are forged. Did you know that Nike spent close to 10 years at the brink of going out of business every day, surviving on rotating lines of credit and begging for bank loans before it emerged into the brand we know today? Did you know that the original business model for Nike was a simple import business and it was called Blue Ribbon? Did you know that the first handshake deal for Nike happened before it was even incorporated? It's an amazing story about grit and what it really takes to build an incredible business.

Thanks to Vinayak Ranade, Drafted!

#2- How to Win Friends and Influence People

Photo Credit: Chelsie Spencer

My tried and true favorite business book is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. His guiding principles can be applied to any industry and they will absolutely change the nature of your interactions with others. Reading this book will help develop your communication skills and allow you to develop a personal relationship with your clients.

Thanks to Chelsie Spencer, Ritter Spencer PLLC!

#3- Built to Sell

Photo Credit: Mostafa Hosseini

“Built to Sell” is my favorite business book and the book that I have gifted the most. It shows the process of how a business owner should get his business ready for sale and have it ready for sale through a 8 step process. This book has revolutionized my business and businesses of my coaching clients and friends. I learned how to grow and scale my business through specialization. Built to sell is brief, to the point, no B.S and an absolute must read for every business owner who wishes to have a real business and Not a job.

Thanks to Mostafa Hosseini, Persyo Inc!

#4- What Great Brands Do

Photo Credit: Arielle Kimbarovsky

I highly recommend anyone in business to read *What Great Brands Do *by Denise Lee Yohn. Since branding is becoming an increasingly important factor in a business's success, this book is absolutely crucial to any current or future business owner/entrepreneur. Yohn draws on 25 years of brand consulting experience and writes an inspiring argument about seven important principles the world's largest brands  follow. Who wouldn't love to learn from an analysis of Nike or Apple? I especially love that the focus is on branding as a culture, which dispels the common attitude that a brand is a name and logo. It's definitely a must-read and has changed the way I view branding.

Thanks to Arielle Kimbarovsky, Codal!

#5- Blue Ocean Strategy

Photo Credit: Doug Mitchell

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne was as a life changer for me. I was at a conference and the speaker gave a book report on this book during a presentation. It hit me so hard that I ordered the book from Amazon on the plane ride home. I think most of us are guilty of fighting over a shrinking pool of business. The authors refer to this competition as shark-infested waters creating a bloody red ocean. Blue ocean strategies really helped me take my business outside of the competitive waters and find my own blue ocean. I highly recommend this book to any business owner or entrepreneur that is fed up constantly battling cutthroat competitors for the next sale. Bottom Line: Get out of the shark-infested waters and create your own blue ocean.

Thanks to Doug Mitchell, Insurancequotes2day!

#6- Mind Hacking

Photo Credit: Deborah Sweeney

How to Change Your Mind for Good in 21 Days is a great book for business. It teaches you how to take the good with the bad and make the best out of any situation. There are many ups and downs in the business world and this book will help you push through any obstacle, all while maintaining a positive mindset.

Thanks to Deborah Sweeney,!

#7- The Lean Startup

Photo Credit: Nicholas Fiorentino

I've read a lot of books in my spare time, and have tried to focus most on business as I like to keep learning and truly enjoy the pursuit. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries was the most impactful book for me personally. Entrepreneurs have a tendency to unduly delay launching their projects in an effort to perfect it for the marketplace. This book reinforces that the market is the true determinant of your product's success, and encourages you to get to it (the market) quickly. It's a great lesson for Entrepreneurs and one that has remained important to me in my career.

Thanks to Nicholas Fiorentino, CrediReady!

#8- Screw Business As Usual

Photo Credit: Amber Kelleher-Andrews

My favorite book is Sir Richard Branson's ‘ Screw Business As Usual'. Reading that book changed my life. I realized business is not only about making money or being successful ( whatever success means to you), but rather, I adopted Richard's philosophy that we should use our influence as a force for good. To better our environment and enrich the lives of others.

Thanks to Amber Kelleher-Andrews, Kelleher-International!

#9-Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat

My favorite business book is, without a doubt: *Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat* written by Michael Masterson. This is the most comprehensive, in-depth business book I've read to date – one that focuses on the most important aspects of starting a business from scratch and growing revenues to extraordinary levels. Michael starts by breaking businesses down into 4 primary stages: Infancy (Selling Your First Product – $0 to $1MM), Childhood (Selling Multiple Products – $1MM to $10MM), Adolescence (Growing / Transforming Corporate Culture), and Adulthood (Putting Strong Leaders in Place). I recommend this book to every new (and aspiring) entrepreneur I know. If they do nothing but follow the steps laid out here by Michael Masterson, they *will* see growth.

Thanks to Dan Tash, MightyExpert!

#10- Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Photo Credit: Christoph Seitz

Currently, my favorite book that really inspired me as an entrepreneur is Start With Why by Simon Sinek. It made me rethink what I say to my customers, and how to say it more effectively, and why. The book does a great job of helping me articulate the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires me to do what I do.

Thanks to Christoph Seit, CFR Rinkens!

What’s your favorite inspirational business book? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community.

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