21 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- Influence

Photo Credit: Brian Greenberg

The book I recommend most often to marketers and business owners is Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. The book examines how to persuade someone into a buying decision. These are time tested secrets marketers have been using for decades, and most of the time you don’t even realize they are doing it. You will gain an overhead view of how to market to your target audience.

Thanks to Brian Greenberg, True Blue Life Insurance!

#2- How to Win Friends and Influence People

Photo Credit: Alexandra Marin

Although not strictly a business book, I think that I speak for many of us when I say that Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People is at the very top of my list. Sure, it's over 80 years old and had humble origins as a tool for becoming a better person as a whole rather than a better businessperson specifically, but the core concepts are still as pertinent to business as ever. As an entrepreneur, your product or service may be outstanding, but without being able to understand the underlying desire or need that your customer is seeking to fulfill, arouse an eager want in them, and communicate the benefits of your product/service effectively, you'll be stuck with shelves full of inventory but nobody interested enough to buy it.

Thanks to Alexandra Marin, CodeCrew LLC!

#3- The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horrowitz

Photo Credit: Sanem Ahearn

Delve into the advice of a CEO and technology entrepreneur, Ben Horrowitz, for some candid advice on personal lessons, facing adversity, and learning endlessly. You gather quickly that there is not a certain path that will lead you to success however, there are many correct decisions that can lead you to an optimal outcome. The Hard Thing About Hard Things, tells a candid story of how uncertainty is almost always guaranteed in business and navigating through difficult decisions creates a more responsible person. This read is perfect for anyone whether you're breaking into the entrepreneur scene or you're a corporate level business person you'll find impacting takeaways from this insightful business book.

Thanks to Sanem Ahearn,!

#4- E-Myth by Michael. E Gerber

Photo Credit: Lee Dyson

It’s really helped me to step back and realize that I thought I had my own business…but really I work a continuous job that I’ve created for myself. The book helps you to think about working ON your business and not working IN it. According to the book we all have an Entrepreneur, Manager and Technician inside us but unless we’ve clearly recognized and separated each of these personalities they are often working at odds causing us stress, anxiety and hinder our ability to maximize productivity. It encourages you to think about structuring your business like a franchise so It’s got bulletproof structure, task designation and systems so it could be self-sustainable without you constantly doing everything yourself which quickly leads to burnout and serious overwhelm. Very inspiring with easy action steps but requires you surrender ego so you can make some positive changes!

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Thanks to Lee Dyson, Hey Mister DJ!

#5- Traction by Gino Wickman

Photo Credit: Cynthia Flynn, Esq.

The book starts off with about 20-25 questions on rating your company’s current state, i.e. where are you on a scale of 1-5 on team meetings, sharing the vision of the company, company goals, etc. Then throughout the book it shows you how to implement each of these things to make your business better. By the end of it, you have a winning, thriving business with everyone in the right seat in the company and everyone moving the company forward. It was a very powerful book that fundamentally changed my business.

Thanks to Cynthia Flynn, Esq., Hackler Flynn & Associates!

#6 – Anti-sell by Steve Morgan

Photo Credit: Tom Buckland

If you hate selling, you'd love this book. Does exactly what it says on the tin and more…. If you're a small business owner, solopreneur or looking for just looking for a little side hustle action, this book is for you. A non-intrusive, altruistic guide on how to sell yourself and your business. No posturing or grandstanding, just simple, effective tips from a super nice guy.

Thanks to Tom Buckland, HQ SEO & Ghost Marketing!

#7- The 12 Week Year

Photo Credit: Jacob Landis-Eigsti

I've read 40 books on business over the last year and my favorite is The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran. Switching from annual goals to 12-week goals has had an enormous impact on what I have been able to accomplish in my business. Moran does an exceptional job demonstrating how to set daily, weekly, and 12 week goals. He also articulates the time management and mindset required to hit ambitious targets. It's a must read for anyone that feels like they aren't reaching their full potential.

Thanks to Jacob Landis-Eigsti, Jacob LE Video Production!

#8- Web Copy that Sells (3rd edition)

Photo Credit: Mark Condon

My favourite business book is Web Copy that Sells (3rd edition) by Maria Veloso, one of the world's leading experts in copywriting. Copywriting (or more recently coined, ‘content writing') is an essential skill whatever line of business you are involved in. Being able to write compelling copy that resonates with your reader is the single most important element in any online industry. This book provides a wealth of actionable information for any copywriter, entrepreneur or marketer, all explained in simple terms, with plenty of real-world examples. Highly recommended!

Thanks to Mark Condon, Shotkit!

#9- Four Days with Dr. Deming

Photo Credit: Timothy G. Wiedman

Four Days with Dr. Deming: A Strategy for Modern Methods of Management by William J. Latzko & David M. Saunders Dr. W. Edwards Deming, one of the legendary founders of the worldwide quality movement (whose techniques and training methods helped propel Japan to its economic boom through improved quality and efficiency), demonstrated his uncommon management philosophy using the format of his four-day, hands-on seminars. Deming's seminars routinely had an audience comprised of engineers, managers, and business owners — and some of them were initially skeptical of his philosophy. But most were won over by the end of the seminar, and many have returned to hear Deming's words a second or third time. Through this short, unique book, readers can experience the wisdom he imparted during those seminars.

Thanks to Timothy Wiedman, Doane College!

#10- Who

Photo Credit: Guillaume de Zwirek

Who: Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street is a no-brainer for any business. Hiring the right people matters more than anything — it’s really the core of your business. It has been instrumental in helping WELL source and hire A players because it gives us a playbook we can apply right away. I ask everyone at WELL who interviews to read it.

Thanks to Guillaume de Zwirek, WELL Health Inc.!

#11- Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

Photo Credit: Sam Orchard

This is the absolute pinnacle of website usabilitiy books. A lot of business owners don't realise how important website usability is to their business, and how many customers they may be losing because of it. This book explains it in terms that experts and non-experts alike can understand and learn from. The book offers simple, and easy to follow guidelines that are applicable to websites across all sectors. This book will really open the eyes of business owners that think their website is okay.

See also  20 Entrepreneurs List Their Favorite Business Books

Thanks to Sam Orchard, Edge of the Web!

#12- Making Minutes Matter

Photo Credit: Steve Turner

I recommend Making Minutes Matter a book written by coach and trainer Mary Kutheis. It is a really good work/life management book that goes beyond the usual how to make your days more efficient, and goes into depth about how to make better decisions so you can do what is important to you The book talks about how to handle all those pesky emails, people popping into your office, and other disruptions, and how to address them so you can focus on what really matters. What I like is that Mary talks about how leaving the office stressed every day and feeling unfulfilled really impacts your life at home. It affects your wife and kids and everyone else. It's not only about getting more done but getting the things done that really matter to you both at work and with family. Working through some exercises you become armed with the information you need to shift your focus and mindset, improve decision making, and improve on-the-job contentment. Kutheis discusses how to make purposeful choices, the value of having an accountability partner, how to establish routines and processes to achieve your goals, overcoming procrastination, and managing stress. Everything she writes about is backed by her experiences as a business coach and trainer working with corporate executives and business owners for some two decades. A great read for CEOs, leaders and business owners.

Thanks to Steve Turner, Solomon Turner PR!

#13-You Are A Badass at Making Money

Photo Credit: Stacy Caprio

You Are A Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero is a great book for entrepreneurs looking to uplevel their money mindset. It teaches you ways to think about money and your life so that you attract more into it. The book is also written by a women in a way all genders will understand and feel connected to, something many male-authored money books are currently lacking.

Thanks to Stacy Caprio, Conversiono!

#14-  Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success In a Distracted World, Cal Newport

Photo Credit: Earl White

“Deep Work” drills down on the changing keys to success. Basic tasks are being automated or outsourced to low-cost labor due to technology and electronic communication. Even for advanced work, businesses hire the “best of the best” anywhere in the world. Average doesn’t cut it. Intense periods of “deep work” allow you to master a rare and valuable skill. People who tune out social media and electronic communication interruptions have the focus to create the rare skills necessary to succeed.

Thanks to Earl White, House Heroes!

#15- The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg

Photo Credit: Joe Martin

It helped me understand just how much of my everyday life was habit. He breaks down the anatomy of a habit into three components with the trigger, the habit, and the reward. I’ve now used that formula to infuse rewards into employee performance, customer interactions, and even marketing initiatives.

Thanks to Joe Martin, Martin Creative!

#16- Simon Sinek's Start With Why

Photo Credit: Bill Seely

When a company has an aspirational enough why, can clearly communicate it to their teammates and their customers, it creates a powerful gravity towards the ultimate destination, a joy in the pursuit of that destination and an incredible corporate culture. However, once a leader stands up and commits to that compelling and aspirational why, words and pictures must align. I always ask myself am I leading in such a way as to make the why come alive through my actions. If the leadership isn't in lock step with the why, it becomes a catchy marketing slogan that ultimately dies.

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Thanks to Bill Seely, Varsity Spirit!

#17- Small Mistakes, Big Consequences: Business savvy to help you succeed

Photo Credit: Jennifer Bright Reich

Small Mistakes, Big Consequences is a lighthearted look at the top 16 business mistakes that people make without realizing the potential consequences. Learn how to identify these common character mistakes that can make or break your relationships. Avoid making these mistakes yourself and learn how to work with and manage these personality types. Discover how to: – Be perceived as sincere and trustworthy
– Empower your team for greater success – Help team members take accountability for their actions – Encourage others to listen to your perspective – Present your best, most professional self Small Mistakes, Big Consequences is filled with simple, actionable business tips to help you succeed. It's your guide to navigating the speed bumps on the road to the corner office.

Thanks to Jennifer Bright Reich, Momosa Publishing LLC!

#18- This is Marketing by Seth Godin

Photo Credit: Morgan Lathaen

The core of his book is that great marketers don’t use consumers to solve the company’s problem, they use marketing to solve other people’s problems. Marketers are meant to make the world better by providing value, emotional connection, empathy, trust and generosity. This book teaches you how to identify your smallest viable audience, draw on the right signals, build trust, and give people the tools to achieve their goals.

Thanks to Morgan Lathaen, thumbprint!

#19-The One Thing

Photo Credit: Holly Rollins

The One Thing is a book written by the successful Keller Williams Realty founder Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. It gives succinct, practical advice that at first seems so logical, but in today's world of constant multi-tasking, the book offers good common sense practices for the chaotic business world. I think so many entrepreneurs can struggle with time management and I thought this book offered very sensible tips and guidance on how to focus and prioritize your business objectives.

Thanks to Holly Rollins, 10xdigital!

#20- Why Things Catch On

For the entrepreneur wanting to understand the factors that can help make an idea, video or product go viral. If you have ever wondered like I did why people talk and share certain things rather than others? Or, why more than 200 million consumers are willing to share a video about something as boring as a blender? This must-read book pulls back the curtain and gives practical and relevant tips on spreading your message.

Thanks to James McCauley, The Wriggler!

#21- Funky Business

Photo Credit: Vlad Krishtop

My favorite business book is “Funky Business” by Jonas Ridderstråle and Kjell A. Nordström. It’s not simply my favorite business book, but it’s also a book that had a huge influence on our company. It was published 20 years ago, back in 1999, and it gave me a lot of insight about the changes that were about to come. “Funky Business” was a huge help when I was developing a business strategy for our company. For example, it was thanks to this book that we started to hire remote workers long before it became a global trend. Our company still employs many principles from this book.

Thanks to Vlad Krishtop, Konstruktor Service!

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

Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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