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-Good To Great
‘Good To Great’ is an all time classic. I’ve read hundreds of business books but this one really helped shape the way I think about management. It’s also shaped the way I hire and the way I structure my organization. The author, Jim Collins explains the concepts of management and laser focus in a practical way which helped me take action.
Thanks to George Kocher, Brand North!
#2- Zero to One
Zero to One speaks about the importance of specializing in something. Colleges tend to teach broadly, which can institutionalize the generic. But the insights required to innovate are derived when you decide to go deep into something. My co-founder, Adam Boeselager, and I for example, took the first 10,000 customer service calls which were set up to our cell phones. By doing so, we were able to draw profound insights about where we needed to improve our service and how we could innovate to continue making an impact. Zero to One is filled with counter-intuitive ideas for start-up founders and important lessons for innovation. You are sure to find important nuggets of wisdom in this book.
Thanks to Nick Macco, Legacybox!
#3- Profit First by Mike Michalowicz
It completely changed the way I handle my business finances. Before, I took the simplified Revenue – Expenses = Profit approach that most business owners take, and also why most businesses fail within the first few years. Profit First showed me how to take the profit first, then pay myself, set aside taxes, and use what’s left for my expenses. This approach helped me go from a reactive financial approach to a proactive financial approach, and my business is much healthier financially than ever. The formula is explained in detail in the book, and the author’s wit and humor make it a fun and easy read.
Thanks to Melody DiCroce, Saving to Sail!
#4- Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination
I love biographies as I find that life stories pack the best lessons, and there’s one I’ve been recommending non-stop. The book is Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. This is the best biography I could find on Walt Disney, who literally shaped culture all over the globe. For months I had been searching for a book about a great innovator and producer; somebody who kept on producing, successfully, after a lot of hardship. I found that with this 851-page journey (33 hours as an audiobook). It took me over 2 months to finish, and was packed with insights. The amount he persevered, took risks, and innovated has been hugely inspiring to me. He had a productive spirit and always felt the need to create. I hope to use his lessons to live a life equally eventful and satisfying.
Thanks to Edward Sturm, Reverb!
#5-Think and Grow Rich
Although it was published in 1937, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is my favorite business book because it’s a timeless classic packed with wisdom and excellent career advice that still rings true today. I first read it when I was in my 20s and have re-read it every few years since, each time picking up new principles that didn’t resonate the first time. It’s a must read for every business owner!
Thanks to Marisa Vallbona, CIM Inc PR!
#6-Millionaire Success Habits
I consider this book, “Millionaire Success Habits” by Dean Graziosi, to be a business book because in my opinion, if you don’t have these tools, you cannot be successful. I bought it in January, 2019 when it was on a YouTube ad of all things (I NEVER watch those but his resonated). I bought it immediately and set to work. Dean has things for you to do, lists to write, habits to start etc etc. I do very well with books that not only give me insights in business strategies but also give me “homework” because I always do the homework. This book, for me, was a game-changer. I approach people and relationships differently, I treat myself and others better and I understand what needs to be done to take my company to the next level. I would recommend this to pretty much everyone if you want to grow yourself which in turn grows you professionally.
Thanks to Keverne Denahan, KardZee!
#7- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Here’s a book that literally changed my life just after reading the first few pages of it. I love how it teaches about true change – not just altering attitudes and behaviors on the surface level, but undergoing a fundamental change on a deeper level. Essentially, Covey teaches us that “character ethics”, such as integrity, humility, fidelity, and industry, is the true foundation of success. He urges us to undergo a “paradigm shift” or a change of how we perceive ourselves and our problems. His lessons on self-mastery, teamwork and continuous growth and improvement still resonate with me until now. I never get tired of reading this masterpiece again and again.
Thanks to Kenny Trinh, Netbooknews!
#8-A Practical Guide to Affiliate Marketing
A Practical Guide to Affiliate Marketing: Quick Reference for Affiliate Managers & Merchants by Evgenii Prussakov is an excellent source for any marketing professional. Plus, this books is exactly what it says it is. It is quick, it is practical, and it’s an easy reference for learning how to harness affiliate marketing to your benefit. Regardless if you’re a beginner or a seasoned marketer looking for innovative ideas, this book will quickly become your go-to resource.
Thanks to Andrea Loubier, Mailbird!
#9-The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
I find myself constantly re-reading and gifting “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: a Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni. This best-seller is highly engaging and identifies the leadership principles that can make or break a team and ultimately, a company. The premise of this book is simple: a fable to teach concepts that are very easy to understand, however they can be difficult to put into practice. That’s where the book comes to assist because it gives you the tools to actually put these concepts into motion. Every new-hire receives a copy of this book during their on-boarding and many of the principles are discussed at quarterly meetings.
Thanks to Dr. Ana Ortiz, Madison Green Family Dental!
#10-Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works
Playing to Win outlines the strategic approach A. G. Lafley used to double Procter & Gamble’s sales, quadruple its profits, and increase its market value by $100 billion during his tenure as CEO. While you may not be running a billion-dollar company, the principles of Playing to Win are equally applicable to small, mid-size, and enterprise organizations. Lafley explains that a company must seek to win in a particular place (where to play) and in a particular way (how to win). Companies often fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all people. Playing to Win’s easy to understand “where to play and how to win” mantra has helped me communicate to my clients the importance of focus. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, CEO, or executive, Playing to Win will help you position your firm to create sustainable advantage and superior value relative to the competition.
Thanks to Christian Banach
#11-Small Business, Big Vision
As a digital entrepreneur who started solo, Small Business, Big Vision by Adam and Matthew Toren is one of the best business books I have ever read. Specifically written mostly for solopreneurs, this book is highly suitable for aspiring small business owners as the authors share practical advice to getting started without risking a lot of capital or complex marketing strategies. Through the authors’ successes and mistakes, you are being exposed to lessons on what it takes to unlock more growth and propel your business alone in the highly competitive business world. As a solopreneur or small business owner, this book will cover topics from start on how to prepare a constructive business plan, to setting up a productive action plan for an effective social media marketing strategy.
Thanks to Jay Liew, Great Big Minds!
#12- Proposals for the Feminine Economy by Jennifer Armbrust
We know that people want to do business with companies that share their values, so now is the perfect time to lean into what our values are and share them with the world! This book is the perfect roadmap for that. It is easy to read and incredibly thought-provoking. And it encourages us to lean into more feminine ways of doing business, such as collaboration, generosity, abundance mindset, and practicing gratitude. It also encourages us to lean into a more feminist way of doing business – and use our businesses to examine the world around us and start to right some of the socio-economic and socio-political wrongs that still exist. It’s a must read for anyone who is on the path to using their business to help create the world they want to live in!
Thanks to LaKay Cornell, Champagne Hippies!
#13-Tools of Titans
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss has something for every business leader. Ferriss breaks down habits and techniques of top performers in 3 areas of one’s life (health, wealth and wisdom) from guests featured on his famous podcast, “The Tim Ferriss Show.” During my morning routine, I take 5 minutes to flip through the pages and randomly choose one of the 100+ features in the book to read and focus on that day. There are tactical tips and tricks within every story that can be implemented immediately into your business and personal life. It’s a great tool to take with you into 2020 and for years to come.
Thanks to Stephanie Peters, Social Lighthouse!
#14-The Millionaire Fastlane
My favorite business book is The Millionaire Fastlane by M J Demarco. This book changed the way I think about entrepreneurship. One of the most important teachings of this book are the CENTS commandments. The factors of Control, Entry, Need, Time, and Scale are what can make or break your business.
Thanks to Kevin Rodrigues, Gardening Mentor!
E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber is a timeless must-read for any new or upcoming CEO. This book helped me realize how it could be possible to create a company that could accomplish much more than I could do on my own. It’s a blend of stories with practical how to’s makes it enjoyable to read and extremely valuable.
Thanks to Jared Williams, Biblical Wealth Solutions!
#16-Profit First by Mike Michalowicz
There are many great business books out on the market – but the one that has changed the way I do business the most is – Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. The philosophy behind the book is to take the profit out of your business before paying for expenses. This may sound completely counter-intuitive to the traditional accounting (sales – Expenses = Profit, but it does work. Michalowicz promises this accounting method will transform the business from cash-eating monsters to profitable cash cows. While this may be a little over the top, the system does work. I highly recommend this book to other business owners I know, it has made managing the money in the business so much less stressful. That alone means I can focus on growing the business.
Thanks to Brogan Renshaw, Firewire Digital!
#17- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
As I began to process the skills and techniques Carnegie teaches about the way people (customers) work and how you can work them (customers) started to become very clear. This created a huge green light to reach success in business. I applied his knowledge to my everyday life, and noticed I was quickly making more friends and had a following of people who liked me, and what I was doing. Using online marketing and SEO software to expand my audience, my attitude towards leadership grew and I watched as my business started to take off. His insight on how to get people to see the same way as you is easily relatable to the internet and new technology such as social media. A good business is all about the people, this book teaches you how to win the ones you want.
Thanks to Sarah Franklin, Blue Tree AI!
#18- Chillpreneur – Denise Duffield-Thomas
Denise Duffield-Thomas wrote this book because she was frustrated by the business books she read: Almost all of them are geared towards the traditional white male who has a wife to take care of his home and children and can afford to hustle 100 hours a week to build a business (typically an off-line, brick and mortar business, or a venture-capital funded start-up). This does not reflect the diversity of modern-day entrepreneurship, and it sets standards that are impossible to meet for the vast majority of us 21st century entrepreneurs. The good news is: we don’t need to meet these standards to build a wildly successful business. Chillpreneur gives us the mindset and framework we need to take full advantage of the unprecedented possibilities we have, thanks to the internet and service-based economy. Denise Duffield-Thomas built a multi-million dollar online business based on these principles, and so can you.
Thanks to Angel Pretot, Frenchfluency.net!
#19-Never eat alone and other secrets to success
As a business founder and someone who works in a startup ecosystem, I’ve consumed tons of entrepreneurial literature. At the end of the day I always cascade it down to the top book of my list and it’s ‘Never eat alone and other secrets to success by Keith Ferazzi. This book is a practical and down-to-earth manual teaching how to network professionally without abusing relationships, position or pride. I have used its tips and tricks in every aspect of my work. It helps one develop people skills and plan your actions to success way in advance. Based on the personal expertise, it becomes ever more convincing to use the quotes, statements and guidance offered by the author. Highly recommended and success-proven.
Thanks to Elizabeth Keshishyan, Swift Polling by ExciteM!
#20-The Survivors Club
The book I believe business executives should read is called The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood. This best-seller recounts many stories of unremarkable humans who were faced with extraordinaire life and death scenarios. Not only did they survive, but in most cases, they displayed incredible (and innate) leadership, foresight, and perception. While the content is griping like a movie the underlying tone of the book (and the author’s intent) is to convey just how resilient humans can be and how perseverance is a trait that can literally save your life (and metaphorically your business). It teaches you to trust your gut and commit to action over being idling stuck in inaction.
Thanks to Daniel J. McBride, American Eagle Investigations!
#21-Five Am Club
Basically after reading Robin Sharma’s Five Am Club i became a convert. I was the biggest lie in lover i knew before i read this book. My wife has always risen early and swears by it to get clarity and focus in his day. For me however getting up before 7am was a total no no. That was until January 2019 and business wasnt going as i planned, I had just 30 days to earn a huge company incentive and things needed a dramatic shake up. The 5am Club business book by Robin Sharma will really help take your business to the next level.
Thanks to Scott Watson, Wickfree Candles!
Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares is an excellent guide for any business seeking to scale. The book walks readers through nineteen traction channels ranging from Google Ads to publicity stunts, weighing the costs and benefits of each channel in a highly methodical fashion. The authors encourage the reader to ignore previous biases about the efficacy of particular strategies, prompting honest consideration and a robust brainstorming process. Readers are encouraged to test, re-test, and eliminate strategies over time, eventually choosing a bullseye channel that consistently delivers provable results.
Thanks to Vivek Kumar, Qlicket!
#23- Rework by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
This book completely changed my view on how to work in a business and build a startup. It’s an extremely fast and easy read with very simple to follow examples which most anyone can apply to their daily lives. Along with plenty of reasons, the one obvious reason why I recommend this book to business junkies is that it will make a huge difference after reading, and it will make you uncomfortable. Because this book doesn’t follow the traditional lineage of establishing a business in the first place and its niche in the marketplace. This book deals with the reengineering of the working process behind any business, negating some long-established cliches, including working too hard, planning and meetings, etc. The simple elaborative text of this book offers a perfect guide and playbook for those who are looking for a nontraditional and inclusive workplace for their businesses.
Thanks to Tim Uittenbroek, VPNMash!
I would encourage everyone who strives for success to read Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. This book in many ways changes the way I’ve looked at success and how people achieve it. It’s about who we are and how we were raised in addition to working hard has built a culture of success. Although there are always books out there telling us that hard work and persistence are what creates powerful, successful people, Gladwell addresses another truth: Luck. Sometimes we are just presented with the right opportunities – and we run with them. Gladwell touts the virtue of practicing your craft, but also acknowledges that elusive component of unknown that accompanies all who succeed. I think that’s valuable for anyone who is working towards personal or business success.
Thanks to Shayne Sherman, TechLoris!