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.
#1-7 Habits of Highly Effective People
I always recommend Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it continues to be a best seller for the simple reason that it ignores trends and pop psychology and focuses on timeless principles of fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity. I practice the 7 Habits and it has helped me grow tremendously on both a personal and professional level. Entrepreneurs can focus on Habits 1, 2, and 3 on self-mastery and moving from dependence to independence. Then move to Habits 4, 5, and 6 and focus on developing teamwork, collaboration, and communication skills, as they move from independence to interdependence. Then utilize Habit 7 focusing on continuous growth and improvement. You will learn a lot as your grow your business and yourself.
Thanks to Rick Cottrell, BizResults.com!
#2-How to be a DIVA at Public Speaking
One of my favorite business books is ‘How to be a DIVA at Public Speaking’ by Shola Kaye. This is a step-by-step system to engage your audience and present with confidence. Kaye discusses the importance of engaging audiences confidently, which I believe is a fantastic communication skill. It provides practical pieces of advice and I believe that being able to speak to your audience confidently can be a huge communication-based business advantage.
Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation.com!
#3-The Challenger Sale
Throughout my career in marketing and sales, my favorite book hands down has been The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon. The book walks through the five types of salespeople, but it highlights that 40% of high sales performers primarily used a Challenge style. The book shares a very useful approach to sales that is tailored to how the Challenger should teach, tailor messaging, and take control of conversations with prospective customers. It’s a book that I think every sales or marketing sales leader should read.
Thanks to Karen Desai, LUKH!
#4- Think and Grow Rich, by Napolean Hill
Think and Grow Rich was very instrumental in my success as an entrepreneur. One of Napolean Hill’s key principles is the benefit derived from burning bridges. If you eliminate Plan B, you’ll force yourself to succeed with Plan A at any cost. That resonated with me because I was willing to go to great lengths if it meant never having to work for someone else ever again.
Thanks to Brian DeChesare, Mergers & Inquisitions!
#5-The E-Myth Revisited
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work And What To Do About It. If you own a business, you owe it to yourself to read this book. There is a lot of false information out there about remote working, and how small businesses should be run. This book could not offer more help and advice. It is a bible, and I have owed it for many years now, and will forever be what I go to for guidance.
Thanks to Andrew Roderick, Credit Repair Companies!
#6-The Long Tail
A book that inspired me on several fronts is ‘The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More’ by Chris Anderson. I read it when it first came out in 2006, around the time we were discussing the design for WorthPoint.com, and many of the observations shared by Anderson still resonate. Because I’m a collector at heart, and given the focus of our business named by some as ‘the Internet of Stuff,’ I also enjoy nonfiction books with a focus on archaeology, history, and biographies, usually with a ‘treasure hunt’ or discovery somewhere in the mix.
Thanks to Will Seippel, WorthPoint.com!
#7-The Coaching Habit
The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever. I’d recommend this book to anybody. Whether you apply the hands-on skills from this book professionally or personally, this book will help you become a better listener and have deeper conversations. For myself, I refer back to word-for-word questions to ask people to help them draw out answers to their own questions. As a manager, this book will help you get out of the way so your team isn’t coming to you for the answer each time. It teaches you how to build a framework so you are removing roadblocks rather than driving the car.
Tanks to Mary Jantsch, Scale with Intention!
#8-The Ride of a Lifetime
My favorite business book, The Ride of a Lifetime, is a newly published one about the lessons learned from Bob Iger’s years as Disney CEO. The key take away and differentiator this book delivers is the importance to continue innovating or your company will die. As a leader, you must continuously look for ways to improve, primarily through technology, so you are not left behind. It is better to fail trying to innovate through risk than never trying at all.
Thanks to Justin Carpenter, Modern Maids!
My favourite business book is ‘shoe dog’ by Phil Knight, the book is a memoir on the story of how the brand Nike got established by co- founder Phil Knight, the book is a story but a true story based on the facts of business and the struggle of being successful and following through with your dreams. I love that Phil was driven by passion and over comes many obstacles which is what business is about, we are always learning and face challenges in day to day life. ‘Let everyone else call your idea crazy.. just keep going. Dont stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and dont give much thought to where there is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop’ It’s a must read for us entrepreneurs!
Thanks to Hannah Russell, Little Alf!
#10-Blue Ocean Strategy
The book that’s very close to my position is a Blue Ocean Strategy. The most memorable thought I’ve caught is that you don’t have to blindly follow the market rules. When it comes to win, it’s better to abandon these rules. For example, you can take risks to assume that your audience is completely different from the one you’re used to. One step aside, loose the grip, lower expectations – that is what made me impressed while reading the book. In my opinion, this is one of the best business books.
Thanks to Alexey Kutsenko, DDI Development!
#11- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
As the title suggests, it focuses on methods and strategies to be successful in starting a business. What I love about this book is that the ideas used by the author here are supported by scientific evidence like real case studies to support his principles. And also, the book talks about customer-centered strategies that I believe is a better approach for a business to succeed.
Thanks to Norhanie Pangulima, Hernorm!
#12-Zero to One
My favorite business book is Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters. Peter Thiel is the founder of PayPal, and his enthusiasm and energy level shown in the book is highly contagious. More than showing you how to star from nothing and build on the specific need on the market with no serious competition, it will give you the scope for the imagination of your own business. It speaks about how to make your business truly stand out and create its unique following, as opposed to blending in with the competition and fighting for the crumbs of the market. Zero to One is a concept that can accelerate a person’s ambition to create something meaningful and unique with their precious time in business.
Thanks to Mira Rakicevic, ComfyLiving!
#13- 6 Steps to Unlimited Clients & Financial Freedom
My single favorite book for entrepreneurs on how to generate business is The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients: 6 Steps to Unlimited Clients & Financial Freedom, by David A. Fields. I’ve given away over 200 copies of this book. While the book is focused on consulting, many of the lessons apply to any B2B business. In clear prose, David explains how to figure out what problems your firm ought to solve for clients, how to communicate your value proposition, how to build relationships, how to raise your visibility, how to write a proposal, and how to negotiate a deal.
Thanks to Will Bachman, Umbrex!
#14- The Four-Hour Work Week by the great Tim Ferriss
It is basically a crash course on defining objectives, eliminating distractions, income generation, and every essential piece of information you’ll need when it comes to venturing into entrepreneurship. I highly recommend this book, especially to those who are thinking about making the transition from a 9 to 5 desk job.
Thanks to Jack Wang, Amazing Beauty Hair!
My current favorite business book is Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas that Win Wars, Cure Diseases and Transform. Published in 2019, it knocked all my previous favorites off the perch. The book digs deep on how ideas have the potential to change the world. The author uses convincing references not just from business, but also from science and history. The analysis is rational, the content inspirational and despite its richness, the book is entertaining. Above all, the ideas espoused apply to multiple industries. I would recommend this to all business leaders, to individuals who want to understand what it takes to confront the challenges facing our world and to world leaders who want to learn how to lead better.
Thanks to Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP!
#16-Rich Dad, Poor Dad
One book I’ve read constantly is the classic Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. What I like about it is that it teaches both budding and veteran entrepreneurs about the best ways about earning money and growing it. It also talks about the wrong financial choices people make and how to avoid them. In my opinion, it is something that everyone ought to read, even if you’re not an entrepreneur.
Thanks to Matt Scott, Baltimore Pest Pros!
#17-Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio
The book Principles: Life and Work was exceptionally well organized and had an attraction for its readers. It tells us how the author manages a 150 billion dollar hedge fund. The book has a roadmap and tools to achieve your life goal. A complete guideline is provided on how to develop your objectives. The book teaches you the process of developing an organization that can help you to achieve your goals/mission. In short, it is essential to select the right people and then build and evolve the protocols that run the organization at a fundamental level. I’m very impressed by the effort of the author to teach the world everything he has learned. He wants to help the people to make them successful. The book helped me to understand the fundamental building blocks of my life. I am now able to adopt model success habits. It’s too hard to identify unique ideas beyond those found in the book. But the important part is that I’m now aware of developing my new principles.
Thanks to Naheed Mir, Rugknots!
#18- How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
This book is about making friends/colleagues quickly & easily, keeping those friends/colleagues and increasing your popularity. It guides you on how to persuade people to follow your way of thinking enabling you to win new clients and customers. This is definitely one that you could read over and over again and make notes that would infinitely help to improve, not only your personal life, but any aspect of relationships both in and outside of the workplace. People skills is a must in any business and this is a book which will help you improve your skills with people.
Thanks to Scott Watson, Wickfree Candles!
#19- Business Adventures by John Brooks
A hard lesson many entrepreneurs will encounter is ‘getting even’. In one of the 12 case studies detailed in this book, one recounts the tale of how revenge almost ended up in bankruptcy. It is an apt story and reminder to focus on what matters instead of emotional reactions to things we cannot
Thanks to Jeremy Dean, Console!
#20- Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
As a business owner, woman, and mother, I cannot recommend this book enough! Life can be challenging and for no fault of your own, life will throw you curveballs. For some of us, it starts at the very beginning of life. I love how courageous Brown is and how it encourages me to reflect on what my own shame triggers are so that I can be a better boss, a better partner, a better mother, and a more mindful and kind human being in
Thanks to Caterina Bidini, Bidinis Bags!
#21-The Virgin Way
In my opinion, the best business books are The Virgin Way, by Sir Richard Branson, and Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, by Ashlee Vance. The Virgin Way is a book about leadership and how to make your business life more fun. Through his anecdotes, Mr. Branson helps you see that business is not only about numbers and ties but also about kindness and compassion. On the other hand, Elon Musk is the best example of big thinking, aiming for the stars, and massive action. Combine these valuable lessons from two of the best modern entrepreneurs, and you’ll be unstoppable.
Thanks to Camilo Atkinson, blimpp!
#22- Two books
She Means Business, written by Carrie Green, is one of my all-time favorite business books. Have you got some business ideas whirling around in your head, but you don’t know what to do with them? This book will help you turn your ideas into reality and become a wildly successful entrepreneur. It’s packed full of exercises on how to get clear on your vision, move past your fears, and understand your audience so you can attract the right people. Another one of my favorites is called Do It Scared, by Ruth Soukup. If fear is holding you back from creating your dream life, Do It Scared will show you how to identify your Fear Archetype™ — the specific type of fear that keeps you stuck — and learn how to conquer it using easy-to-implement tips.
Thanks to Caitlin Pyle, ProofreadAnywhere.com!
#23- The Hard Things about Hard Things
One of my favorite business books is The Hard Things about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. As a CEO and a founder it’s a book I return often as I navigate the different stages and challenges of the company. He talks about the difference between peacetime CEOs and wartime CEOs which is particularly apt during this pandemic.
Thanks to Christine Tao, Sounding Board, Inc.!
#24- Crucial Conversations and The Alter Ego Effect
My favorite business books include Crucial Conversations by the team at VitalSmarts, and The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman. Crucial Conversations is great because it teaches you to recognize when conversations are about to go off the rails so you can quickly correct to keep the dialogue safe and productive. It’s an invaluable read for when you find yourself needing to address a tricky subject with someone and the conversation is likely to get emotional, and it’s saved me some working relationships in the past. The Alter Ego Effect is helpful in overcoming self-doubt and confidence issues. Essentially, it teaches you to borrow the confidence of a superhero to get better results in all areas of your life. This one has helped me find my center before presenting to large groups, and to keep my cool when an argument is heating up.
Thanks to Ruggero Loda, Running Shoes Guru!
#25- Two books
If you’re passionate about the novel idea behind your business, the book “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell is a must-read: it explores the social behavior behind a big idea, and how it can catch like wildfire.. This is a big help when trying to wrap your head around all the little things you’re doing for your business, and if they really matter (spoiler: they do). If you’re running a business, chances are you’re selling something, and a sales book that absolutely everyone should read is called “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” by Robert B. Cialdini. This book teaches you about the subtle differences between a person saying “yes” or “no,” and even dives in on how to convince yourself of something, too!
Thanks to Brian Davis, Charity Net USA!
#26-The Surprising Science of Meetings
The Surprising Science of Meetings by Steven G. Rogelberg is a book that I’ve loved reading. It tells us about the importance of keeping our business meetings within a certain time frame so we can still remain productive throughout the day. Steven lists some of the bad habits we’ve developed when it comes to meetings such as poor time management, unnecessary meetings, and monologuing (one person dominates the entire session). The book is perfect whether you’re a newbie supervisor or manager, or a seasoned CEO. I’ve learned to practice writing down my agenda and trimming them down to what’s important. Then, I only select people whose presence is needed in the meeting. This helps eliminate time wastage a lot.
Thanks to Michael Hammelburger, The Bottom Line Group!
#27-The Boron Letters
One of my favorite business books is The Boron Letters by direct response marketing extraordinaire, Gary Halbert. It’s a series of letters he wrote to his youngest son, Bond. These heartfelt letters contain nuggets of wisdom on life, love, and business — namely, how to create successful direct response marketing campaigns. Even though some of his business advice is dated, the fundamentals of any great marketing campaign remain timeless; know your audience, know them well, and give them what they want. This book isn’t the typical how-to guide, but if you’re looking for great storytelling, this is definitely worth a read.
Thanks to Carlos Trillo, Evinex!
#28-Good to Great and Measure What Matters
The foundational elements of our company were built on the idea of continuous improvement and always striving for greatness, which we were inspired by the writing of Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great. The concept is, how do you continually optimize and evolve your company so that the idea of good is the enemy of great. We also live by the motto in the book, Start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. Another favorite book that has helped us evolve further is, Measure What Matters by John Doerr. This book was the movement behind the tremendous growth of many companies such as Google, Amazon, Intel and Uber. Company-wide we have set OKRs also known as Objectives and Key Results. It’s accelerated our company’s effectiveness in creating, measuring and executing top-priority goals, with all members of the team working together towards aligned objectives.
Thanks to Allison Hernandez, lotus823!