Bookshelf

28 Entrepreneurs List Their Favorite 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- Tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell

Photo Credit: Stephen Halasnik

There is a chapter in the book that talks about 10,000 hours being the magic number to become a professional at what you do. I often equate this book to how long it takes to be a professional business owner. Nothing can prepare you to running a business except experience.

Thanks to Stephen Halasnik, Financing Solutions!


#2- Quench Your Own Thirst

Photo Credit: Chris Fletcher

My favorite business book is Quench Your Own Thirst: Business LessonsLearned Over a Beer Or Two by Jim Koch. He’s the founder of the Boston Beer Company, and his Samuel Adams beer has been credited with kicking off the entire craft beer industry. I like the book because it’s a true started with an idea story, and goes into great detail of the hard work an entrepreneur can expect. It’s also filled with practical advice, and doesn’t shy away from mistakes. Fun read, and yea, it’s like having a beer with Jim.

Thanks to Chris Fletcher, Crest Capital!


#3- Two books

Photo Credit: Sanket Abhay Desai

Well, I am an online entrepreneur. I managed to escaped my 9 to 5 job and I make money through my set up side hustles. Two books that are an inspiration to me are Vagabonding and 4 Hour Work Week. These books have profiles and tips on many successful digital nomads. One who is really interested in setting up side hustles and making money online, can get good guidance from these books. Following tips from these books I have managed to achieve financial freedom.

Thanks to Sanket Abhay Desai, Itsonlinemarketing.com!


#4- Startup Guide to Guerrilla Marketing

Photo Credit: Alisha Sweyd

Startup Guide to Guerrilla Marketing: A Simple Battle Plan for First-Time Marketers highly enough for first-time business owners! We often get into a business because of a passion we have, a drive to make the world better. Oftentimes, we end up letting our emotions cloud our judgement (I know I did). Jay and Jeannie Levinson will call you out on it! They go all out telling you how to market your brand. They tell you the qualities you need to possess to be effective with marketing. including imagination and patience. But then they also give you tools to build these skills for yourself, and then they really kick you in the butt to get going with it! I’d be broke and doing all my marketing wrong if it weren’t for the Levinsons!

Thanks to Alisha Sweyd


#5- The War of Art

Photo Credit: Sunny Ashley

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is an effective tool for helping entrepreneurs stay motivated. The book describes the motivational battles that people fight while trying to achieve success: for example, burnout, writer’s block, or hitting the rut. As an entrepreneur, the most important lesson I’ve taken from the book is that motivational breakthroughs require a bias towards action. Getting through tough times is about showing up every day and going to work. It’s about grit. The key to winning your inner battles isn’t superhuman intelligence, it’s consistent effort.

Thanks to Sunny Ashley, Autoshopinvoice!


#6- Book by Elon Musk

Photo Credit: Amit Gami

Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future. You could easily argue that Elon Musk is perhaps the greatest entrepreneur on Earth right now. It’s unbelievable how ahead of the game he is compared to other leading entrepreneurs. As such, he is considered to be a true reference point in the plethora of entrepreneurial advice out there. While the book doesn’t directly say do this or that, it does a fantastic job at telling the stories and real life examples Elon has used throughout his entrepreneurial journey. The book demonstrates the harsh truths associated with being a successful entrepreneur, something other coaches tend to ignore as harsh truths don’t appeal and therefore don’t sell. I’ve read the book 3 times over already and would 100% recommend it to others.

Thanks to Amit Gami, Business Waste Guru!


#7- Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business By, Gino Wickman

Photo Credit: Henry O’Loughlin

Traction is the most tangible, implementable book on how to turn a small business into a profitable, well-run machine. It lays out how to build responsibilities by role, get the right people in the right roles, pick a core focus for our product, and grow profitably. It even includes meeting agendas to use for management meetings down to the minute. Before Traction, the marketing agency I run was losing money and had a $60,000 development project we needed to fully refund. In year one of Traction, we did $75,000 in profit. In year four, we did $320,000.

Thanks to Henry O’Loughlin, Buildremote!


#8- The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz

Photo Credit: Gareth Mahon

This book reviews how to get in the right mindset for success. In a nutshell, it comes down to believing in yourself. Anytime self doubt creeps into my psyche, I remind myself about what I learned from reading this book. If you believe you can succeed, then you will. The lessons Schwartz’s book covers apply to nearly all aspects of life, but are particularly relevant to careers and leadership. One thing that stood out to me from the book was that most people aim low. They don’t set ambitious goals for themselves. Therefore, there’s often more competition at the bottom of the totem pole. You need to think big to get above it. In addition, the book also reviews the power of positivity. I knew being positive was an important trait for a leader. But I didn’t know how to apply it in a business setting. Schwartz talks about how to use uplifting language and motivate others. The Magic of Thinking Big gave me the confidence I needed to start my own company.

Thanks to Gareth Mahon, The CareSide!


#9-Originals by Adam Grant

Photo Credit: Raj Dosanjh

I really like Originals by Adam Grant. It’s got a contemporary ring to it and talks about all the success stories of leaders of this century. In the age of sprawling personal brands, it teaches you to nurture the leader inside you. It talks about non-conformists and innovators, and how they fit effortlessly into new models of success. The book takes a whole new look at success and Grant does an immaculate job at storytelling. As business trends continue to evolve in these volatile times, this book is like a textbook read for entrepreneurs and businessmen alike.

Thanks to Raj Dosanjh, RentRound.com!


#10- Idea Stormers

Photo Credit: Bryan Mattimore

Idea Stormers, How to Lead and Inspire Creative Breakthroughs (Wiley Jossey-Bass). Increasingly, managers are being asked to create an environment where employees are encouraged to generate new and original ideas to help the organization grow. Unfortunately, traditional “brainstorming” is often ineffective. Ideation techniques, on the other hand, which use a rich palette of proven stimuli-rich, creative problem-solving methodologies, can generate a wide range of implementable options — not to mention true breakthroughs — for virtually any creative problem or business challenge. As importantly, Idea Stormers includes real-world stories that demonstrate how the creative problem-solving techniques have been used to address a wide range of business challenges: from strategy to sales, marketing to culture change… and the creation of new products and services valued at over $3 billion.

Thanks to Bryan Mattimore, Growth Engine Innovation Agency!


#11- Shoe Dog

Photo Credit: Ryan Sages

One of the best books I’ve ever read was Shoe Dog by Nike’s founder, Phil  Knight. I love books that don’t just teach principles but tell amazing stories. Shoe Dog is a memoir that effortlessly guides the reader through the ups and downs, the struggle and triumphs, and the raw, behind-the-scenes challenge of building a business. It’s amazing to read because you quickly realize that even behemoth companies like Nike need a tremendous amount of luck to become successful. For anyone who wants to really understand just how difficult building a business is, how hard you’ll have to work, and what kind of challenges might lie ahead, Shoe Dog is the book for you!

Thanks to Ryan Sages, EddyHR!


#12- How to Win Friends and Influence People

Photo Credit: Emma Miller

My favorite book on business is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Although the book was published in 1936, it is as relevant today as it was back then. While the book is not specifically about business, it provides great tips on how to win loyalty from others and influence their way of thinking, which are essential skills for any good businessperson.

Thanks to Emma Miller, Cacao Tea Co.!


#13- Tools of Titans

Photo Credit: Kimberly Porter

As someone who is always intrigued by how others found success in their field, I really enjoyed the book Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. I’m constantly wanting to be more productive. This book offers interesting concepts and ideas that inspired me to be more creative with my productivity and even view success a bit differently – learning to work smarter, not just harder. Some of the tips by this wide range of successful icons, billionaires, and performers seemed common sense, but really opened my eyes to some new ways of working.

Thanks to Kimberly Porter, Microcredit Summit!


#14- The Surprising Science of Meetings

Photo Credit: Michael Hamelburger

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 Hamelburger, The Bottom Line Group!


#15- Blueprint to Business by Michael Alden

Photo Credit: Harshil Bhatnagar

It’s a perfect book for someone who wants to be an entrepreneur. It fills the gap and answer many tough questions, about do’s and don’t of doing business. Michael has mentioned his failures, successes and tricks of the trades which we can learn. His humble and smart approach to handling every kind of situation in business is something that every entrepreneur should read.

Thanks to Harshil Bhatnagar, Staiir Social Media Marketing!


#16- EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey

Photo Credit: Brian Lim

In the book, he’s very straightforward and to the point with a wealth of valuable knowledge, and as a busy entrepreneur, I appreciate that. This book showed me how to build an incredible group of team members who are passionate and dedicated. Each chapter sets a solid framework for the essential elements of running a business.

Thanks to Brian Lim, iHeartRaves!


#17- High-Performance Habits

Photo Credit: Leah Frazier

There are so many business books that have helped me out throughout my entrepreneurial journey; however, Brendon Burchard’s High-Performance Habits book was the one that truly changed my career around. Despite the book tackling business principles, it also tackles the struggles that entrepreneurs face with balance, stress, setting boundaries, triggers and more. I also like that there is an actual assessment you take before diving into the book so that you’re able to begin making self and business improvements immediately into diving into the book. This isn’t a book that you power through — it’s one that you take step by step — taking your time to fill out the questions and to interact with the prompts throughout each chapter so that you can ascend into high performance like never before. This business helped me to make more in profits and to develop more streams of income than I’ve had in my entire entrepreneurial career.

Thanks to Leah Frazier, Think Three Media!


#18- Nail It then Scale It by Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom

Photo Credit: Bruno Pešec

Easy way to waste time and money is creating something nobody wants. There are several models focusing on lowering the likelihood of such an outcome, but I recommend Nail It then Scale It over others on similar topics because it is quite pragmatic and hands-on. There are no attempts to sell you anything, steps are laid down in plain English and supported by examples. And there is a lot of nailing.

Thanks to Bruno Pešec, Pesec Global!


#19- Inspired Companies by Lisa MacCallum and Emily Brew

Photo Credit: Gabriela Damaceno

The authors combine 30 years of experience working for Nike, and they explain how the media revolution is transforming the concept of competitive advantage. Along with the book, they explain what they call as Inspired Companies which are businesses based in 3 pillars: inspired mission, inspired action and inspired profits. Highly recommended, worth reading it!

Thanks to Gabriela Damaceno, Media Shark!


#20- When to Jump

Photo Credit: Alan Silvestri

I like stories. Facts, figures, and in-depth how-to’s are ok, but I relate best to real-world stories. For me, When to Jump fits the bill perfectly – more a collection of anecdotes and short lessons than anything else, but I never fail to find it inspiring and encouraging.

Thanks to Alan Silvestri, Growth Gorilla!


#21- Go for No! by Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz

Photo Credit: Trista Polo

No matter what kind of business you are in, you need to be on the lookout for new connections and new clients. For many years, the fear of rejection crippled me into inaction, stunting my growth as a leader and entrepreneur. Go for No! is an allegorical tale of the power of the No and the counterintuitive lesson that Yes is the Destination, No is How You Get There, as the book’s subtitle so aptly puts it. This book has made a huge difference in my willingness to hear no, which has afforded me many rewards. Fun unexpected symptom of being willing to hear No more often – I am now more willing to SAY no, an equally powerful tool in business and life. Go for No! is a quick read with a powerful message and an engaging story.

Thanks to Trista Polo, I Woke Up Awesome Coaching!


#22- No One’s Listening and It’s Your Fault – Pam Marmon

Photo Credit: Liam Flynn

This is one of my favourite business books at the moment as it focuses a lot on how to communicate effectively and clearly. It also has a big focus on organizational transformations, which makes it feel very relevant and applicable to the current situation. There are lots of learnings in there which can help businesses figure out how to stay productive during times of transition, and how to get their messages across effectively and clearly once everything opens up again and everyone is fighting to get their voice heard.

Thanks to Liam Flynn, Music Grotto!


#23- Becoming the Kind of Person Every Team Wants

Photo Credit: Deborah Sweeney

I enjoy reading The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player: Becoming the Kind of Person Every Team Wants by John C. Maxwell. It’s a book that talks about qualities that make employees great contributors to the organization. I like to recommend new members of our team read this book, too. I believe it’s essential that when team members join our organization, they see the potential of what we can offer, but also identify themselves as contributors to the overall corporate organization. I think it’s important for new employees to see early on that we value team players and the importance of why team players are valued, as well as how to become a team player.

Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation.com!


#24- Think and Grow Rich

Photo Credit; Adam Brooke

Personally, this book made me get in touch with my creative side. In return, it helps to solve business projects that take an extraordinary vision. Addressing “Fear” makes you understand that fear is the only thing that can stop you from reaching your goals in business and life. After reading, you come to the realization anyone can achieve anything in the world if a person has the proper mindset. Napoleon Hill said, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” This philosophy can help anyone propel to success in business and becoming the best version of oneself.

Thanks to Adam Brooke, BrookeWealth Global, LLC!


#25- Fix This Next

Photo Credit: Ashlee Berghoff

As a business owner, I wear twenty hats at once, and it can be tough to cut through the noise and pinpoint what deserves my attention and my best work. Fix This Next is the newest book written by one of my favorite authors – Mike Michalowicz. In it, Mike introduces a framework called the Business Hierarchy of Needs, which can help you identify the ONE core vital need in your business. I don’t use it as a book of information, but rather as a tool to help me take clear, focused action in a single direction. Mike is on a mission to eradicate entrepreneurial poverty, and he’s made a powerful impact on my own business and our industry as a whole.

Thanks to Ashlee Berghoff, A Squared!


#26- Principles by Ray Dallio

Photo Credit: Jeff Moore

Principles by Ray Dallio has quickly become one of my favorites as this book really focuses on how we can make great decisions, consistently. Principles is a must for business owners and operators who are always improving their decision-making process. As Ray is a legend in his industry, he divides the book into principles for both life and business; with a strong focus on self-awareness and personality. I’m constantly referring back to it.

Thanks to Jeff Moore, Everyday Power!


#27- Creative Quest

Photo Credit: Tyler Read

Creative Quest by Ahmir Questlove Thompson of the famous band The Roots is my favorite business book of all time. I particularly recommend listening to Creative Quest on audiobook because Questlove narrates it himself and adds in some exclusive beats he created for the book as well as some hilarious spontaneous phone calls with famous entrepreneurs and creative geniuses. This book is all about inspirations, stories, and lessons for embracing and fostering creative thought while being responsible for the less fun and creative aspects of maintaining your livelihood.

Thanks to Tyler Read, PTPioneer!


#28- Who: by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

Photo Credit: Tyler Eyamie

This book on how to hire the best people for your business is one of my recent favorite business books. Hiring the wrong people is among the top problems faced by executives, and my team and I are not immune to that unfortunate fact. Such mistakes can cost a business millions of dollars and derail important business objectives. No wonder the authors call it your #1 problem. This book offers a great framework and useful scorecards for any hiring manager. In a nutshell, you solve the problem with hiring by using the detailed and actionable steps in this book to really understand what you want, what it looks like, and how you are going to measure it. I wish I had picked this one up earlier. I recommended it to my executive team and am in the process of institutionalizing the hiring framework suggested in this book at my software company. After all, during the current global crisis, hiring right is more significant than ever.

Thanks to Tyler Eyamie, Fusebill!


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

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