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 by 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 is a selection of business books chosen as favorites by entrepreneurs and business owners.
#1- Art of War by Stephen Pressfield
Pressfield defines and examines procrastination. He calls it resistance. He says that when one is trying to do something great for themselves or society, a sort of black magic attacks them and tries to prevent them from doing the thing they set out to do and achieve their goal. Others might call this unseen energy the devil. Mr. Pressfield sets forth rules and strategies to beat the devil. It boils down to Nike’s great slogan: Just Do It!
Thanks to Tom Scarda, The Franchise Academy, Inc!
#2- What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles
I read this book when I was 21 years old and had no idea what I wanted to accomplish with the rest of my life. It helped my progression from just doing a regular job to becoming a Top Millennial in Staffing. After fifteen years, I've given away at least 40 copies of the book to interns, staff, and acquaintances who are looking for their life's meaning in their careers. Because you'll be doing a lot of exercises and soul searching during the process, it will be challenging work, but whether you're 21 or 61, you'll come out of it with a better vision of what you want to accomplish next.
Thanks to Travis Lindemoen, Nexus IT Group!
#3- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
This classic, one of three books by Malcolm Gladwell (the others are Blink and Outliers), explains how successful companies are started, how ideas circulate, and how a trend can take off in a short period of time. As a word-of-mouth and social media marketer, it has had a significant impact on my career. In addition, it's a must-read for anyone who works in marketing and sales, or simply wants to improve their ability to communicate their
Thanks to Dan Trichterm, Accessibility Checker!
#4- Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
No matter what you do, this quick read will alter the way you approach your work in the future. Despite the fact that it is written in such a simple manner, with tiny words and large illustrations, it includes significant insights about becoming more productive and successful without being a workaholic or sacrificing anything. Reading it in an hour on a flight was a great experience, and I've since shared it with more than two dozen colleagues and returned to it at least a dozen times myself.
Thanks to Marc Stitt, FMX!
#5- Multipliers by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown
Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown created the Multipliers. What is it that differentiates effective leaders from ineffective ones? And what can ineffective (or average) leaders do to better their situations? As a consequence of addressing these questions, Multipliers offers readers a structure for becoming the type of boss who can foster and magnify the inherent strengths of their team in order to achieve superior financial results for the company.
Thanks to Liz Wiseman, Dough Roller!
#6- Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Brown brilliantly breaks down thought processes in risk-taking and also dispels the myth that vulnerability is weakness. How Brown turns psychology 180 degrees and shows how what we believe to be one of our greatest flaws, is in actuality, our greatest strength and indicator of courage. By reshaping our belief system, Brown was able to free me of some of those misconceptions and allowed me to move forward in my business endeavors.
Thanks to Jeff Meeks, Energy Fit!
#7- In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney
My go-to business book is In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney. It's a diverse collection of segments featuring creative women. The photography is beautiful and the Q&A formatting makes it easy to read whether you have two minutes or an hour. This book proves that we can learn from entrepreneurs across industries. Many entrepreneurial lessons transcend niche lines of work and can be applied broadly.
Thanks to Laura Riley, Riley Content Group LLC!
#8- The Innovator's Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen
The book, which is one of the most highly regarded business texts of all time, takes a look at how some of the biggest companies failed because they were not willing to think
outside the box. Although many look at this book as a warning not to fall prey to conventional business practices, I actually found it as an inspiration. It boosted my confidence that my idea, which had never been tried previously, would work because its non-conventional approach was its greatest attribute.
Thanks to Woody Sears, Hearhere!
#9- Your Leadership Edge by Ravinder Tulsiani
In a straightforward and straightforward approach, Your Leadership Edge contains analyses and practical recommendations that might assist leaders in improving their leadership skills and abilities. Given my own experience as a leader, I regarded most of the points in the book to be realistic – and I came away from the with a deeper understanding of the kind of leader I am and the abilities I need to develop further.
Thanks to Jeff Mains, Champion Leadership Group LLC!
#10- Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
My favorite business book of all time would have to be Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. Knight, the notoriously shy co-founder of Nike, gives readers rare insight into the beginnings of Nike and how it got to be the giant that it is today. The best takeaway is to avoid telling people how to do things. Instead, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their processes and results.
Thanks to Ravi Parikh, RoverPass!
#11- Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki
Rich Dad, Poor Dad has been my favorite book to read over the last year. The key takeaway from this book, in my opinion, was to understand the distinction between an asset and a liability. I believe there is a reason why the rich get richer: they comprehend the critical but often misunderstood distinction between assets and liabilities. An asset is
money in your pocket. An obligation depletes your bank account. To become wealthy, you must acquire assets and use the revenue created by those assets to purchase luxury and fund your lifestyle.
Thanks to Carl Panepinto, CloudTech24!
#12- Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson is my favorite business book because it helped me to realize that small disciplines carried out over an extended period of time would compound and cause a ripple effect of success. The key ingredient is consistency. I am thankful that I read this book early in my career because it really inspired me to show up for myself and achieve my goals.
Thanks to Jae Pak, Jae Pak MD Medical!
#13- On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis
Bennis’s book is a must-read if you are getting into management but aren’t secure in leadership abilities. This book breaks down the role of leadership into short, easy-to-understand points that make it feel much more manageable. This book will give you the feeling that you could take on anything. It can connect to the reader by reflecting on yourself as a person and a leader. He gives examples of great leaders and thoroughly
explains their successes.
Thanks to Anton Radchenko, AirAdvisor!
#14- Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take by Paul Polman and Andrew Winston
If you're a firm believer of the fact that creating value, solving problems, and serving the world is the cornerstone of building a business then this book is the perfect read for you. Backed by real-world examples and eye-opening insights, the book carefully explains how creating a net positive company is the only rewarding way to success and that
businesses should shift their focus towards solving pre-existing problems rather than creating new ones.
Thanks to Demi Yilmaz, Colonist.io!
#15- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Sometimes you read a book that makes you stop and think and then changes the way you think. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is one such book. This book is tremendously important for decision-making from the individual up through public policy. You will learn what you can consciously control, how your intuition works, typical bias based on intuition, how decisions are made, and an enormous amount of relevant
information. Thinking, Fast and Slow is a book for anyone who is interested in how thinking works and why they think the things they do.
Thanks to Laura Jimenez, Ishine365!
#16- Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
A riveting biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, this business book is based on over forty interviews with the legendary entrepreneur, conducted over two years. Also containing excerpts from interviews of his family members, friends, competitors, and colleagues, the book details the life and intense personality of a businessman whose passion and drive for perfection revolutionized as many as six industries: animated movies, personal computers, phones, tablet computing, music, and digital publishing. ‘Steve Jobs’ surely creates an all-encompassing portrait of the great man.
Thanks to Christiaan Huynen, Design Bro!
#17- Business Adventures by John Brooks
Business Adventures by John Brooks is an excellent book. I read it not for any other reason than Bill Gates said it was his favorite business book. It was a pleasure reading the book. It comprises real stories with discussions on a wide range of topics like anti-trust, currency, insider trading, launching new products, stock market, etc. The stories may be old but the tremendous insights provided by the author are still relevant today.
Thanks to Allan Jeffrey, Ultra Decking!
#18- The World for Sale by Javier Blas and Jack Farch
It entails a detailed story of how commodity traders rode out the commodity boom, connecting resource-rich countries with the rest of the world. This book educated me about the origin of the commodity-driven modern world. It further highlights how the indispensable cogs established themselves as those who buy, hoard, and sell the earth's resources. The World for Sale is a piece of unfiltered truth about the origin of capitalism and who it benefited the most.
Thanks to Erik Nilsson, Book Summary Club!
#19- Can You Think and Get Rich by El-Batrawi
The author shares his incredible journey to success and financial independence after overcoming many challenges. By applying the principles of Napoleon Hill's Think and
Grow Rich achieved extraordinary success. He left home at the age of 12 and followed a path that led to business opportunities with some of the world's most successful millionaires. This is a great book that will help you on your own path to success. A great way to see the great principles espoused by one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century prove worthy for the author.
Thanks to Thomas Mirmotahari, Perk Up!
#20- Who Moved My Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson
In addition to the usual favorites, Spencer Johnson’s business fable bestows a new vigor and strength to take on business. It taught me resilience, made me bold and immune to change, introduced me to the various shades of unpredictability, and taught me to observe. To stay sharp, take risks, and sniff my venture’s cheese getting old, a reference to the age-old practices that may not produce results in today’s world. Above all, it guided me to let go of fear and made me realize the path to success.
Thanks to Dan Barrett, Pacific Precious Metals!
#21- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is one of the best business books I’ve read. His “true north” principles that he outlines in the book are effective for achieving both personal and professional goals. In order to obtain your desired results, you need to care about who or what produces those results. There’s a reason why this book still resonates with people over 30 years since it was published. It has timeless, universal wisdom that anyone can apply to their life.
Thanks to Steven Vigilante, Olipop!
#22- Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell
Entrepreneurs are often faced with tough decisions that determine the future of their business. It’s hard to know if you’re making the right decision, and you may wonder what makes a good decision-maker. “Blink” breaks down how successful business owners consistently make the right decisions, sometimes in the blink of an eye. I would recommend this book for any entrepreneur who needs to learn how to make pivotal decisions to ensure the success of their business.
Thanks to Craig Hewitt, Castos!
#23- Good to Great by Jim Collins
One of my favorite business books includes “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. Owning a good company is fine, but as a business owner who wants to achieve greater heights, making it into something greater is the goal. This book shows how a business owner should make decisions that will benefit the company. Being a CEO is a difficult task as one wrong decision can send the business to the ground. This book helps me in my decision-making. It reminds me to not make rash decisions without thinking everything through and without studying the option carefully.
Thanks to Michael Humphreys, Z Grills Australia!
#24- The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
I was introduced to The One Thing by Gary Keller, Jay Papasan earlier this year and it's been hands-down one of the most impactful business books I've read. What I mean by impactful is that I'm getting a lot done with clarity and focus as I launched my third company. I end my day looking over my to-do list for the next day and ask this simple question to myself, what is the ONE THING I can do today that makes everything else on my to-do list either easier or nonexistent? Then I focus on that. All the other fires simmer in the background while I handle the most immediate task at hand.
Thanks to Amanda Bedell, BCC Business Consulting!
#25- The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance by Katty Kay & Claire Shipman
The book guides young and budding entrepreneurs in learning how to gain confidence and act as leaders, without falling into traps of perfectionism, or self-doubt. It combines clinical and conversational, experience-based research to argue in favor of women
entrepreneurs adopting a kind of self-confident behavior that is typically seen in men. It's one of the most inspiring books I've read and it teaches you a lot about being a woman in business. I would recommend this book to young women in high school that aspire to be entrepreneurs or pursue a career in business.
Thanks to Sharon Van Donkelaar, Expandi!
#26- Mastering the Hire by Chaka Booker
Mastering the Hire by Chaka Booker is an essential guide for every employer that wants to learn the best methods in identifying the right talent for the job. This is my favorite business book because Booker's 12 proven strategies are backed by scientific research and his first-hand experience. The book underscores the importance of building a system to make great talent hires consistently. I have gone back to Booker's many times and it has been instrumental in beating the hiring odds at my company.
Thanks to Brogan Renshaw, Modelers Central!
#27- The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
I would recommend this book to all aspiring and current entrepreneurs. The book features his real-life experiences as he built his startup and discovered ways to manage it effectively. The relatability of the text is a major reason why this book stands out to me; not only does it give you ideas about preventing mistakes, but the material includes actionable advice on what to do once you’ve made those mistakes. One short phrase I particularly love is ‘embrace the struggle.’ It is a helpful reminder about how passionate I have always been about my business and motivates me when times get tough.
Thanks to Anjela Mangrum, Mangrum Career Solutions!
#28- Innovation in Real Places by Dan Breznitz
The best business book I read this year was Innovation in Real Places: Strategies for Prosperity in an Unforgiving World by Dan Breznitz. He claims that new startups are far too focused on recreating the models used in the high-tech industry, when other innovation-based growth models may be more effective. Entrepreneurs are combining innovation and invention, distracting them from other pressing obstacles. It’s a great read for anyone looking to design and build a start-up strategy in the next few years.
Thanks to David Aylor, David Aylor Law Offices!