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- The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth by Chris Brogan
Initially, the title and cover art were the two things that drew me into reading this specific book. But after reading it, I liked this book for more than just its unique title and artwork. Written for those who don't quite fit into the mold of the typical business owner, this book taught me how to remain true to myself, think outside the basic entrepreneurial frameworks, and provide a viable business structure that sustains and supports my community.
Thanks to SidSoil, Docudavit!
#2- Good to Great by Jim Collins
My favorite business book is ‘Good to Great by Jim Collins. It’s a fun and fascinating read, based on intensive academic research. The main subjects of the book are large multinational corporations, but there are countless lessons for small business owners and entrepreneurs. It’s the only business book I return to over and over, and I found it especially useful in the early days of the pandemic when it felt particularly hard to make business plans given the extreme uncertainty at the time.
Thanks to Andres Zuleta, Henderson Public Relations!
#3- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Simply put, this book changed the way I lived as an entrepreneur it made me more efficient, productive, and motivated to succeed and lead a meaningful life. “The 7 Habits” made me more ambitious, more calculated, and more introspective it sharpened my focus, and refined my outlook on life and business. Additionally, this masterpiece by Stephen Covey inspired me to better myself to become a better leader it inspired me
to lead with purpose, passion, and perspective. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is my favorite business book because it greatly enhanced my entrepreneurial mindset.
Thanks to Datha Santomieri, Steadily!
#4- Strategize to Win by Carla Harris
I recommend this book to anyone who's thinking of switching careers to start their own business. This book will teach you how to attract the kinds of opportunities you want by setting clear goals, building healthy relationships, and making necessary changes to your daily habits. Harris’s advice about “having as many conversations as possible with as many people as you can about your career aspirations,” has helped me recognize
countless opportunities I might have otherwise overlooked.
Thanks to Eric Pines, Pines Federal Employment Attorneys!
#5 Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
One of my most treasured reading experiences came from the insights of this book. It advocates the importance of financial literacy, building wealth through investing in assets, and starting businesses, among other invaluable information. Aside from that, this book is such a fascinating read with compelling stories along the way to help guide the experience. All in all, this masterpiece by the businessman extraordinaire Robert Kiyosaki, is my favorite business book for its world-class insight and storytelling.
Thanks to Dan Gray, Kotn Supply!
#6- Built to Sell by John Warrillow
Built to sell is a must-read for any business owner. Regardless of whether you plan to sell
your business or not, building your business with the intention that you will sell it helps you operationalize, automate, and optimize everything you do. As a result, your team will be more efficient, productive, and happy. And, because of the systems and processes, your team will save time and thus have more time to work on tasks and projects that excite them and move the business forward rather than “busy work”.
Thanks to Sarah Doody, Career Strategy Lab!
#7- The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen
One of my favorite business books is called The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen. The book talks about how successful companies can get trapped in their success and end up losing out to new, more innovative competitors. Christensen calls this phenomenon the innovator's dilemma. I think the book is really interesting because it provides a framework for thinking about innovation and change within businesses. It's helped me to understand better why certain companies succeed and others fail.
Thanks to David Lee, Inyouths LED Mirrors!
#8- Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
This is one of my favorite business books because Brené Brown does a fantastic job of explaining how great leadership is something that can be learned by effectively breaking down four key skills that all the best leaders and CEOs possess. She also talks about the importance of psychological safety for teams, how to build a ‘courage culture' by being a daring leader, and also how building trust with your people can't be accomplished without being vulnerable and being willing to hold uncomfortable conversations.
#9- Deep Work by Cal Newport
I learned from the book what deep work is and why it's crucial for success in business and life. Newport further relates in the book how deep work changes our brain, so we become more adept and effective at what we do, making us more effective and productive. He also lays out the four rules of deep work. Using these rules, I implemented practical strategies to prevent distraction, embrace boredom, and develop deep work as a daily habit.
#10- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
The best business book I have read is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. With more than twenty years of study on people who have achieved success, this book gives the readers sixteen laws to accomplish great heights. With practical advice on how to become successful, this book is a perfect read not only for business professionals but anyone. Although there are a few controversial aspects, personally, it was a motivating read.
Thanks to Colleen Colodany, Kids Wiki!
#11- Radical Candor by Kim Scott
Kim Scott’s Radical Candor is a fantastic book for finding that link between boss and friend that will make your employees respect you not just for authority but for genuine care as well. All bosses have struggled with the balance of forming good relationships with their employees while still being able to criticize them for their work, and Scott’s book really gives a step-by-step guide on how exactly to traverse that. Having a good relationship with your employees is the backbone of a company, and you really don't have to give that up just to be a stern boss.
Thanks to Jim Campbell, Honeymoon Goals!
#12- The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
The “E-Myth” refers to the Entrepreneurial Myth, which is the belief that all you need to do to be successful in business is to be passionate about your product or service. However, as the author explains, there’s much more to running a successful business than just having a great idea. You need to have a clear vision, know your target market, and have a plan for scaling your business. This book provides valuable insights and advice on all of these topics and more. If you’re looking to start your own business or want to take your existing business to the next level, this is the book for you.
Thanks to Todd Saunders, BIG Safety!
#13- The Cold Start Problem by Andrew Chen
Chen draws on interviews with well-known CEOs, as well as his own experience as a venture capitalist and an executive at Uber, to provide insights into how teams can build this kind of viral growth into their products. Chen explains the network effect in different stages in the growth cycle of a successful company: Cold Start, Tipping Point, Escape Velocity, and Ceiling. His real-world examples bring a lot of aha moments. The Cold Start Problem is a must-read for startups wanting to create products and communities.
Thanks to Chris Gadek, AdQuick!
#14- The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
When investing in a business, not every business owner is aware of the whereabouts of where to invest and where not. If you are in a similar condition, tackle your investing problems with The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. This book delivers fantastic financial information on investing and running a business for entrepreneurs. This book will help you identify the best financial opportunities and seize the deal. With the right practical and sustainable financial tips from this book, you can gradually grow your financial freedom and business revenue over time.
Thanks to Erin Mastopietro, Dope Dog!
#15- Adaptation Advantage by Heather McGowan and Chris Shipley
The book prescribes the change going on in the world of business and helps with solutions that could help solve them. It helped reveal how to put a balance between my job and personal life in order to find the purpose for my business. The authors made me realize that building a company with purpose helps to build a workforce that is learned, engaging, and empowered. It helped me learn to create a family out of the workers that I call mine and learn to creatively push through the hurdles in the market as it changes every day.
Thanks to Emma Gordon, USSalvageYards!
#16- One Little Spark by Marty Sklar
Written by the former head of Imagineering and the man who, arguably, was the architect of Disney’s service industry and theme park success blueprint Marty Sklar, ‘One Little Spark’ is a go-to business guide dressed up as an anecdotal memoir. While sharing some of his favorite stories from the time that he spent with the company Sklar also imparts the Disney guide to doing things the right way so that they can incorporate it into their lives and follow in Mickey’s footsteps.
Thanks to Rob Greene, The Price of Meat!
#17- How to F*ck Up Your Startup by Kim Hvidkjaer
This Wall Street Journal best-seller is a gritty, unfiltered look at startups that fail. Startup owners, entrepreneurs, and anyone involved in the startup world can learn from these stories, understand red flags to look out for, and even know how to avoid setting yourself up for success. Kim Hvidkjaer has been successful in his business ventures, but he has also seen his fair share of failures. He’s learned from them, analyzed his
journey, and – lucky for us – has written all about it in this book.
Thanks to Edith Hamilton, NEXT New Growth!
#18- ReWork by Jason Fried and David Hansson
‘Rework' is one book that has had a significant impact on myself and how I work. I learned that entrepreneurs do not need to be workaholics so that their businesses succeed. I agree with this point wholeheartedly because I have seen so many startups fail because the founder was overworked and stretched too thin. As I was reading this section of the book, I realized that I was falling into the trap of constantly working, and I traced how overworking was affecting the quality of my life. Implementing this new schedule has completely changed my life and my approach to business.
#19- Why Didn't Anybody Tell Me This Sh*t Before?! by Marcella Allison
My favorite book is Why Didn't Anybody Tell Me This Sh*t Before?: Wit and Wisdom from Women in Business by Marcella Allison and Laura Gale. This book is inspiring, heart-wrenching, and humorous and touches on so many challenges (and triumphs) that women in business face. A read that offers mentorship, guidance, and anecdotes from incredible women that have gone before us!
Thanks to Jess Munday, Custom Neon!
#20- Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker
This book is truly transformational and teaches us the basics of understanding what makes anyone an effective leader, it teaches – us how to delegate effectively, and most importantly, how to be self-aware, taking stock of our greatest strengths and most dangerous weaknesses. Not being able to manage oneself effectively may lead to entropy in many areas of our lives. I recommend this book to entrepreneurs, managers, and leaders who would love to be more effective and purposeful in life and business.
Thanks to Struan Baird, Luxury Ireland Tours!
#21- How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Addressing people by their name, asking them questions, and actively listening to their ideas and opinions make people feel important and validated. It also leaves them with a favorable impression of their interactions with your business, making it clear that the end goal is not selling your product but building relationships with your customers. As Carnegie wrote, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Thanks to Daniel Tejada, Straight Up Growth!
#22- The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
This book is all about starting your day off right with what the author calls the “Life S.A.V.E.R.S” – silence, affirmation, visualization, exercise, reading, and scribing. It’s based on the premise that how you start your day sets the tone for the rest of the day. The book includes many tips and tricks to help make mornings more productive and less stressful. It’s a great read for anyone struggling with mornings or looking for ways to improve their daily routine.
Thanks to Peter Monkhouse, ICL SA!
#23- Rework by Jason Fried
The reason this is my favorite is that it somehow throws away all the “rules” that we’re used to in business and reworks all of them. It’s a breath of fresh air compared to all the other business books that you can usually pick up. I like how it understands the rules, and then bends them to ensure that businesses will work no matter what kind of setup it has. It focuses on showing that even small businesses can make it big, without becoming big.
Thanks to Kieran Sheridan, Gulf Physio!
#24- Blue Ocean Strategy by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim
Blue Ocean Strategy is a fantastic book written by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim about how to handle competition in your niche, or more accurately, how not to handle them. The book explains how trying to battle the competition in your niche is less effective than just trying to expand your business in different ways from your competitors to create a vast ocean between you and them.
Thanks to Jessica Vine, RV Idiots!
#25- Belonging by Sue Unerman, Mark Edwards, and Kathryn Jacob
I have just finished reading Belonging: The Key to Transforming and Maintaining Diversity, Inclusion, and Equality at Work by Sue Unerman, Mark Edwards, and Kathryn Jacob. It is a brilliant insight into how feeling like you are part of a workspace or a company can really have an impact on how well you work for that company. It is also a great read about diversity in the workplace and how simply having a diverse workforce isn’t necessarily akin to being diverse. I really recommend this to any bosses or CEOs.
Thanks to Joseph Greene, Trinidad Birding!
#26- Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
Words are so powerful as you build a business and this book helps you choose the best phrases to communicate effectively. Written by a top FBI hostage negotiator, his techniques work in high-stakes situations AND in daily life. This book is right for you if you want to feel more powerful and in control of both your business and personal life. I literally use these shifts with both my clients AND my four-year-old!
Thanks to April Ebeling, AprilSingsalot!
#27- Software Estimation by Steve McConnell
My favorite business book is Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art which is written by Steve McConnell. This is my favorite business book because it’s tech-focused. Owning a company that helps assist businesses with their security means I need to have a good idea of software and its development. This book covers this well and provides great advice on how to implement this within my own business.
Thanks to Peter Strahan, Lantech!
#28- Start With Why by Simon Sinek
From the writer's perspective on leadership and how to lead your business with significant actions. The book is all about identifying the primary purpose behind your business and working towards the goal by fulfilling the mission and objectives. Also, the book helped me in planning my business strategies, emphasizing innovative ideas, and making them more profitable. Start With Why is an incredible book for all business owners and entrepreneurs as the book teaches you to lead with purpose.
Thanks to Alex Haley, YardsNearMe!
#29- The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann
Hands down, the book that has impacted me most (personally and professionally) is “The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg and John David Mann. Not a long read, or listen (I prefer audiobooks these days), it is a parable that walks the reader through the 5 Laws of Stratospheric Success. These lessons have impacted my business so profoundly that giving has become a side-product of every client relationship.
Thanks to Steve Gamlin, Motivational Firewood!
#30- The Ten-Day MBA by Steven A. Silbiger
MBA and marketing director Steven A. Silbiger gives readers a crash course in everything he's learned in his years of teaching business, covering theoretical concepts as well as practical skills such as accounting, finance, marketing strategy, quantitative analysis, operations, and economics, organizational behavior, and ethics. Silbiger's widely acclaimed comprehensive guide compiles lessons from business schools around the world, based on the notes of MBA students at Harvard, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago, Northwestern, and the University of Virginia.
Thanks to Caitlyn Parish, Cicinia!