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 toward 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- Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
I always recommend Five Dysfunctions of a Team to business clients. The book is fantastic for morale and teamwork. It focuses on promoting productive “conflict” amongst the team for the benefit of the business. Time and again, I see more engagement and “buy-in” on projects and better listening by leaders. It's also written in an easy-to-read storytelling style. I've yet to run into someone who didn't enjoy and appreciate it.
Thanks to Jeremy Babener, Structured Consulting!
#2- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie is a warhorse but is nonetheless my all-time favorite business book for a reason that is too often overlooked: the advice to smile when you meet people. I've found this advice invaluable in business. Even if someone can't see you smile, they can hear it — an amazing property of smiles. Especially in business, smiles invite people to engage, they're cross-cultural, and they create a warm and inviting atmosphere that encourages meaningful engagement.
Thanks to Isaac Lidsky, Home Construction Collective!
#3- Atomic Habits by James Clear
Atomic Habits holds a special place in my heart as one of my all-time favorite business books. James Clear's insights and practical advice on habit formation resonated with me on a deep level. What sets this book apart is Clear's ability to break down the process of habit-building into simple, actionable steps that anyone can follow. The emphasis on making small, incremental changes that compound over time has had a transformative impact on my personal and professional life. Atomic Habits has helped both me and my team members to become more productive, focused, and successful.
Thanks to Jenna Biancavilla, Svvy!
#4- Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Start with Why by Simon Sinek is a groundbreaking business book that puts forward a simple yet powerful idea -successful leaders and organizations are those who start by defining their purpose or ‘why'. Sinek argues that people don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. One quote from the book that has stayed with me is, “People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” This has profoundly resonated with my approach to business, helping me focus on the core purpose of Authors On Mission and inspiring our authors to share their impactful stories with the world.
#5- Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill
One book I highly recommend to fellow entrepreneurs is Napoleon Hill’s Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude. It gives entrepreneurs wisdom on tapping into the deep recesses of their minds to develop a sustained positive mental attitude for continuous progress and self-improvement in their business ventures. It taught me how to view setbacks, and how opportunities arise intuitively when you have your positive mindset right. As a young entrepreneur, it taught me key lessons on PMA and your relationship with motivating myself and maintaining progress via work-life balance.
Thanks to Reeve Benaron, Intrivo!
#6- How To Win Friends and Influence People
This book really helped me as a leader to understand the best way to work effectively and communicate with employees, vendors, and external partners. It helped me develop a more personal way of communicating with my staff and directing them in a polite, professional, and effective way. The business itself is transactional, but the relationships with my employees are not. I’ve learned that by understanding their perspective and simply being respectful.'
Thanks to Chris Gerbig, Pink Lily!
#7- The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
My favorite business book is “The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau”. The core idea that this book teaches is that starting a business need not cost a lot of money. This book proves it with case studies of successful entrepreneurs or solopreneurs who have created revenue streams by identifying and monetizing their passions. It showcases their struggles, the early mistakes, and how simple practical steps allowed them to pivot and find profitability. If anybody is struggling with the idea of entrepreneurship, this book shows a step-by-step breakdown of how to convert your passion to profit.
Thanks to Roman Milyushkevich, Scrapeitcloud!
#8- “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. This book resonates with me because it gave me valuable insights into entrepreneurship, building wealth through smart investments, and most importantly financial independence. The message of adopting a mindset that goes beyond traditional employment and being financially educated aligns with my own journey of leaving my 9-to-5 grind and starting my own business. It provides valuable lessons and views that can inspire and motivate me to continue pursuing my entrepreneurial aspirations and financial success.
Thanks to Brian Campbell, WaterFilterGuru.com!
#9- The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
The E-Myth Revisited is an absolute must-read for anyone embarking on a business venture driven by their passion. It delves deep into the fundamental concept of avoiding the pitfalls of being consumed by day-to-day operational tasks and instead emphasizes the importance of working on the business itself. I found Gerber's insights into the influence of systems on our performance to be invaluable, and he taught me how we can harness them to our advantage.
Thanks to Drew Mansur, TileCloud!
#10- Black Swan by Nassim Taleb
My love for physical books is profound, and my bookshelves are filled with them. While some say collecting books and reading them are separate hobbies, I delight in both. Two books in particular, “Think Fast, Think Slow” by Daniel Kahneman and “Black Swan” by Nassim Taleb, have captivated me with their insights into human behavior in business. If only there were more hours in a day, I would gladly spend more time immersed in reading. In fact, I eagerly anticipate revisiting “Steppenwolf” by Hesse for the third time.
Thanks to Sigita Kotlere, Dyninno!
#11- Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss
My favorite business book is “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss. This book offers a fascinating deep dive into the high-stakes world of hostage negotiations, from which Voss extrapolates practical negotiation principles applicable to the business world. The central idea – that compromising is not the most effective strategy – has profoundly influenced my business decisions. This book equipped me with the ability to approach negotiations as collaborations rather than competitions. As such, I've been able to forge stronger, more beneficial business relationships.
Thanks to Safeer Qureshi, SPG Media!
#12- Obviously Awesome by April Dunford
The business book that really resonates with me is “Obviously Awesome” by April Dunford. It's an exceptional guide when it comes to figuring out company positioning, a crucial factor that I believe can make or break any business. It's especially useful in a very crowded space like ours. I really enjoy Dunford's straightforward, no-nonsense approach, coupled with her practical advice. I've had the pleasure of seeing April speak live, and her insights were as impactful and compelling as they are in her book. It's a resource I would recommend to every business leader.
Thanks to Vadim Katcherovski, Birdview PSA!
#13- Legacy by James Kerr
Almost any of Brene Brown's books could top my list but it really has to be James Kerr's Legacy – what the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life. In it, Kerr outlines the 15 lessons of leadership he thinks we can take from the rise and sustained success of the All Blacks, New Zealand's famous rugby team. There are so many excellent takeaways in this book, including the importance of adaptability, responsibility, and authenticity – aspects of leadership that are often seen as “soft” But the lesson that is central to the book‘s message is ‘sweeping the sheds'.
Thanks to Juliet Robinson, Big Goals!
#14- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
The Lean Startup is a remarkable guide that revolutionizes the way we think about launching and scaling a business. It presents a fresh perspective on entrepreneurship, emphasizing the importance of agility, experimentation, and continuous improvement. What I particularly appreciate about this book is its practicality and actionable insights. Ries shares real-world examples and strategies that can be readily applied to various business scenarios. The book instilled in me the mindset of constantly seeking customer feedback and incorporating it into my decision-making process.
Thanks to Mathew Coulton, Gentle Dog Trainers!
#15- The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen
The Innovator's Dilemma” by Clayton M. Christensen is a worthwhile book to read to better understand how to make your business withstand industry disruption. Christensen describes disruptive innovation and the roadblocks that established companies face when dealing with new technologies or disruptive market forces. Ultimately, this book offers helpful strategies for managing and embracing evolving industry trends that could otherwise threaten your business.
Thanks to Brandon Adcock, Nugenix!
#16- Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore
Crossing the Chasm is a highly influential book that has significantly contributed to early strategic planning for Lawcadia, a legal technology company. The book, written by Geoffrey A. Moore, offers valuable insights into the challenges faced by startups as they transition from early adoption to mainstream success. By introducing the concept of the technology adoption lifecycle, Moore identifies the “chasm” as the critical gap between early adopters and the majority market. The book provides a comprehensive framework for understanding this gap and offers strategies for successfully crossing it.
Thanks to Warwick Walsh, Lawcadia!
#17- Building A StoryBrand by Donald Miller
I’ve read and re-read ‘Building A StoryBrand’ by Donald Miller several times and it’s my absolute go-to when anyone in business asks for a book recommendation. It’s chock-full of insight and inspiration but, more importantly, practical advice and application. It comes with a free online brand script builder and steps you through the process of clarifying your brand, your website, and your marketing messages. This book is dripping with all the common sense things we should know and execute…but ironically commonly don’t!
Thanks to Katrina Ferguson, Photogeek!
#18- Good to Great by Jim Collins
I've read countless business books to nourish my knowledge. But if I have to pick my favorite, it would be “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't” by Jim Collins. This book stands out for its valuable insights into what differentiates truly great companies from the rest. It offers valuable lessons on leadership, strategy, and the importance of getting the right people on board, concepts that have greatly influenced how I operate Nako.
Thanks to Sophia Tang, Nako!
#19- Too Big To Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin
The best business book is “Too Big To Fail – The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System–And Themselves” by Andrew Ross Sorkin. It's a great book because it's written like a thriller from the perspectives of these really big business and government personalities. The writer (himself a well-known US business journo) also covers the career backgrounds of each of the key players, and so there are some really interesting lessons and insights that can be picked up.
Thanks to Chris Hill, Stadium Legal!