I’ve read a bunch of these several times over, but here are my recommendations for business books every entrepreneur should read:
1. All In by Bill Green
How do you go from running a flea market business to operating a distribution empire that rakes in sales of more than $1.8 billion?
All In by Bill Green is filled with lessons learned by this serial entrepreneur over the past 40 years, and details the steps he had to take to build his first small hardware store–which ultimately got sold to Home Depot. This book is a how-to guide packed with practical tools on how to take an idea and make it big.
2. Meetings Suck by Cameron Herold
How many times have you sat through a meeting and thought to yourself, “Why is this such a waste of time?”
According to renowned business growth expert Cameron Herold, meetings aren’t the problem. We are. This is one of those books that helps shed some perspective on the importance of focusing on soft skills, like how to hold an effective meeting that leaves people feeling empowered. Meetings Suck is essentially a guide on how to be a better leader, by walking readers, step by step, through systems that encourage true productivity and efficiency.
3. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen
Why is it so difficult for big brands and major corporations to keep up with the rapid-fire evolution of their respective industries?
In Clayton M. Christensen’s well-known business book The Innovator’s Dilemma, he tackles why outstanding companies can continue to perform at optimum efficiency and still lose ownership over their market. This book serves as a history lesson as much as it is an actionable guide for business leaders who want to ensure the long term success of their company.
4. Good to Great by Jim Collins
How does an organization become better over time?
That is the question that Jim Collins set out to answer in his bestseller, Good To Great. He deployed a 21-person research team to comb through every Fortune 500 company that met their scrupulous criteria: companies that suffered a decadelong period of stagnant profits, followed by 15 years of great success and increasing profits. These companies ended up being the foundational case studies for his book, and act as teaching tools for any entrepreneur wondering how a company can ultimately surpass its competitors.
5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
This is one of those books you should read and then reread every year.
Make it a habit because it is deemed one of the best business leadership books of all time for a reason. Stephen R. Covey gives actionable but extremely self-aware guidance to aspiring leaders who want to lead by example. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is meant for individuals who are looking to improve themselves from the inside out.
6. Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute
A business book written in a different fashion than most, Leadership and Self-Deception is one part story, one part brilliant analysis of the inner workings of a company with positive interpersonal relationships.
The Arbinger Institute is known for its insights on leadership, and this book truly sets the stage. It allows readers to discover for themselves, by watching the main characters interact with one another, what it truly means to be a leader in every sense of the word.
7. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
What does it take to build a habit? Furthermore, what impact do our everyday habits have on us, as human beings?
According to Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit, they have a far greater impact on our happiness, productivity, relationships, and everything in between than we might think. It was Duhigg’s interest in the science of habits that sparked this well-known book, and in it, he tackles questions like how and why companies use the science of habit building to influence what we buy–and when we buy it.
8. Cold Hard Truth on Men, Women, and Money by Kevin O’Leary
No one knows money like Shark Tank‘s “Mr. Wonderful.”
In this fast-paced, easy-to-read guidebook on money management, Kevin O’Leary breaks difficult financial concepts down to their simplest form. Why is this a must-read for every entrepreneur? Because to grow your business, and ultimately provide yourself with financial freedom, there is one thing you are going to need to master above all else: your money. Cold Hard Truth on Men, Women, and Money is a must read for anyone looking for success and balance in all areas of life.
9. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Tried and true, How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the most popular business books of all time for a reason.
With plenty of undertones of self-development, Dale Carnegie shows readers why handling business the right way is so imperative. He exhorts us to treat each and every opportunity with the same level of respect and dignity you would any other–and acknowledge that people want to do business with their friends. People sign deals with the people they like, and with whom they believe they’d work well. If there is one book out there that will teach you how to do just that, it’s this one.
10. Zero to One by Peter Thiel
Entrepreneurs everywhere say they want to do something different, that they want to change the world.
Well, serial entrepreneur Peter Thiel has decided to tackle that topic head-on in his Zero to One lectures, and point out exactly what it takes to make something entirely unique and new. As he says, “The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their business will be unique.”
11. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
One of the biggest mistakes young entrepreneurs make is to create their ideas in a vacuum.
They spend weeks, months, even years on one idea, waiting for a “grand reveal” to the public — only to launch and realize they missed the mark entirely. The Lean Startup suggests an iterative approach to business. Test your market and your audience as you go along, instead of saving the “grand reveal” for the very end. This will help you avoid falling flat on your face.
You can learn as you go instead.
12. Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson
Who better to share the entrepreneurial spirit than one of the greatest to ever walk the path?
Richard Branson is a playboy in every sense of the word — often times prioritizing “playing” over everything. His greatest successes, after all, did not come from hours of focus groups or deep market research. They came from a spirited approach for getting in the trenches, looking around, and emerging with an idea that just makes sense. Losing My Virginity is less about actionable advice and more about inspiring you to take great leaps of faith.
13. Purple Cow by Seth Godin
One of the great thought leaders in advertising, marketing, and innovation. Seth Godin’s Purple Cow is a reminder that everything we do should be, in some way, remarkable.
Everyone has seen a cow. But a purple cow is different. The great companies, individuals, and messages of our time are what Seth calls “purple cows.” They stand out. They force you to take notice. And that is a powerful thing to have in a world of saturated messaging.
14. Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk
The king of entrepreneurship, Gary is a role model for what it means to truly be a purebred entrepreneur.
Crush It is essentially a monologue of inspiration combined with actionable advice. His mantra? “Work. Work really hard. Effort is underestimated.”
15. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
This is, undoubtedly, the single greatest book about business ever written.
Think and Grow Rich is a culmination of lessons learned from some of the world’s greatest thinkers and innovators, and Hill breaks down the lessons in easily digestible chapters that focus on so much more than just “motivational language.” And the best part is, although this book was written in 1937, its lessons are as true today as they were back then. It is the quintessential example of what it takes to become truly successful. As Hill says, “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
16. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
And finally, a classic when it comes to personal finance, Rich Dad, Poor Dad is a story that will change the way you approach money forever.
The quick read takes what many people consider to be a confusing topic and makes it so painfully simple that you’ll wonder how you didn’t understand it sooner. When it comes to business of any kind, finance is a pillar that requires the utmost attention and mastery. According to Kiyosaki, it all starts with your habits and the way you treat money. In order to be successful, you need to have a positive relationship with your finances, and that means acting out of discipline instead of impulse.