If you’re an entrepreneur, you know that reading is essential for success. But with so many books out there, it can be difficult to choose which ones to grab and which ones to throw in the garbage. That’s why I asked my bloggy friends to send me THEIR top picks for the must-have books for entrepreneurs. This list features several of them. Let’s dive in, shall we?
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20 Must-Read Books for Entrepreneurs
From Scaling Up by Verne Harnish to The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber, here are 20 answers to the question, “What are the best books for entrepreneurs you’ve ever read and why?”
- Scaling Up by Verne Harnish
- Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch
- Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- Zero to One by Peter Thiel
- People Buy You: The Real Secret to What Matters Most in Business by Jeb Blount
- Rich Woman by Kim Kiyosaki
- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
- Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
- Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz.
- Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk
- The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
- Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
- Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
- Wellness Incorporated: the Health Entrepreneur’s Handbook by Jennifer Buchanan
- The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
Scaling Up by Verne Harnish
The best book for entrepreneurs I’ve ever read has to be Scaling Up by Verne Harnish. This book does a fantastic job of delivering insight into how companies can grow and scale up successfully, by immersing the reader in a three-step process.
It starts off with getting the right people on board, which covers both hiring staff and creating the right executive team in order to make your dream happen. It also looks at systems and strategies; breaking down key concepts such as setting achievable goals, different funding strategies available, and understanding the market you plan to enter or exist in.
To top it off, Scaling Up shares stories from successful businesses that give great insight into what made them successful. It’s a must-have for any entrepreneur who is looking to make a mark on their industry!
Antreas Koutis, Administrative Manager, Financer
Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch
Many regard John Jantsch, the author of this book, as a leading small business marketing expert. His book is all about implementing low-cost marketing strategies that work.
He also makes a compelling case for thinking of your marketing strategy as a holistic, integrated system. This book will guide you on how to grow your business without overspending on advertising. Moreover, this book can help you build a stronger relationship between your product and your audience.
Joe Flanagan, Founder, 90s Fashion World
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Thinking Fast and Slow is the first thing that comes to my mind because it stuck to its guns and delivered exactly what it promised. So many supposedly influential books for entrepreneurs try too hard to be interesting, thought-provoking, and a page-turner at the same time.
Kahneman, on the other hand, wrote a book that you don’t want to read fast because you feel like the wisdom held within, about how we think, should be carefully studied. It’s the best because I will always find an excuse to come back to it.
Natalia Brzezinska, Marketing and Outreach Manager, PhotoAiD
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
One book that has profoundly impacted my entrepreneurial mindset is The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. This book skillfully articulates that entrepreneurs must prioritize the development of a minimum viable product (MVP) while constantly adapting it based on customer feedback.
Ries highlights the significance of data-driven decision-making, endorsing that continuous experimentation is the cornerstone of sustainable growth. Furthermore, the author advocates for establishing an innovation-oriented culture within a startup—a crucial aspect that fosters adaptability and resilience in an ever-changing business landscape.
Michael Sena, Founder and CEO, Senacea
Zero to One by Peter Thiel
Zero to One was such an important book for me to read because it revealed that there is still room for innovation and the creation of new inventions that people need. We may think there is nothing new to invent, but Thiel tells us that if we do the research, we can discover new ways to create valuable inventions people need.
Progress can still be made in every area of business, and what’s most important is that entrepreneurs must be able to think for themselves if they want to succeed. The book is easy to follow and offers practical advice on becoming an independent thinker who can create new and valuable ideas for their customers.
Anthony Martin, Founder and CEO, Choice Mutual
People Buy You: The Real Secret to What Matters Most in Business by Jeb Blount
This book showed me that my biggest competitive edge was myself. You must do the groundwork to build the skills and experiences you need to excel in your field, but there will always be many others doing the same and competing against you for the same customers.
Entrepreneurs can’t discount the importance of building relationships to drive their businesses to success. Blount explains the three relationship myths that become your roadblocks and advice for making deeper emotional connections faster.
Shawn Plummer, CEO, The Annuity Expert
Rich Woman by Kim Kiyosaki
Rich Woman by Kim Kiyosaki is inspiring and empowering; a true must-have arsenal for any businesswoman. Through this book, I acquired a wealth of knowledge on economics, finance, and overcoming any shortcomings that come my way.
It had me feeling like I could take on the world with new confidence! Rich Woman taught me how to become smart with money and make it work harder for me, not just survive but thrive in any type of market or industry. The vast amounts of stories Kim shares about her own journey were extremely helpful as well since she seems to have experienced it all—successes as well as failures which she later triumphantly turned into successes. Rich Woman is truly a phenomenal guidebook for entrepreneurs of all levels!
Lorien Strydom, Executive Country Manager, Financer.com
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
This book is a good read for anyone living in our modern world, but it’s especially important for entrepreneurs like me who are often trying to make more time in their day magically appear. Deep Work breaks down the basics of focus so you can gain more control over your mind and start strengthening this superpower.
I can’t make more time in my day, but this book has helped me maximize what I can accomplish every minute, every week, and every year.
Ruben Gamez, Founder and CEO, SignWell
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Shoe Dog is a memoir that details the journey of Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, and his team from the inception of the idea to the company’s massive success. What I love about this book is that it’s not just a success story, but it’s a story of perseverance, grit, and resilience.
Phil Knight takes the reader on an emotional journey, detailing all the difficulties he faced while building Nike into the iconic brand it is today. The book is filled with valuable lessons that apply to any entrepreneur looking to build a successful business. If you haven’t read Shoe Dog yet, I highly recommend it.
Shaun Connell, Founder, Writing Tips Institute
Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters
Rocket Fuel has a lot of great nuggets of information. For example, the authors suggest setting a few 90-day goals. This is very similar to the “OKR” (i.e., objectives and key results) format for goal-setting. The idea is that if you try to set annual goals, they are too big and don’t feel time-limited.
In contrast, 90-day goals are more intense, and setting a few of them enables you to put deep focus into achieving them. Another great tip from the book is to define yourself as either an integrator or a visionary. Then, you hire someone to fill the other role. As an integrator, I seek out visionaries as my clients because I enjoy helping them to realize their dreams.
Dennis Consorte, Digital Marketing and Leadership Consultant for Startups, Snackable Solutions
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
The Hard Thing About Hard Things offers a candid look at the challenges of entrepreneurship, sharing the author’s own experiences and offering practical advice on how to navigate difficult situations.
I appreciated the honesty and vulnerability that Horowitz showed in sharing his failures and mistakes, which made the book feel more relatable and authentic. In addition, the practical advice and strategies offered in the book are invaluable for anyone starting or running a business.
So, I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to learn from someone who has been through the trenches of entrepreneurship.
Will Gill, Event Entertainer, DJ Will Gill
Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk
The best book I’ve ever read for entrepreneurs, without a doubt, is Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk. A lot of books written for entrepreneurs can be filled with unhelpful platitudes, but this one contains actionable and tactical advice that you can immediately implement into your business plan.
It resonated with me in particular because it focuses on building an audience and creating content to build authority and trust. In particular, Gary emphasizes the importance of utilizing social media platforms to build relationships with customers and share your message. He also outlines specific strategies for turning hobbies into profitable businesses based on passion and experience—something I think is at the heart of successful entrepreneurship.
So, if you’re looking for a practical how-to guide filled with inspiring stories of success, then Crush It is, without a doubt, the way to go!
Maria Harutyunyan, Co-founder, Loopex Digital
The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich is about outsourcing—delegating many of one’s mundane tasks to another person or organization.
Ferriss believes that if you focus on optimizing specific tasks to save time, you can live a more fulfilling life with your newfound freedom. His writing style is both informative and entertaining as he mixes personal experience with practical advice and relatable anecdotes throughout the book.
It encourages readers to be creative in their own business endeavors, inspiring them to be creative when implementing new strategies into their workflows. Overall, this book is an invaluable resource for entrepreneurs who want to master the strategic principles of efficiency and success.
Michael Alexis, CEO, tiny campfire
Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
Entrepreneurs face a consistent stream of peaks, valleys, and everything in between. The term, “grit,” has historically been viewed as a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” or power-through-the-tough-times type of sentiment. Angela Duckworth reframes the attribute of grit for founders as sustained interest, sustained effort, and a keen focus on long-term goals.
The combination of passion and persistence is required for entrepreneurs to conquer their goals and aspirations. Angela alludes to the psychological assets of grit, including interest, practice, purpose, and hope. Digging into the emotional response side of entrepreneurship in this book yields dividends for anyone who is embarking on starting their own company. Give it a read!
Roman Villard, Founder, Full Send Finance
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
Shonda Rhimes shares her own professional experiences with readers in Year of Yes. Rhimes describes her transformation from a timid and anxious introvert who turned down several opportunities to a self-assured public speaker and powerful figure who accepted every opportunity that came her way. People who wish to come out of their shells and make their voices heard should read this book.
Not only does Rhimes give an insight into how a successful person became that way and the things one can do in their day-to-day life that can help to push them in this direction; it reveals a lot about the hardships, which I found most important. A lot of these books portray a story of a few quick tips on seeing immediate success, whereas this more realistically tells of the struggles of changing in order to achieve one’s goals.
Aiden Higgins, Senior Editor and Writer, The Broke Backpacker
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
It’s old, but it’s good. One of the best books for entrepreneurs I have ever read is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It may seem odd for a business book, but its lessons on human behavior and effective communication are invaluable for anyone looking to succeed in any field.
The book teaches you to understand and empathize with others, communicate more effectively, and develop better interpersonal skills. It emphasizes showing a genuine interest in people, listening to their needs, and finding common ground. These skills are crucial for building strong relationships and establishing trust, which is essential for business and life success.
Overall, How to Win Friends and Influence People is a timeless classic every entrepreneur should read. Its practical advice and insights are just as relevant today as when the book was first published in 1936.
Shane McEvoy, MD, Flycast Media
The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
The Art of Thinking Clearly is a fantastic read that helped me get clear on critical thinking processes so I could meet new challenges with even better decisions.
Entrepreneurs can’t afford to waste time on ideas that aren’t viable, and this book helps lift the veil on indecision so you can make smart, informed decisions and quit pursuing avenues that won’t end up being worth it. Dobelli spells out the common misjudgments entrepreneurs (and people in general) tend to make and how to best avoid them.
Denise Hemke, Chief Product Officer, Checkr
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Rich Dad, Poor Dad offers life-changing insights into building wealth and gives practical advice on how to become financially independent. The book emphasizes the importance of financial education and includes many tips on investments, taxes, and budgeting.
It also provides a comprehensive overview of different businesses and how to best take advantage of them. By understanding the basics of investing and business, readers can equip themselves with the knowledge they need to make sound financial decisions. Rich Dad, Poor Dad has helped countless entrepreneurs become successful by arming them with vital financial know-how.
Martin Seeley, CEO, Mattress Next Day
Wellness Incorporated: the Health Entrepreneur’s Handbook by Jennifer Buchanan
Buchanan’s book is a must-read for anyone in the healthcare profession looking to start a business without burning out or losing their passion.
While many entrepreneurship books center on success or profit, Wellness Incorporated focuses on the reasons and values behind wanting to start a business. It can be so easy to lose sight of these core values as we try to make our business a success.
Buchanan helps her readers to keep their eyes on their values and their goals.
This book perfectly balances inspiration with actionable steps to keep you motivated but also constantly moving forward. Buchanan offers insight into her experiences as well as tips and tricks to help kick-start your entrepreneurship journey.
While this book is catered specifically to healthcare entrepreneurs, every entrepreneur can learn from it. Buchanan provides a unique look at sustainability and your own personal wellness while also building a successful business.
Dr. Shara Posner, Founder, Back To Health Center
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
The E-Myth Revisited changed the way I approach my business and how I think through important decisions.
Through this book, I understood that a successful business is a set of finely tuned systems. Your job as an entrepreneur is to develop, maintain, and improve those systems whenever you can. Only then can you find the best people to operate those systems.
A business should depend on processes, not people, and everything will eventually go back to the creation of these internal systems.
I highly recommend this book be read by any and every person who will learn new things and try out fresh ideas, which should be every entrepreneur.
Yeonsil K., Founder and CEO, Home Spritz