The 12 Best Books for Entrepreneurs Starting a Business
Successful people read.
Is this a coincidence? Nope.
Tom Corley, author of Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, studied the role that reading plays in success. His findings?
Wealthy people (defined as those with an annual income of $160,000 or more, and a liquid net worth of $3.2 million-plus) read for education, self-improvement, and success.
But, poorer people (defined as those with an annual income of $35,000 or less, and a liquid net worth of $5,000 or less) read primarily to be entertained.
These types of books for entrepreneurs are powerful. But, to tap into this power, you have to read the right books.
In this article, we share the top 12 books for entrepreneurs starting a new business.
- 1. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
- 2. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferris
- 3. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
- 4. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau
- 5. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
- 6. Mastery by Robert Greene
- 7. Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi
- 8. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
- 9. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! by Al Ries & Jack Trout
- 10. Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson
- 11. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
- 12. Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence – and How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk
- Bonus Business Book: The Ultimate Guide to Starting Your First Ecommerce Business by Tomas Slimas
- Summary: Pick One Book for Entrepreneurs
1. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
You’ve probably heard of ‘The Art of War,’ written in the 5th century BC by renowned military strategist Sun-Tzu.
In comparison, Steven Pressfield’s ‘The War of Art,’ is Sun-Tzu for the soul.
What really prevents us from reaching our full potential? How can we combat the negative forces inside ourselves that lead us to procrastination, self-doubt, and self-sabotage?
This book for entrepreneurs identifies the most powerful enemy to our dreams that we all face: ourselves.
Simply, Pressfield believes our biggest enemy is ‘resistance.’ Resistance is our natural tendency to procrastinate and self-sabotage.
And, he doesn’t just expose resistance so you can understand what’s really holding you back. Pressfield also outlines a battle plan to help you conquer this internal foe.
So, if you ever struggle with self-doubt, overthinking, or procrastination, this book will help you carve a path to success, through fulfillment and productivity.
This book is a succinct, captivating, and no-nonsense guide to achieving success in any creative field.
2. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferris
No list of books for entrepreneurs would be complete without The Four Hour Work Week.
Having sold over 1.3 million copies and been translated into 35 languages, this business book held a spot on The New York Times bestseller list for over seven years.
Often referred to as “The Bible of Lifestyle Design,” Ferriss shows you how to live more and work less.
This business book constantly challenges conventional thought.
The idea is to start thinking outside the box, to always test commonly held views, and push boundaries further than you ever knew was possible.
Ferris will show you why you should forget the outdated concept of a working life, followed by retirement. You’ll also learn how to use time and location to gain financial leverage.
At its heart, this book for entrepreneurs is about productivity and effectiveness — covering topics such as prioritizing, outsourcing, and automation.
Whatever you want to accomplish as an entrepreneur, this business book provides a set of invaluable tools to help you achieve your goals.
3. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
This bestselling book for entrepreneurs comes from multi-bestselling author and marketing guru Seth Godin.
In Purple Cow, Godin demonstrates how the traditional P’s of marketing (product, price, promotion, place, etc.) don’t work like they used to.
Because there’s a new ‘P’ that’s now more important: the ‘Purple Cow’.
A ‘purple cow’ is Godin’s metaphor for something phenomenal, counterintuitive and remarkable.
Simply, cows are boring after you’ve seen a few. But a Purple Cow? Now, that would grab everyone’s attention.
This book for entrepreneurs explains how, in today’s market, your business is either remarkable or invisible.
And in it, you’ll learn why safe is dangerous, and why very good is actually bad.
Godin also provides examples of companies that have succeeded by becoming Purple Cows and urges you to emulate them to drive explosive growth through word of mouth.
To thrive, every new entrepreneur needs to understand how to stand out from their competition.
This book will show you how.
4. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau
In 2013, Chris Guillebeau accomplished his goal of visiting all 193 countries in the world.
And, he’s never had a ‘real job,’ or earned a regular paycheck. Instead, he finds ways to turn ideas into income to support his life of adventure.
In The $100 Startup, Guillebeau hammers home the fact that you don’t need a lot of money to start a successful business.
This book for entrepreneurs features 50 case studies of people who have built businesses earning $50,000 or more from a small investment — often $100 or less.
And, most of these people had no special skills to begin with, but discovered aspects of their personal passions that could be monetized.
Guillebeau then distills the most valuable lessons from those who’ve learned how to turn their passions into profit.
The book dives deep too –you’ll find out exactly how much each entrepreneur had to get started, and what they did in the first weeks and months to gain traction.
It also covers the key mistakes they made, and offers insights into what made each business stick.
This book will help you find the intersection between your passions and skills, and what other people are willing to pay for.
5. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
Author and professor Cal Newport defines ‘Deep Work’ as the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task for extended periods of time.
And it’s a skill that’s becoming rare, just as it’s becoming more valuable.
While most people are frittering away their valuable time in a frantic blur of shallow tasks — like email and social media — the most successful people are focusing their attention on the tasks that truly matter.
Simply, deep work is the skill that’s vital to your ability to master complicated tasks and produce better results in less time.
And, not only will this skill supercharge your effectiveness, Newport also argues that it’s the key to a true sense of fulfillment.
This book for entrepreneurs is divided into two parts.
The first argues how cultivating a deep work ethic will produce monumental results in almost any profession.
In the second, Newport presents four detailed ‘rules’ for transforming your mind and habits to develop the ability to ‘go deep.’
In summary, in an increasingly distracting world, the ability to go deep will put you miles ahead of the competition.
And, this business book will show you how.
6. Mastery by Robert Greene
New York Times-bestselling author Robert Greene believes that we all have the potential to become a Master.
And, in this book for entrepreneurs, Greene lays out the path to Mastery: Learn the secrets of your field, commit to a rigorous apprenticeship, and absorb the knowledge of those with years of experience.
Additionally, Greene presents the behaviors of great masters, such as Darwin, Leonardo da Vinci, as well as nine contemporary masters interviewed especially for the book.
Then, he distills the common traits held by these masters to show that success isn’t about what you know, but about who you are. And, that a true master from any field can find a way to succeed in any other.
Also, this business book will show you which master traits you already possess, and how to develop the ones you don’t.
If mastery is the path to greatness, this book is your roadmap.
7. Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi
Ferrazzi originally came from humble beginnings, but his network of relationships now stretches from Hollywood’s A-list to Washington’s corridors of power.
In this essential book for entrepreneurs, Ferrazzi demonstrates the power of relationships in business. Additionally, he lays out the mindset, and the steps he uses to connect with thousands of people.
Basically, think of Never Eat Alone as a modern version of, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’
What’s so refreshing, is that Ferrazzi shuns the traditional glad-handing usually synonymous with ‘networking.’
Instead, he advocates basing relationships on generosity and connecting friends with other people.
This business book also outlines the timeless strategies used by some of the world’s most connected people, such as Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton, and the Dalai Lama.
And, it presents a set of proven principles and actionable tactics that you can use to further your career and happiness.
Not to mention, in the time since Never Eat Alone was published in 2005, the rise of social media has only made Ferrazzi’s advice and strategies more valuable to every entrepreneur.
Thankfully, the new edition also includes in-depth advice for making connections in the digital world.
In summary, master networker Keith Ferrazzi shows you how to grow your success by consistently reaching out to other people, and creating relationship dynamics where everyone wins.
8. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
Eric Ries is the creator of the Lean Startup revolution.
And in this timeless book, he shows entrepreneurs how to bootstrap a business, gain traction, and keep it lean for maximum results.
Constant digital innovation means that businesses need to continuously adapt and learn or, they’ll be outpaced and left in the dust.
Ries argues that “the only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.”
This book for entrepreneurs is centered around taking action, constantly testing, and relentlessly adapting. And in it, Ries provides an innovative, hands-on process for becoming a more adaptable company.
The Lean Startup is also chock-full of case studies that demonstrate the principles Rie’s teaches within.
This business book is particularly good if you’re prone to overplanning and preparing while putting off the inevitable action needed to make progress.
So, whether you want to create a scrappy startup, a small business, or a corporate machine, read this book.
Because the lean startup methodology is the new blueprint for business success.
9. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! by Al Ries & Jack Trout
If you build an airplane but ignore the laws of physics, it will never fly.
So it goes with the laws of marketing if you want to build a successful brand.
In this timeless classic, world-renowned marketing consultants Al Ries and Jack Trout expose The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.
These include the Law of the Mind; “It’s better to be first in the mind, than to be first in the marketplace.” And, the Law of Leadership: “It’s better to be first than it is to be better.”
What’s more, this succinct business book is full of useful case studies to illustrate each law.
These essential insights have stood the test of time, and present a clear path to lasting marketing success
As Ries and Trout write, “Violate them at your own risk!”
So, read this business book to make sure that your marketing efforts adhere to these immutable laws.
After all, prevention is better than cure.
10. Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson
Most business books offer the same advice to entrepreneurs — study up, write a business plan, pitch investors…
But, this New York Time’s best-selling book shatters outdated notions — challenging mainstream business mindset and culture.
And then, it provides a whole new way of thinking.
Minimalist in delivery and ideology, Rework shows you that you need far less than you think to start a successful enterprise.
You don’t need an office. You don’t need to be a workaholic. You don’t need more staff or investors. You don’t even need meetings.
What you need is to prioritize more. To say ‘no’ more. To stop talking, researching, and planning and start doing.
You’ll also learn why plans are harmful, outside investors are unnecessary, and ignoring the competition is best.
Overall, this playbook is full of counterintuitive, revolutionary ideas.
Presented in powerful bite-sized chapters, Rework shows you a better, faster, and easier way to succeed in business today.
So, whatever your entrepreneurial dreams, get this information in your head to help make them a reality.
11. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
The Hard Thing About Hard Things is endorsed by the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, and Peter Thiel.
So, you should probably read it.
As one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, Ben Horowitz offers essential advice on building and running a business.
Many people highlight the excitement of life as an entrepreneur.
But in this business book, Horowitz also shines a light on the difficulties and struggles entrepreneurs face.
What’s particularly interesting is that Horowitz starts by arguing that there’s no formula for success. But, that you can learn invaluable lessons from others’ failures and hardships.
It’s full of Horowitz’s trademark humor — including stories of what it’s like to poach competitors and fire friends.
This business book was born out of Horowitz’s long-time personal blog.
And, it includes most of his original posts, compiled and adapted into an incredible guide to navigating the inevitable problems that occur in business.
Overall, this book for entrepreneurs is a no-nonsense, uncensored view of what it’s really like to be an entrepreneur.
12. Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence – and How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk
Four-time New York Times bestselling author Gary Vaynerchuk turns up the heat with his latest book, Crushing It!
Not to be confused with his 2009 business book, Crush It, in which Vaynerchuk argued that a vibrant personal brand is vital to business success.
This book for entrepreneurs showcases new lessons, advice, tactics, and strategies taken from his own experiences, and that of many other powerful influencers and entrepreneurs.
These successful entrepreneurs all shunned the traditional corporate life.
And instead, they built businesses on their own terms to become richer — financially, and personally.
In this lively and inspiring business book, Vaynerchuk dissects every major social media platform and shows you how to use it to increase your brand awareness and grow your business.
But, this isn’t just about professional and financial success.
This is about living life on your own terms.
Bonus Business Book: The Ultimate Guide to Starting Your First Ecommerce Business by Tomas Slimas
More than any other book on this list, this book for entrepreneurs offers extremely specific advice on starting your first business.
Tomas Slimas is an ecommerce force of nature.
Not only has he built successful online stores, but he co-founded Oberlo, which — we’re proud to say — is revolutionizing the ecommerce industry.
In The Ultimate Guide to Starting Your First Ecommerce Business, Slimas leads you step-by-step through the process of starting your first ecommerce business.
You’ll learn how to find great products, how to find suppliers, how to launch your ecommerce store, and how to market your products.
And, want to know the craziest part? This book is completely free.
Because Slimas is on a mission to help new entrepreneurs create the business of their dreams.
First, he co-created Oberlo — the tool to help you build a successful ecommerce store fast.
And now, with this book for entrepreneurs, he teaches you exactly how to make it happen.
Summary: Pick One Book for Entrepreneurs
That’s a lot of reading!
So, don’t try to do it all at once.
Pick one of these business books to start with. Which one seems the most useful to you right now?
Whichever book you pick, it’ll be worth the time.
Just listen to Warren Buffet…
When asked about the keys to success, he said, “Read 500 pages every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
But, he’s not talking about you.
You’re going to ‘read to lead’ — so, pick a book and get to it.
Did I miss any awesome books for entrepreneurs? Let us know in the comments below — we read them all!