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By James Woodruff Updated on October 11, 2021

The 12 Best Business Books Entrepreneurs Should Read

It doesn’t matter if you’re starting a new company or have been in operation for several years: You can always benefit from the experiences of other business owners.

Reading business books is one of the best ways to learn about the problems owners have faced — and how they solved them. You’ll more than likely have to deal with the same issues. Do so with sound advice. Here’s a list of the best books targeted for small business owners.

Must-Read Business Books

Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

Since being published in 1937, the philosophies of Think and Grow Rich have formed the foundations of numerous modern-day business successes such as Bill Gates, John Templeton and Mary Kay Ash. The book shows business owners how to set goals and achieve objectives with a positive mindset.

This is a classic business book that has inspired millions of business people over the years. It is a motivational must-read for every entrepreneur.

The Effective Executive – Peter Drucker

Small business owners often are surrounded by a number of problems and issues. It can be difficult to prioritize to solve the matters and get anything done. The result is a lot of busywork, but no progress.

Peter Drucker, known as the dean of management philosophy, emphasizes that an effective executive knows how to “get the right things done.” He outlines essential practices that must be mastered for effective management. Drucker shows you how to manage your time, set priorities, concentrate on issues that contribute the most and unite everything for making better decisions.

Here are the best books for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Best Books for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Zero to One – Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel, a technology pioneer and co-founder of PayPal, believes there are still undiscovered frontiers to explore. He believes many inventions have yet to be created — and they all don’t have to come from Silicon Valley.

In Zero to One, Thiel encourages entrepreneurs to find innovations that will create unique businesses and entire industries. He is optimistic about the future of progress and believes that new entrepreneurs will step up with ideas that will change the landscape of the U.S.

The $100 Startup – Chris Guillebeau

If you think you don’t have enough money to go out on your own, this is the book for you. The $100 Startup chronicles 50 success stories of entrepreneurs who started with just a few bucks in their pockets. They faced hardships and hurdes, but they held fast to their ideas and persevered.

The book makes the point that business owners don’t always succeed by being lucky: They succeed by having the desire and drive to reach their goals.

Best Entrepreneur Books for Beginners

The Lean Startup – Eric Ries

Typical methods for startups call for thorough market analysis and creation of a detailed business plan. Eric Ries takes a more minimalist approach. He suggests starting with a viable product and making continuous adjustments over time with feedback from market conditions and customer responses.

Ries suggests being open to making pivots in strategy as often as necessary as monitoring the effects of changes. The attitude is to remain lean, spend as little as possible and leverage the productivity and creativity of employees. Managers should always be willing to innovate and try new approaches. This book will lessen your fears about opening a startup and will encourage you to take the plunge.

The E-Myth Revisited – Michael E. Gerber

When you’re thinking about starting a business, your friends and relatives will have plenty of advice for you, some of it not very encouraging. It may leave you confused and hesitant to act.

In The E-Myth Revisited, Michael E. Gerber gives plain, easy-to-understand advice on how to start and manage a business. He dispels the misconceptions and shows you how to succeed. If you need some straight, no-nonsense advice on how to launch a company, this book is for you.

Rework – Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Rework suggests that everything you have heard about starting a business is wrong. You don’t need a detailed study of the competition, you don’t need investors and you don’t even need a plan. It’s all a waste of time.

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the co-founders of web-application developer Basecamp, recommend that you stop talking about your idea and get to work. This book contains templates and methods that make it easier for entrepreneurs to start a business. The ideas in Rework remove the fears of a startup and inspire you to get started without any hesitation.

We have two picks for the best marketing books for entrepreneurs. 

Best Marketing Books for Entrepreneurs

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable – Seth Godin

In the old days, marketing was about pricing, promotion and publicity. Not anymore. Seth Godin says you have to add something different and exciting, something like a purple cow. Otherwise, you may become invisible in the marketplace.

You have to find a way to make your business remarkable, something that causes people to stop and take a look, like a Purple Cow. Examine your business to find that Purple Cow.

Guerrilla Marketing – Jay Conrad Levinson

With Guerrilla Marketing, Jay Levinson transformed marketing strategies for small businesses. He shows business owners hundreds of ways they can market their companies without spending a lot of money.

Jay Conrad Levinson highlights strategies for internet marketing and offers tips for using technologies such as podcasts and automated marketing. For small businesses with limited budgets, this is a book that should be studied by every entrepreneur.

Best Self-Help Books for Entrepreneurs

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey

Stephen R. Covey suggests some companies are better than others because their managers and employees live more effective lives and have different definitions of success. This book is about looking inward and making personal changes.

Covey says people with sound principles and a core set of solid values can more easily find solutions that lead to life satisfaction. He encourages readers to be proactive in life, prioritizing activities and doing everything with a goal in mind. This book is about personal development.

The 4-Hour Workweek – Timothy Ferriss

If you’ve ever dreamed about getting out of the corporate rat race, earning more and working less, this is the book to read. For example, Timothy Ferriss explains how to drastically change your lifestyle with more than 50 practical tips from real-life case studies about people who have left their 9-to-5 jobs and doubled their incomes.

Indeed, he explains how to use outsourcing, such as virtual assistants, to create an automatic income stream that only takes four hours per week to manage. His methods simplify your emails and other workday chores, leaving time for you to do the things you want. The 4-Hour Workweek will get you excited about starting a new business that earns more money and leaves you time to travel the world and do the things you want.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz

Let’s be honest: Building a business is difficult. Eager entrepreneurs are confronted with a never-ending stream of challenging problems. Even the best business schools don’t have courses that teach you how to deal with those.

Ben Horowitz has studied the problems faced by many business owners and offers advice on how to overcome them. His book shows you how to find solutions to thorny issues, remove obstacles and move forward with expanding your business.

James Woodruff is a former management consultant and now uses his experience to write business-related articles for Fast Capital 360. He has written extensively for Bizfluent and Small Business - Chron.
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