If you’re looking to venture into the world of business, check out this list first!
We’ve gathered 39 best books for aspiring entrepreneurs recommended by 26 experts.
Learn essentials tips on how to survive in the business world from these books.
The most recommended books for aspiring entrepreneurs are:
Table of Contents
- The 48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene
- The Definitive Book of Body Language – Barbara Pease, Allan Pease
- The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management – Eric Verzuh
- The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business – Josh Kaufman
- The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure – Grant Cardone
- Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion – Gary Vaynerchuk
- The Little Engine That Could – Watty Piper
- Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits!: 4 Keys to Unlock Your Business Potential – Greg Crabtree
- Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action – Simon Sinek
- The Art of Doing Nothing: Simple Ways to Make Time for Yourself – Veronique Vienne, Erica Lennard
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference – Malcolm Gladwell
- Advanced Selling Strategies – Brian Tracy
- Magnetic Marketing: How To Attract A Flood Of New Customers That Pay, Stay, and Refer – Dan S. Kennedy
- The Lean Startup – Eric Ries
- Zero to One Notes on Start-Ups, or How to Build the Future – Peter Thiel, Blake Masters
- The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field – Mike Michalowicz
- The Lean Startup – Eric Ries
- The 48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene
- Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul – Howard Schultz, Joanne Gordon
- Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose – Tony Hsieh
- Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street – John Brooks
- Delivering Bad News in Good Ways – Alison H. Sigmon
- The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
- Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t – Verne Harnish
- Starting a Business QuickStart Guide by Ken Colwell, Ph.D., MBA
- Awaken the Giant Within – Tony Robbins
- Finding Your Way in a Wild New World – Martha Beck
- Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion – Gary Vaynerchuk
- The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company – Steve Blank, Bob Dorf
- The C.A.S.H. Formula – WenFang Bruchett
- Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade – Robert Cialdini, Ph.D.
- Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway – Susan Jeffers
- The 10X Rule – Grant Cardone
- The 10X Rule – Grant Cardone
- Traction – Gino Wickman
- The Go-Giver – Bob Burg
- Getting Unstuck 101: Transitioning from Employee to Entrepreneur – Serhat Pala
- Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World – Adam Grant
- The 48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene
- Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink, Leif Babin
- The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future – Chris Guillebeau
- Psycho-cybernetics – Maxwell Maltz
- Profit First – Mike Michalowicz
- What 80’s Pop Culture Teaches Us About Today’s Workplace – Chris Clews
An absolutely wonderful book which provides for strong tools to gain, assert and protect power. Very important for entrepreneurs.
The book is written in such a way that you also learn much about history as well and what some individuals did to gain, assert, and protect their power.
This book provides a highly entertaining and visual read. There are many photos and sketches which provide detail regarding what to do and what not to do in situations
It is very important for entrepreneurs as it provides them mechanisms and tools on how to assess individuals and their motivations as well as true intent.
One of the best books on project management and task execution.
The benefit that it provides entrepreneurs is that it allows them to take highly complex goals or problems and systematically break them down into management components and assign for execution.
CMO, Maple Holistics
In his book, Josh Kaufman argues that getting an MBA does not adequately prepare you for the world of business and arguably a colossal waste of money.
The Personal MBA is packed with valuable and applicable information that applies to the real world of business. Each chapter covers a different aspect of business, and at each chapter’s conclusion, Kaufman offers some book recommendations to offer deeper insights into the subject.
The 10X rule is a simple equation about how to achieve your goals.
Cardone argues that people tend to think that things are easier to achieve than they actually are, and when things turn out harder than you expected you give up. The truth is that anything worth achieving takes a lot of work, so Cardone tells his readers to imagine that your goals are actually ten times harder than you think they are.
He argues that your goals probably are ten times harder to achieve, and if you put in ten times the effort, who knows maybe you’ll actually get there.
The book goes on to explain what doing things 10X actually entails and may be just what you need to push you to the finish line.
Gary Vaynerchuck is known for being the enlightened genius of content creation. You can find him online across social media, putting content out ubiquitously.
His argument is one that the business world is finally coming to terms with, that “content is the gateway drug to your product”.
Vaynerchuck travels the country preaching this message to anyone who will listen. Crush It will push you to take your content creation seriously.
Vincent Porter, CPA
President, Porter & Company CPA’s
Having read this book ad nauseam to my toddler every night you might think I’d lose this message, but I haven’t.
It’s a great message on perseverance that anyone can relate to, especially entrepreneurs.
This timeless message can illustrate how you can’t be discouraged when things don’t go as planned. You have to stay the course keep plugging way and if you believe in what you are doing you will find your way.
It also provides the message that you don’t have to be the biggest, most expensive, or gaudiest to succeed. Success is built on hard work and effort.
Your finances and financials are going to make or break you. You need to understand what they are telling you.
Even if you have a CPA or have a background in accounting/finance this book does a great job to simplify the numbers that make understanding your financial statements critical.
Greg does a great job of showing and explaining what the number mean, what figures are more important than others and what you need to focus on and what you need to tune out.
He uses long used golf term “Drive for Show and Putt for Dough “ to explain that revenue might be a great high level number for showing off but your income is all that really matters.
If revenue is $1m and it cost you $1.1m in expenses to get there then how impressive in the revenue number if you’re losing money.
This book is great for seasoned pros or folks just starting out. This book helps people understand what makes their work inspirational, innovative, and influential.
Simon has a TED talk video that details some of this book that has been viewed by millions. Most businesses can explain what they do, they can explain how they are different, but few can articulate why they are in their chosen industry.
If you are starting off as an entrepreneur, you need to know why you want to do what you want to do, and that will simplify everything around you to drive you to success.
CMO, GoodLife Home Loans
Although this suggestion may not be the first entrepreneurial book that comes to mind for most, I find this book valuable for a few critical reasons.
The Art of Doing Nothing is a book that focuses on how to make time for yourself, slow down, take control of your happiness, and savor the special moments in our lives.
Most aspiring entrepreneurs are pushing themselves around the clock and sacrificing their happiness and relationships in search of success. To truly become a successful entrepreneur, one must learn work-life balance and discover true happiness.
If you struggle to have a successful personal life, it will be especially difficult to create a thriving entrepreneurial career. Aspiring entrepreneurs must discover how to enjoy simple moments in their lives, detach from the surplus of distractions and achieve internal happiness.
The Tipping Point is a book that highlights how ideas start to spread like wildfire.
To become a truly successful entrepreneur you must have an idea that people want to latch onto.
This book focuses on what kind of ideas can achieve a tipping point, what kind of ideas are “sticky” enough to become popular and what kind of person you must be for your ideas to catch on. If you can’t develop rhetoric that sticks, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to create a thriving business.
As much as aspiring entrepreneurs need to be a specific type of person and practice a certain lifestyle to achieve their goals, it is equally as important to have a long-lasting idea off of which to build your empire.
Regardless of what business an aspiring entrepreneur will enter, understanding how to persuade and influence customers, investors, and employees are paramount.
Brian Tracy’s Advanced Sales Training book is a classic, A-to-Z text on how to win new business through effective persuasion and communication, and is a must for any aspiring entrepreneur.
Personally applying Brian Tracy’s techniques regarding building value through my presentation allowed me to increase my new insurance client sales by 20% within a month of implementation.
“If you build it, they will come,” does NOT apply to entrepreneurs.
Successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of communicating their product to the right people and devising a strategy to convert them into paying clientele.
Dan Kennedy is one of the most well-known marketing consultants to small business owners and shows how new entrepreneurs can leverage marketing to develop a base of happy, repeat customers.
I used Dan Kennedy’s strategies to promote my personal training business in the early 2010’s, and that one ad that was inspired by his teaching was responsible for six figures in revenue, and 80% of my new client business for well over 2 years.
SEO Associate, Fundera
I would highly recommend The Lean Startup by Eric Ries to any aspiring entrepreneur or small business owner for both its practical steps and thoughtful approach to business creation.
As a successful entrepreneur, Ries guides the reader through the process of developing a minimum viable product (MVP) that will prove a business model, learning from missteps and correcting company direction, accounting specifically for a startup setting, and scaling a small enterprise using feedback loops.
Regardless of whether you’re building a SaaS product or managing a small retail location, you will learn from this book and become a better informed entrepreneur.
My second book recommendation for aspiring entrepreneurs is Zero to One by Peter Thiel, the first outside investor in Facebook and co-founder of PayPal.
This book is short and more theoretical than practical but it will provide you with the critical mindset you need before launching your own business.
Read related article: The 14 Best Books on Critical Thinking
In Zero to One, Thiel provides valuable insights into entrepreneurship and the technology space, often contradicting popular wisdom like his rebuttal of the belief that competition is an unabashed good.
Some practical wisdom that Thiel offers ranges from how to plan your startup organizationally to the ideal salary for a CEO to how many people should be on a board of directors.
Karen Southall Watts
Author | Business Coach and Trainer, Ask Karen Coaching
This author has turned out several great books for entrepreneurs, but this is my favorite.
It’s fun to read and addresses one of the issues most entrepreneurs face after they pass the initial start-up phase: How to get more of the best customers/clients for their business?
I usually recommend people read it as they begin their second year in business.
When I began working with entrepreneurs, years ago, the industry was married to the concept of the traditional business plan.
This book provides budding entrepreneurs with a different viewpoint. I love that there is a community built around the idea, something many authors are embracing, and so people can check out free resources and connect with other readers of the book.
For entrepreneurs who can’t picture sitting down and typing up a traditional loan-seeking document, the book offers another way to get going.
Though it’s not a “business book” I’ve been recommending this book to clients, students, and friends for years.
The author explains how power and the world works in a dispassionate way with lots of examples.
It’s a great read for anyone who feels they are always being taken advantage of, who wonders what is motivating others, or who wants an interesting review of history and culture.
After Starbuck’s founder and CEO, Howard Shultz, stepped down as chief executive of the company in 2000, the global coffee company’s stock declined.
In his second book, Onward, Shultz details his thought process in returning as CEO, and the unique perspective he brought to the table that ultimately guided Starbucks back to glory.
I’ve read this book twice, and have re-read select chapters several times. The amount of intimate thought Shultz put not only into his business, but also his company’s culture is inspiring.
Without a doubt, there is a good amount of Shultz’s ego in its pages, but as an entrepreneur, it would be impossible to read this book without coming across a thousand new ideas.
This is a super-fast read at just over 250 pages, and despite the small page-count, it could easily be the customer service bible.
Any entrepreneur or company looking to up their game on customer experience should turn to Tony Hsieh as their guru. But beyond being customer-centric, the book is still packed with critical problem-solving insights centered on both service and employee ‘happiness.’
Delivering Happiness covers everything from overcoming common entrepreneurial obstacles to building a company identity that’s productive, not just reflective.
Perhaps the cornerstone to Hsieh’s values however is his nature to embrace change. Hsieh, an avid poker player as well, notes “I’d realized that whether in poker, in business, or in life, it was easy to get caught up and engrossed in what I was currently doing, and that made it easy to forget that I always had the option to change tables.”
Psychologically, it’s hard because of all the inertia to overcome. Without conscious and deliberate effort, inertia always wins.
Founder, Amplio Recruiting
It was written almost 50 years ago, but the stories are timeless. Two business titans a generation apart — Warren Buffet and Bill Gates — both claim “Business Adventures” as their favorite business book, and I think I understand why.
The 12 stories may be set in America’s boardrooms and on Wall Street, but the real action takes place between the various players’ ears. Readers get a peek into what they’re thinking, how they react, what makes them do the things they do.
And the best part? The writing is so elegant and precise, that while you’re aware on one level how beautifully Brooks turns a phrase, the lessons woven into the stories are lodging themselves between your own ears.
If there’s one thing entrepreneurs face often in the early years, it’s bad news. Mistakes, setbacks, and outright failures are regular occurrences.
An entrepreneur with a background in behavioral science, Sigmon explains the things that go on in our brains that lead us to make a mess out of our messaging in the first place. She describes a three-step process that anyone can follow to create a problem-solving conversation that takes the sting out of bad news both for the giver and the recipient.
An entrepreneur risks total immersion in his business life, to the exclusion of everything else.
There’s a cautionary tale in “The Remains of the Day” for anyone open to the message. For Stevens, the butler who is the book’s main character, the overwhelming feelings of regret he carries are a great reminder that there is life outside the duties that accompany a career and that a job — even one done well — can’t make a full life.
Taking the analogy a little further, a shelf filled with nothing but business books is just as limiting. If I could give entrepreneurs one piece of reading advice, it would be to read for pleasure just as often as you read out of necessity.
Marketing Strategy Manager, Lawnstarter
Definitely read “Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It… and Why the Rest Don’t” by Verne Harnish. It’s a great, condensed down how-to on one of the most difficult aspects of business, growing beyond the early phase in a sustainable method.
Harnish focuses specifically on the four major levers for success: people, strategy, execution, and cash.
The best thing about the book is how Harnish doesn’t just talk about the concepts, he gives actionable tips and frameworks that you can go execute tomorrow, many of which are rooted in well-known management frameworks.
In the book, there’s a section that says “you’ll be drinking from a firehose” and that’s simply because Scaling Up has a ton of solid information in it, sans the fluff and pomp.
We liked the book so much that it’s mandatory reading at Lawnstarter.
Writer and Author
Author Ken Colwell simplifies and encapsulates the complex moving parts that new entrepreneurs need to know to get their business started and find success on their own terms.
This book touches on (and demystifies) the complexities of pricing, competition, operational strategy, the entrepreneurial mindset, and what it takes to stand out from the crowd.
This book is a must-have for your shelf of business and entrepreneurship titles – very hands-on and actionable.
Content Marketer, SIA Enterprises
The reason you should love this book is that there are so many wonderful ideas, techniques, and strategies Tony shares with us which can be put into action immediately and you start moving in the direction you always want to go.
He gives us practical ways to master these five areas of our life:
- Physical Body
My FAVOURITE quote from this book is:
“The three decisions that control your destiny are 1. Your decisions about what to focus on. 2.. Your decisions about what things mean to you. 3. Your decisions about what to do to create the results you desire.”
This book provides the map for the unconventional life path that leads to miraculous change.
What makes this book great is that Martha shows readers how to be empowered by the spark of inspiration and to take action and realize the true creative potential and finally make a lasting impact on their lives.
My FAVOURITE quote from this book is:
“No matter where you are no matter how small or pathetic you may feel, freeing your way finder’s Imagination by embarking on an adventure turns you into some kind of crazy-strong electromagnet.”
Owner, Studio 8 Dance
While some of it may seem out of date (the rise of Facebook and Twitter has already come), I still love this book for its sheer motivation factor.
Gary really encourages you to live your dream and believe in yourself, even if you don’t think of yourself as an entrepreneur.
You can find it in paperback and/or used for just a few bucks and when other business books seem overwhelming or make you start to question if you can really do it, Crush It is there to give you the boost you need to remind yourself that with passion – anything is possible.
One book that every entrepreneur should read is “The Startup Owner’s Manual” by Steve Blank.
For me, Steve laid out all of the pre-work that was needed to be done before a company should even be started.
From “getting out of the building” and getting feedback from random strangers to being on top of your company and not in it, Steve takes real-world examples and explains everything in detail. He gave me the confidence and the reasoning to get the ball rolling on becoming an entrepreneur.
Founder, Bliss Finance
Aspiring entrepreneurs are naïve about getting financing from banks. In The C.A.S.H. Formula, (an acronym for Credit, Assets, Savings, and Health) the author provides frameworks for entrepreneurs on tactics to establish, improve, and maintain a good credit file.
Based on the insights into the banking world, the author shares the underwriting secrets as for how business loans are approved. This book also details creative ways to leverage assets to secure lending through powerful true stories.
CEO and Co-Founder, Pramp
One of the best business books I’ve read is Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini, the great social psychologist, known for his best-selling book Influence.
Pre-Suasion is both practical and broadly applicable in business. One of the most interesting concepts it taught me was how “unity” can be used as a powerful instrument of influence.
The principle of “unity” refers to the perception of a shared identity. When we belong or feel we belong to a group, we’re more likely to be open to persuasion attempts. Family, ethnicity, and geography are all examples of a shared identity.
This has helped shape the way I interact with my team and continue to grow the company, in a way that unites us behind the product and drives growth and expansion together, not just for me as an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneur |Money Literacy Educator, Sawyerrs’ House Money Lifestyle
Susan Jeffers’ book is an oldie but goody mind-blowing classic that addresses many of the fears that aspiring entrepreneurs are likely to face going into business.
Each chapter, section, and sentence in the book has a way of getting into the deepest psyche of the reader. It is practically impossible to read the book and not agree that fear is a valid emotion to go through – but by the same token, it addresses how we must overcome our fears and get on with the job at hand. The book is easy to understand and is also timeless.
Grant Cardones’ book is a fantastic read where he talks about putting in that extra effort in order to be successful at whatsoever we choose to do – and that applies to an aspiring entrepreneur.
It emphasizes the need to remove luck and chance from the equation of business because it negates putting in the effort to achieve real results.
The book is particularly useful because it also has simple exercises the reader can undertake to achieve ten times the desired results. It a phenomenal and life-changing book.
Content Executive, Moshes Law
The book is a great place to start when you need to shift your mindset from being your typical average Joe to a person of great aspiration.
This book will literally force you to start thinking bigger and will explain why in a way that is easy to understand and makes sense logically. It explains the principles needed to conquer seemingly impossible tasks with the right approaches needed to take in order to make those dreams a reality.
Grant Cardone is a well-respected entrepreneur who consistently puts out invaluable content aimed at helping entrepreneurs succeed.
In the book, Grant also uses his real-life experiences as examples to help drive each principle home by including (but not limited to) the immediate problems he faced, his thought process, attitude towards the situation, and more, to help bring you to the reality of the problems you may very well come across on your journey to success as well.
Owner, Breyer Home Buyers
This book gives you practical ways to develop systems within your business.
It teaches you how to build a solid foundation on the front end, which will cause you to have significant and measurable growth and allows you to scale the company more easily with the systems.
We are not able to hire people more easily, manage and hold them accountable, and step away from the business more often as a result of the systems we have built.
Most entrepreneurs become enslaved in their businesses, but this book teaches you how to gain more freedom.
This book depicts how driven we are as a society by selfish desires and how we position ourselves to benefit before others.
The parable goes on to discuss how serving others first, without expecting anything in return actually causes you to reach your goals faster. This book gave me a mindset of giving and we implement that into our business.
Whether or not we can help everyone, we still try our hardest to provide them with the best solution to their problems, and sometimes their best solution is not us.
Upfront, this doesn’t seem like a smart business choice, but in the long run, your referrals and relationships compound and you get more and more business from helping people who are going around and telling others about you.
This approach to business and life has helped us tremendously. We now have better relationships with people, our business is growing, our income is growing, and the work is becoming more enjoyable.
Freelance Small Business Communications Consultant
I am recommending Getting Unstuck 101: Transitioning from Employee to Entrepreneur by Serhat Pala.
This book is aimed at people who feel stuck in their corporate jobs and who want to find a way out of the rat race via entrepreneurialism.
It acts as a guidebook, taking the reader through every step of preparing yourself to take the risk of starting your own business to coming up with business ideas, vetting your ideas, picking the right one, and then starting and running the business.
Serhat speaks from experience, as he has started a few different companies and he’s also humble enough to admit that some of the companies he’s started have failed, but those failures have taught him valuable lessons.
He also takes the time to talk about leadership and the mental aspects of getting ready to start a business, which a lot of these kinds of guidebooks don’t touch on.
Read related articles: 24 Best Leadership Books of All Time
Serhat also uses a lot of personal anecdotes and stories of famous entrepreneurs to get people motivated while keeping the book easy to read and relatable.
Coach | Consultant | Speaker
My #1 book for Aspiring Entrepreneurs is “Originals” by Adam Grant.
This book debunks numerous myths and roadblocks that hinder and/or kill entrepreneurial endurance.
I regularly reflect on a couple of these myths with my clients.
First off, conforming does not make you louder; it’s quite the opposite.
When entrepreneurs are first starting out, they are often trying to emulate other’s success. Many business owners think that what works for other entrepreneurs will work for them.
Grant uses scientific evidence to challenge this myth and asserts that the goal of successful entrepreneurs should be persistence, standing out, and executing better than your competitors.
Second, Grant challenges the idea that entrepreneurs have to risk everything to succeed.
There is a common belief that “real” entrepreneurs put everything on the line to chase their dreams but this is a myth. Grant highlights successful entrepreneurs that kept their day jobs while running their businesses on the side.
He asserts that this conservative approach might actually be better as, since desperation is minimized, people are less likely to make impulsive decisions and eventually stray away from their true entrepreneurial purpose.
Overall, this book is very useful for entrepreneurs that are doubting themselves because they are different.
If you are struggling with confidence, this book will make you feel bolder, stronger, and more secure in what you are doing.
Operations Manager, Beaux-Arts
I highly recommend 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene.
If you want to know how to influence people, create a cult-like following, dominate your industry, and stay one step ahead of the competition then this is the book for you.
If you’re not into the Machiavellian games, then it’s especially important to read this book as it will prepare you for the day you face someone who will use those amoral tactics on you. If you want to be a powerful entrepreneur, then this book is for you.
Founder and CEO, QuotaPath
Being an entrepreneur, especially the CEO, means that you are responsible for everything within a company. From the high-level strategic decisions to the A/B tests of a marketing email… at the end of the day, if something goes wrong, it falls on you.
Extreme Ownership does a great job of first ingraining that mindset in you then teaches you how to ensure the rest of your organization has the same mindset.
Ownership starts at the top and works its way down.
Personal Finance Blogger, Vital Dollar
In the $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau writes 50 case studies about people who started their own business with $100 or less. All of these people are making at least $50,000 per year and running a business that they love.
The book is really inspiring because it shares the details of successful people and it proves that building a successful business is possible, even if you have limited resources.
The case studies cover all different types of businesses, and you’ll definitely get some ideas and inspiration from it.
Founder and CEO, Luisa Zhou
After having helped thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs and myself been in business for over 10 years, I’ve found that 90%+ of an entrepreneur’s success is due to the way they think.
I didn’t really get it when I first read books like Think and Grow Rich – you just think you’re going to be successful and you are?
But Psycho-cybernetics explained it in a way that finally made sense to me.
This book transformed the way I handle my money – and helped me keep a lot more of it as a business owner.
Way too often, I speak with entrepreneurs who make good money, but never seem to have money in the bank. Because their business eats it up!
This unique system ensures that you set – and follow – boundaries with how you spend and keep your money so that you keep way more of it.
Every aspiring entrepreneur should read this so they know how to maximize profits in their business.
Author | Speaker | Corporate Culture Expert
Ah, the 1980s. A magical time for creativity, invention, individuality, and timeless movies that taught us valuable business lessons.
“What 80s Pop Culture Teaches Us About Today’s Workplace” finds the unexpected business lessons in ten of the classic 80s movies that defined a generation.
For entrepreneurs, these business lessons from these classic movies will showcase motivational tools, unique ways to train new and existing employees, great marketing inspirations, and more with fun and 80’s flashbacks along the way, making it an entertaining and educational read all at the same time.