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10 Best Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read

Written by:

Victoria is a business writer with a mission to help guide new entrepreneurs through starting and running their successful businesses.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

10 Best Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read

Whether you’re a veteran entrepreneur or just planning your first business, there’s always more to learn about running a successful business. Even with all of today’s finance-focused news outlets and entrepreneurial podcasts, few content options provide as much insight as an insightful book.

But as you peruse the business section of Amazon or your local bookstore, you might be overwhelmed by the deluge of options. It seems as if every entrepreneur who has ever created a successful business has written a book on their journey! How can you tell which might be best for you? 

Don’t worry, we’ve waded through the flood of books and chosen the 10 that offer the most entrepreneurial wisdom and insight and will surely put you on the road to success. 

1. Zero to One (2014) by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

Zero to One Notes on Startups from Peter Thiel and Blake Masters
Alif Adiyudha Pratama / Shutterstock.com

How can we find new innovations in a world that seems to have it all? In Zero to One, billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel challenges one-size-fits-all business proverbs and encourages entrepreneurs to think about their own unique business environment and positioning. It contains both general advice for changing your mindset and practical examples of startups from Thiel’s experiences to learn from.

Profound yet conversational at only 200 pages, this book feels less like business doctrine and more like an after-class chat with your favorite teacher. It’s a must-read for both those who are just starting their business and experienced entrepreneurs alike.

2. Atomic Habits (2018) by James Clear

motivational book Atomic Habits from James Clear
Daniela Margon / Shutterstock.com

A successful business isn’t built in a day – and it’s rarely undone in a day as well. Instead, daily idiosyncrasies and bad habits accumulate until they explode, potentially destroying your business. But it’s not enough to simply want to change; we need to build a system that encourages that change. 

Atomic Habits provides a framework for enacting change in your daily life, teaching you how to form good habits and break bad ones. Though not strictly a book about business, Atomic Habits offers useful guidance for entrepreneurs who need that final push to achieve lasting success.

3. The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business (2012) by Josh Kaufman

The personal MBA book by Josh Kaufman
FrimuFilms / Shutterstock.com

With the astronomical price tag and potentially outdated curricula, maybe people wonder if an MBA is even worth it these days. If you’re one of them, this is the book for you. The Personal MBA condenses a two-year program into 400 pages of essentials on sales, marketing, negotiation, strategy, and more.

Each section contains a link to a corresponding page on Kaufman’s website, where he goes into more detail about the topic and gives recommendations for further reading. Unlike a real class, with Kaufman you can do as much or as little homework as you’d like!

While not a replacement for college experience or critical thinking, with its clean-cut chapters and thorough overview of almost every business function, The Personal MBA is an invaluable beginner’s guide for entrepreneurs.

4. How to Win Friends & Influence People (1936) by Dale Carnegie

How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie
suciwijaya / Shutterstock.com

The oldest book on this list by far, How to Win Friends has endured the test of time due to its rock-solid advice on the oldest problem: how do I get people to like me? This book provides six tips to make people like you, twelve tricks to win people over to your way of thinking, and nine ways to change people without arousing resentment.

Keep in mind that following the book’s advice is unlikely to give you bosom friends with whom you can confide your deepest secrets. Rather, this is a practical guidebook to networking and socializing in an authentic yet professional way, which is why we recommend it for all entrepreneurs.

5. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t (2001) by James Collins

Good to Great (Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by James Collin)
The Investor’s Podcast Network/YouTube

The sequel to his 1994 book Built to Last, Good to Great is the culmination of five years of research into how a mediocre company can pull itself out of the dredges and into success. 

If you’ve already started your business and have encountered difficulties, this book is for you. Rather than giving up and starting from scratch, Built to Last presents four key areas that, when changed, could revitalize a stalled business and point it toward sustained success.

6. The Lean Startup (2011) by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup (How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses) by Eric Ries
Audio book Life/YouTube

Only half of all new businesses survive their first five years, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Eric Ries seeks to increase that total by coaching startups to improve their capital efficiency and leverage human creativity. Though The Lean Startup focuses mostly on software development, there are nuggets of information from which every entrepreneur could benefit.

Using Ries’ approach, your company could learn to be agile and efficient, avoiding the pitfalls that have taken down so many businesses. 

7. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (1984) by Robert B. Cialdini

Influence (The Psychology of Persuasion) by Robert B Cialdini
Business For Dummies/YouTube

What causes a customer to say “yes” to your product? Robert Cialdini’s Influence cleanly lays out the psychology of influence and persuasion and explains six universal principles that will help you persuade people and protect yourself from persuasion.

As an entrepreneur, every day you work to persuade customers, investors, employees, and others. Influence could take your persuasion skills to the next level, opening vast new opportunities for your business.

8. The Hard Thing About Hard Things (2014) by Ben Horowitz

The Hard Thing About Hard Things 'Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers' by Ben Horowitz

We all envision our business experiencing smooth sailing, but there’s going to be some hardship along the way. How will you handle it? In The Hard Things, entrepreneur Ben Horowitz talks about his own experiences in tough situations, including firing friends, near-bankruptcy, and market crashes.

Offering a unique perspective as a founder-CEO of a tech company through IPO, Horowitz’s advice is mainly for entrepreneurs hoping to launch a fast-moving startup, attract venture capital, and eventually become a CEO. His insights are often invaluable. 

9. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (2006) by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Made to Stick (Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die) by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Good Book Summary/YouTube

Why are gossip and fake news so popular when information has never been more accessible? Made to Stick sheds light on the six traits that make an idea memorable and shareable: it must be simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and a story.

Half the battle of succeeding as a new business is convincing customers and supporters of your viability. This book could very well shape how you market your brand and communicate as a leader to ensure that your ideas, and products, speak for themselves.

10. The LegaliTEAS of Entrepreneurship (2022) by Lisa Bonner

The LegaliTEAS of Entrepreneurship (The Relentless Pursuit of Excellence and Balance in Starting Your Own Business) by Lisa Bonner
Lillie M. Jones/YouTube

Entrepreneurship sounds easy in theory: have a dream and make it happen. But the legal reality is much more complex and a common pitfall for many aspiring entrepreneurs. In LegaliTEAS, attorney and entrepreneur Lisa Bonna spills the tea on practical advice to help you start and maintain your business from a personal and legal perspective.

Unique on this list for its focus on the law, LegaliTEAS offers sound legal advice for entrepreneurs to keep their businesses in good standing without the stress of hiring an attorney.


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10 Best Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read