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42 Best Business Books for Entrepreneurs, Startups & Small Business [2021 Report]

We all know how important reading is to help inform, educate, and expand our horizons, both on particular subjects and the world at large. Reading books, like writing letters, has come to be seen as a kind of lost art in today’s hyper-connected digital media landscape. But is reading the best business books really that important for entrepreneurs in the 21st century, when you can find everything you need to know and more online? We believe that reading is just as important as always, and some of the most important business leaders of the last few decades would agree. People like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett, just to name a few, have been notorious for reading an incredible number of books, sometimes as much as one or two full books each day. Warren Buffett once said that, in order to be successful in your career, you should read 500 pages a day. If you’re not into reading, audiobooks are a great way to absorb this knowledge during your commute, while working out, or doing work around the house.

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As an entrepreneur starting or running a small business, being confident in the decisions you make, the strategies you employ, and the planning you create and execute is key to helping your business survive and thrive in a world that seems to be getting more competitive every day. So how can you achieve that level of confidence, and even more important, how can you know that it’s justified? The best business books for entrepreneurs can serve as practical guides to the past, present, and future, providing in-depth lessons about where business owners have succeeded and failed, and even giving you ideas from seemingly unrelated areas that can lead to key insights for your own efforts.

For those reasons and more, we’ve put together a list of the top 42 best business books for entrepreneurs and small business owners. This list covers the best titles in several broad categories, including the top entrepreneur books on startups, inspiration for starting a business, A-Z guides to entrepreneurship, business leadership, sales, marketing, and more.

We’ve provided links so that you can find out more about the books that you are interested in, a brief description and ratings by other readers, as well as a quick summary of the key points we took away from each book. Happy reading!


Best Business Books On Why You Should Start Your Own Business


The Common Path to Uncommon Success: A Roadmap to Financial Freedom and Fulfillment

Goodreads Rating: 4.5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By John Lee Dumas

Summary Description

Based on thousands of interviews from John Lee Dumas’ highly acclaimed podcast, Entrepreneurs on Fire, this revolutionary 17-step roadmap provides a proven path for entrepreneurs like you to achieve the financial, location, and lifestyle freedom you are capable of. Let The Common Path to Uncommon Success show you how. Speaking of podcasts, if you’re interested please check out our post on the best business podcasts for entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses.

Our Key Takeaways

In this book you’ll learn how the author found his footing as he confronted PTSD, professional failure, and depression after serving in the US military, and why every single highly successful entrepreneur has followed John’s 17 steps, whether they know it or not. Learn how to find your big idea, discover your niche, and create a solid content production plan. Learn how building the financial life you want gives you the freedom and power to give back to the people and organizations you care about the most.


Rich Dad Poor Dad

Goodreads Rating: 4.1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Robert T. Kiyosaki, Sharon Lechter

Summary Description

Rich Dad Poor Dad is Robert’s story of growing up with two dads — his real father and the father of his best friend, his “rich dad” — and the ways in which both men shaped his thoughts about money and investing. The book destroys the myth that you need to earn a high income to be rich and explains the difference between working for money and having your money work for you.

Our Key Takeaways

Kiyosaki outlines why the poor and the middle-class work for money while the rich have money work for them. He shows how rich people acquire assets while the poor and middle class acquire liabilities that they think are assets. Kiyosaki also speaks to why financial aptitude is what you do with money once you make it and how you keep people from taking it from you (e.g. taxes), how to keep it longer, and how you make money work hard for you. Finally, the single most powerful asset we all have is our mind.


Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream

Goodreads Rating: 3.9 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

By James Altucher

Summary Description

The world is changing. Markets have crashed. Jobs have disappeared. Industries have been disrupted and are being remade before our eyes. Everything we aspired to for “security,” everything we thought was “safe,” no longer is: College. Employment. Retirement. Government. It’s all crumbling down. In every part of society, the middlemen are being pushed out of the picture. No longer is someone coming to hire you, to invest in your company, to sign you, to pick you. It’s on you to make the most important decision in your life: Choose Yourself.

Our Key Takeaways

Author James Altucher explains that after the 2008 global economic crisis, you can’t wait to be chosen; you have to Choose Yourself. This means you have to take full responsibility for your own success and happiness by reclaiming control of your aspirations and dreams. To do this, the book gives you both tools and effective practices to stay physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy.


Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business

Goodreads Rating: 4.0 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

By Paul Jarvis

Summary Description

What if the real key to a richer and more fulfilling career was not to create and scale a new start-up, but rather, to be able to work for yourself, determine your own hours, and become a (highly profitable) and sustainable company of one? Suppose the better—and smarter—solution is simply to remain small? This book explains how to do just that.

Our Key Takeaways

Fast growth isn’t always good. Bigger isn’t always better. If you’re tired of the rat race and want to live a life that is aligned with your sense of meaning and fulfillment, this is a must read. This book will teach you to build your company around your personal life, not the other way around. Going small, not big, when creating your company can bring autonomy, independence, and self-sufficiency.


Best Business Books Before You Start Your Own Business


The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

Goodreads Rating: 4.0 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

By Michael E. Gerber

Summary Description

E-Myth \ ‘e-,’mith\ n 1: the entrepreneurial myth: the myth that most people who start small businesses are entrepreneurs. 2: the fatal assumption that an individual who understands the technical work of a business can successfully run a business that does that technical work.

Our Key Takeaways

Michael Gerber outlines his belief that people who are exceptionally good in business didn’t succeed because of what they know, but because of an insatiable need to know more. He says that, “If you are unwilling to change, your business will never be capable of giving you what you want” and that everybody who goes into business actually needs to be three people in one: entrepreneur, manager, and technician.


Will It Fly?: How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don't Waste Your Time and Money

Goodreads Rating: 4.0 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

By Pat Flynn

Summary Description

Stop rushing into businesses born from half-baked ideas, misguided theories, and other forms of self-delusion. A lack of proper validation kills more businesses than anything else. As Joel Barker says, “Speed is only useful if you’re running in the right direction.” Will It Fly? will help you make sure you are clear for takeoff.

Our Key Takeaways

This book is a step-by-step guide to testing your business ideas to achieve the smoothest possible “flight” to success. Flynn offers ideas, checklists, and anecdotes that teach you to critically examine the validity of your ideas, research your market, and get to know your future customers.


Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Goodreads Rating: 4.0 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

By Simon Sinek

Summary Description

Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over?

Our Key Takeaways

Sinek teaches entrepreneurs some valuable lessons about asking “Why?” rather than “What?” For example, people don’t buy “what” you do, but “why” you do it, find partners who believe in the reasons you do what you do, and how to ensure that key elements of your organization, all the way down to your logo, address your core purpose. Make sure to check out the author’s TED Talk on the same topic, “How great leaders inspire great action”


Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

Goodreads Rating: 4.0 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

by James C. Collins, Jerry I. Porras

Summary Description

This is not a book about charismatic visionary leaders. It is not about visionary product concepts or visionary products or visionary market insights. Nor is it about just having a corporate vision. This is a book about something far more important, enduring, and substantial. This is a book about visionary companies.” So write Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in this groundbreaking book that shatters myths, provides new insights, and gives practical guidance to those who would like to build landmark companies that stand the test of time.

Our Key Takeaways

This is not so much a business book as a philosophical treatise on building long-lasting, human-centric organizations with purpose and heart. The research provides an in-depth overview of best practices followed by exceptional companies, and explodes many myths about success in the corporate world. For example, they are driven by their core values, they know ideas are nothing without hard work and substance to back them up, they don’t chase profit, and they glorify cult-like internal cultures.


Best Business Books on Startups


Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

Goodreads Rating: 4.2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Peter Thiel, Blake Masters

Summary Description

If you want to build a better future, you must believe in secrets. The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One, legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.

Our Key Takeaways

Startups embrace risk and have a mission to improve the world, while established corporations shy away from risk and have a mission to improve their revenue. Thiel notes the importance of startups because most startups focus on creating something new, going from 0 to 1. Thiel also emphasizes that “competition is for losers” that startups should be focused on creating value in areas where little competition exists. Thiel believes that monopolies are good because the potential for owning a market incentivizes innovation.


The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

Goodreads Rating: 4.1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Eric Ries

Summary Description

Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.

Our Key Takeaways

The Lean Startup is, at its core, a strategy and business-planning methodology that helps start-ups and tech companies develop sustainable business models. It advocates continuous rapid prototyping and focusing on customer-feedback data. The method is based on the concepts of lean manufacturing and agile software development, and its efficacy is backed up by case studies from the last few decades.


The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

Goodreads Rating: 4.2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Ben Horowitz

Summary Description

In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, draws on his own story of founding, running, selling, buying, managing, and investing in technology companies to offer essential advice and practical wisdom for navigating the toughest problems business schools don’t cover. His blog has garnered a devoted following of millions of readers who have come to rely on him to help them run their businesses.

Our Key Takeaways

Most business books emphasize doing things correctly, while Horowitz acknowledges that no business is perfect, and sometimes the path to success can get a little messy. The book follows the author’s story through a number of startups and many of the screw-ups that happened along the way, and the actions he and his teams took which led to resolution, or made the problems worse. This is a brutally honest tour-de-force through the world of strategic planning, and reveals many of the pitfalls and minefields that must be traversed along the way.


Best Business Books on Business Leadership


Dare to Lead

Goodreads Rating: 4.2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Brené Brown

Summary Description

In her #1 NYT bestseller, Brené Brown taught us what it means to dare greatly, rise strong and brave the wilderness. Now, based on new research conducted with leaders, change makers and culture shifters, she’s showing us how to put those ideas into practice so we can step up and lead.

Our Key Takeaways

Brown takes a close look at some of the most courageous, successful leaders and how they think, feel, and behave, to help you become a more effective leader by using your heart and your mind together. She teaches that vulnerability can be an asset, that the truth is necessary even when it hurts, and that sticking to your core values is critical for leadership, among other important lessons for anyone leading a team large or small.


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Goodreads Rating: 4.1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Susan Cain

Summary Description

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.

Our Key Takeaways

If you’re an introvert, Susan Cain helps you to better understand the reasons that you might react the way you do in social situations, or to spending time alone, and how to use those aspects of your personality to your advantage. The book is equally informative for extroverts who want to understand the introverted people in their lives better. Through deep research, interviews, and personal stories, Cain outlines how introverted personality types can thrive in an extroverted world.


Thinking, Fast and Slow

Goodreads Rating: 4.2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Daniel Kahneman

Summary Description

In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior.

Our Key Takeaways

Thanks to Daniel Kahneman, we now have a better understanding of how decisions are made, why certain judgment errors are so common, and how we can improve ourselves. This book explains Kahneman’s contributions to our current understanding of psychology and behavioral economics. Over the years, Kahneman and his colleagues, whose work the book discusses at length, have significantly contributed to a new understanding of the human mind, and how to better understand your own ways of thinking.


Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Goodreads Rating: 4.2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By David Epstein

Summary Description

Plenty of experts argue that anyone who wants to develop a skill, play an instrument, or lead their field should start early, focus intensely, and rack up as many hours of deliberate practice as possible. If you dabble or delay, you’ll never catch up to the people who got a head start. But a closer look at research on the world’s top performers, from professional athletes to Nobel laureates, shows that early specialization is the exception, not the rule.

Our Key Takeaways

Many of us see specialization as the route to success, but Range shows that having broad interests and taking your time to find your focus in life lead to excellence and innovation. Drawing on examples from business, sports, science and human psychology, David Epstein urges us all to stay open-minded and curious. He discovered that in most fields, especially complex and unpredictable ones like business, generalists, not specialists, have the best set of tools to succeed.


Best Business Books on Influence & Persuasion


Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Goodreads Rating: 4.2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Robert B. Cialdini

Summary Description

Influence, the classic book on persuasion, explains the psychology of why people say “yes”—and how to apply these understandings. Dr. Robert Cialdini is the seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion. His thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence-based research along with a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behavior has resulted in this highly acclaimed book.

Our Key Takeaways

Influence explains in detail the fundamental principles of persuasion: how do you get people to say yes? How do other people get you to say yes? How are you manipulated by sleek salesmen, clever marketing folks and sneaky confidence tricksters? This book will help you understand the psychology behind their techniques, enabling you to unleash your own persuasive powers, while also defending against their tactics of manipulation.


Best Business Books on Sales & Marketing


The 1-Page Marketing Plan

Goodreads Rating: 4.4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Allan Dib

Summary Description

To build a successful business, you need to stop doing random acts of marketing and start following a reliable plan for rapid business growth. Traditionally, creating a marketing plan has been a difficult and time-consuming process, which is why it often doesn’t get done.

Our Key Takeaways

Allan Dib points out that most entrepreneurs misunderstand the true purpose of advertising, and this book will help you learn how to do it the right way. Your marketing and advertising strategy should not be based on getting people to buy into your product right away, but building a brand and a story around your product, so that when customers have a need, it’s you they think of first.


Marketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Story Brand Guide for Any Business

Goodreads Rating: 4.4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Donald Miller, J.J. Peterson

Summary Description

Based on Building a StoryBrand by New York Times bestselling author Donald Miller, this checklist is a strategic and actionable guide to applying the StoryBrand framework to any brand and an essential part of any marketing professional’s tool kit.

Our Key Takeaways

This is an extremely practical, no-nonsense beginner’s guide to creating your own marketing strategy from scratch. More experienced marketers may not find much new information in this book, but for a small business owner or entrepreneur just getting started with building a marketing plan, this is the book for you. For example, get detailed steps on how to go about building a website, a lead generator, and an email campaign.


Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen

Goodreads Rating: 4.3 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Donald Miller

Summary Description

Donald Miller’s StoryBrand process helps business owners convey the value their business provides. He proposes a framework for how businesses can connect with and influence potential customers and how to communicate the compelling benefits of using their products, ideas, or services.

Our Key Takeaways

StoryBrand was the progenitor and basis for our previous listing, Marketing Made Simple. Building a story brand is about making your customer the hero of a story, not your brand. This is the secret every phenomenally successful business understands. Companies tend to sell solutions to external problems, but customers buy solutions to internal problems. Customers generally do not take action unless they are challenged to take action. Help your customers understand how your brand can change their lives.


Best Business Books on Developing a Mindset for Success


Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Goodreads Rating: 4.1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

by Angela Duckworth

Summary Description

In this must-read book for anyone striving to succeed, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows parents, educators, students, and business people both seasoned and new that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a focused persistence called grit.

Our Key Takeaways

Duckworth gives us new ways to think about persistence, some which might seem counterintuitive at the outset. For example, she shows that grit, which can also be called perseverance, is a better measurement for success than talent. High performance comes from regular actions repeated over and over, hundreds or thousands of times, until you develop extreme precision. And that grit is all about stamina, or endurance, rather than intensity. Check out this book if you want to know more about all the reasons you should keep going, when all you want to do is give up.


The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life: Before 8AM

Goodreads Rating: 3.9 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

By Hal Elrod

Summary Description

What if you could miraculously wake up tomorrow and any—or every area of your life was transformed? What would be different? Would you be happier? Healthier? More successful? In better shape? Would you have more energy? Less Stress? More Money? Better relationships? Which of your problems would be solved?

Our Key Takeaways

In The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod explains the techniques that got him through the aftermath of a near-fatal car accident. Elrod realized that the key to a successful and fulfilling life was dedicating some time to improving ourselves every day. He details six crucial steps we can take every morning to help us jump-start our days and get us well on our way to a fulfilled life. For example, commit yourself to waking up early and feeling energized. Take care of your emotional and spiritual energy the same way you do your physical energy. And if you want to be in the top percentile of successful people, you must think and act like they do.


The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity

Goodreads Rating: 4.2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman

Summary Description

Modern readers praise Stoic philosophy for its unique blend of practicality and wisdom. But it’s admittedly hard for the average reader to decipher the Dover Thrift edition of Marcus Aurelius’ work. The antiquated, needlessly formal language of most modern translations is stripped down in this book, revealing powerful aphorisms that cut straight to the heart of our day-to-day challenges.

Our Key Takeaways

The Daily Stoic is a collection of daily meditations drawn from the wisdom of the Stoic philosophers who lived in the Roman Empire. The writings of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the playwright Seneca and slave-turned-philosopher Epictetus all provide thoughtful material for the authors to refashion and refresh. This is a valuable collection of short but succinct meditations that promote self-reflection, while encouraging you to value serenity and life itself.


Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Goodreads Rating: 4.1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Carol S. Dweck

Summary Description

After decades of research, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., discovered a simple but groundbreaking idea: the power of mindset. In this brilliant book, she shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. People with a fixed mindset — those who believe that abilities are fixed — are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset — those who believe that abilities can be developed. Mindset reveals how great parents, teachers, managers, and athletes can put this idea to use to foster outstanding accomplishment.

Our Key Takeaways

The main difference between a growth and fixed mindset is the belief in permanence or intelligence or ability. A growth mindset believes in change, that people can improve their abilities or their thinking over time, while a fixed mindset sees only static potential in people, what they have or what they don’t. An important insight from this research is that if you allow yourself to persist in a fixed mindset, you are not likely to make much effort to change your inherent abilities, or those of others. This book provides that and many other important lessons for how you view and think about the world, far beyond just doing business.


Best Business Books for Pure Motivation


You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

Goodreads Rating: 3.9 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

By Jen Sincero

Summary Description

In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word. If you’re ready to make some serious changes around here, You Are a Badass will help you: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, blast past your fears so you can take big exciting risks, figure out how to make some damn money already, learn to love yourself and others, set big goals and reach them – it will basically show you how to create a life you totally love, and how to create it now.

Our Key Takeaways

This book is the definition of tough love, as Sincero uses humor to push you to examine your own thought patterns that might be holding you back from success in achieving your goals. Important lessons include: live for yourself, not others. Negative thoughts hold you back. Love yourself. Try to tap into a higher power, even if you’re not religious. Take decisive action, and most importantly, never give up, because failure is the only way to learn.


The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle

Goodreads Rating: 4.0 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

By Steven Pressfield

Summary Description

Author of Last of the Amazons, Gates of Fire, and Tides of War, Steven Pressfield delivers a guide to inspire and support those who struggle to express their creativity. Pressfield believes that “resistance” is the greatest enemy, and he offers many unique and helpful ways to overcome it.

Our Key Takeaways

In The War of Art, author Steven Pressfield helps you identify your inner creative battles against fear and self-doubt and offers advice on how to win those battles. An inspirational book for anyone who’s had trouble realizing their passion, it offers an examination of those negative forces that keep you from realizing your dreams, and shows how you can defeat your fears to achieve your creative goals.


The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

Goodreads Rating: 4.1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Gary Keller, Jay Papasan

Summary Description

The One Thing explains the success habit to overcome the six lies that block our success, beat the seven thieves that steal time, and leverage the laws of purpose, priority, and productivity.

Our Key Takeaways

The One Thing helps you to discover your most important goal, and gives you tools to ensure you can use your time productively to get there. The book reveals that many of the maxims we accept as good practice are actually myths that only hinder our progress. Questions like, What’s the ONE thing I can do, such that by doing it everything else will become easier or unnecessary? It also provides advice on how to live your life with priority, purpose and productivity without sending other aspects of life out of balance, because this is the way to perform the kind of focused work that leads to great success.


Best Business Books for Flow State & Getting Into the Zone


Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Goodreads Rating: 4.2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Cal Newport

Summary Description

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way.

Our Key Takeaways

Multi-tasking does not make you more productive. This might seem obvious to some, but all of us have probably found ourselves in a situation where juggling multiple tasks led to all of them coming out sub-optimally. Newport outlines several techniques for deep focus on specific tasks, which he calls the Monastic Approach, the BioModal Approach, the Rhythmic Approach, and the Journalistic Approach. The book explains how to turn these techniques into regular, scheduled sessions of “deep work”, rather than just randomly getting “in the zone.”


Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Goodreads Rating: 4.1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Summary Description

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s investigations of “optimal experience” have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness, unlock our potential, and greatly improve the quality of our lives.

Our Key Takeaways

Flow explores how we can experience enjoyment in our lives by controlling our attention and strengthening our resolve. This is achieved by being immersed in an activity or subject that makes us neither anxious (if it’s too hard), nor bored (if it’s too easy). In this “flow state” we lose our self-consciousness, selfishness and sense of time. Using goal-setting and immediate feedback, we can achieve a state of flow that improves our relationship with work, increases our self-worth and gives our lives meaning.


The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success

Goodreads Rating: 4.3 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Darren Hardy

Summary Description

No gimmicks. No Hyperbole. No Magic Bullet. The Compound Effect is based on the principle that decisions shape your destiny. Little, everyday decisions will either take you to the life you desire or to disaster by default. Darren Hardy, publisher of Success Magazine, presents The Compound Effect, a distillation of the fundamental principles that have guided the most phenomenal achievements in business, relationships, and beyond. This easy-to-use, step-by-step operating system allows you to multiply your success, chart your progress, and achieve any desire. If you’re serious about living an extraordinary life, use the power of The Compound Effect to create the success you want.

Our Key Takeaways

This is another one of those books that might seem on the cover like some kind of self-help gimmick. But a closer read can help you understand decision-making on a deep level. You can’t snap your fingers and change your life, so pay attention to the little decisions you make every day. Be realistic about what you can achieve every day, but recognize the compound effect of smaller achievements over time. These and other common-sense lessons make this book a valuable addition to any entrepreneur’s library.


Best Business Books on Innovation


The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business

Goodreads Rating: 4.0 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

By Clayton M. Christensen, L.J. Ganser

Summary Description

Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen says outstanding companies can do everything right and still lose their market leadership — or worse, disappear completely. And he not only proves what he says, he tells others how to avoid a similar fate.

Our Key Takeaways

Christensen was one of the leading thinkers on innovation within industries, and is still recognized by innovation leaders and practitioners today. So how should you think about innovation in your business? Some of Christensen’s ideas include: understand the source of your disruption (is it a new product or a new way to distribute?). Pay attention to opportunities in new distribution channels. Market to the group of customers for which the incumbent in your market has the lowest margin or least interest in defending. And don’t forget any of these lessons when you make it to the top! Keep innovating!


Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't

Goodreads Rating: 4.1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By James C. Collins

Summary Description

To find the keys to greatness, Collins’s 21-person research team read and coded 6,000 articles, generated more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts and created 384 megabytes of computer data in a five-year project. The findings will surprise many readers and, quite frankly, upset others.

Our Key Takeaways

Good to Great presents the findings of a five-year study by the author and his research team. The team identified public companies that had achieved enduring success after years of mediocre performance and isolated the factors which differentiated those companies from their lackluster competitors. These factors have been distilled into key concepts regarding leadership, culture and strategic management, such as: mix personal humility with professional will, become aware of emerging market trends and potential problems, and do one thing better than anyone else.


Best Nail-Biting Reads on Business History


Business Adventures

Goodreads Rating: 3.8 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

By John Brooks

Summary Description

What do the $350 million Ford Motor Company disaster known as the Edsel, the fast and incredible rise of Xerox, and the unbelievable scandals at General Electric and Texas Gulf Sulphur have in common? Each is an example of how an iconic company was defined by a particular moment of fame or notoriety.

Our Key Takeaways

This book outlines a few important lessons for any team or organization, large or small, which can teach us about human behavior, both our own and that of others, and how to avoid some of the classic traps of greed and complacency. At their core, humans are emotional and highly irrational. Customers’ wishes can change quickly, and if you don’t pay attention to your market, you can get left behind overnight. And sometimes, the best move in the game is not to play. These ideas are explained through events like the 1962 “flash crash”, Piggly Wiggly’s investment debacle, and more.


Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco

Goodreads Rating: 4.3 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Bryan Burrough, John Helyar

Summary Description

A #1 New York Times bestseller and arguably the best business narrative ever written, Barbarians at the Gate is the classic account of the fall of RJR Nabisco. An enduring masterpiece of investigative journalism by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar, it includes a new afterword by the authors that brings this remarkable story of greed and double-dealings up to date twenty years after the famed deal. The Los Angeles Times calls Barbarians at the Gate, “Superlative.” The Chicago Tribune raves, “It’s hard to imagine a better story…and it’s hard to imagine a better account.” And in an era of spectacular business crashes and federal bailouts, it still stands as a valuable cautionary tale that must be heeded.

Our Key Takeaways

This book provides a gripping portrait of the extreme and extravagant behavior in corporate America during the 1980s. Reading this book is a hair-raising experience for anyone who has spent time in the corporate world, and can help remind founders and business owners to be mindful about some of the magical thinking and unrestrained behavior that can lead to disaster for any startup or established company. Besides that, it’s just a fascinating and entertaining read which we highly recommend.


Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves

Goodreads Rating: 4.1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Andrew Ross Sorkin

Summary Description

Andrew Ross Sorkin delivers the first true behind-the-scenes, moment-by-moment account of how the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression developed into a global tsunami. From inside the corner office at Lehman Brothers to secret meetings in South Korea, and the corridors of Washington, Too Big to Fail is the definitive story of the most powerful men and women in finance and politics grappling with success and failure, ego and greed, and, ultimately, the fate of the world’s economy.

Our Key Takeaways

This blow-by-blow account of the credit crunch and housing market collapse which led to the 2008-2009 financial crisis can get a bit wearying, with the endless accounts of ego-driven gerrymandering and corruption of the financial system. But it’s full of important lessons about what happens when financial institutions hold too much sway over the global economy, and what governments should and should not do to protect their citizens from Wall Street overreach.


Best Business Biographies


Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Goodreads Rating: 4.2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Ashlee Vance

Summary Description

Elon Musk, the entrepreneur and innovator behind SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity, sold one of his internet companies, PayPal, for $1.5 billion. Ashlee Vance captures the full spectacle and arc of the genius’s life and work, from his tumultuous upbringing in South Africa and flight to the United States to his dramatic technical innovations and entrepreneurial pursuits. Vance uses Musk’s story to explore one of the pressing questions of our age: can the nation of inventors and creators who led the modern world for a century still compete in an age of fierce global competition?

Our Key Takeaways

Ashlee Vance gives us an insight into the brilliant and difficult character of today’s most innovative entrepreneur. Interwoven with details of his turbulent private life, this book reveals why Elon Musk is so determined to save the human race, how he’s worked towards this goal so far, as well as what’s on the horizon for potentially the richest and most powerful man of our present and future.


Steve Jobs

Goodreads Rating: 4.1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Walter Isaacson

Summary Description

Walter Isaacson’s “enthralling” (The New Yorker) worldwide bestselling biography of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs. Based on more than forty interviews with Steve Jobs conducted over two years–as well as interviews with more than 100 family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues–Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

Our Key Takeaways

Stories and opinions about Steve Jobs are a dime a dozen, but this book offers a few practical lessons gleaned from Jobs’ life and career which can serve any entrepreneur. For example, location really does matter, and while not always true, being in the right place at the right time can play a very powerful role in a business’ success or failure. Assume that you will die young, and try to accomplish everything you want in life while you still can. Exercise discipline over body and mind, and that discipline will extend to everything you do in life. Definitely a worthwhile read for any business owner.


Best Business Book Classics


Think & Grow Rich

Goodreads Rating: 4.2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Napoleon Hill, Ben Holden-Crowther

Summary Description

This is the original 1937 version of Napoleon Hill’s Classic Book: Think and Grow Rich. To the greatest extent possible, the text and formatting have been kept exactly the same as in the original release with the exception of some minor formatting changes.

Our Key Takeaways

First published during the Great Depression, you might not think this is a book which has much to teach us about managing our money in the modern era. This is not strictly a book about personal finance, but instead an exploration of 13 principles which Hill believed were the key to accumulation of riches or success in any field. These principles include: desire, faith, auto-suggestion, specialised knowledge, imagination, organized planning, persistence, and decisiveness, just to name a few.


How to Win Friends & Influence People

Goodreads Rating: 4.2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Dale Carnegie

Summary Description

You can go after the job you want…and get it! You can take the job you have…and improve it! You can take any situation you’re in…and make it work for you! Since its release in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies. Dale Carnegie’s first book is a timeless bestseller, packed with rock-solid advice that has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.

Our Key Takeaways

This book has been around for a while, and it’s easy to dismiss as one of those self-help “phenomenon” type books that don’t really help anyone do anything. But don’t write off Carnegie too quickly. Chances are there are some tips in this book to help you get along with colleagues, friends, and loved ones that you might not even be aware of. The book offers timeless advice on winning people over to your way of thinking, creating change or offering criticism without causing offense or resentment, and much more.


7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Goodreads Rating: 4.1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Stephen R. Covey

Summary Description

When Stephen Covey first released The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the book became an instant rage because people suddenly got up and took notice that their lives were headed off in the wrong direction; and more than that, they realized that there were so many simple things they could do in order to navigate their life correctly. This book was wonderful education for people, education in how to live life effectively and get closer to the ideal of being a ‘success’ in life.

Our Key Takeaways

This is not strictly a business book, but is still a great read for anyone looking to optimize their habits to become more productive and “effective” in life. For example, be proactive: take initiative to exercise control over your thoughts, feelings, and actions, rather than just reacting to external stimuli. Also, begin with the end in mind, which for entrepreneurs could mean to have clear in your head what you want your business to achieve, and how to measure that success. The book emphasizes that it’s not outright success, but consistency in forming new habits that counts.


Best A-Z Guides on Starting a Business


The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything

Goodreads Rating: 3.9 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

by Guy Kawasaki

Summary Description

A new product, a new service, a new company, a new division, a new organization, a new anything—where there’s a will, here’s the way. It begins with a dream that just won’t quit, the once-in-a-lifetime thunderbolt of pure inspiration, the obsession, the world-beater, the killer app, the next big thing. Everyone who wants to make the world a better place becomes possessed by a grand idea.

Our Key Takeaways

Kawasaki offers the top ten steps in this book for anyone starting a business: focus on making meaning, not money. Describe your company’s core values in a mission statement of three words or less (like “healthy fast food” or “peace of mind”). Create something of high value to customers that few or no competitors are doing. Hire people who are as passionate about your product as you are, and lower barriers to adoption for customers. These are just a few of the simple, easy to understand, and easy to implement lessons offered in this great business book.


The Founder's Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup

Goodreads Rating: 4.1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

By Noam Wasserman

Summary Description

Often downplayed in the excitement of starting up a new business venture is one of the most important decisions entrepreneurs will face: should they go it alone, or bring in cofounders, hires, and investors to help build the business? More than just financial rewards are at stake. Friendships and relationships can suffer. Bad decisions at the inception of a promising venture lay the foundations for its eventual ruin. The Founder’s Dilemmas is the first book to examine the early decisions by entrepreneurs that can make or break a startup and its team.

Our Key Takeaways

Remember that Steve Jobs quote about, “Follow your heart, but check it with your head”? That’s the thesis of The Founder’s Dilemma, which walks you through some challenging gut-check questions when starting a business. How to be honest with yourself about your goals as a founder, being honest about the leadership needs of a company as it scales, and being honest about your team’s ability to keep up with scaling, are all important lessons that Wasserman helps you navigate.


The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

Goodreads Rating: 3.9 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

By Chris Guillebeau

Summary Description

In The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau shows you how to lead a life of adventure, meaning and purpose – and earn a good living. Still in his early thirties, Chris is on the verge of completing a tour of every country on earth – he’s already visited more than 175 nations – and yet he’s never held a “real job” or earned a regular paycheck. Rather, he has a special genius for turning ideas into income, and he uses what he earns both to support his life of adventure and to give back.

Our Key Takeaways

The $100 Startup is a guide for people who want to leave their nine-to-five jobs to start their own business. Drawing from case studies of 50 entrepreneurs who have started microbusinesses with $100 or less, Guillebeau gives advice and tools on how to successfully define and sell a product, as well as how to grow your business from there. He points out that you probably have several ideas for businesses just based on simple inefficiencies or market gaps that you encounter in your daily life. If you’ve ever thought, “Why don’t they just do this”, or “Why doesn’t someone have that”, then you might just be on the track of your next success story.


There are countless great business books published every year. While we can’t keep up with all of them, we’ve found that the books listed here contain many of the most valuable lessons that can be applied across a wide variety of industries and niches. We suggest using this list as a starting point, and if you find any of the authors or titles here especially useful or even just entertaining, see if there are other similar titles or books by the same author which speak to you.

Finding time to read can be tough, especially with a small business to run. But if you can carve out the space in your schedule to absorb all the great stories and lessons contained in the best business books for entrepreneurs, you might find your business or even just the way you think about it heading in a whole new direction.

We are hopeful you found this list helpful as you embark on an epic journey of creation and service.

A special high five to Miles Burke for his outstanding research and contributions to this article. We love working with and supporting like-minded entrepreneurs. Thank you Miles! ❤️

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