“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” President Harry Truman
It’s a quote attributed to Harry Truman and echoed by the world’s greatest entrepreneurs—and there’s simply no doubt about it: reading is essential to everyone’s journey of self-improvement, especially in the business world.
These are my favorite books for entrepreneurs. Read them yourself and give them as gifts to your entrepreneurial friends. Some of my greatest business and personal too, breakthroughs have been from insights gleaned by reading great business books.
Elon Musk once described how reading is simply one of the most efficient ways to consume and synthesize data. He is a voracious reader of books for entrepreneurs.
In my own personal entrepreneur’s journey, perusing through a small library’s worth of books has absolutely redirected the course of my life towards great success.
And so from one avid reader to another, and echoing down from a long tradition in the business world, here is a list of the top entrepreneur books I recommend to jump-start your goals and decipher the challenges ahead of you.
Best Books for Entrepreneurs
#1 – For Startups: “Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth”
As exciting as the first few months of entrepreneurship can be, the “startup” phase can also be one of the most challenging—and even confusing.
You might have a great idea, but no one knows about it! You might have a solid customer base, but how do you go about scaling it?
“Traction” is the book you need if you want to understand the essential mechanics for getting your business off the ground and achieving “explosive customer growth.”
Written by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, you’ll learn of the secrets to fast growth, a truth that’s usually hidden behind excessive “steps” that lack grounding in the fundamentals.
Namely, the fundamental fact that lasting, fast, and consistent growth in clients is directly tied to how consistently you accumulate new customers—naturally putting your efforts into question if your business is little more than a side project.
#2 – For Motivation: “The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up To Win”
Motivation could be one of the most over-emphasized—and overhyped—themes in entrepreneurial self-help.
How to beat procrastination. How to overcome laziness. How to get motivated and get working!
They’ve become tropes in an industry where pretending to strive for greatness is just as good as actually attaining it.
Which is why Jeff Haden’s “The Motivation Myth” was such a big hit when it dropped on the market, providing readers with a totally new understanding of “motivation.”
Instead of the usual pep talk and spirit-rousing, Haden explains in exquisite detail how some of the world’s most successful people get motivated.
The big secret? Well, it’s the unique notion that motivation is an effect of work—not the cause!
I know, it’s very counterintuitive but actually cuts to the core of similar themes, such as Seth Godin’s notion of “do the work.”
#3 – For Productivity: “Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive In Life and Business”
Productivity is pretty much everything, isn’t it?
Okay, not everything, but it’s certainly an obsession for many entrepreneurs. That’s why Charles Duhigg’s “Smarter, Faster, Better” is such a must-read.
You’ll learn the key steps for changing the way your mind thinks and chooses, instead of worrying about the content of your thoughts and choices.
#4 and #5 – For Bootstrapping: “The Power of Broke” and “The Lean Startup”
Even some of the greatest businesses in the world started in the slums of hard work, sweat, and tears.
Bootstrapping might sound messy, but never assume you’re too good for it.
Take Daymond John’s incredible entrepreneurial journey, which he describes in exquisite detail in his book “The Power of Broke.”
Famous for his work on “Shark Tank”, before Daymond was the popular and wealthy businessman of today, he was living a life of poverty struggling to get by—bootstrapping works, people! This is one of the best entrepreneur books for beginners.
Another great read within this theme is “The Lean Startup.”
Low budget? Strapped for cash? Lack of connections?
“The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries offers great tools for validating your new idea before massively investing time and money into it.
#6 and #7 – For Confidence-Building: “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” and “Tribe of Mentors”
In an age where everyone wants to be perfect, only those willing to f*ck up will succeed.
It’s a counter-intuitive thought but that’s the nature of success—without risk, there’s no reward.
“The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck” has been wildly successful because people were desperate for something real.
Instead of striving for perfection, the author encourages you to strive for greatness—and embrace each and every f*ck up along the way. I also read and reviewed the companion workbook-type book, Get Your Sh*t Together. A nice gift for your favorite entrepreneur would be the two books.
Another must-read for confidence-building is Tim Ferriss’ “Tribe of Mentors.” Yes, I am a BIG fan of Tim Ferriss – read his genius business startup tips here.
The subtitle is “short life advice from the best in the world”—and the value of learning from mentors cannot be overstated. Get inside the heads of the best business people in the world and find out what it takes to succeed in the entrepreneurial life.
When it comes to building confidence in yourself and your ambitions, few things help more than a deep understanding of the life lessons endured by some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs.
#8 – For Persuasion: “How To Win Friends and Influence People”
This is a book that’s practically a bible to me—I used it straight out of college to navigate the business world and maximize my networking skills. It has passed the test of time and is considered by many to be one of the best entrepreneur books of all time.
>>Now they have an updated version titled, How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age.
After a long and successful entrepreneurial journey, I can absolutely affirm that this book—published in 1936—is still relevant for a reason.
From being a leader and manager to simply mastering the art of socializing, this classic book needs to be on every business owner’s reading list.
#9 and #10 – For Financing: “Money Master the Game” and “Rich Dad Poor Dad”
Tony Robbins is such a legend in the self-help world that he’s almost become a cliche. Yes, I am a big fan of his too! Whenever I am feeling discouraged or stuck I cue up Tony Robbins on my iPod/phone and take a brisk walk outside. Within an hour I am renewed and revitalized to go back and fight another entrepreneurial day.
But as they say, cliches become cliches because they rang true yesterday.
Tony Robbins’ “Money Master The Game” is an instant, timeless classic revealing the “7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom.”
Describing how “Business success is 80% psychology and 20% mechanics”, Tony takes you on a clear and condensed journey you cannot miss.
Also in the finance category is “Rich Dad Poor Dad” where you’ll learn “what the rich teach their kids about money—that the poor and middle class do not!”
This is another classic that teaches you the secrets of investments that were left out of your grade school education.
#11 – For Negotiating: “Never Split The Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It”
In this radical take on negotiating, Chris Voss offers a detailed and arguably extreme approach—as if your life depended on it.
The essential lesson? Every negotiation is technically a compromise, but it you want to get good at negotiating, you need to stop compromising.
Obviously, there’s a time and place for compromise, but in the business world, compromise is technically a failure, especially in those million-dollar negotiation deals.
#12 – For Product Development: “Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products”
The Hook Model: it’s Nir Eyal’s simple yet powerful technique for creating products that people love—dare I say—are addicted to.
Simply put, the most successful products and services out there are often addictive—addictive to play, consume, or share with others.
By employing these strategies, you can get closer to inventing and creating the next viral hit or revolutionary business idea.
#13 – For Sales: “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”
In this classic by Robert Cialdini, you’ll learn about the proven, researched methods for influencing other people.
This is not manipulation or deception. Instead, it’s a clear walkthrough of what people want, don’t want, and how to persuade them based on their own values.
Marketing can sometimes feel a bit dirty, but the genius of Cialdini, a Ph.D. and truly credible source, is that his marketing tips are grounded in an understanding of positive human psychology.
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