15 Books That Every Entrepreneur Should Read

The dog days of summer are here, which means prime reading time. While the warmer weather continues to beckon us outdoors, it feels as though there is more time to hit the books.

Aspiring entrepreneurs can use this downtime to help improve their understanding of business operations and best practices, enhance their leadership skills and alter their perspectives.

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Here is a list of 15 books that entrepreneurs should add to their reading lists:

“The $100 Startup” by Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau provides 50 case studies to show how it’s possible to transform your life and become an entrepreneur for very little money. Although there are dozens of books on how to break into entrepreneurship, this one has some of the most actionable advice. The checklists stand out because Guillebeau makes it easy to follow along and get moving on turning that passion into a purposeful business.

Read a Q&A with author Chris Guillebeau on “The $100 Startup” here.

“The Introvert Entrepreneur” by Beth Buelow

Beth Buelow destroys the notion that successful entrepreneurs are all extroverts with huge personalities. If anything, many are actually introverts that seem quiet and low-key but are also deep thinkers. Introverts may not think that they can become business leaders, but Beth Buelow shows them how in this insightful book. It’s packed with practical advice that it’s easy to put to work immediately.

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“The Millionaire Fastlane” by MJ DeMarco

MJ DeMarco delivers a fast-paced story about how to generate the impact necessary to make millions. He walks readers through the process of changing their mindset by sharing inspirational stories about how he developed his own financial success. The book covers numerous ways an entrepreneur can create an impact. He also connects his online forum for entrepreneurs to the concepts in the book to provide more value for the reader.

“Crushing It!” by Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the most interesting people to follow on social media. When it comes to telling it like it is, he pulls no punches. In this book, he offers a primer on how to leverage the best social media platforms as well as how to develop a podcast that will win a following. In reading the book, you can hear Gary’s irreverent style and delivery that has won him so many fervent fans.

Read an excerpt from “Crushing It!” here.

“Ben & Jerry’s: The Inside Scoop: How Two Real Guys Built a Business with a Social Conscience and a Sense of Humor” by Fred Lager

There’s nothing like ice cream during the summer. In this case, though, it’s a double scoop of entrepreneurship in a book about the two founders behind the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream brand. The book explains how the two entrepreneurs built their business and brand and explores how they incorporated a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program within their overall business strategy. It’s set primarily in the 1980s, but the lessons ring true over time. It’s a funny, engaging read.

“High Growth Handbook” by Elad Gil

Elad Gil breaks down the notion that startups have to fight in order to survive and grow into a successful business. Instead, it’s about a battle to create a business that can thrive, which goes beyond thinking about how to make the startup survive the early stages. Numerous stories illustrate his concepts, creating an entertaining and insightful reading experience.

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“Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” by Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel offers a unique perspective for how to develop and lead a startup, including how to look at innovation in a way you might not have before. For example, he shows you how to ask yourself questions that can lead to uncovering value in places you would have never thought of looking. After reading this book, you will understand his premise of managing from “zero to one.”

“The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company” by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

Although this book is formatted more like a reference guide for entrepreneurs, it’s ideal for skipping around and reading certain sections that may be of greater relevance or interest for your startup venture. It covers both theoretical topics and real-world examples for aspects of business development and management, including customer acquisition and development, lean operations, technology investments and budgeting.

“The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries

Although the book has been around for almost a decade, it’s a must-read for new entrepreneurs that may have not been jumping into the ring until now. The advice still holds true today (maybe even more so!) because of the emphasis that Eric Ries places on method and conscious decision as well as continuous innovation over strategic planning. 

Learn more about the lean startup methodology here.

“Rework: Change the Way You Work Forever” by Jason Fried

Jason Fried reworks all the ideas you know about business, competition and funding startups. In doing so, he shows founders how they can succeed at an accelerated rate. He also serves as a “cheerleader” by emphasizing inspirational messages about self-belief and confidence.

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

Ben Horowitz takes a refreshing approach to the idea of starting a business. Rather than focusing on the idea of success and achievement, he focuses on acknowledging that a business is not perfect, you will make mistakes, and most often, those mistakes lead to learning lessons and a pathway to a better business.  

“Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way” by Richard Branson

Richard Branson invites you into his life by sharing personal stories that have shaped him as a person and an entrepreneur. This book reads like an adventure story but one that actually happened as you follow him through his journey to build and grow the Virgin empire.

“Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?” by Seth Godin

Seth Godin wants entrepreneurs to see how they can become indispensable to customers, investors and team members. In this book, he explains how to focus on the type of interactions that can produce meaningful results for everyone involved.

“The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs” by Kevin Johnson

Although fairly deep for summer reading, entrepreneurs will be enthralled with this study of how to develop their minds to think like today’s top serial entrepreneurs and innovators. Johnson methodically takes you through the entire process of rewiring your brain to be ready to create and lead the next big thing.

Think With Full Brain: Strengthen Logical Analysis, Invite Breakthrough Ideas, Level-up Interpersonal Intelligence, and Unleash Your Brain’s Full Potential” by Som Bathla

This is another deep book that shows you how to tap into more of your brain that is just waiting to go to work to innovate and disrupt. You’ll learn how to enact multiple approaches, including using more of your left brain’s logical, organized thinking while also tapping into your right brain’s creative impetus.

Whether you use an audiobook, digital version, or print edition, it’s time to stock up on some reading that will help you innovate and grow your business.

Originally published Aug. 18, 2020.

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