The 28 Best Entrepreneur Books You Can Read In 2017

It’s not uncommon these days to hear a successful entrepreneur talk about reading a new book every week.

Personal development is an essential part of succeeding in business, and there are few better ways to grow than by reading the insights of those who have gone before you.

Whether you read a new book every week this year or simply explore a handful of new titles, we want to make finding the right books for your entrepreneurial journey as easy as possible. That’s why we’ve put together a quality-focused list of the 28 best entrepreneur books you can read in 2017.

Every single one of these titles is worth your time, and we’ve divided them into four rough categories:

  1. Developing A Wealthy Mindset
  2. Getting Started As An Entrepreneur
  3. “In The Trenches” Startup Strategy
  4. Understanding Sales & Traction

Click the section you are most interested in or simply scroll down to browse through the full list.

Let’s get started!

 

Section #1: Developing A Wealthy Mindset

Everything we do begins in the mind. If our mindsets are poor, our actions and outcomes will be as well. If our mindsets are healthy, we are positioning ourselves for success.

The books in this first section will help you develop mindsets, attitudes, and habits that facilitate wealth.

 

1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Stephen R. Covey

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, service, and human dignity — principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.

“This book is perhaps the most well known personal development book in existence., Self help book is an area of literature that is famous for being vague and ineffective. However this book is anything but vague or ineffective. It’s a philosophical and practical approach to developing principles that in time will lead to higher effectiveness and happiness. The book does not really contain any new information, it does however present it’s information in a highly practicable manner. It will not immediately change your life, but if you work with it, read it slowly (perhaps a chapter each week) and see how it’s wisdom relates to your life then it’s sure to be changed.

On a personal level I have spend almost a half year reading this book and slowly trying to apply its principles. It has been one of the most worthwhile struggles of my life. I have gained tremendous insight into my life principles, personal issues and values. In short a highly recommended book, to be read slowly and many times.”

– Lars Tackmann

 

2. The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealth

Thomas J. Stanley

The bestselling The Millionaire Next Door identifies seven common traits that show up again and again among those who have accumulated wealth. Most of the truly wealthy in this country don’t live in Beverly Hills or on Park Avenue-they live next door. This new edition, the first since 1998, includes a new foreword for the twenty-first century by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley.

“The title may give the impression that the book is geared toward materialistic people who are obsessed with getting rich and living the high life, but that’s not at all what it’s about. In fact, the authors’ main point is that most people who accumulate a lot of wealth are not at all interested in living the high life. Rather, they are thrifty and live below their means, with the result that they often don’t appear wealthy at all. For example, your next door neighbor who manages a maid service — not a very glamorous-sounding occupation — could be surprisingly rich. By contrast, a large percentage of people who appear to be rich — people living in fancy houses, driving expensive cars, wearing designer clothes — don’t actually have much saved up at all.

The habits that are recommended are very practical. For example, you should keep track of all your expenses so that you know how much you spend each month and year on housing, food, entertainment, etc. Then make a budget and stick to it (or create a false sense of scarcity by stowing away a big percentage of your earnings before you even think about spending anything). Invest time and money in financial planning and research. And very importantly, invest your savings in stocks or other equity, making it your goal to have more of your financial growth come from growth of investments than from taxable wages.

Overall, the authors present sound principles for building wealth, and they offer compelling evidence for the effectiveness of those principles. They provide a lot of interesting anecdotes that make the book fun to read most of the time, as well as basic statistical analysis of survey results. Again, although their methods may not be “scientifically rigorous,” the main ideas are basically sound. I highly recommend the book, especially to young people who are just getting started in their careers — regardless of how much money they expect to make.”

– Olen Rambow

 

3. Think And Grow Rich

Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich is a 1937 personal development and self-help book by Napoleon Hill. The book was inspired by a suggestion from Scottish-American business magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. While its title implies that the book deals with how to attain monetary wealth, the author explains that the philosophy taught in the book can be used to help people succeed in all lines of work and to do or be almost anything they want.

The book was first published during the Great Depression. At the time of Hill’s death in 1970, Think and Grow Rich had sold more than 20 million copies and by 2011 over 70 million copies had been sold worldwide. It remains the biggest seller of Napoleon Hill’s books. Business Week magazine’s Best-Seller List ranked it the sixth best-selling paperback business book 70 years after it was published.

Much more than a path to monetary success, Think and Grow Rich is a study of what makes a person successful in all aspects of life. Hill uses money as the universally relatable yardstick for success but his book outlines a much deeper understanding of the powers that guide our lives. He provides a practical guide to rewire your mind for success through auto-suggestion – part hypnosis, part habit building. Our brains reinforce and strengthen the thoughts which dominate our minds, both physically (in the growth of myelin) and emotionally. For being written in 1939, the book feels very up to date and even ventures into New Age territory e.g. tapping into the infinite wisdom of the universe.

Hill’s teachings are one part Tony Robbins and one part Thich Nhat Hanh. In the span of 300 pages he covers teachings for success in finance, relationships, sex, and self control. Some people mind find his tools cheesy but science has proven many of his techniques.

Highly recommended to anyone interested in self improvement, personal success, personal magnetism and the mystical exploration of the internal and external universe.

– Damian Bayona

 

4. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Charles Duhigg

In The Power of Habit, Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

The book does an excellent job breaking down the way our brain acts when our habits kick in. It is a very interesting perspective. Essentially the conscious part of your brain shuts down and allows the subconscious to take over. Ever driven home from the office and pulled into the driveway only to realize you don’t really remember the drive. You have done it so many times you don’t have to think about it anymore. This allows you to focus on other things – thinking about what to make for dinner or what events the kids need to attend that evening or what happened at the office…

Also included are several stories about the approaches people have taken to “reprogram” their habits to make them more productive and less destructive. More than just substituting one for the other but breaking down the whole pattern and understanding how one habit could be causing another.

One of the most interesting chapters explores how marketing firms analyze our habits to target us with advertising and the techniques they use to keep us from realizing we are being targeted.

– Sabrina Hopkins

 

5. The Richest Man in Babylon

George S. Clason

Beloved by millions, this timeless classic holds the key to all you desire and everything you wish to accomplish. This is the book that reveals the secret to personal wealth.

Countless readers have been helped by the famous “Babylonian parables,” hailed as the greatest of all inspirational works on the subject of thrift, financial planning, and personal wealth. In language as simple as that found in the Bible, these fascinating and informative stories set you on a sure path to prosperity and its accompanying joys. Acclaimed as a modern-day classic, this celebrated bestseller offers an understanding of—and a solution to—your personal financial problems that will guide you through a lifetime. This is the book that holds the secrets to keeping your money—and making more.

This is an excellent, timeless book about principled money management. The premise is that the author found stories etched on tablets from ancient Babylon, and the simple principles he teaches in the book are truly timeless. Maybe one of the most important things about the book is the stories are sound advice presented in the simplest and easiest to remember way I have ever even seen. Clason packs an unbelievable amount of clear, sound advice in a tiny, quick read.

A friend gave me a copy about 10 years ago and it really changed my life, the bit about paying yourself 10% … read it, it’s brilliant and the results are real.

– Arthur Phillip Dent

 

6. How to Win Friends and Influence People 

Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie’s commonsense approach to communicating has endured for a century, touching millions and millions of readers. The only diploma that hangs in Warren Buffett’s office is his certificate from Dale Carnegie Training. Lee Iacocca credits Carnegie for giving him the courage to speak in public. Dilbert creator Scott Adams called Carnegie’s teachings “life-changing.”

In this business classic, you’ll learn the three fundamental techniques in handling people, the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment, and so much more.

I would say this is not a “self help” book, in the sense that it isn’t focused on “the self”. In fact, it’s the exact opposite: it teaches you how to focus on the other person. There’s no assertiveness training, no navel gazing. It takes a “bread cast upon the waters” approach, and the goal is to make other people want to form a mutually beneficial relationship with you. The overall theme is that if you give the other person more than their share of the “air in the room”, they will happily share it with you. It advises against trying to be the alpha, cowing the other person into submission; the goal is to gain a partner, if not a friend.

Despite the way it may sound, it also isn’t a textbook on manipulation. The emphasis is on respect, sympathy, and understanding. It outlines ways of understanding what makes the other person tick.

– Jerry Schwartz

 

7. The Compound Effect

Darren Hardy

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.

This was a great read. In summary it really helped me to do something that I’ve struggled with for years. It helped me to develop a plan to make improvements in my life. I’ve read many works on personal development but I’ve never been able to fully implement ideas or methods.

I think I’ve always been looking for that big Ah-Hah moment where I could flip a switch and become more productive, more creative, more strategic, more of everything that I think I need to be to become more successful. The Compound Effect made me realize that I was not only on the wrong path, but I was stuck in the mud on that path. It’s simple, small incremental changes lead to exponential results. Read this book and apply the principles that Darren lays out. It’s changing my life and I hope it helps you as well.

– Scott Colbert

 

Section #2: Getting Started As An Entrepreneur

How do you get started as an entrepreneur? What should your goals be? What is your purpose? How do you succeed?

Entrepreneurship is a world unto itself, and the books in this section will give you glimpses into that world from a diversity of beneficial angles.

 

8. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

Gary Keller & Jay Papasan

The ONE Thing has made more than 350 appearances on national bestseller lists, including #1 Wall Street Journal, NewYork Times, and USA Today. People are using this simple, powerful concept to focus on what matters most in their personal and work lives. Companies are helping their employees be more productive with study groups, training, and coaching. Sales teams are boosting sales. Churches are conducting classes and recommending for their members. By focusing their energy on one thing at a time people are living more rewarding lives by building their careers, strengthening their finances, losing weight and getting in shape, deepening their faith, and nurturing stronger marriages and personal relationships.

YOU WANT LESS. You want fewer distractions and less on your plate. The daily barrage of e-mails, texts, tweets, messages, and meetings distract you and stress you out. The simultaneous demands of work and family are taking a toll. And what’s the cost? Second-rate work, missed deadlines, smaller paychecks, fewer promotions–and lots of stress. AND YOU WANT MORE. You want more productivity from your work. More income for a better lifestyle. You want more satisfaction from life, and more time for yourself, your family, and your friends. NOW YOU CAN HAVE BOTH–LESS AND MORE. In The ONE Thing, you’ll learn to * cut through the clutter * achieve better results in less time * build momentum toward your goal* dial down the stress * overcome that overwhelmed feeling * revive your energy * stay on track * master what matters to you The ONE Thing delivers extraordinary results in every area of your life–work, personal, family, and spiritual. WHAT’S YOUR ONE THING?

This helped my small business increase my sales in the last year by around $200k. It might be simple but it helps you to break down what your first “One Thing” should be. It may seem repetitive but there is a method to the way it is written. I purchased it for my managers as well and had them read it so they would understand why were were focusing on The One Thing and the objectives behind it. I not only used this book to increase profit but also helped my managers put a system in place that by doing so would make their employees focus and do the job they were hired to do. This has made our customers much happier which immediately reflected in the quality of the reviews we received.

– Hugh Nymeyer

 

9. Beyond the Grind: How to Do Work That Matters, Travel The World For Free, And Escape The Daily Grind Before It’s Too Late

Dave Rogenmoser & Chris Hull

Whether you’re climbing the corporate ladder, a student with big dreams, or an aspiring entrepreneur, Beyond The Grind helps you discover how to skip “the rut” and live a life of purpose and freedom the skeptics say is “unrealistic”.

In this book, you’ll discover:

>How to earn 209,000 free Airline and Hotel Miles in 45 days or less

>How to strategically develop your network to catapult you into 100’s of new opportunities

>How to raise thousands of $$$ to fund any dream you have, all by using our Kickstarter strategy

>How to unlock deeper purpose in your work and a simple tool we use to triple our effectiveness

>And much, much more…

The powerful ideas and tips in this book have created great amounts of change in our own lives and have been proven to create positive, long-lasting results for others.

Beyond the Grind is a book about changing your mindset. As Dave and Christ point out, “trying” to change your habits, whatever those may be, without changing your mindset first, will ultimately lead to defeat. In order to accomplish your dreams and goals, you need to believe that you’re the kind of person who can accomplishes those things.

As they point out, “When we live through empowering beliefs, we are more likely to reach the end goal.” And that’s why this short book is so valuable. The authors not only inspire, but they urge you on to take action steps to actually think empowering thoughts, to actually have the courage to follow your dreams. These guys really care about their readers and it shows. Personally, this book has given me lots of things to think about and lots of ways that I can improve my mentality, my networking and my purpose.

– Israel Sanchez

 

10. Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat

Michael Masterson

Whether you’re thinking about starting a new business or growing an existing one, Ready, Fire, Aim has what you need to succeed in your entrepreneurial endeavors.

In it, self-made multimillionaire and bestselling author Masterson shares the knowledge he has gained from creating and expanding numerous businesses and outlines a focused strategy for guiding a small business through the four stages of entrepreneurial growth. Along the way, Masterson teaches you the different skills needed in order to excel in this dynamic environment.

There is much to like about this book. The author’s depiction of the key issues in different stages of growth is well done. The anecdotes from his personal experiences, both good and bad, are interesting.

But, it is his focus on the importance of SALES that makes this is a must read, especially for entrepreneurs in love with a product or idea. Ultimately, it is SALES that determines true success…not mere buzz, accolades or the like. And, this book is chuck-full of sound advice with respect to growing the top line so as to ultimately achieve bottom line success.”

– Dave Carpenter

 

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

Michael E. Gerber

In this first new and totally revised edition of the 150,000-copy underground bestseller, The E-Myth, Michael Gerber dispels the myths surrounding starting your own business and shows how commonplace assumptions can get in the way of running a business. He walks you through the steps in the life of a business from entrepreneurial infancy, through adolescent growing pains, to the mature entrepreneurial perspective, the guiding light of all businesses that succeed.

He then shows how to apply the lessons of franchising to any business whether or not it is a franchise. Finally, Gerber draws the vital, often overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business. After you have read The E-Myth Revisited, you will truly be able to grow your business in a predictable and productive way.

This book literally changed my life. I own a small service business with around 15 employees. I had been struggling for years doing all managerial work myself so that it was done up to my standards. We did great work but at the expense of my sanity!

A mentor told me to read this book. The E-Myth was the driving factor that took my small business which had been controlling my life and transformed it into a business I could run remotely. Before I read this book I was working on site 9 hours a day 6 days a week. Less than a year after reading this I was able to take a six-month vacation around the world while my business ran itself. If you own a small business you need to read this book as soon as possible.

– Steven May

 

12. Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School

Richard Branson

Whether you’re interested in starting your own business, improving your leadership skills, or simply looking for inspiration from one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time, Richard Branson has the answers.

Like a Virgin brings together some of his best advice, distilling the experiences and insights that have made him one of the world’s most recognized and respected business leaders.

In his trademark thoughtful and encouraging voice, Branson shares his knowledge like a close friend. He’ll teach you how to be more innovative, how to lead by listening, how to enjoy your work, and much more.

In hindsight, Branson is thankful he never went to business school. Had he conformed to the conventional dos and don’ts of starting a business, would there have been a Virgin Records? A Virgin Atlantic? So many of Branson’s achievements are due to his unyielding deter­mination to break the rules and rewrite them himself. Here’s how he does it.

Who says a business book can’t be entertaining? Whether you are an entrepreneur trying to get your business off the ground, an executive in a business that needs a boost or a worker bee looking to make work more fun, this book is for you.

Richard Branson is the Leonardo da Vinci of business. His unquenchable curiosity combined with contagious extroversion is the alchemy behind the 400+ successful businesses he has created. This book, consisting of 76 short essays and articles, documents the lessons he has learned. Numerous examples, most drawn from real-life experiences with people at his Virgin Group companies, are a roadmap for others in business to turbocharge their own success.

– Alan Lattanner

 

13. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

Timothy Ferriss

Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan–there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, or earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, The 4-Hour Workweek is the blueprint.

This step-by-step guide to luxury lifestyle design teaches:

– How Tim went from $40,000 per year and 80 hours per week to $40,000 per month and 4 hours per week
– How to outsource your life to overseas virtual assistants for $5 per hour and do whatever you want
– How blue-chip escape artists travel the world without quitting their jobs
– How to eliminate 50% of your work in 48 hours using the principles of a forgotten Italian economist
– How to trade a long-haul career for short work bursts and frequent “mini-retirements”

First of all, the successful in business and life, however you define success, develop systems. That’s basically what this book guides you to do, starting with the acronym DEAL. That’s a system itself, and there are systems within it that Ferriss walks you through.

Second, Ferriss himself will tell you he never works 4-hour workweeks, but it’s a possibility. The book should open your eyes to a different way of approaching work and life. That’s the purpose, rather than making everyone work 4 hours a week. It’s a concept more than anything; I’ve heard Ferriss was actually working 2-hour workweeks on the business he cites in the book.

Finally, I don’t think anyone has given Ferriss enough credit for the economic impact he has made throughout the world. As a result of this book, tens of thousands of businesses have been created – probably hundreds of thousands (indirectly). That means many thousands of businesses affected by employees changing career paths and striking out on their own. It may not be all great for the economy, but I do think much of it is positive for the economy and life in general.

In short, read this book – expand your mind – enjoy work and life.

– David J. Bradley, MBA

 

14. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

Austin Kleon

You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.

When Mr. Kleon was asked to address college students in upstate New York, he shaped his speech around the ten things he wished someone had told him when he was starting out. The talk went viral, and its author dug deeper into his own ideas to create Steal Like an Artist, the book. The result is inspiring, hip, original, practical, and entertaining. And filled with new truths about creativity: Nothing is original, so embrace influence, collect ideas, and remix and re-imagine to discover your own path. Follow your interests wherever they take you. Stay smart, stay out of debt, and risk being boring—the creative you will need to make room to be wild and daring in your imagination.

I read this one in about an hour. It was a quick, entertaining read with a lot of great tips. I think it’s hard to come up with totally original things to write about and this book takes the pressure off of making ourselves believe it’s 100% necessary. It isn’t about plagiarism, which is illegal and morally wrong. It’s about liking something and expanding on it, putting our own twist on things and going for it. It’s about taking inspiration where you find it. What if you absolutely adored The Wizard of Oz and wanted to write a modern version of the story? Perhaps a steampunk or post-apocalyptic version? Just because the story has already been written, doesn’t mean that there’s not room for a different take on things! Yes, it might not be such a great idea to make your main character’s name be Dotty, give her a dog named Totem, and travelling companions similar to the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow. Instead, let the story spark your own imaginative, creative juices!

– Lori L. Clark

 

Section #3: “In The Trenches” Startup Strategy

The bad news is that founding a startup is one of the hardest things you will ever undertake, and you are more likely to fail than succeed.

The good news is that the specific slate of challenges you are facing has been successful navigated by other entrepreneurs, and they are happy to share their knowledge with you via the books in this section.

 

15. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant

W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne

This global bestseller, embraced by organizations and industries worldwide, challenges everything you thought you knew about the requirements for strategic success. Blue Ocean Strategy argues that cutthroat competition results in nothing but a bloody red ocean of rivals fighting over a shrinking profit pool. Based on a study of 150 strategic moves (spanning more than 100 years across 30 industries), the authors argue that lasting success comes not from battling competitors but from creating “blue oceans”—untapped new market spaces ripe for growth.

A landmark work that upends traditional thinking about strategy, this bestselling book charts a bold new path to winning the future. Consider this your guide to creating uncontested market space—and making the competition irrelevant.

When I was first exposed to Blue Ocean Strategy many years ago, it completely changed the way I looked at businesses and their growth opportunities. I have been practicing Blue Ocean Strategy ever since helping companies apply the tools and frameworks from the book to achieve profitable growth and make competition irrelevant. The new expanded edition of the book now puts the big picture in perspective by showing how strategic alignment of value, profit and people propositions is achieved to create a successful blue ocean strategy.

The new chapter about red ocean traps is particularly insightful as it shows, through interesting examples, what keeps companies stuck in red oceans and how to overcome those mental models. The addition of two new principles of blue ocean strategy for addressing execution risks related to renewal and sustainability answer some of the very important questions that my clients have asked over the years about blue ocean strategy. It is also interesting to see how the case studies described in the original book ten years ago have evolved over the years, presenting useful insights into the sustainability of blue oceans. Truly excellent work.

– Zunaira Munir

 

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

Eric Ries

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.

Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business.

The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.

Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs – in companies of all sizes – a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in a age when companies need to innovate more than ever.

The Lean Startup model focuses on creating a minimum viable product for the market and receiving customer feedback along the way to improve the product. Oftentimes a rough draft of a working product is enough to gain valuable feedback and ideas that would never have been thought of if the project had been refined to death by its developers. What if your team toiled away for years creating advanced software and the finished product doesn’t have the features the customer really wanted? Avoid this mistake. The Lean Startup methodology is a way to ensure the final product is as optimized as possible.

Eric also introduces pivots as a means to take a new approach, if necessary, instead of starting over from scratch. This is in contrast to the old way of doing business where a product is launched only when it is fully functional and high quality in the creator’s eyes. Oftentimes, perfectionism can be costly both in time and in money. Eric does a wonderful job outlining how a product (online or physical) can be built and refined from a customer feedback loop.

Not only does The Lean Startup serve as a methodical roadmap for creating your business efficiently and effectively, but also the book delves into startup metrics that will give a new meaning to how you measure your progress. Ries calls this “innovation accounting”. Innovation accounting is a way of looking past the headline numbers such as revenue growth and instead tracking changes in customer adoption, retention and usage patterns.

– Jeff Ito

 

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

Ben Horowitz

Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, offers essential advice on building and running a startup—practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover, based on his popular ben’s blog.

While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he’s gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.

Filled with his trademark humor and straight talk, The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures, drawing from Horowitz’s personal and often humbling experiences.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things is one of the few books that go into the details, both analytical and emotional, of running a successful technology startup in the modern era. Ben Horowitz walked through the challenges that he faced turning Loudcloud and later Opsware into a billion dollar company. I really enjoyed the anecdotes that he dropped in throughout the book. Many other books on management and hiring and startups just talk about ‘hey it is important to hire the best team, execute leanly etc”. Ben actually uses concrete and real examples of how he got screwed by bad decisions, how he made some good decisions, and why – in retrospect – he thought those decisions were good decisions.

I definitely recommend this book if you are running a startup, thinking about running a startup, or are in a management or executive position in a startup.

– Sarah Zheng

 

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

Peter Thiel & Blake Masters

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.

Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.

Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique.

Zero to One presents at once an optimistic view of the future of progress in America and a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places.

There are two kinds of entrepreneurial ventures: (1) those which seek to produce an improved version of an existing type of product, and (2) those which seek to produce something which simply does not exist now at all. Almost all the books on entrepreneurship that I have read are for the first type of venture. Peter Thiel’s Zero to One is the only one I have ever seen that is clearly aimed for the second type of venture–and it is brilliant, and well worth reading for either type of venture.

Brief and well-written, Zero to One shares contrarian wisdom about how to decide whether one’s business idea is well-conceived, and about what to emphasize when developing your idea and plan.

– Mark Koltko-Rivera

 

19. Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You

John Warrillow

Run your company. Don’t let it run you.

Most business owners started their company because they wanted more freedom—to work on their own schedules, make the kind of money they deserve, and eventually retire on the fruits of their labor.

Unfortunately, according to John Warrillow, most owners find that stepping out of the picture is extremely difficult because their business relies too heavily on their personal involvement. Without them, their company—no matter how big or profitable—is essentially worthless.

But the good news is that entrepreneurs can take specific steps—no matter what stage a business is in—to create a valuable, sellable company. Warrillow shows exactly what it takes to create a solid business that can thrive long into the future.

Building a business is one thing, but building a business which can be sold is very much another thing. I have built a successful law practice, but is it in a form and structure that could be sold to another? Would anyone pay me for such a personally-based business.

It may be another ten years before I want to sell, but I need to start re-structuring the business now. I need to brand the business so that there will be a market for its product (legal services) independent of my personal reputation and client attraction. I need to transfer this personal capacity to attract clients (or customers) to the brand of the company. This book tells how to structure a business (any business) so that it can be valuated and sold. A good primer for individuals considering the day when they will want to sell their business and retire to fishing in Florida.

– Mark Kamleiter

 

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

Jim Collins

Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.

But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?

For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world’s greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.

The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice.

Good to Great by Jim Collins is in a category of its own in terms of what it has to offer already-established business owners. With many books out on the market today, various and random points outline what one should do in order to make more money, establish a company, or get out of debt. Jim Collins, however, makes it a point to create a specific process with categories or rules and regulations, the purpose of which is to make it easy for one to see the progress right in front of eyes rather than guessing where they might be.

– Alexander Kuhnke

 

21. First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently

Gallup Press, Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman

Gallup presents the remarkable findings of its revolutionary study of more than 80,000 managers in First, Break All the Rules, revealing what the world’s greatest managers do differently. With vital performance and career lessons and ideas for how to apply them, it is a must-read for managers at every level.

What separates the greatest managers from all the rest?

They actually have vastly different styles and backgrounds. Yet despite their differences, great managers share one common trait: They don’t hesitate to break virtually every rule held sacred by conventional wisdom. They don’t believe that, with enough training, a person can achieve anything he sets his mind to. They don’t try to help people overcome their weaknesses. And, yes, they even play favorites.

In this longtime management bestseller, Gallup presents the remarkable findings of its massive in-depth study of great managers. Some were in leadership positions. Others were front-line supervisors. Some were in Fortune 500 companies; others were key players in small, entrepreneurial firms. Whatever their circumstances, the managers who ultimately became the focus of Gallup’s research were those who excelled at turning each individual employee’s talent into high performance.

Gallup has found that the front-line manager is the key to attracting and retaining talented employees. This book explains how the best managers select an employee for talent rather than for skills or experience, set expectations, build on each person’s unique strengths rather than trying to fix his or her weaknesses, and get the best performance out of their teams.

This is probably the best management book I’ve ever read. The writing style used by the two authors (Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman) is easy to follow and to grasp. The book is a great digest of how-to, recommendations, do’s and don’ts, real life examples and case studies. Apply 20% of this book and you will ‘translate the talents of your employees into exceptional performance’.

– Adama Coulibaly

 

Section #4: Understanding Sales & Traction

The core of every business is sales. If you can master sales, you can screw up in just about every other area and still succeed. If you don’t make sales, you can be best in class in every other are, and it won’t matter.

The following books are the some of the best every written on driving sales and engineering traction.

 

22. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Robert B. Cialdini

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.

You’ll learn the six universal principles, how to use them to become a skilled persuader—and how to defend yourself against them. Perfect for people in all walks of life, the principles of Influence will move you toward profound personal change and act as a driving force for your success.

I read this book when it first came out 25 years ago (or so). It had an enormous impact on my thinking and behavior. Since then I have recommended it to thousands of people who attended my training or workshops at The Institute for Performance Culture. In return I have had hundreds of people thank me for recommending it.

I recently decided to reread the updated version. It does not disappoint. I will still be recommending it. I would say that this is a book you need to read in self defense, if for no other reason. You have no idea how many times a day people try to influence you using the techniques described in this book. If you like to think that you are an autonomous person who thinks for yourself, you would be wrong. This book shows just how much you respond to influence cues in your environment without any thought at all. Unfortunately, we all function on autopilot far more often than we realize. This book will help you get off of autopilot, at least some of the time.

– Darrel W. Ray

 

23. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Chip Heath

Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? In Made to Stick, accomplished educators and idea collectors Chip and Dan Heath tackle head-on these vexing questions. Inside, the brothers Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the “human scale principle,” using the “Velcro Theory of Memory,” and creating “curiosity gaps.”

In this indispensable guide, we discover that sticky messages of all kinds–from the infamous “kidney theft ring” hoax to a coach’s lessons on sportsmanship to a vision for a new product at Sony–draw their power from the same six traits.

Made to Stick is a book that will transform the way you communicate ideas. It’s a fast-paced tour of success stories (and failures)–the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass of bacteria to prove a point about stomach ulcers; the charities who make use of “the Mother Teresa Effect”; the elementary-school teacher whose simulation actually prevented racial prejudice. Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, Made to Stick shows us the vital principles of winning ideas–and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.

I got a lot out of reading this book. As a small business owner without a separate marketing and advertising department, I’m charged with the responsibility of crafting the company message. This book gave me a lot of insight into how to develop messages that are impactful and memorable, whether they are being delivered to potential customers in the way of marketing, or to the staff as a means of clarifying company purpose, core values, etc…

– Jonathan Aluzas

 

 24. Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal

Oren Klaff

When it comes to delivering a pitch, Oren Klaff has unparalleled credentials. Over the past 13 years, he has used his one-of-a-kind method to raise more than $400 million–and now, for the first time, he describes his formula to help you deliver a winning pitch in any business situation.

Whether you’re selling ideas to investors, pitching a client for new business, or even negotiating for a higher salary, Pitch Anything will transform the way you position your ideas.

According to Klaff, creating and presenting a great pitch isn’t an art–it’s a simple science. Applying the latest findings in the field of neuroeconomics, while sharing eye-opening stories of his method in action, Klaff describes how the brain makes decisions and responds to pitches. With this information, you’ll remain in complete control of every stage of the pitch process.

Once an a while you read a book that actually has something to offer from front to back, conceptually and practically. The title suggests this book is simply about “pitching a deal” and it is, but it is so much more. Oren cuts through old antiquated paradigms of boring conversation that we all despise and breathes new life into the art of communicating.

Getting to the core of something requires very tough questions. Getting things that you want out of life requires a deep look at how you “frame” your situation in a manner that is most conducive to your desired outcome. This book articulates “frame management” in a manner that is easy to understand that drives authenticity and honesty.

The book is grounded in solid research and common sense that explains why so many conversations are locked in stagnate holding patterns that paralyze action. Getting to the core meaning of a topic and knowing why it is important is vital to getting things done, this book provides practical advice on how to do that. So many of the old “models” for communicating are over used and stale. This book outlines a model that actually works!

– Danny Gutknecht

 

25. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business

Gino Wickman

Do you have a grip on your business, or does your business have a grip on you?

All entrepreneurs and business leaders face similar frustrations—personnel conflict, profit woes, and inadequate growth. Decisions never seem to get made, or, once made, fail to be properly implemented. But there is a solution. It’s not complicated or theoretical.The Entrepreneurial Operating System® is a practical method for achieving the business success you have always envisioned. More than 2,000 companies have discovered what EOS can do.

In Traction, you’ll learn the secrets of strengthening the six key components of your business. You’ll discover simple yet powerful ways to run your company that will give you and your leadership team more focus, more growth, and more enjoyment. Successful companies are applying Traction every day to run profitable, frustration-free businesses—and you can too.

Gino Wickman’s book gives an excellent road map for business owners to use in helping with their strategic planning as well as their ongoing operations management. The simple systems and models from the book helped my business and management team focus our efforts, follow our strategic plan, develop new scorecards to use on a weekly basis, and evaluate our staff to make sure we had the right people in the right places. I would recommend this book to any business owner wanting to grow their business.

– Roger Michelson

 

26. The Boron Letters

Gary C. Halbert & Bond Halbert

A series of letters by history’s greatest copywriter Gary C. Halbert, explaining insider tactics and sage wisdom to his youngest son Bond. Once only available as part of a paid monthly premium, The Boron Letters are unique in the marketing universe and now they are a bona fide cult classic among direct response marketers and copywriters around the world. The letters inside are written from a father to a son, in a loving way that goes far beyond a mere sales book or fancy “boardroom” advertising advice… It’s more than a Master’s Degree in selling & persuasion…it’s hands-down the best SPECIFIC and ACTIONABLE training on how to convince people to buy your products or services than I have ever read.

The Boron Letters contain knowledge well beyond selling. The letters also explain how to navigate life’s hurdles. This marketing classic is personal and easily digestible. Plus… immediately after reading the first chapters, you can go out and make money and a real, noticeable difference in your marketplace. There are very few successful direct response marketers (online or off) who don’t owe something to Gary Halbert…and for many of them, The Boron Letters is the crown jewel in their collection. Copywriters and marketers read and re-read The Boron Letters over and over again for a reason. These strategies, secrets and tips are going to be relevant 5, 10, even 100 years from now because they deal honestly with the part of human psychology which never changes, how to convince and convert folks into buyers.

Just finished re-reading the infamous Boron Letters, first written by copywriting and marketing legend, Gary Halbert while in jail (on false charges). Amazing. Still impressed by how timeless the principles are, how unique Gary’s viewpoint and genius was, and also just what a force of nature he was as a human being. While much of it covers marketing, it’s also a book about life–from a man who lived life to the fullest every day.

Definitely one of the easiest, yet most instructive couple hours you could ever spend will be reading through these letters, taking notes, and then implementing even a small part of what you learn. As a copywriting professional myself, I can say much of my success has taken place as a direct result of reading books like this, along with The Gary Halbert Letter. You won’t find a more valuable copywriting and marketing education anywhere.

– Anthony Flores

 

27. The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure

Grant Cardone

While most people operate with only three degrees of action – no action, retreat, or normal action – if you’re after big goals, you don’t want to settle for the ordinary. To reach the next level, you must understand the coveted 4th degree of action. This 4th degree, also know as the 10 X Rule, is that level of action that guarantees companies and individuals realize their goals and dreams.

The 10 X Rule unveils the principle of “Massive Action,” allowing you to blast through business clichŽs and risk-aversion while taking concrete steps to reach your dreams. It also demonstrates why people get stuck in the first three actions and how to move into making the 10X Rule a discipline. Find out exactly where to start, what to do, and how to follow up each action you take with more action to achieve Massive Action results.

As a national speaker and trainer, I witness in myself and my students often that as we pursue our dreams there are two major approaches to take: one of the knowledge seeker, and the other of the action taker. Upon first steps, the knowledge seeker generally takes very little “real” action in search of finding the right path to take and mistakenly labels studying as the ‘action’ to justify their approach as they occupy themselves with processing information.

The action taker, on the other hand, just starts moving with “real” action and admittedly often is “cutting down trees in the wrong forrest”. However because they are taking “real” physical action, they soon discover the right ‘forest’ quicker and with momentum and real world experience backing them up, making them a force to reckon with when they do eventually find the right ‘forest’.

This book is about showing the knowledge seekers how to take real action and how to have the confidence to move forward without all of the information you thought you needed, and in my experience finding the right forest more quickly and more powerfully than by knowledge seeking.

– Cory Wilks

 

28. Evil by Design: Interaction Design to Lead Us into Temptation

Chris Nodder

Learn how companies make us feel good about doing what they want. Approaching persuasive design from the dark side, this book melds psychology, marketing, and design concepts to show why we’re susceptible to certain persuasive techniques. Packed with examples from every nook and cranny of the web, it provides easily digestible and applicable patterns for putting these design techniques to work. Organized by the seven deadly sins, it includes:

– Pride: use social proof to position your product.
– Sloth: build a path of least resistance that directs users.
– Gluttony: escalate customers’ commitment to keep them.
– Anger: understand the power of metaphysical arguments.
– Envy: create a culture of status around your product.
– Lust: turn desire into commitment by using emotion.
– Greed: keep customers engaged by reinforcing behaviors.

Now you too can leverage human fallibility to create powerful persuasive interfaces that people will love to use — but will you use your new knowledge for good or evil?

I don’t think there has EVER been a book on software/web design that is as practical and actionable as Chris Nodder’s Evil by Design! While the premise (the 7 Deadly Sins) might seem kind of gimmicky (or evil!), Nodder uses it to organize the content into relevant chapters and to keep the material highly entertaining.

(Plus, he definitely discusses the ethics of employing all of these tools.)

A few of the tips and tricks might be familiar to you, but I was surprised at how many weren’t to me. Sure, I’d seen them, and when Nodder pointed out what they were doing, it then seemed obvious… but I had never noticed before.

GREAT BOOK. BUY IT.

– Kiki Schirr

 

What’s Your Vote For The Best Entrepreneur Book?

Well, there you have it – 28 of the best entrepreneur books you could possibly read this year – brought to you by myself and the folks inside the Entrepreneur Alliance!

I’d love to hear from you as well.

What’s your vote for the best entrepreneur book ever written?

Let me know in the comments!

 

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  • kevin

    Thanks for curating this list, Dave.

    Some oldies, some goodies, and some randoms…

    Love that you included one from Gary Halpert, too. That guy was special.

    • Dave Rogenmoser

      THE BORON LETTERS. Great read