5 Must-Read Books for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
By Alice Cripps
If one thing’s for sure when it comes to becoming an entrepreneur, it’s that you can never know too much. Learning the ropes is the key to success when venturing into any sector. One way to do this as an aspiring entrepreneur is to get your hands on educational and uplifting content, written by inspiring people that have faced the same obstacles as you, and lived to tell the tale.
There are thousands of books published each year with the same goal of educating and motivating budding entrepreneurs. It can be hard to know which books are valuable to developing your entrepreneurial mindset and skillset, and which aren’t worth the hype. Read on to find out my 5 recommended reads for aspiring entrepreneurs.
1. The Hard Thing about Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz
Howoritz’s credentials alone may convince you to read his book. He is one of the biggest names in Silicon Valley, and co-founder of venture capital company Andreessen Horowitz. The Hard Thing about Hard Things is an essential read for any startup owner, as it tackles every challenge under the sun that you could encounter, from managing your own mental health as an entrepreneur, to firing your best friend.
With his trademark humour and brutal honesty – as we’ve already seen in his iconic Ben’s Blog – Horowitz explores the highs and the lows of starting a business. Unlike many authors offering entrepreneurial insight, Horowitz doesn't cover up the bad parts. He shows his readers that challenges are countless when starting a business, but capitalises on his own experience to provide solutions.
2. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
One of the most groundbreaking books of its kind, Carnegie’s timeless bestseller teaches its readers how to cultivate productive relationships in every aspect of your life. How to win friends is approaching its 100th anniversary, but Carnegie’s guidance is invaluable in the modern day, and will be for generations to come.
Carnegie’s theory revolves around the idea that it is possible to change someone’s behaviour towards you by changing your own behaviour towards them. Understanding and adopting this mindset could be priceless as a new entrepreneur. Despite the title’s suggestion of psychological mind games, Carnegie enlightens entrepreneurs on becoming good leaders by making themselves worthy of appreciation, rather than by tricking people.
3. Grit: The Power and Passion of Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth
Duckworth’s Grit is a particularly refreshing read for those of us who are tired of the dominant male authorship in the entrepreneurial genre. Duckworth herself is founder and CEO of Character Lab, a charitable organisation which aims to progress scientific research to help children thrive globally.
Despite her own glowing academic credentials, Duckworth argues that talent and IQ are not the quintessential elements to being successful in business. Instead, success requires a combination of passion and perseverance, commonly referred to in psychological study as ‘grit.’ While the book has received a mixed bag of reviews, there is no denying that it serves as an excellent reminder that ability, or lack thereof, can serve as a distraction from other important components for success.
4. The Right It, by Alberto Savoia
Endorsed by Forbes as one of the best books for women entrepreneurs, Savoia’s The right it is a realistic guide to taking a new business idea and making sure it leaves the ground. As well as being an accomplished author, Savoia managed the team which launched Google’s AdWords, as the company’s first Engineering Director.
According to the Law of Market Failure, elaborated by Savoia himself, 90% of new business ideas fail quickly after their launch, despite the founder’s best efforts. This book is perfect for entrepreneurs who are scared that their business idea will crash and burn before their very eyes. Savoia transforms unique and complex marketing strategies into simple tools that you can use in your own endeavours.
5. Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less, by Tiffany Dufu
Dufu’s inspirational memoir teaches entrepreneurs the one thing that many other self-help books and business guides fail to: the art of letting go. Dufu found herself overwhelmed and overworked, with barely any time to enjoy life’s precious moments. She then learned how to prioritise tasks, shorten her to-do list, and ask others for help without fear of rejection or embarrassment. In Drop the Ball, she enlightens us on how to do the same.
Tiffany Dufu is an internationally acclaimed activist in promoting and protecting women and girls’ rights. Amongst her numerous accomplishments, she founded a peer coaching company for women and has worked as an executive at a tech company. Dufu’s achievements are all the more impressive given the fact that she is a woman of colour. To read more about the unconscious bias that women of colour face in the workplace, read this article on cultivating a more positive work environment for women.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” - Dr Suess.
There is an abundance of literature available for aspiring entrepreneurs, ranging from specialty technical guides to self-help literature aimed at developing your entrepreneurial mindset. These 5 books provide a comprehensive base to kick start your entrepreneurial venture.
Alice Cripps is a graduate in French and English Literature from the University of Birmingham. She is currently working as a university-level English teacher in Toulouse, but has plans to enter into the publishing industry. In her spare time, she loves reading, travelling and trying out new brunch spots.