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Best Reads for Entrepreneurs: Must-Read Books for Success

Four business books claimed to be the best reads for entrepreneurs

Reading is a crucial habit for any entrepreneur striving for success - but there are a handful of books that you can't afford to ignore if you're running a business or thinking of starting one.

The best reads for entrepreneurs provide invaluable insights, new strategies, and the inspiration needed to tackle the challenges of running a business. These 13 books offer diverse perspectives, from practical advice on business strategies to personal stories of perseverance and innovation.

Whether you're just starting out or looking to grow your business, the right books can help enhance your decision-making skills and keep you informed about the latest trends. In this article, we'll list some of the best reads for entrepreneurs, along with their key takeaways and insights, and how they can help you run a successful business.

And, we get it, you're busy. So, here's a quick rundown so you can skip to whichever section you need:

Why Entrepreneurs Should Read Regularly

Reading regularly is essential for personal and professional growth, especially for wannabe or actual entrepreneurs. Here are some key reasons why making time for books can be a game-changer:

  • Boosts Decision-Making Skills: Reading helps improve critical thinking and decision-making abilities. By learning from the experiences and insights of successful entrepreneurs, you can make better choices for your own business.

  • Stays Updated with Industry Trends: The business world is always evolving. Reading the latest books keeps you informed about new trends, technologies, and strategies that can help you stay competitive.

  • Offers Diverse Perspectives: Books provide access to a wide range of ideas and viewpoints. This diversity can inspire creativity and innovation in your business approach.

  • Real-Life Examples: Many successful entrepreneurs credit reading as a key factor in their success. For instance, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are known for their extensive reading habits. Learning from their experiences can offer valuable lessons and inspiration.

By incorporating reading into your routine, you can continuously learn and adapt, which is crucial for sustained success as a business leader.

Top Business Strategy Books

To thrive as a business owner, it kind of goes without saying that having a solid business strategy is somewhat(!) essential. So, that seems like a pretty wise place to start with recommendations for the best reads for entrepreneurs. Each of these must-read books offers practical advice and proven strategies for running your business:

"Good to Great" by Jim Collins

  • Key Takeaways and Insights: This book explores why some companies make the leap from good to great and others don't. Collins identifies key factors that contribute to sustained business success.

  • How It Helps: Understanding these principles can help you build a strong foundation for your business, ensuring long-term growth and stability.

"The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries

  • Key Takeaways and Insights: Ries introduces the concept of a lean startup, emphasizing the need for constant innovation, customer feedback, and the ability to pivot when necessary. He outlines methods for building a sustainable business through validated learning.

  • How It Helps: Applying the lean startup methodology can help you minimize waste, accelerate growth, and create products that better meet customer needs. This approach is especially useful for leaders looking to make quick, informed decisions.

"The 80/20 Principle" by Richard Koch

  • Key Takeaways and Insights: Koch explains how 80% of results often come from 20% of efforts, also known as the Pareto Principle. He provides examples of how this principle applies to various business activities such as time management, marketing, and sales.

  • How It Helps: By focusing on the most impactful activities, you can maximize efficiency and achieve better results with less effort. This principle helps entrepreneurs prioritize their tasks and resources effectively.

"Shortcut Your Startup" by Courtney Reum and Carter Reum

  • Key Takeaways and Insights: The Reum brothers share their experiences and strategies for accelerating the growth of a startup. They discuss concepts like "the startup flywheel" and emphasize the importance of speed and agility in business.

  • How It Helps: The book provides actionable steps and insights from successful entrepreneurs, making it a practical guide for business owners looking to scale quickly. It offers practical advice on how to navigate the early stages of business growth and avoid common pitfalls.

Inspirational Reads for Entrepreneurs

People say "It's tough at the top" and that's certainly true, but man it can be rough on the way there; lonely, emotional, and unpredictable are some of the words we hear when interviewing business leaders.

So, here are some of the best reads for entrepreneurs that provide motivation and valuable life lessons (head here if you want more 👉 self-help books for entrepreneurs):

"Shoe Dog" by Phil Knight

  • Key Takeaways and Insights: This memoir by the founder of Nike recounts the company's early days and the challenges Knight faced in building a global brand. It offers an inside look at the determination, risks, and relentless drive that fueled Nike's success.

  • How It Helps: "Shoe Dog" provides entrepreneurs with a relatable and inspiring story of perseverance. Knight's journey encourages readers to push through obstacles and stay committed to their vision.

"Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson

  • Key Takeaways and Insights: This biography details the life of Steve Jobs, highlighting his innovative approach to business, product design, and leadership. It covers his successes, failures, and the unique qualities that made him a visionary.

  • How It Helps: Learning about Jobs' approach to innovation and his relentless pursuit of excellence can inspire anyone to think creatively and strive for greatness in their own ventures.

"The Hard Thing About Hard Things" by Ben Horowitz

  • Key Takeaways and Insights: Horowitz shares his experiences as a CEO, detailing the tough decisions and challenges he faced while running a business. The book offers practical advice on dealing with the hardest aspects of entrepreneurship, from managing crises to making difficult decisions.

  • How It Helps: "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" provides managers and leaders with realistic insights into the challenges of leading a business. Horowitz's honest and straightforward advice helps readers prepare for and navigate the toughest moments in their entrepreneurial journey. This book was also recommended by one of our guest writers as a must-read for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Books on Leadership and Management

Effective leadership and management are crucial for entrepreneurs to build and sustain successful businesses. Here are some of the best reads for entrepreneurs that offer essential lessons in these areas:

"Leaders Eat Last" by Simon Sinek

  • Key Takeaways and Insights: Sinek explores the principles of effective leadership, emphasizing the importance of building trust and creating a supportive environment. He uses examples from the military and business to illustrate how great leaders prioritize the well-being of their teams.

  • How It Helps: Understanding these leadership principles can help leaders and executives create a positive work culture, even if they work with a small team or contractors. It encourages leaders to foster trust and loyalty, which are key to long-term success.

"Radical Candor" by Kim Scott

  • Key Takeaways and Insights: Scott introduces the concept of Radical Candor, a management philosophy that balances caring personally with challenging directly. She provides practical advice on how to give and receive feedback effectively.

  • How It Helps: This book helps people leading businesses develop strong communication skills and build a culture of openness. Learning to give honest feedback while maintaining relationships is crucial for managing teams and partnerships.

"Drive" by Daniel H. Pink

  • Key Takeaways and Insights: Pink explores what truly motivates people, arguing that autonomy, mastery, and purpose are more powerful than traditional incentives. He provides evidence-based insights into how these elements drive high performance and satisfaction.

  • How It Helps: "Drive" helps its readers understand how to motivate themselves and others. By focusing on intrinsic motivators, you can create a more fulfilling and productive work environment.

Personal Development and Mindset Books

Possibly our favorite section, because personal development and the right mindset are key to entrepreneurial success - and everyone has massive power to change their own course here. So, check out the best reads for entrepreneurs that focus on growth, habits, and resilience (the first one is legendary among Silicon Valley entrepreneurs):

"Atomic Habits" by James Clear

  • Key Takeaways and Insights: Clear outlines a proven framework for building and breaking habits. He explains how small changes can lead to remarkable results and provides practical strategies for habit formation.

  • How It Helps: This book helps entrepreneurs understand the science of habits and how to leverage them for personal and professional growth. It's a practical guide for anyone looking to make lasting improvements in their life and business.

"Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" by Carol S. Dweck

  • Key Takeaways and Insights: Dweck introduces the concept of fixed and growth mindsets. She explains how adopting a growth mindset can lead to greater achievement and success.

  • How It Helps: Understanding and applying the principles of a growth mindset can empower business leaders to overcome challenges and continue learning. It encourages a focus on effort and perseverance rather than innate talent.

"Grit" by Angela Duckworth

  • Key Takeaways and Insights: Duckworth explores the power of passion and perseverance, arguing that these traits are more important than talent in achieving success. She shares research findings and stories of high achievers.

  • How It Helps: "Grit" provides entrepreneurs with the motivation to stay committed to their goals. It emphasizes the importance of resilience and long-term dedication, which are crucial for navigating the ups and downs of business life.

The Best Reads for Entrepreneurs: How to Choose What To Read First

With so many great books available, selecting the ones that will benefit you the most can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you choose the right books for your entrepreneurial journey:

  • Identify Your Current Needs and Challenges

    • Consider the specific areas where you need the most guidance or inspiration. Are you looking to improve your business strategy, enhance your leadership skills, or find personal motivation? Identifying your current needs will help you select books that address these areas directly.

  • Match Books to Your Business Goals

    • Think about your long-term business goals and the skills or knowledge you need to achieve them. If you're aiming to scale your startup, books like "The Lean Startup" or "Shortcut Your Startup" might be particularly useful. For improving team dynamics, consider leadership-focused books like "Leaders Eat Last."

  • Seek Recommendations from Trusted Sources

    • Ask fellow entrepreneurs, mentors, or industry experts for their book recommendations. They can provide insights based on their own experiences and help you discover books that have had a significant impact on their careers.

  • Read Reviews and Summaries

    • Before committing to a book, read reviews and summaries to get a sense of its content and how it might apply to your situation. Websites like Goodreads and Amazon can be valuable resources for honest reviews from other readers.

  • Integrate Reading into Your Busy Schedule

    • As a business leader, your time is valuable. Set aside dedicated time each day or week for reading, even if it's just 15-30 minutes. Audiobooks can also be a great option for consuming content on the go, such as during commutes or workouts.

Choosing the right books can provide you with the knowledge and inspiration needed to tackle your business challenges and achieve your goals. By focusing on your specific needs and seeking out valuable resources, you can make reading a powerful tool in your entrepreneurial toolkit.


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