Read Your Way to Leadership Success



The Best Self-Help Books for Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders

If you're leading teams for the first time, or perhaps second-guessing some of the decisions you're making on a daily basis, it's hard to know where to look for unbiased advice.


I've read close to a hundred business self-help books (and counting), and I've taken lessons from every single one of them.


Some of them are old but definitely gold, while some are from the newer-school of leadership and entrepreneurship thinking.


Either way, I've found them to be very helpful on my own leadership journey, and a couple of these even kick-started me into starting and selling businesses. So, I can say from personal experience, these are some of the best self-help books for entrepreneurs.


Wherever you're at in your leadership journey, I hope you find some value in these business self-help books too.


Before you dive in:

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Never Split the Difference, Chris Voss and Tahl Raz

I'm a huge fan of the art of negotiation and persuasion.


This book was one of the first I read on the subject, and it's packed with insight from Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator.


Voss reveals his nine key principles for high-stakes negotiation, and this book is a great go-to before any important discussion at home or in the boardroom.


I'd recommend this as one of the best self-help books for entrepreneurs who struggle with asking for what they want.



You Are a Badass, Jen Sincero

The mother lode.


I first read this book at a really low point in my life, when I was questioning what my next steps were.


I picked it up in an airport bookshop after chuckling at the bright yellow cover and ridiculous title. But actually, the cover is a pretty accurate reflection of the content: easy to read and straight to the point, with no shortage of laughs along the way.


It's single-handedly led to me following pretty much anything the author, Jen Sincero, has to say about anything, and my life has been more inspired for it!


Roll forward a few months from buying this book, and I'd co-founded a slick restaurant brand having never worked in the industry (unless you count a summer job at KFC after leaving school) and was well on the way to starting a successful business.


Was it all down to this book? Yes.



The Lean Startup, Eric Ries

Before you start your business, have you really thought through whether you're going about it the best way?


How do you even know what the best way is?


The Lean Startup has gained fame in the last decade for helping people to test their startup ideas without breaking the bank. It's definitely a great place for any aspiring entrepreneur to go and, for that reason, I'd rate it as one of the best self-help books for entrepreneurs.


If that idea that's been nagging you is about to become your new venture, read The Lean Startup first.



The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferris

The book which gave Millennials a bad name and a great lifestyle.


Tim Ferris' book on how to maximise your time and your income, became a sensation when it was published and it definitely opened my eyes.


I'm not saying you should follow Ferris' concepts to the letter, but this book is inspiring to anyone looking to gain extra time in their day or lead more efficiently.



The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson

If you're sick of reading books that tell you to "live your dreams" or an "if you can dream it you can do it" narrative, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is for you.


Manson's book is one of the best self-help books for stressed-out business leaders and entrepreneurs who want to cut through the crap.



Influence, Robert B Cialdini

Another book that focuses on negotiation, persuasion, and how to influence people.


University Professor Cialdini outlines his six principles of influence and tells you how these are used by businesses we've been buying from our whole lives.


It's a must-read for anyone leading teams or building businesses and often recommended as one of the best self-help books for entrepreneurs.



Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman is a powerhouse author in the world of psychology and Thinking Fast and Slow is regarded as one of the best self-help books around for business leaders and entrepreneurs.


However, it's packed with information and is a huge book; I definitely had to consume it in many bitesize pieces.


But the lessons that are outlined are powerful, like: why are we more likely to believe text that's written in bold?


If you can take the advice from this book onboard, you're going to be able to make smarter decisions leading your team.



The Magic of Thinking Big, David J. Schwartz

When I first saw this book, I thought it was from the new-school of self-help writers. So I was surprised that a title like this is actually from the 1950s!


Regardless of when it was written, this book is inspirational in many ways and helps empower you to create the kind of life you want to live.


Why is this on a list of the best books for entrepreneurs and business leaders?


Because if you're able to think outside of the micro day-to-day issues and are working towards an ideal life, you're almost certainly going to become an inspirational person to be around. And, putting it simply, the best business leaders are inspirational people.


My advice? Read it and see for yourself.



Bounce, Matthew Syed

I was given this book as a Christmas gift a few years back, and I'd read it from cover to cover by the time the decorations were down.


Although not strictly related to business, many of the findings Syed makes apply to how you conduct yourself as a leader on a day to day basis.


Bounce concentrates on the psychology of elite athletes and explores why they're able to do what others can't. When you think about how to apply the principles outlined by Syed to your work, this is actually a great book for any entrepreneur or business leader.



Unf*ck Yourself, Gary John Bishop

If you've hit rock bottom, or spend more time than you should agonising about your life choices, Bishop's book will slap you out of it.


I listened to this as an audiobook and the gritty content was an eye-opener on my commute to a job I didn't love.


It's unlikely that Bishop would put his own book in the "self-help" category but, for me, it's definitely a must-read for any entrepreneur or business leader who's feeling stuck in a rut.



How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie

No self-help list would be complete without this book.


It's definitely olden, but it's also rightly golden. Get through the old-timey English, and Carnegie's lessons are timeless to anyone.



Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert

This book will probably teach you nothing about business.


But what it could do is help inspire you to follow your heart and build the life you want.


And there's nothing more inspiring than being around people who dare to design their lives in this way.



The Secret, Rhonda Byrne

Following the release of a film by the same name, this "highly controversial" book was published and sold almost 19 million copies in less than a year.


Since then it's been the book of choice for countless famous sports stars, celebrities, and entrepreneurs.


It's worth a read if you want to work on your mindset and manifest the things you're aiming for and, for that reason, it makes my list of the best self-help books for entrepreneurs and business leaders.




Are there any other books you'd like to see on this list? Let us know by getting in touch with us at contact@theindustryleaders.org.



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Rob Barratt is an entrepreneur based between Barcelona and Hong Kong. Qualified as a Chartered Surveyor, Rob spent almost 20 years working on construction projects around the world before starting and selling a successful restaurant business in Hong Kong. His latest startup, Quantitiv, connects construction projects in the western hemisphere to brilliant remote professionals in Asia. When not working on his business, Rob can be found reading or listening to anything related to business and self-improvement and spending time around people he loves the most.