Have you been recently bitten by the entrepreneurial bug? Maybe you’re already on your entrepreneurial journey, but feel a little lost about which way to go next. If you’re looking for some guidance or inspiration, look no further. We’ve compiled a list of 10 top business books for a budding entrepreneur to read. Some of these are classics that you’re likely to find on the syllabus in a business course. Others are newer, and not part of the traditional canon, but we believe they contain valuable counsel when it comes to building a business and taking an idea from inception to execution.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Napoleon Hill first wrote this classic motivational book in 1937. His advice drew on the stories and successes of people such as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison, and Theodore Roosevelt Jr. The overview reads, “Through this book Napoleon Hill will teach you what to do, and how to do it, to achieve lasting and unprecedented success. Change your life as you learn to be ‘the master of your fate and the Captain of your soul’ through this powerful book.”
Think and Grow Rich is one of the top-selling books for business owners and entrepreneurs. It has since been updated by Arthur R. Pell, Ph.D to include examples of more contemporary successes, such as Mary Kay Ash and Bill Gates in order to make the teaching more relevant for a new audience. Check out the updated copy here.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
The famous entrepreneur, Dale Carnegie, first published this book during the Great Depression. While it might have originally served to inspire people at the point of our country’s worst economic crisis, it continues to offer valuable insight into different entrepreneurial skills today. The book delves into topics such as how to make a good first impression, how to criticize people in a constructive way, how to become a strong conversationalist, and more. Carnegie tackles some of the most difficult aspects of being an entrepreneur, the soft skills often required in order to make important connections and build successful relationships in your area of business. You can purchase the book here.
The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
If you’ve been reading our blog posts for a while, then you know we’re fans of Tim Ferriss’ book about pursuing fulfillment outside of the traditional working hour model. Ferriss asserts that anyone can join the ranks of the “new rich” by viewing time and mobility as currency and operating in order to make the most of both.
The book’s lessons include why you should live for the now, rather than for retirement, why you should rely on your strengths rather than trying to drastically improve your weaknesses, and how to let go of the fear that holds you back from making decisions that could result in significant payoffs. Young entrepreneurs in particular are likely to be inspired by the book’s basis that the way we’ve been doing things might not necessarily be the best or only way to do them. It leaves a lot of room for people to redefine what an entrepreneur is, which is important in a field that has conventionally left many people out when it comes to access. Find a copy of the book here.
Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
This New York Times bestseller is on our list of top business books because of its focus on helping people change their mindset in order to be more productive without overextending themselves.
The back cover reads, “At the core of Smarter Faster Better are eight key concepts—from motivation and goal setting to focus and decision making—that explain why some people and companies get so much done. Drawing on the latest findings in neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics—as well as the experiences of CEOs, educational reformers, four-star generals, FBI agents, airplane pilots, and Broadway songwriters—this book reveals that the most productive people, companies, and organizations don’t merely act differently. They view the world, and their choices, in profoundly different ways.” If this excites you, you can download the book on Kindle or order a copy here.
Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Start with Why is another one of our top business books addressing soft entrepreneurial skills. At the core of its teaching is the premise that people need to know the “why” of a product, idea, or business in order to be truly convinced. This requires you as an entrepreneur to be clear about your why as well, an important distinction that will help you stand out in a saturated marketplace. If you are a digital entrepreneur this can be particularly useful as the Internet presents people with millions of things vying for their attention each day. Your why will be the thing that gets people to stop scrolling and listen to what you have to offer or say. Learn more about Sinek’s “Golden Circle” framework for success by ordering a copy of the book here.
Dying for a Paycheck by Jeffrey Pfeffer
In this day and age, entrepreneurial thinking should be about more than the bottom line – it should also take into account the people helping you to bring your business idea to fruition. The urgent reminder found in the book is exactly why Dying for a Paycheck makes our list of top business books. Pfeffer implores readers to place a higher emphasis on workplace wellbeing and human sustainability over pure productivity. If you’re a budding entrepreneur concerned about how you can strive for success while scaling ethically, this is a great book to pick up. And in the era of the Great Resignation, employee satisfaction and wellbeing should be at the front of mind as a business owner if they aren’t already. Pfeffer provides multiple options for finding a copy on his website.
Highlight: Top Business Books for a Budding Entrepreneur by Black Authors
It’s still Black History Month so we would be remiss if we didn’t take the time to highlight the Black authors and Black entrepreneurs doing incredibly inspiring work and sharing their secrets to success for the next generation of innovators, regardless of their identity!
Beating The Odds: Eddie Brown’s Investing and Life Strategies by Eddie Brown
The back cover describes Beating the Odds as “The remarkable true story of how one man overcame poverty to attain the pinnacle of business success, Beating the Odds is inspiring reading not just for business readers, but for everyone who believes that a person’s ambition should always be as big as his or her dreams.”
Brown was able to keep his investment firm afloat through multiple major economic disasters that shuttered many other doors around the country. His inspiring tale of adversity and grit will inspire even the smallest startup founder to keep chasing after their goals. Order or listen to a copy of the book here.
Strategize To Win: The New Way to Start Out, Step Up, or Start Over in Your Career by Carla A. Harris
Harris is a successful business woman whose expertise has earned her the coveted title of millionaire. She serves as a Vice Chairman, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley and was appointed by President Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council in 2013.
Harris writes in the intro of her book that she hopes, “ both young and mid-level professionals will find the answers and tools they need to get started in their career, to get “unstuck,” to redirect and crystallize their paths, and to position themselves to manage their career through any economic cycle or any corporate political environment and continue ascending toward success!”. If you’re a new entrepreneur looking to make a big move by finally leaving your current position, or starting out in a new industry, Strategize to Win might be just the book you need. You can purchase a copy here.
The Perfect Day to Boss Up by Rick Ross with Neil Martinez-Belkin
There are many types of entrepreneurship, but even across disciplines, the keys to success often remain the same. This is why hip-hop mogul Rick Ross’ Hustler’s Guide to Building Your Empire makes our list of top business books. In his book Ross offers many insights from his own success story, including:
- How to turn your ambition into action
- Tips for managing and investing your money
- Inside stories from his business and music ventures
- Why failure is central to success
- Secrets to handling stressful situations
- How to build the perfect team
If you’re looking for a different perspective of a successful business journey, this is a great book for you. Copies are available here.
Powershift by Daymond John with Daniel Paisner
According to his website, this book by John walks readers through his tried and true process of 1) Building Influence, 2) Negotiating, and 3) Nurturing Relationships. Along with instances from his personal life and career in which he invoked this process, he draws on the experiences of the people who have been able to truly break the mold of how to achieve success within their respective fields. These concrete examples of how anyone can implement the three steps to identify their goals and achieve them will teach readers exactly how to test out the process themselves on their own paths to success.
The innovative entrepreneur behind the mega-brand FUBU, Daymond John changed the casual fashion landscape and remains an inspiration to young entrepreneurs coming up in and outside of the fashion industry today. If seeing him weekly on NBC’s Shark Tank isn’t enough for you, you can dive right into Powershift, available here.
No matter what your area of interest is, you can find guidance in one of these books we’ve shared above. Everyone’s path to success is different, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from others who have walked similar paths before. And if you’re a tech entrepreneur looking to bring your vision about a mobile app to life, feel free to reach out to SEM Nexus for assistance. We’d love to hop on a call – after all, it’s what we do.