Want a list of the best business books that will help you gain a competitive edge in your business?
If so, you’re in the right place.
While there’s no shortage of books you could read, you’re probably a little short on time.
To help you out, we’ve curated a list of the most valuable books you can read for your entrepreneurial journey.
These business books will help you face the obstacles you’ll encounter as a business owner. They’ll also show you new ways of thinking and ways you can better serve your audience.
Let’s dive in.
1. Good to Great by Jim Collins
“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.” – Jim Collins
Because it’s so easy to build a good business, few entrepreneurs make the effort to build a great business. Becoming great requires skills that are uncomfortable to learn, even when the return is considerable.
Author and consultant Jim Collins studied various businesses and found several commonalities among the great companies. These concepts are ones you can learn and apply to your own business.
- Level 5 Leaders
- The Hedgehog Concept
- A Culture of Discipline
- The Flywheel and the Doom Loop
In Good to Great, Collins teaches these fundamental principles so entrepreneurs can learn them and apply them to their own company.
2. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future (by Peter Thiel & Blake Masters)
“Every moment in business happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.” – Peter Thiel
In the Spring of 2012, venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel taught a course at Stanford University called CS183: Startup. Student Blake Masters took extensive notes during the class and published them on Tumblr.
Those notes become the basis for their business book Zero to One.
In Zero to One, Thiel argues that startups and entrepreneurs need to innovate instead of building on what already exists.
To do so, entrepreneurs need to find value in unexpected places. They need to find new ideas and ask contrarian questions.
Zero to One gives readers the high-level questions they need to ask to create new concepts and new industries.
3. This Is Marketing (by Seth Godin)
“If you can bring someone belonging, connection, peace of mind, status, or one of the other most desired emotions, you’ve done something worthwhile. The thing you sell is simply a road to achieve those emotions, and we let everyone down when we focus on the tactics, not the outcomes.” – Seth Godin
Marketing is a small business topic that mystifies many newbie entrepreneurs. But Seth Godin is a master at breaking it down to its simplest forms. For years, his books, blog, and podcast have encouraged entrepreneurs to think differently about business and marketing.
In This Is Marketing, Seth Godin explains what it means to be an entrepreneur or marketer today.
You’ll learn to start small and find your people.
You’ll learn what to do before you market to your audience.
And you’ll learn how to build a community that becomes its own marketing machine.
4. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation by Eric Ries
“The ability to learn faster from customers is the essential competitive advantage that startups must possess.” – Eric Ries
Entrepreneurship is full of uncertainties. The Lean Startup can help you avoid many of the challenges entrepreneurs face.
Eric Ries builds on the ideas of lean manufacturing to promote a new way of business strategy.
Rather than carefully thought-out business plans and investing in uncertain ideas, he suggests you move quickly, using the Build-Measure-Learn principle.
- Build the minimum viable product
- Measure how customers react
- Learn if it’s worth reiterating or if you should scrap it
Ries teaches you to use scientific experimentation to develop your product and validate your idea. You’ll also learn how to measure feedback and scale the system so you can grow.
5. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (by Cal Newport)
“Two Core Abilities for Thriving in the New Economy 1. The ability to quickly master hard things. 2. The ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed.” – Cal Newport
With constant emails, pinging notifications, and now working from home (where your children and household tasks await), it’s no wonder we’re distracted. We’ve lost the ability to do the focused work that matters.
In Deep Work, Georgetown University computer science professor Cal Newport argues that sustained work without distraction is a skill most of us lack. But he also says it’s a skill you can develop.
The book’s first half explains how all professions can benefit from developing “focus without distraction.”
In the second half of the business book, Newport shows you how to build habits that support the skill of deep work.
By the time you finish Deep Work, you’ll know how to eliminate distractions and maintain the focus you need to build your business.
6. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don’t Work and What to do About It (by Michael E Gerber)
“If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business-you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic!” – Michael E Gerber
Roughly 20% of small businesses will fail within the first year. Approximately 50% fail before the end of their fifth year.
Why are so many businesses failing? What are entrepreneurs doing wrong?
Michael E Gerber believes that small business owners often focus on the wrong work.
Gerber argues there are four ideas you must understand and implement in your business to be successful. They are:
- the E-Myth
- the Turn-Key Revolution
- the Business Development Process
- and Systemization
You’ll have to work hard. But Gerber says if you implement his process, you’ll gain a level of control over your business that will transform your business and your life.
7. The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth About Extraordinary Results (by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan)
“It is not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it is that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have.” – Gary Keller
If there is one area where entrepreneurs excel, it’s wanting to do all the things. Entrepreneurs are never short of ideas, and there’s always more to do.
In The One Thing, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan show readers that focusing on one thing strengthens productivity.
Keller and Papasan teach you how to determine the most important tasks that deliver the most significant returns. They’ll also show you how to minimize the distractions you face so you stay on track.
You’ll finish the business book with the tools to create more peace and focus in your business and personal life.
8. How to Win Friends and Influence People (by Dale Carnegie)
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie
If you want to go far in business, you need to understand people and be able to work with and serve diverse personalities.
How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a time-tested classic that routinely makes the best of lists for personal development and business books.
Carnegie (highly praised by Warren Buffett, Dan Heath, and Elon Musk) teaches you how to relate and influence people. His methods work because they’re based on becoming genuinely interested in others and helping them solve their problems.
[Note: add transition] You’ll learn how to manage relationships, grow friendships, and develop your leadership skills.
9. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (by Robert B Cialdini)
“The idea of potential loss plays a large role in human decision making. In fact, people seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value.” – Robert B Cialdini
Using manipulation to get what you want is a business taboo. However, using honest, persuasive psychology can help you grow a successful business.
In Influence, behavioral scientist Robert B Cialdini walks you through the seven principles that cause people to say yes to your business:
- Commitment and Consistency
- Social Proof
You’ll learn how to use these principles to help you become a more convincing leader, write persuasive marketing messages, and build stronger relationships with customers.
10. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers (by Ben Horowitz)
“The hard thing isn’t dreaming big. The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.” – Ben Horowitz
There’s no shortage of people who will sell you on the perks of entrepreneurship — working on the beach, driving the Maserati, 6-figure launches, you get the idea.
But there aren’t many who talk about entrepreneurship’s challenging times (think Rich Dad Poor Dad).
What do you do when you need to fire a loyal friend?
How do you handle the unmatched talent who’s also a disruptive employee?
What if you have to make a decision and there are no good choices?
In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, entrepreneur and venture capitalist Ben Horowitz talks about those challenging times.
Horowitz draws on his years of experience as an entrepreneur, investor, and Harvard Business School research. He shares his insights on what to do when entrepreneurship gets hired. Use the lessons in the book to guide you through your own business challenges.
11. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (by Simon Sinek)
“Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them.” – Simon Sinek
In Start With Why, Simon Sinek teaches you how to influence others to take action versus manipulating them into doing what you want.
What do outstanding leaders have in common? Why are some leaders so influential? How do they command attention and loyalty from employees and customers?
After studying prominent leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Steve Jobs, Sinek discovered they all had one thing in common — “The Golden Circle” and “The Power of Why”.
The Golden Circle is a model and tool to improve your leadership skills, company culture, and customer relationships. When you implement The Golden Circle, which starts with your why, you’ll be a better leader to those around you.
12. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (by Greg McKeown)
“Essentialism: only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.” – Greg McKeown
In the information age, everything demands your attention.
There are sales pages to write, products to create, and limited time to do it all. And that’s just the business side of things. We haven’t touched on family, home, and community.
Essentialism by Greg McKeown will help you decide what is essential so you can focus your attention where it most matters. Instead of trying to do everything, McKeown teaches you how to say no to the things that don’t contribute to your ideal life and business.
Essentialism a great read for entrepreneurs who want to focus on what’s important, not what’s urgent.
Which Do You Consider the Best Business Books?
Business books are a great way to learn from others, and these 12 are some of the best. A mix of old classics and new wisdom, this business books list gives you the chance to be mentored by some of the most talented minds in business.
Choose one of these business books and order it today. Then schedule a time on your calendar to start reading. The knowledge you gain will help you tackle every entrepreneurial challenge with confidence, and run radically successful businesses.