12 Books All Entrepreneurs Have to Read

12 Books All Entrepreneurs Have to Read


From stress relief to knowledge absorption, the benefits of reading are plentiful; and reading a few pages every night is something we all aspire to do.

And yet, finding the time to sit down with a cup of tea and a good hardback can feel like a chore in and of itself. But that’s because you’re reading the wrong books.

As an entrepreneur, the key to reading regularly lies in selecting a book that replenishes your resolve to grow both as a person and as a business owner.

To help you find a book that does exactly that, I’ve gathered a list of twelve page-turners that every entrepreneur should read.

1. The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday

Battling obstacles is part and parcel of starting any business. But Ryan Holiday has looked to history to crack the code of triumph against the odds.

He looks to the mantra of the famous Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, who said, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

Holiday then applies this formula to victorious journeys from the more recent past, including; John D. Rockefeller, Amelia Earhart, Ulysses S. Grant, and Steve Jobs.

‘The Obstacle is the Way’ is a codex of pure optimism, and is thus worthy reading material for entrepreneurs of all levels.

Pages: 244

2. The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

This title was one of three personally recommended by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. You won’t get an endorsement much better than that.

In this bestseller, Drucker identifies five practices that are essential to business effectiveness.

Those five practises consist of; managing time, choosing what to contribute to the organization, knowing where and how to mobilize strength, setting the right priorities, and knitting all of them together with effective decision-making.

Pages: 208

3. Zero to One by Peter Thiel

Business advice sources can in many different forms, but self-made Millionaire Peter Thiel is up there with the most elite sources.

Zero to One focuses the reader's energies on the future, arguing that tomorrow’s success stories will be told about companies who did something totally new and totally unique — instead of simply competing in existing markets.

The notion that the next big name in business will need to create a whole new market is a fascinating one, and Peter Thiel explores it in depth with this publication.

Pages: 195

4. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen

Here’s one of the other books that Jeff Bezos made his Amazon executives read.

Christensen walks the reader through “disruptive technology”, which is essentially the dilemma of emerging technology that allows smaller companies to make cheaper products.

For established brands, this is a problem that is only growing larger by the day. Through ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’, Christensen demonstrates methods on how to defend against such disruption.

Pages: 286

5. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

I know what you’re thinking; this old chestnut?

But Rich Dad Poor Dad is a seriously valuable resource for understanding the principles behind managing money.  

With continued references to his childhood friend’s father and his own father, Robert Kiyosaki also touches on the psychology behind money management. Plus, thanks to the story-like nature that much of the book conforms to, it’s a fairly light read.

Pages: 195

6. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Daniel Carnegie

When it comes to ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’, the numbers do all the talking. Since its release in 1936, this timeless bestseller has sold more than 15 million copies.

The book is built around teaching the reader about the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment.

‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’ is a gem that should be in the library of every serious entrepreneur.

Pages: 288

7. Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Gen. Stan McChrystal

Feel like reading a business-related book from a unique perspective?

General Stan McChrystal fought against an enemy that was constantly changing, and with this publication, he reveals his formula for tackling the ever-changing modern world. 

Leaning on his experience as the commander of a Joint Special Operations Task Force in Iraq, McChrystal explains how to build faster, flatter and more flexible organizations.

Pages: 253

8. Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

I could tell you about how great this book is, but I think I’ll let Microsoft Founder Bill Gates do the talking for me:

“Especially for people in business or education, it’s a worthwhile book. It talks about the institutional structures that facilitate good ideas — how you get lots of people thinking about cutting edge problems, how you put people together in a space where different skill sets and influences can come together, how you make the right kinds of materials available but don’t force a conclusion.”

The author of ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’, Steven Johnson, presented the some of the key points from this publication at a TED talk in 2010, which is well worth watching.

Pages: 336

9. The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy

If sales is your game, Brian Tracy is a worthy mentor.

To put it plainly, this international bestseller is all about optimizing your sales techniques. Tracey himself is the CEO of Brian Tracy International, a company specializing in the training and development of individuals and organizations.

Tracey touches on topics like how to eliminate the fear of rejection and how to build unshakable self-confidence.

Pages: 220

10. Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson

Now here’s something a little different.

Spencer Johnson has authored an enlightening and amusing story that illustrates the of being able to deal with unexpected change, particularly in the workplace.

The story follows four characters who live in a maze and look for cheese. The cheese being the metaphor for whatever it is you want in life. It’s a short and quirky read, but a worthwhile one.

Pages: 96

11. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu Goldratt

Here’s the last of the three books that Jeff Bezos made his Amazon executives read.

But this book is in stark contrast to the first two on Bezos’ list. Instead of being a study of modern business trends, it’s a novel about a manager tasked with turning around a failing manufacturing plant.

It’s a warming read which brings personality to the topic of business, which is too often forgotten.

Pages: 384

12. The Startup of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman

Now, let’s get personal.

LinkedIn Cofounder Reid Hoffman lays out the blueprints of Silicon Valley start-ups, and then demonstrates ways to apply these entrepreneurial strategies to your career.

Hoffman explores ways to adapt your career plans, expand your professional network, and take proactive risks.

Pages: 274

Just Start Reading

Any one of the books above would make a valuable addition to your library. And if you don’t have a library, I suggest building one using these titles as the foundation.

The beauty of reading great books is that it only takes one page, one paragraph, and sometimes even just that one sentence to get your entrepreneurial juices flowing.

So whatever you do, just start reading.

About the Author

Kaya Ismail is a wordsmith and founder of Employ the Internet. He is a seasoned content marketer with a love for video games and coffee.


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