The quest for the ideal entrepreneur book never ends because all entrepreneurs are wired differently and they ply their trade in different circumstances.
Your favorite might not be your partner’s favorite and the entrepreneur books you value today may not be the ones that you value tomorrow. Further, there’s never a shortage of good entrepreneur books because the human desire for building things that result in personal riches will never go out of style.
With all of this said, it seems to me that no one needs merely a list of today’s entrepreneurship bestsellers – you can discover those with a few clicks on Amazon – what is needed is a guide that connects entrepreneurs to the books that best suit their personality, needs, and current position in their business development. What I provide here is a carefully curated list of the best entrepreneur books.
Lifestyle entrepreneurs are generally “solopreneurs” who want to establish and grow a business that supports their lifestyle or allows them to be their own boss; they aren’t looking to build the next Facebook. If that’s you, here are two sure bets.
The 4-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferriss. This is an Internet-age classic that will inspire you and instruct you on the strategies to turn an Internet-based enterprise into a money maker. However, think that Tim Ferriss’ enthusiasm means that it’s easy to replicate his success.
The $100 Startup, by Chris Guillebeau. Let’s face it, not everyone has $50,000 to start their own business or the desire to go deeply in debt to see if their idea has merit. Chris Guillebeau shows, by example, that you can get started on the proverbial shoestring. I understand this book’s popularity; my post on 80 home-based business ideas, is one of the most-read pages on my website.
Let’s venture to the opposite end of the entrepreneurial spectrum: Folks who see themselves as the next Henry Ford, Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg. These individuals found a business and then grow it – and themselves – in prosperity, power, and influence.
Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight. Since Phil Knight started Nike with about $50, maybe an abridged version of his memoir would make a good chapter in Guillebeau’s book…but probably not. You’ll go on a personal journey with the man who created a sports clothing empire and it’s good to really meet the person behind a multi-billion dollar company.
Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way, by Richard Branson. While Knight generally stays out of the public limelight, Richard Branson is at the opposite end of the spectrum. A wild, but satisfying, ride.
Generally, the two previous categories will help inspire you and open your eyes to what is possible. Sometimes that’s the fuel that tops off the aspiring entrepreneur’s gas tank and gets things moving. However, once we’re going, we often need maps. These titles will help you understand some of the problems you’ll face and give you ideas for solutions.
80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More, by Perry Marshall. You may start your company with an idea, but immediately after that point, everything starts with a sale. If you need to get up to speed on sales and marketing, this book is a great place to start.
Work The System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less, by Sam Carpenter. Startups can get more entangled than a couple of blind octopuses. Carpenter’s way of viewing the world and organizations will bring order and efficiency to your company.
(As I’m writing this section, I realize that my next book, scheduled for release in January, would be the ideal entry. It’s titled, The One Percent Edge: Small Changes that Guarantee Relevance and Build Sustainable Success. It really provides a roadmap for doing business today. If you would like to stay in the loop and get updates and offers and the publication date approaches, head over here and share your email address.)
As highly as I recommend the previous books, I can’t guarantee that they will still be bestsellers in 20 years. However, I will make that guarantee for the following titles.
The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand. This novel captures the entrepreneurial spirit in a way that can only be done through great fiction. Mark Cuban says it should be required reading for every entrepreneur.
How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. When you distill what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur it comes down to one thing: Getting people on your side. You have to get your employees on your side, your customers on your side, your investors on your side, and often even your family on your side. This classic has been showing the way for generations and unless human nature decides to change, it will continue to show the way well beyond our days here.
As you see, this is a short list of the best entrepreneurial books. There are many other great books, but as an entrepreneur, are you going to have time to read them? Yet I think we would all appreciate your recommendations. Take a moment and list them in the comments below!