Succeeding in business requires resilience, adaptability, and drive. Business school might give you all of the logistical information you’ll need to run a business, but the most valuable advice is likely to come from those who have real-world experience.
Listed below are thirteen bestselling, highly acclaimed books about business and entrepreneurship. The best business books offer invaluable business advice that’s been tried and tested by some of the most notable, experienced entrepreneurs of our time.
The Best Business Books
Originally published in 1936, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is marketed as ‘The Only Book You Need to Lead You to Success.’ Carnegie gives advice not only on how to succeed in business but also life in general.
If you find yourself struggling in social settings or not handling daily situations in the best or most effective way, Carnegie could have some useful tips for you. His guidance is tried and tested, with loyal readers and fans worldwide. Carnegie teaches his readers how to get what they want while being sensitive to the feelings and beliefs of others.
This book shows you how to become a more likable, sociable, and successful version of yourself. Whether you want to embark on a new career, secure your dream job, become a business leader, or just make subtle but substantial changes to your life, this bestseller is an insightful read. It’s one of the most popular leadership books ever written.
Gary Keller is chairman of the board and co-founder of the largest real estate company in the world, Keller Williams Realty, Inc. This book is co-author Jay Papasan. The authors have compiled their best advice on achieving all-around success in every area of your life in The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
This bestselling book tells you how to effectively prioritize your time and energy. You’ll dial down your stress levels and master the things that matter most. Keller is focused on improving productivity by eliminating distractions and unnecessary stressors.
The advice is simple and straight to the point. It’s not necessarily groundbreaking stuff, but Keller’s methods make it easy to get results. It helps you transform your life through small, actionable steps. And best of all, it can be implemented immediately.
For anyone not familiar with the E-Myth, Michael Gerber claims that the definition is two-fold:
- The myth that most people who start small businesses are entrepreneurs
- The fatal assumption that an individual who understands the technical work of a business can successfully run said business
Gerber argues that these are the two common misconceptions that cause most small businesses to fail. In The E-Myth Revisited, he walks readers through a step-by-step guide on how to avoid these mistakes. He shows how to apply franchising principles to any business. This approach takes you and your business from entrepreneurial infancy to assured success.
Gerber has extensive experience in business and has plenty of guidance to share. He was named ‘World’s #1 Small Business Guru’ by INC Magazine. Gerber has dedicated his career to creating successful start-ups and teaching business owners how to transform their enterprises.
Paul Jarvis began his business career as an internet consultant and corporate tech designer. He’s built an impressive resume of companies and entrepreneurs to grow their online brands.
Company of One tells readers why staying small is the next big thing for business. Jarvis argues that the key to sustainability and success lies not in creating and growing a new start-up but in working independently as a Company of One.
For anyone looking for advice on how to successfully grow a business in terms of size and scale, this book is probably not for you. But if you like the idea of working for yourself, by yourself, and making good profits without the headache of managing employees or the stress of working on a freelance basis, Jarvis’ methods might be a good fit.
5. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz takes a straight-talking, no-holds-barred approach to business. He covers all of the common difficulties and issues you’re likely to encounter as a business owner and how to tackle them head-on.
Horowitz is a highly reputable, successful entrepreneur and top business author. He shares his wisdom in this refreshingly honest book. His writing style is relatable and often humorous. You’ll learn how to deal with sensitive topics such as hiring and firing friends or family members and knowing when to cash in and when to draw back.
If you want a realistic yet inspiring view of business, this is one of the top business books and a great choice.
Robert Cialdini’s New York Times Bestseller has sold more than four million copies worldwide. It’s a highly influential book on business and entrepreneurship. Cialdini explains the psychology behind persuasion and how you can get people to say “yes” using ethical means in business and everyday life.
His theory is based on six primary ideas or principles:
- Commitment and consistency
- Social proof
By using these principles in the way Cialdini advises, he claims that they will allow you to change the behaviors of others. It’s certainly an excellent book for small business owners.
This might seem a little unorthodox, but when used in a business context, Cialdini’s advice has proven extremely effective. His methods are based on proven scientific research but should, of course, be utilized responsibly.
The Lean Startup is an approach any startup can use to increase capital efficiency and leverage more effective human creativity. Eric Ries details what he claims to be an effective method for taking start-ups out of their ‘fog of uncertainty’ to become successful, sustainable businesses.
The focus of The Lean Startup is on innovation and consistent adaptation to allow continuous growth and development. Ries’ approach to start a business has proven successful for readers across the globe. This book has also been cited as the source of his own success.
With extensive experience in creating successful start-ups (after some initial mishaps and failures), Ries knows what he’s talking about when it comes to business.
Outliers is a unique and insightful book that’s definitely a great read. It takes readers on a journey that spans multiple decades and various artistic and entrepreneurial disciplines.
Malcolm Gladwell argues that rather than focusing on the unique characteristics or personality traits that may facilitate a person’s success, we should focus on where they come from, their upbringing, and the experiences that lead them to where they end up.
He draws upon numerous pop-culture references from The Beatles to famous athletes. Gladwell talks us through what makes them unique and how this has contributed to their success. Subliminally, Gladwell’s writing leads readers to look at their own stories and how they can forge their own path to success, without emulating the characteristics or methods of others.
Outliers is entertaining and has received excellent reviews. If you’re looking for a unique take on business and what it takes to be successful, this one could be well worth a read.
Timothy Ferriss is a well-known and highly respected name within the world of business, and particularly business-related literature. He’s written four bestselling books and has extensive experience as a tech investor and business advisor.
Ferriss also hosts his own podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. On the show, he interviews successful performers, athletes, and professionals from various backgrounds and industries. In Tools of Titans, Ferriss has compiled all of the best advice, tips, or tools that these guests have cited as reasons for or contributors to their own success.
The book is referred to as Ferriss’ ‘ultimate notebook of high-leverage tools.’ It provides some great, unusual, yet actionable advice as well as insight into the unique lives of various high-profile successful individuals.
Star of ABCs Shark Tank, Daymond John is one of the most renowned and respected entrepreneurs in the United States. He is also the founder of the global lifestyle brand, FUBU. John has achieved immense success as a business owner and branding consultant.
The Power of Broke draws upon John’s experiences with starting up new businesses on extremely tight budgets. He shows how he believes this to be the driving force behind his business success. He’s a firm believer that desperation breeds innovation, and being broke can actually provide entrepreneurs with the drive needed to succeed.
John also drafts in the experiences and expertise of some high-profile friends. This includes guests encountered through Shark-Tank, musicians, and other business owners. They’ve started out with very little and are now enjoying the fruits of their labor with highly profitable, successful businesses.
This book was an instant bestseller, and it’s easy to see why. It’s fuelled by John’s charismatic and humble approach to business and his realistic yet inspiring outlook on life.
Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters urges readers to reconsider what they think they know about innovation. It might be easy to believe that there are no truly original ideas left, that everything has been done, and that the big breakthroughs have been made. Thiel and Masters argue that to progress in any industry or area of business, you must dispel these common misconceptions.
Doing something new, according to Thiel and Masters, takes you from Zero to One. Repeating someone else’s steps takes the world from One to Nil.
This is an optimistic read that just might give you the push needed to unlock your own creative potential. An international bestseller, Zero to One has received widespread critical acclaim. Some of the most notable entrepreneurs of our time have endorsed the book, so it’s well worth a read.
Darren Hardy is an influential businessman and thought leader. He’s responsible for the success of numerous large-scale businesses through his mentorship and guidance.
This great business book is a straightforward guide to achieving incredible things in the business world, relationships, and all areas of your life. The book is premised on the fine-tuning of seemingly small, everyday decisions and habits that can either derail or solidify your route to success.
Hardy covers topics such as motivation, keeping momentum, and uncovering the secrets of super achievers. You’ll learn how these methods could also be the key to your own success. Hardy is straight-talking and gives a no-frills look at what it means to maximize your potential.
The second listing from Timothy Ferriss, The 4-Hour Work Week, is another bestseller. It has garnered significant attention as one of the best business books for entrepreneurs since its release. Its popularity is due largely to the bold claim that readers can achieve substantial wealth and success by working only four hours per week.
In this book for entrepreneurs, Ferriss talks his readers through what he refers to as the blueprint for working less and earning more. He offers step-by-step guidance on how to transform your entire life by outsourcing your work, negotiating with clients or employers, and trading long working hours for short, productive bursts. He claims this will enable you to live more, work less, and earn a monthly five-figure income with no management.
It might seem too good to be true, but with testimonials from thousands of readers across the globe, Ferriss’ approach has some grounds to it. Even if you’re not looking to quit your job right away and reinvent your entire life, some of the tips and tricks laid out by Ferriss may enable you to make small changes. This could ease your workload and leave you with some additional income.
Final Thoughts on Books for Entrepreneurs and Successful Business Owners
Whether you’re looking to invest in a new start-up, or are seeking out methods for taking your business to new levels of growth, the best business books of all time are bound to give some insightful advice and guidance that could prove invaluable to your overall success and happiness.