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Best Entrepreneur Books

Famed American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that if you meet a man of intelligence, you should "ask him what books he reads." This quote holds special relevance for entrepreneurs--some of the brightest and most talented minds in business have recorded their stories of success and tips within the pages of your local bookstore or library.

But with a seemingly never-ending number of titles on the shelves, which books are worth the read? We’ve recommended of the best entrepreneur books that we believe every entrepreneur should pick up, along with some tips on how to find your next source of editorial inspiration.

How we chose the best entrepreneurship books

There’s nothing better than sitting down to turn the pages of a great book–but wasting your time (and money) picking up a snooze-fest can be frustrating.  Once you’ve checked out our favorite page-turners, you should pick up the rest of your books based on the following:

  • Author expertise: In 2018, it’s too easy to self-publish a book. Wannabe entrepreneurs can get a book “deal,” flaunt it on social media, and act like they’re the next Jeff Bezos. So before you pick up your next book, look up the author’s credentials. Do they have an MBA? Have they seen success? If not, the book may not be worth it.
  • Your skill level: If your dream business is just barely a thought, you won’t need to start off with advanced business analytics book, but a book on how to develop your ideas and create a business plan. Understand where you’re at and the skill level of the book’s intended audience.
  • Practical knowledge: Some authors have big egos and can’t stop talking about their achievements. Others may ramble on about abstract ideas for 400 pages. You don’t need that. You need actionable, practical ideas. Flip through a few pages and see if the author ideas seem focused. If not, put the book to the side.

1. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich is more than just a great book–it’s become a cultural phenomenon. The book’s framework is based upon a simple concept: becoming financially independent is much easier when you move away from the majority mindset that places a high value on absolute income and instead focuses on relative income. In other words, it’s better to earn dollars and spend pesos or dong than it is to earn dollars and spend dollars.  

The book doesn’t just offer strategies to help readers ditch the self-defeating thoughts that are holding them back and re-adjust their perspectives on money–it also offers stories and case studies from Ferriss’ own life to help audiences better visualize their success. Written in a friendly and straightforward style, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich is ideal for those looking for financial advice beyond saving for retirement and who want to build a business they love.

Get it on Amazon

Kindle edition: $14.99
Also available in paperback and hardcover

2. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

We live in an incredibly distracted world; from the flashing screens of our social media sites to flurries of spam emails advertising the latest and greatest sale, buckling down and focusing on building a business can seem like an impossible task in modern society.

Enter Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport, which seeks to help entrepreneurs reclaim their sense of independence and ability to focus on the many demanding tasks it takes to start up and operate a successful business.

The concept of “deep work” is simple, yet quickly becoming a scarce commodity–it’s the idea that when we focus our full attention on a task, we produce much more efficient results than we would by multi-tasking or taking breaks to check on things that aren’t important (like a cluttered inbox or online shopping sites). A New York Times bestseller, Deep Work is the ideal piece of self-help literature for the digital native who’s been spreading themselves too thin.

Get it on Amazon

Kindle edition: $15.99
Also available in paperback and hardcover

3. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Have you ever wondered what differentiates the people who become professionals at something and those who flounder and fail? Why are some people able to become seemingly overnight successes, while others toil away for years only to achieve small or mediocre results? Outliers: The Story of Success sets out to answer a single question–What makes experts and high-achievers different from the common man or woman?

 Outliers‘s author Malcolm Gladwell argues that society focuses far too much on the individual who achieves success and ignores the cultural context and background that built them into the man or woman who succeeded.  

Like The 4-Hour Workweek, Outliers has made a significant cultural impact; the book is often credited with popularizing the research that led to the “10,000 hour rule,” or the idea that anyone can master any subject or task if they spend 10,000 hours engaged in practice. Outliers is perfect for the entrepreneur because it fills in the gaps where behavioral psychology falls short. It is not the “brightest” or the “most talented” who succeed–it is those who know how to recognize an opportunity and have the strength of mind to capitalize on it.

Get it on Amazon

Kindle edition: $11.99
Also available in paperback and hardcover

4. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People was written in 1936, yet many of its lessons are just as relevant to the budding entrepreneur today as they were when the text was released. A classic leadership manual that’s topped best-seller lists for over 70 years, Carnegie’s classic focuses on helping readers build confidence in their words, demonstrate genuine care and concern for their co-workers or connections, and negotiate more effectively.

The most successful entrepreneurs know that investors don’t just invest based on statistics–they invest based on human potential. How to Win Friends and Influence People is an invaluable tool to help entrepreneurs hone and sharpen their social skills to improve their chances of success when pitching to investors, partners, or managers.

Get it on Amazon

Kindle edition: $11.99
Also available in paperback and hardcover

5. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss
Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss

Another classic by The 4-Hour Workweek author Tim Ferriss, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers is the result of over 200 interviews that Ferriss has conducted on his hit podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. By spending over 5 years interviewing the top minds and talents in business, sports, the arts, and academia, Ferriss has distilled the habits and routines that the most successful people in the world have put into practice to achieve the top of their fields.

Tools of the Titans is great for the growing entrepreneur because it uses interesting characters that anyone can recognize as a vehicle to teach valuable lessons in fitness, mental health, and business. Ferriss has interviewed guests ranging from movie-star-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger to record producer and owner of Columbia records Rick Rubin, and has gained insights into work ethic and success from each guest. Entrepreneurs can use these lessons and apply them to their own lives.

Get it on Amazon

Kindle edition: $15.99
Also available in paperback and hardcover

6. The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage by Daymond John

The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage By Daymond John
The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage By Daymond John

Being broke isn’t glamorous, but unfortunately, it’s the reality for many entrepreneurs who are just getting their startup or career off the ground. The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage, authored by Shark Tank star and Fubu CEO Daymond John, argues that there are some crucial life and business lessons that can only be discovered through the periods of struggle that mark any meaningful success story. The book details the author’s rise from his first job handing out flyers in Queens, New York to becoming one of the most powerful and recognizable faces in business today, along with his sage business advice for entrepreneurs who are still building their own success stories.

Perhaps more important than the practical advice John offers, The Power of Broke reaffirms the idea that anyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, can rise from the ashes and achieve success.  Entrepreneurs from humble beginnings may especially benefit from The Power of Broke, which encourages men and women to retain their innovativeness and budgeting strategies even after they’ve established a reliable stream of income.

Get it on Amazon

Kindle edition: $13.99
Also available in paperback and hardcover

7. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Have you ever wondered why you wake up and do what you do? Have you ever had a sneaking suspicion that your lack of a routine is hurting your career? The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business helps teach us about how important healthy and productive habits are, and uses peer-reviewed science and research to back up its claims.

Without good habits and a solid routine, entrepreneurs may feel frustrated, disorganized, or like they’re making no progress towards their goals. The Power of Habit is perfect for entrepreneurs of all ages, backgrounds, and industries–whether they’re looking to start going to the gym daily or devote more time to business development, Duhigg’s solid data and compelling writing style will keep readers turning their pages and leave them hungry for success.

Get it on Amazon

Kindle edition: $15.99
Also available in paperback and hardcover

Final thoughts

Don’t underestimate the power of books–even in a digital age that’s moving towards more and more automation seemingly every day. Classics like the titles listed above contain timeless advice that entrepreneurs in all industries can use to keep their investing and marketing minds sharp. In addition to the common set of universal titles, seek out works by respected professionals in your industry of choice; whether it’s a book, a forum, or a podcast, the biggest success stories usually want to share their tips and ideas for newcomers.

Finally, making time to read can do more than just open your eyes to new career skills and strategies. Reading has also been shown to expand your vocabulary arsenal and improve your ability to communicate and persuade others–two skills that every entrepreneur can use.