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Best Books for Entrepreneurs

Best Books for Entrepreneurs
For startups, small businesses or innovative management

By Tommy L.

Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and many entrepreneurs love readings, no matter what industries they are in.

Reading is the best way of learning. To get real benefit from successful business owners and entrepreneurs, startup or small business owners or innovative management are suggested reading relevant books that are educational.


According to Peter Mehit, owner of Customer Business Planning and Solutions, every entrepreneur can benefit from the knowledge acquired through reading in 4 areas:

  1. A source of inspiration, develop skills and provide tips and business strategies;

  2. Help entrepreneurs to become successful by providing the right knowledge, new ways of thinking, new insights and develop necessary skills;

  3. Influence our way to do business through personal development and leadership skills;

  4. Get a lot of new ideas and tips allowing entrepreneurs to have multiple perspectives to join the dots and do things in a way that had never been done before.


In addition, according to a study performed by Affluent Market Institute, many billionaires spend their minds and time differently than the average person. Reading is one of the habits identified that is different.


In order to find which books are best for entrepreneurs, no matter you are running a multi-national business or a startup, I did a research from various sources to make a short list of Best Entrepreneur Books of All Time.

Four different sources on book rankings are:

  • Goodreads (One of the largest social cateloging websites on book recommendations)

  • Book Depository (An UK-based online book seller provides best selling rankings)

  • Lifehack (A site helps people overcome their obstacles and turn them into opportunities)

  • Forbes (An American business magazine which is well known for its lists and rankings)


The 10 Best Books about Entrepreneurship are:

  1. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

  2. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

  3. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber

  4. Zero to One by Peter Thiel

  5. The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

  6. The 4-hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

  7. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

  8. Rework by David Heinemeier Hansson

  9. Start with Why by Simon Sinek

  10. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki


You can find the details on how to find the books at the bottom.

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No. 1: The $100 Startup: Fire your boss, do what you love and work better to live more

To start your own business, you only need $100.

Do you believe it?

The book’s purpose is not telling people how to make “passive income” fast so that you can quit the rat race. Instead, the book talks about real business which be started with only $100 that help you to pay the mortgage, send your kids to school and afford that yearly holiday.

Through a study of more than 50 cases, Chris Guillebeau, who is an author, blogger and speaker, shared with us how to:

- Earn a good living on your own terms, when and where you want
- Achieve that perfect blend of passion and income to make work something you love
- Take crucial insights from 50 ordinary people who started a business with $100 or less
- Spend less time working and more time living your life


Michael Ellsberg, a contributor in Forbes, comments the book is a wonderful book as it tells you how to do a real business while you don't need an MBA or a huge investment to do it.


If you are looking for a book on how to change your 9-to-5 life into a passionate entrepreneur, it is the book you cannot miss.

No.2: The Lean Startup: How constant innovation creates radically successful businesses

After graduating from Yale University, Ries started his career in Silicon Valley in 2001 while he co-founded IMVU in 2004. Before he stepped down in 2008, he helped IMVU to raise venture fund by more than US$18 million.

Based on his experiences, he joined venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins as venture advisor and developed lean startup methodology. This methodology as said by him, is inspired by lean manufacturing.

Initially, Ries document the lean startup methodology on this blog with a post titled “The lean startup”. The book was finally published in 2011.


As stated by Ries, most new businesses fail. But most of those failures are preventable. His new approach written in the book to business that's being adopted around the world. It is changing the way companies are built and new products are launched. 

The Lean Startup is about learning what your customers really want. It's about testing your vision continuously, adapting and adjusting before it's too late. 

No.3: The E-Myth Revisited: Why most small businesses don’t work and what to do about it

E-Myth is the short form of Entrepreneurial Myth. What is E-Myth? The author claims that most businesses are started by people with technical skills but they know nothing about running business.

Therefore, most small businesses fail.

Michael Gerber is a true legend in entrepreneurship. Inc. Magazine called him “the World’s #1 Small Business Guru” helping transform more than 70,000 businesses, mainly small business owners, to world class operations. Written in 1995, The E-Myth Revisited is one of Gerber’s best-selling book while more than five million copies sold.


In this book, Gerber walks you through the steps in the life of a business-from entrepreneurial infancy through adolescent growing pains to the mature entrepreneurial perspective: the guiding light of all businesses that succeed-and shows how to apply the lessons of franchising to any business, whether or not it is a franchise.

Most importantly, Gerber draws the vital, often overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business.

The E-Myth Revisited has already helped a lot of entrepreneurs to grow their businesses in a productive, assured way. Take your copy now and read through how to transfer your business.

No.4: Zero to One: Notes on startups, or how to build the future

It is a book written by Peter Thiel, and who is Thiel?

Peter Thiel is an entrepreneur who co-founded PayPal, Palantir Technologies and Founders Fund. He’s ranked at 328 on the Forbes 400 in 2018 with a net worth of US$2.5 billion.

Business Book Reviewer says this book “is Thiel’s instruction manual for how to think like an entrepreneur”.


The key message from the book is:


The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won't make a search engine. If you are copying these guys, you aren't learning from them. It's easier to copy a model than to make something new: doing what we already know how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. Every new creation goes from 0 to 1. This book is about how to get there.

As an entrepreneur, Thiel is so success and his book is highly appreciated by other entrepreneurs
`Peter Thiel has built multiple breakthrough companies, and Zero to One shows how.'
ELON MUSK, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla

`This book delivers completely new and refreshing ideas on how to create value in the world.'


To create your own successful story, you can’t copy from other stories. What you can start is by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in uncharted water. You will build your own.

No.5: The Hard Thing about Hard Things: Building a business when there are no easy answers

Ben Horowitz is a technology entrepreneur and co-founding a software company Opsware, which acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2007. He later co-founded a venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz with Marc Andreessen. They grow the firm’s capital from US$300 million in 2009 to US$2.7 billion within three years and funded ventures like Airbnb, Skype, Facebook and Twitter.

Ben Horowitz is one of most respected and experienced entrepreneur for startup.  While most start-up stories read like a romance novel, Ben honestly tells you how difficult it is to run one from the other side.

Chosen by Financial Times as one of best business books, the author analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he's gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies.


So, what are the lessons shared to entrepreneur or startup founder?  Here are four lessons shared from his book:

  1. When things fall apart: Get real

  2. Good or bad: It’s contagious

  3. Growing pains: Right people at right time

  4. Mental strength


What is Mental Strength? As commented by Steven Rosenbaum, an entrepreneur and filemaker, “The power of the book is its honest, blow by blow telling of the battle to control his own psychology.”


Yes, everyday is a new battle to a startup entrepreneur while good control of his own psychology is crucial to be success.


Filled with his trademark humor and straight talk, The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures, drawing from Horowitz's personal and often humbling experiences.

No.6: The 4-hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, live anywhere and join the new rich

First of all, it is not a book telling you how to become rich faster and start your retirement earlier. What Ferriss wants to share is how the world is changed so that your work and lifestyle too.

Timothy Ferriss, an entrepreneur founded BrainQUICKEN in 2001 and sold the company to a private equity firm in 2010. Ferriss spent five years learning the secrets of the New Rich, which is a fast-growing subculture who has abandoned the “deferred-life plan” and instead mastered the new currencies-time and mobility-to create luxury lifestyles in the here and now.

The book is so influential because it introduces the new style of work in 2007. It inspires many people to think about how they design their work and lifestyle. In 2011, The New York Times reported how the world is changed according to Ferriss which is a proof on how his thoughts changing the world.


Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, or just living more and working less, this book is the blueprint.

No. 7: How to Win Friends and Influence People

More than 80 years since it was released, this book is still rated in the top of all chosen recommended book lists in all chosen media, no matter book rating sites, publication media or online bookshops. In 2011, the book was listed by Time Magazine as one of the most influential books.

In his book, Carnegie explains that success comes from the ability to communicate effectively with others. He provides relatable analogies and examples, and teaches you skills to make people want to be in your company, see things your way, and feel wonderful about it. The skills Carnegie teach you include:

  • Six ways to make people like you

  • Twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking

  • Nine ways to change people without arousing resentment

In an interview with reporter, Billionaire investor Warren Buffett says one of his very best investment in life is joining a course taught at Dale Carnegie, who is the author of this book.


The book’s advice has helped thousands of successful people in their business and person lives. You are probably the next billionaire, achieve your maximum potential by learning from Carnegie.

No.8: Rework

Hansson is a Danish founded an online gaming news website called Daily Rush in 1999. Fried is an American co-founding of 37Signals, a Chicago-based company that builds web-based productivity tools. In 2001, Hansson hired by Fried in 37Signals and they grow the company with various web application products.

From the founders of the trailblazing software company 37signals, here is a different kind of business book - one that explores a new reality. Today, anyone can be in business. Tools that used to be out of reach are now easily accessible. Technology that cost thousands is now just a few pounds or even free. Stuff that was impossible just a few years ago is now simple. 

That means anyone can start a business. And you can do it without working miserable 80-hour weeks or depleting your life savings. You can start it on the side while your day job provides all the cash flow you need. Forget about business plans, meetings, office space - you don't need them.

Gloria McDonough-Taub, a senior editor in CNBC, says the book is “not like most of the business books” and “fun, inspiring and very easy to read”.


Diane Danielson, a contributor in Entrepreneur, comments the book “toss[es] out the old business rules.” It is “definitely a good book for anyone with an internet-based business and for a more traditional company that needs to shake things up.”


With its straightforward language and easy-is-better approach, Rework is the perfect playbook for anyone who's ever dreamed of doing it on their own. Hardcore entrepreneurs, small-business owners, people stuck in day jobs who want to get out, and artists who don't want to starve anymore will all find valuable inspiration and guidance in these pages. 

No.9: Start with Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action

Simon Sinek is not only an author but also a great speaker. He’s invited to TED Talk based on Start with Why while more than 44 million views on his talk, the third most popular TED video of all time!

He starts with basic questions in the book. Why are some people and organizations more inventive, pioneering and successful than others? And why are they able to repeat their success again and again?

Because in business it doesn't matter what you do, it matters why you do it. Steve Jobs, the Wright brothers and Martin Luther King have one thing in common: they STARTED WITH WHY.


The leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way — and it’s the opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle.

This book is for anyone who wants to inspire others, or to be inspired. 

No.10: Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the rich teach their kids about money that the poor and middle class do not!

Since it’s published in 1997, Rich Dad Poor Dad has been sold over 32 million copies in more than 40 languages.  In terms of copies sold, it is the most popular personal finance book in decades.

Rich Dad Poor Dad is Robert's story of growing up with two dads his real father and the father of his best friend, his rich dad and the ways in which both men shaped his thoughts about money and investing.


The book explodes the myth that you need to earn a high income to be rich and explains the difference between working for money and having your money work for you.

As the book is so popular, the ideas in it shape many people’s mind in personal finance and investment. You can easily find this book in every book shop. However, it receives a lot of critics too.


One of popular American journalists, John Reed, says the book is one of the dumbest financial advice books he has ever read. He continues saying the book contains many factual errors and numerous extremely unlikely accounts of events that supposedly occurred.


A smart reader liked you, should read the book and think about why it’s so popular and challenge what’re wrong so that you don’t make the same mistakes in your investment or personal finance.


The books recommended above are very influential not only they are sold millions of copies but also their inspirations to business leaders, startup owners and entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneur has many hard things as described by Ben Horowitz. Reading great books about other entrepreneurs is helping us to be smarter from the start and do things right from the beginning.


To conclude, I would like to quote a message from The Entrepreneur Way that how reading books can help your business:


“Every entrepreneur, every business in every niche can benefit from the knowledge acquired through reading. Whether we are trailblazers of following in the footsteps of others there is so much we can learn from other entrepreneurs and we can always draw from the experiences of others. No business is so unique that there aren’t many things that can be learned from the experience of business owners in similar and different sectors.”

Methodology of choosing Best Books for Entrepreneurs

From the four chosen sources, I look for “Best Entrepreneurship books” or “Popular Entrepreneurship books” in their websites. They rank the books with their different criteria, such as readers rating, number of books sold, or professional journalists rating.

Next, I take a simple weighted average rankings for each book to find 10 best books about entrepreneurship of all time. 


For Example, the book “The E-Myth Revisited” rankings in each source are, 7 (Goodreads), 15 (Book Depository), 11 (Lifehack) and 2 (Forbes). The weighted average ranking is 8.75 and it is the score in my list.


If the score is the lowest, it is the highest ranked book in my Best Book About Entrepreneurship.


Following this rationale, I find the top 10 books which I just shared to you in above.


The search was done on 25 July 2019.


Note: Some of the links in this page contain affiliate links. I will earn a small commission for any purchases you make, though there is no extra cost to you. 

The products or services I recommend only I use them myself or after my investigation and truly believe they are useful to you. Don’t forget there are many other options out there – these are simply my preferred choices.

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