15 Best Business Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read

Launching a business can feel like an act of rebellion against more traditional professional paths, but that doesn’t mean entrepreneurs and small business owners have to do it alone. Business books are one way to learn from seasoned experts and get help guiding your business to success.

These 15 business books come highly recommended by financial experts and reviewers on popular book site Goodreads to reinvigorate long-time business owners and inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs:

— “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” by Peter Thiel

— “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek

— “Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg

— “An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination” by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang

— “Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive” by Dorie Clark

— “Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography” by Walter Isaacson

— “Starting a Business QuickStart Guide” by Ken Colwell

— “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business” by Gino Wickman

— “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” by Eric Ries

— “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

— “In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules” by Stacy Perman

— “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear

— “Rework” by Jason Fried

— “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss

— “The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business” by Josh Kaufman

“Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” by Peter Thiel

Thiel’s “Zero to One” is a book that will ignite your curiosity and inspire those entrepreneurs experiencing stagnation in business.

This book may be best suited for readers with a rebellious spirit, rather than those hoping to improve upon existing business models. One Goodreads reviewer wrote, “A fascinating book, great for investing and entrepreneurs. I like how he really focuses on contrarian thinking, and his mental models for it.”

“Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek

During a 2009 TED Talk that’s been viewed more than 56 million times, Sinek told the crowd, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”

“Start with Why” explores this idea further, outlining how entrepreneurs and business owners can discover their purpose and, in turn, inspire others.

“Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg

There’s no doubt owning a business requires any number of challenging decisions in a single day. Readers can harness insights from the latest research in the fields of neuroscience, psychology and behavioral economics in “Smarter Faster Better” to streamline those decision-making and goal-setting processes.

“For small businesses, productivity is the difference between success and failure. But not all productivity is equal,” Duhigg says. “Optimizing something that you should never have done in the first place is productivity death. And so every entrepreneur should remember that, throughout all of history, there has only been one killer productivity app: thinking more deeply about the choices you are making, and finding some way to force yourself to think when it’s hardest to do.”

“An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination” by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang

Named the 2021 Best in Business Book Award winner by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, “An Ugly Truth” explores how Facebook became one of the most successful companies out of Silicon Valley as well as why it has descended into a period of heightened criticism as it evolved into a “data-mining machine” in recent years.

For better or worse, Facebook — now Meta — is a company worth watching and understanding if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur.

“Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive” by Dorie Clark

After a year of economic uncertainty, the insights included in Clark’s “Entrepreneurial You” may resonate more than ever.

“The pandemic reinforced the fact that life is extraordinarily unpredictable and developing multiple revenue streams in your business is necessary to guard against unpredictable disruptions and protect your downside,” Clark says.

“Entrepreneurial You” outlines how to make money doing what you love, sharing advice on how to build your brand, monetize your expertise and extend your reach online.

[READ: Small Business Grants to Jumpstart Your Plans.]

“Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography” by Walter Isaacson

If you’re looking for inspiration, page through the biography of one of the most influential businesspeople of our time. Both instructive and entertaining, Jobs’ biography includes takeaways for business owners about innovation, character, leadership and values.

“Starting a Business QuickStart Guide” by Ken Colwell

For aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners, Colwell’s “Starting a Business QuickStart Guide” offers practical and actionable advice. Colwell walks readers through the basics of understanding the value of an idea to creating your first business plan.

Readers who purchase the book will also receive tools like a business plan checklist and business taxation cheat sheet.

“Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business” by Gino Wickman

Readers familiar with the common frustrations of business ownership — personnel conflict, profit woes and inadequate growth — may find help in Wickman’s “Traction.” The book reviews his system for strengthening six key components of a business. First published in 2012, the system outlined in this book, he says, still holds true.

“My advice to entrepreneurs remains consistent — get what you want from your business,” Wickman says. “Far too many business owners and leaders don’t; crises caused by a global pandemic or the collapse of financial markets certainly intensify that problem.”

[Read: Best Small Business Apps]

“The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” by Eric Ries

Recommended by business school instructors and CEOs like Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric and Dustin Moskovitz of Asana, “The Lean Startup” offers a strategy for creating and managing a successful startup. Agility is key to the message of this book for entrepreneurs and business owners.

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

First published in 1936, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” provides time-tested advice and insights that can be applied to the world of business — and your personal life. Topics covered include communication styles, social skills and the power of kindness.

“Easy to understand advice for building and improving positive and successful relationships with people in all areas of your life,” one Goodreads reviewer said. Others called the book a “life changer,” though it can seem at first a bit cliché.

“In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules” by Stacy Perman

If you’ve got dreams of turning your small business into a big business, this story will both inspire you and arm you with a few insider tips.

“In-N-Out Burger” follows the history of this beloved food chain, starting in its early days following World War II and maps the business’s journey to becoming a cultural institution. Learn more about how its owners were able to harness a unique comparative edge and achieve profitability all while building a loyal customer base.

[See: 9 Best Personal Finance Books.]

“Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear

Success in business requires big-picture thinking as well as attention to detail. Making small adjustments to your habits requires a systematic approach, Clear says in “Atomic Habits.” This book will teach readers how to make time for new habits, overcome a lack of motivation and willpower, design your environment to make success easier, and more.

“Rework” by Jason Fried

A book that’s marketed for “hardcore entrepreneurs, small-business owners, people stuck in day jobs they hate, victims of ‘downsizing,’ and artists who don’t want to starve anymore,” “Rework” won’t walk readers through creating a business plan and getting investors. Instead, it covers issues of productivity and gaining exposure from a minimalist perspective.

Aiming to shake up how readers approach business, this book may get you rethinking aspects of your business strategy and customer service that had been long entrenched.

“The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss

When it comes to business, time management is everything. While being your own boss comes with many perks, learning to delegate, structure your day and make the best use of your time can be a huge challenge for those new to the world of entrepreneurship. Enter “The 4-Hour Workweek.”

In this book, Ferriss describes a life of racing motorcycles and skiing in the Andes — all while keeping afloat financially. He promises to help readers eliminate 50% of their work in 48 hours, outsource aspects of your life and train your boss to value performance above physical presence at work.

“The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business” by Josh Kaufman

An MBA can be costly and time-consuming. While it’s no real substitute for a proper program, “The Personal MBA” can certainly help entrepreneurs understand the jargon they might encounter and take advantage of the tools MBAs have in their belts.

One Goodreads reviewer wrote, “It’s a nice high level overview of a lot of the topics that an MBA will touch on, and quite a few that an MBA won’t touch on at all. It is likely to be very helpful to all sorts of people. Anyone, even someone with an MBA, would be able to get something from this.”

More from U.S. News

7 Reasons to Work for a Small Business

5 Tips for Starting a Small Business in College

6 Communities Small Business Owners Should Join

15 Best Business Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 07/12/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

Related Categories:

Latest News

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up