By Brett Farmiloe
What are the best business books to read if you’re starting a business? From
The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss to Shoe Dog, a memoir by Nike founder Phil Knight, 12 entrepreneurs and business experts share their favorite reads.
1. Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by B.J. Fogg, PhD
“Your plans for starting a business will demand a paradigm shift in your habits. After all, they don’t call being in business a full-time job for nothing. And this book is just what you’ll need to make those small yet highly effective changes in your habits that will help you embrace your new role as an entrepreneur.
“Clearly outlining how successful habits lead to a successful business and life, the author’s insights are based as much on tangible research as they are on practical implications. This comprehensive approach creates a set of groundbreaking observations, lessons, and recommendations that are innovative and expansive.”
—Azmaira Maker, PhD, Aspiring Families
2. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
“The 4-Hour Workweek is an excellent book to read if you are looking to start a business. It provides readers with practical advice and guidance on how to manage time effectively, focus on the task at hand, and create efficient work environments that enable you to achieve your goals.
“One of the most important aspects of this book is Ferriss’ emphasis on proper rest and sleep, which can help you improve your productivity levels while avoiding burnout and other detrimental side effects that often plague entrepreneurs who are striving for success. Furthermore,
The 4-Hour Work Week offers tips and strategies for creating effective marketing campaigns that promote your product or service without spending too much money or going over budget.”
—Johannes Larsson, JohannesLarsson.com
3. Make Time: How to Focus On What Matters Every Day by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky
“When starting a business, we feel that we always have to be busy. That’s what social media and podcasts and YouTube videos tell us, anyway. If we’re not hustling 24/7, we’re not doing it right. Correct? Wrong. I did this, and it didn’t work. It burned me out, and my relationship struggled. I came across this book, and it really resonated with me.
“Essentially, this book teaches you to get off social media and stop booking pointless meetings. Instead, focus on what matters to you and your business. Turn everything off, and look after yourself and your family—because that’s what matters.”
—Ravi Davda, Rockstar Marketing
4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is an entrepreneurial classic and a fantastic book to read for someone wanting to start a new business. The book guides readers through the steps for developing sound personal and professional habits to become more effective in their business ventures. Each of the seven habits Covey teaches is necessary for success, and each will help any new business owner navigate potential obstacles that may arise as they start their journey.”
—John White, We Run
5. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
“The Lean Startup provides fresh ideas and a no-nonsense framework for startups to follow in order to achieve success. The book argues that the traditional model of starting a business, investing a large amount of money upfront and hoping to achieve a large return later, is no longer effective.
“Instead, startups should focus on creating a minimum viable product, or MVP, a stripped-down version of the product that can be tested on whether there is customer demand. If there is demand, then the startup can slowly expand its operations. However, if there is no buyer interest, then the startup should pivot to a new idea. Whilst they may seem logical, for an entrepreneur who has a huge belief in their business or product, it’s easy to have tunnel vision and only realize later they have invested in a lemon.
6. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
“In his autobiography,
Shoe Dog, Nike cofounder Phil Knight discusses how he arrived at his decision to live the unconventional life of an entrepreneur, and while doing so, he lets his witty, likable, and unvarnished personality come through. By the end of the book, readers will feel like they know Knight better than ever before, and they’ll be equipped with his hard-won advice on entrepreneurship because of his inspiring story.”
Kyle Bassett, Altitude Control
7. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
“I think this book would be helpful for anyone considering launching their own company.
Think and Grow Rich has been around since the 1930s, and like How to Win Friends and Influence People, its lessons have stood the test of time. The book is packed with practical information that you can put into practice immediately to achieve your goals in life. Using examples from his own life, Napoleon Hill shows the efficacy of a positive mental attitude and explains strategies for overcoming insecurities and lethargy.
8. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
“The $100 Startup features entrepreneurs who began businesses with less than $100 and are now earning over $50,000. It will help you identify your particular interests and passions that you can monetize and make a living out of it.
“The book stresses you don’t have to be another one of those people who has always dreamed of starting their own business but never got around to it. You can actually be someone who does it—someone who takes advantage of the opportunities that are right in front of them. It gives budding entrepreneurs a whole extra layer of confidence that they need to start their own venture.”
—Kartik Ahuja, GrowthScribe
9. How I Built This by Guy Raz
“Guy Raz shares valuable advice from the business world on what it takes to be an exceptional leader as your business grows. He uses descriptive examples of how people found purpose and inspiration to share their passion through their businesses.
“In this incredible business book, Raz uses intriguing examples to show how entrepreneurship, guided by a positive mindset, can help you build a successful business. With a mix of candor, anecdotes, and interesting commentary, he explains how to make huge profits based on the experiences of large and lesser-known companies alike, along with stories that will inspire you throughout your entrepreneurial journey.”
—Dakota McDaniels, Pluto
10. How to Begin: Start Doing Something that Matters by Michael Bungay Stanier
“One of the hardest parts about starting a business is actually starting, and this book is a must-read for any entrepreneur. With humor and practical advice, the author teaches you how to find and strengthen your goal, how to become clear on the commitment needed to succeed, how to find necessary resources, and ultimately how to build momentum for your business in order for it to have an impact. If you have an idea for a business but need that push to get started, read this book.”
—Harry DiFrancesco, Carda Health
11. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
“One shouldn’t get into business just because they have this one great skill or idea. For example, someone being a superb cook may not make them a great fit for a restaurant business. To hammer this point home, among other ideas, The
E-Myth Revisited can be the perfect book.
“There is a lot of foundational work that goes into a business even before the basic structure is out into place. You need to know the ins and outs of your entire industry, research your competitors, and then decide how you will stand out from the crowd. By the time all of this gets done, some people realize that maybe they are not cut out for entrepreneurship. Although this may sound demotivating, you can thank the book for not wasting your time and money any further. By the time you are finished reading the book, you will have a clear structure and direction in mind. The hand-holding nature of this book makes it a great read.”
Andreas Grant, Founder, Networks Hardware
“For startup entrepreneurs, negotiation skills can be critical in navigating a challenging business landscape. In this book, former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss outlines powerful strategies, techniques, and tactics to help budding entrepreneurs face complex negotiations with confidence. Drawing on his experiences as a high-level negotiator and successful entrepreneur, Voss teaches readers how to better understand the psychology of negotiations, how to increase their chances of success, and ultimately, how to come out on top.”
—Jeremy Reis, Explore Startups
About the Author
Post by: Brett Farmiloe
Brett Farmiloe is the founder and CEO of Terkel, a Q&A site that converts insights from small business owners into high-quality articles for brands.