No matter how experienced you are as an entrepreneur—whether you’re just opening your doors or have already started a few successful businesses—you can always benefit from advice from someone who has followed a similar journey. That’s where reading some of the best books for entrepreneurs comes into the mix.
Maybe you need a little inspiration to rev up your engines, or you could use some advice on how to be a better manager and bring your business to new heights. Whatever entrepreneurial advice you need, sitting down and reading one of these best books for entrepreneurs can be one of the best ways to get it.
What are the best books for entrepreneurs? Well, there are lots of must-reads if you’re a small business owner. We’ve put them all together in one list to tackle all your questions about how to start a business and lead one effectively.
35 Best Entrepreneur Books
Check out our list of the 35 best books for entrepreneurs to read.
1. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
“How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a must-read for anyone who considers themselves an entrepreneur. This is another all-time great on the best business books list, but it’s for anyone who wants to build their people skills and cultivate relationships that will help them succeed.
Carnegie breaks down the essential steps you need to take to make friends and connect with everyone you meet. Whether it’s your competition or potential investors, this book will teach you how to win over the people who don’t believe in you or your idea.
2. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey
What makes one business owner more successful than their competitor?
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” will teach you how to be a better entrepreneur than everyone else and run a better business than anything that’s out there. Hint: It takes powerful focus and initiative—and this book will teach you how to harness that.
This is a book that every business owner should keep easily accessible. It’s not a book you can read once, pick up a few tips, and be on your way. Instead, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is a book to continually revisit as you grow as an entrepreneur and build your business.
3. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill
“Think and Grow Rich” is a classic business book that has helped millions of business leaders create and execute on a plan for success.
This is one of the best books for entrepreneurs looking for some advice on personal and professional development. It teaches business owners how to look inward and change their mindset. One of the biggest takeaways from the book is learning how to set a goal and hit it.
“Think and Grow Rich” has been on the shelves of the most successful entrepreneurs, and it should be considered a must-read for any business owner.
4. “True North” by Bill George and Peter Sims
Some small business owners have a distinct leadership style without even thinking about it. Some, on the other hand, need a little help finding their way as a leader.
“True North” is one of the best books for entrepreneurs who need help becoming leaders. The book will help you develop into an authentic leader, define your values and leadership principles, and better understand how you want to run your business.
5. “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries
If you want to build a better business, go grab a copy of “The Lean Startup.” Ries will teach you how to build a company that’s more efficient and better at leveraging its employees’ creativity—so you’ll always be ahead of your competition.
Businesses both big and small are built and operate under uncertainty. “The Lean Startup” will help you navigate that fog and build a lasting, sustainable business no matter what’s thrown your way. Business owners need to adapt and adjust, and”The Lean Startup” will help you with just that.
6. “The Effective Executive” by Peter Drucker
“The Effective Executive” is one of three books that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos made his senior managers sit down and read during an all-day book club. So needless to say, the book has some valuable advice for business owners.
“The Effective Executive” is one of the best entrepreneur books because it teaches business owners the importance of getting the things that matter done. The book reinforces how important it is to avoid being unproductive and invest in the right things.
Read this book to learn the time management tips and decision-making habits of the best executives out there.
7. “Getting Things Done” by David Allen
As a busy small business owner, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the details and become overwhelmed running your company.
“Getting Things Done” will teach you how to avoid this stress and maintain perspective on your business. Your ability to relax and keep a clear mind when you make decisions for your business is crucial for your productivity and success. So take a deep breath, and read this business book to learn how to clear your mind and make better decisions for your business.
8. “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell
The most successful entrepreneurs can make those tough decisions that no one wants to make when the business depends on it.
But how do you know when you’re making the right decision? And what makes a good decision-maker? “Blink” walks through these questions, looking at how business owners approach decision-making.
This is one of the best books for entrepreneurs who are just starting out and need to learn how to make those first, pivotal decisions that determine the success of their business.
9. “Crushing It!” by Gary Vaynerchuk
In this follow up to his best-seller “Crush It!,” Vaynerchuk breaks down how intertwined your personal brand is with your entrepreneurial success, especially in today’s social media-driven world.
Using this book, entrepreneurs can study practical and tactical advice to using every major (and some minor) social media platform to advance their brand. Stories of how other business owners utilized Vaynerchuk’s advice to their advantage form the basis of the book and provide a framework for you to do the same.
10. “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek
This book comes from motivational speaker and author Simon Sinek. You may be familiar with his Ted Talk that touches on the concept of leaders being the ones to inspire action in their colleagues. Learn how to be a great leader, inspire your employees to work harder, and generate loyalty among customers, all by starting with one word: why.
11. “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr
Do you know what your company’s OKRs are? In fact, do you even know what OKRs are at all? If not, you should read this best-selling book about “objectives and key results,” a concept Doerr brought to Google and countless other companies after learning about this measurement paradigm at Intel in the 1970s.
OKRs help companies define and focus on their goals, as well as identify the actions they need to take to achieve those goals. Through case studies, you’ll see how the use of OKRs boosts not just productivity, but employee satisfaction and retention. Industry giants like Bill Gates give “Measure What Matters” their seal of approval, cementing it as one of the best business books of the decade.
12. “Dying for a Paycheck” by Jeffrey Pfeffer
In your time as an entrepreneur, you may have noticed what Pfeffer posits: That modern work life is often a mental and physical drain on people. If you want to be part of the solution as a business owner, this book is for you.
Pfeffer’s book will inspire you to change what isn’t working about work. It may also help you create the kind of healthy, sustainable, forward-thinking company culture that will not only attract talented people but keep them happy, productive, and stress-free.
13. “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz
Horowitz wants to let aspiring entrepreneurs know that building a business is much harder than just executing on an idea.
In “The Hard Thing About Hard Things,” Horowitz explains that even the most prestigious business schools can’t teach you how to deal with the toughest problems that come with building and running a startup. Horowitz analyzes the problems that business owners confront on a day-to-day basis and shares insight on how to deal with them.
Read this business book to get the no-nonsense advice you need to get over a problem that’s holding your business back.
14. “The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong” by Laurence Peter and Raymond Hull
You might reach a point in your business when you feel like everything is wrong or you’ve reached a hurdle you just can’t get over.
“The Peter Principle” answers the question you’ve probably asked before: “Why do things go wrong?” This book will help you address your point of weakness and develop a plan to move forward.
Most importantly, “The Peter Principle” will teach you how to recognize when you’ve reached the “point of incompetence” and you need to hire new people to grow your business. The book will reinforce the idea that great people make great businesses—and the ability to find and hire good people can make or break your business.
15. “The Founder’s Dilemmas” by Noam Wasserman
You might spend a lot of time familiarizing yourself with what makes a business great, but do you know what can totally sink a business? If you’re a new entrepreneur, you might not know what to watch out for.
“The Founder’s Dilemma” is all about identifying small business mistakes before you make them. Consider this one of the best books for entrepreneurs who want to learn how not to fail. Wasserman studied the good, bad, and ugly of running a small business to give you the tools you need to avoid bad decisions. So if you need help running your business smoothly, use “The Founder’s Dilemma” to steer clear of hazards.
16. “The Obstacle Is the Way” by Ryan Holiday
“The Obstacle Is the Way” doesn’t totally focus on running a business, but it can teach you how to overcome the challenges of running a business and move toward progress. It’ll require you to think like a philosopher, but the book gives great insight on the core principles of being a great business owner.
The book shows how the principles of ancient Greek Stoicism can help you be an effective leader. Use this book to learn how to identify the things you can control, let go of the things you can’t, and turn every business challenge into an opportunity to reach new heights.
17. “The Simplicity Cycle” by Dan Ward
Sometimes things go wrong for your business because everything’s just so complicated. And while complexity is necessary in some business ideas and processes, it often just adds problems.
In “The Simplicity Cycle,” Ward emphasizes how important it is for you to balance complexity and simplicity so that your business runs smoothly. He’ll teach you how to identify problems, how to fix them, and when you need to simplify your business.
18. “Creativity, Inc.” by Ed Catmull
Great entrepreneurs always keep their creative wheels spinning, thinking of ways to bring their businesses to the next level. And sometimes all you need is a moment of creativity to bring your business out of a rut.
If you want to learn how to foster a creative environment for your business to always stay ahead of the game, read “Creativity, Inc.” This book is one of the best books for entrepreneurs. It takes you into the world of Pixar Animation—the ultimate creativity hub.
The book will teach you how to lead employees to new heights, approach problems in unique ways, and strive for originality.
The Best Books for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
If you’re just starting out as a hopeful new entrepreneur, check out these books to get into the entrepreneurial mindset and walk away with a better understanding of how to build a business.
19. “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss
“The 4-Hour Workweek” is a must-read for anyone who wants to take the plunge into entrepreneurship. This is considered one of the best business books ever, and it’s particularly useful for those who need some inspiration to get out of the nine-to-five grind.
Ferriss teaches you how to create and automate an income-generator (your “muse”) so that you can spend the time doing whatever it is you’re really passionate about. Ferriss knows that entrepreneurship is a great way to take control of your life and enjoy what you do—without working 40 hours a week. He’ll make you excited for the challenge of building a business that can be run with only four hours of your time each week.
20. “Rework” by Jason Fried and David Hansson
“Rework” will fundamentally change how you think about starting a business. For Fried and Hansson, building a business is about getting up on your feet and walking straight toward your goals.
You’ve heard this advice for starting a business before: write a business plan, study your market and competition, look for business financing, and so on. Fried and Hansson want you to throw all those steps out the door. They have a whole new system that will help you act on your entrepreneurial dreams and reach your goals faster.
If you’re a go-getter who prefers learning by doing, this book will inspire you to get up and build the business you’ve always wanted to run—right now.
21. “The $100 Startup” by Chris Guillebeau
“The $100 Startup” will convince you that the most successful entrepreneurs aren’t just plain old lucky or rich enough to start a business. Guillebeau gives inspiring examples of entrepreneurs who made success out of struggle and seized opportunities.
In his book, Guillebeau presents 50 of the most impressive success stories of business owners who started with only a few bucks to their name. If you’re feeling unmotivated because you don’t have the funds you think you need to start a business, this book will convince you that all you need is the idea and the drive to make it happen—and the rest will follow.
22. “The Fire Starter Sessions” by Danielle LaPorte
Searching for motivation to get going on your next venture? Then look no further.
“The Fire Starter Sessions” will be the book to give you the go-ahead on starting your small business. LaPorte offers 16 sessions full of motivation to take initiative, follow your passions, and reach your goals.
“The Fire Starter Sessions” will help you address what’s holding you back head on, so you’ll have no excuse not to start your business.
23. “The Barefoot Executive” by Carrie Wilkerson
If you have an idea and the will to be an entrepreneur, “The Barefoot Executive” will help you build on those raw materials to jump-start your transition.
Although it’s a personal story about how life circumstances forced the author to start her own business, “The Barefoot Executive” will give you tangible advice on how to kickstart a business based on what you already have. The book tackles issues like how you find your target market, developing your first small business marketing strategies, and building your brand.
24. “Lucky or Smart?” by Bo Peabody
Internet pioneer Bo Peabody is no stranger to the entrepreneur life. His book outlines what he learned as an entrepreneur so others can learn from it without having to learn some of the lessons the hard way. He’s the co-founder of one of the earliest websites, Tripod.com, that was created in the 1990s, the first of many he’s created since.
25. “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman
Written by a Nobel Memorial Prize winner in economics, Daniel Kahneman, this book can lend some insight to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs have to make multiple decisions on a daily basis and this book breaks down some of the psychology behind decision making and judgment. The differences between fast thinking and slow thinking are explained to help you understand how and why you make the decisions you make.
26. “The Art of the Start” by Guy Kawasaki
When you’ve been sitting on an idea for your business for a while, sometimes you just need a little inspiration to get up and do it. “The Art of the Start” will give you just that.
But it’s not only an inspirational book. Kawasaki, a former marketing executive at Apple, gives you effective techniques that you can use to jump-start a business. Read this book to learn how to make the perfect pitch, find employees that are talented, build your small business brand with limited capital, and more.
27. “Zero to One” by Peter Thiel
While mostly focused on startups in the tech industry, “Zero to One” has actionable advice for would-be business owners who need to harness their ideas and turn them into an actual company.
This legendary entrepreneur shows how important it is to know what you’re doing before you dive in. Thiel will tell you what you need to consider and what you need to avoid before moving forward. And most importantly, this book will help you decide if your idea is new and innovative.
As titles go, this is definitely one of the best business books out there, and what’s inside is worth the money.
28. “Will It Fly?” by Pat Flynn
So you have an idea for a small business… But do you know if it’ll work?
“Will It Fly?” will help you answer that question. Flynn wants you to take a step back before you rush into a business born from half-developed ideas or impulsive, misinformed decisions.
This book will help you decide if your idea has merit, if there’s space in your market for it, and if you actually believe in it. In other words, are you moving in the right direction?
“Will It Fly?” is full of practical ideas that you can use to test your small business idea before you invest all your time in it. It even has action-based exercises and real-world case studies.
The Best Books for Young Entrepreneurs
If you’re a younger entrepreneur hoping for some direction, you should check out these seven books for guidance as you navigate the rocky terrain of starting your own business.
29. “Enchantment” by Guy Kawasaki
For young entrepreneurs who might be just starting out, learning the art of enchantment and what it can do for you and your business is key. Enchantment is better than persuasion, the book argues, because it means you’ve created a change of mind in the other person.
Kawasaki, who also authored “The Art of the Start” has shared everything he’s learned in more than a dozen books since.
30. “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber
When you have an idea for a business, or just begin to execute it, you’ll get advice thrown at you from all directions. While your friends, family, and colleagues are only trying to help you, their advice might leave you so confused that you’re constantly returning to the drawing table.
In “The E-Myth Revisited,” Gerber addresses the misconceptions and bad advice for starting your business and growing an idea into a successful venture. He breaks down how commonplace assumptions about starting a business can doom it from the beginning. So if you’re in need of some straightforward advice about how to execute on your business idea, read this book. Gerber will walk you through the steps of running a business from start to finish.
31. “The Startup Playbook” by David Kidder
Do you ever wish someone would just sit down and tell you what to do? Entrepreneurship is mostly about forging your own path, but sometimes it’s nice to be pushed in one direction.
So when you’re looking for some guidance on starting your business, read “The Startup Playbook.” With this book, the name says it all. “The Startup Playbook” is one of the best business books for entrepreneurs who need advice for any and all aspects of starting and running a business.
32. “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing” by Daniel H. Pink
How much of a role does timing play in the success of our business ventures, in our success in general? The answer will probably shock you, but you’ll understand why much better after reading Pink’s book on how you can turn timing into a science rather than art or luck.
Pink combines research, storytelling, and practical advice into a highly readable book that will help you think of timing much differently. It may end up guiding not just when you launch your business, but how you live your life.
33. “Founders at Work” by Jessica Livingston
“Founders at Work” is a collection of interviews with famous entrepreneurs who reveal what their now uber-successful businesses (think Apple, PayPal, Lotus, Hotmail, etc.) looked like in the early days.
The stories give you an inside look into what it was like when these star entrepreneurs were just a couple of friends with an idea. Their accounts are surprising, interesting, and often funny reflections on what it’s like to build a business. We guarantee that, as a small business owner, you’ll sympathize with some of what these entrepreneurs have to say.
“Founders at Work” is like being a fly on the wall at the most prominent entrepreneurs’ early meetings. How did they discover their idea and convince investors that it was a good idea? What went wrong? What would they do differently? Read this book to get some useful nuggets of entrepreneurial advice firsthand and see how famous companies got started.
34. “Lost and Founder” by Rand Fishkin
If you’re a new business owner wondering why your business isn’t experiencing incredible, Facebook-esque success right away, you might want to sit down and read this book by Fishkin, founder of Moz.
Fishkin promises, and delivers, an alternative look at the world of startups. Starting a business, especially a tech company, isn’t just high valuations and California lifestyles—there are pitfalls, failures, fizzled initiatives, and myriad ups and downs. If you feel like your venture’s trajectory isn’t on track—at any stage of the process—Fishkin’s memoir will put things in perspective and provide lessons you can apply to your own business.
35. “Finding Your Way in a Wild New World” by Martha Beck
This book from Beck, a life coach and author, isn’t exactly a business book, but it’s a great pick for new entrepreneurs who are still forming their ideas about what they want their business, career, and life to look like.
You’ll have something in common with Oprah Winfrey if you read Beck’s book and use her teaching to help you plan your career and life. Beck is one of the best-known life coaches in the country and her advice is available to anyone thanks to this book.
The Bottom Line on the Best Entrepreneur Books
There you have it: The best books for entrepreneurs at any stage of running a small business.
Keep these best books for entrepreneurs close to you and consult them often. They can provide invaluable wisdom when you need advice on how to be the best business owner you can be!
Sally Lauckner is the editor-in-chief of the Fundera Ledger and the editorial director at Fundera.
Sally has over a decade of experience in print and online journalism. Previously she was the senior editor at SmartAsset—a Y Combinator-backed fintech startup that provides personal finance advice. There she edited articles and data reports on topics including taxes, mortgages, banking, credit cards, investing, insurance, and retirement planning. She has also held various editorial roles at AOL.com, Huffington Post, and Glamour magazine. Her work has also appeared in Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and Cosmopolitan magazines.