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The 25 Best Books for Entrepreneurs

Georgia McIntyre

Georgia McIntyre

Finance Writer at Fundera
Georgia McIntyre is the resident Finance Writer at Fundera. She specializes in all things small business finance, from lending to accounting. Questions for Georgia? Comment below!
Georgia McIntyre

No matter how experienced you are as a 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.

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 a book 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.

Here are the 25 best books for entrepreneurs.

The 5 Best Books for Entrepreneurs Who Could Use a Little Inspiration

1. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

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The 4-Hour Workweek is a must-read for anyone who wants to take the plunge into entrepreneurship. This is one of the best books for entrepreneurs who need some inspiration to get out of the 9-to-5 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 4 hours of your time each week.

2. Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson

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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 towards 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.

3. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

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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.

4. Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston

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Founders at Work is a collection of interviews with famous entrepreneurs who reveal what their now uber successful businesses (think Apply, PayPal, Lotus, Hotmail, etc.) looked like in the early days.

The stories give you an inside look into what it was like when they were just a couple of friends with an idea. Their recounts 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 just 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.

5. The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte

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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.

The 6 Best Books for Entrepreneurs Who Have an Idea… But Don’t Know How to Make it Happen

6. The Barefoot Executive by Carrie Wilkerson

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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, develop your first marketing strategies, and build your brand.

7. Will It Fly? by Pat Flynn

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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 business idea before you invest all your time in it. It even has action-based exercises and real-world case studies.

8. Zero to One by Peter Thiel

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While mostly focused on starting a tech industry, Zero to One has actionable advice for business owners who need to harness their ideas and turn them into an actual company.

Legendary entrepreneur Peter Thiel 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.

9. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

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When you have an idea for a business, or just being 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 more confused and 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.

10. The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki

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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 the best talent, build your brand with limited capital, and more.

11. The Startup Playbook by David Kidder

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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 books for entrepreneurs who need advice for any and all aspects of starting and running a business.

The 8 Best Books for Entrepreneurs Who Want to be Better

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

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How to Win Friends and Influence People is a must-read for anyone who considers themselves an entrepreneur. But it’s one of the best books for entrepreneurs who want 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.

13. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

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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 where you can read it once, pick up a few tips, and be on your way. It’s one to continually revisit as you grow as an entrepreneur and build your business.

14. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

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Think and Grow Rich is a classic business book that has help 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 inwards 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.

15. True North by Bill George and Peter Sims

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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.

16. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

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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.

17. The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

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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 books for entrepreneurs because it teaches business owners the importance of getting the things that matter done. The book reinforces how important it is to avoid unproductivity and invest in the right things.

Read this book to learn the time-management and decision-making habits of the best executives out there.

18. Getting Things Done by David Allen

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As a busy small business owner, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the details and overwhelmed by 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 book to learn how to clear your mind and make better decisions for your business.

19. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

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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.  

The 5 Best Books for Entrepreneurs Who Need to Solve Problems

20. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

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Ben 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 book to get the no-nonsense advice you need to get over a problem that’s holding your business back.

21. The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong by Laurence Peter and Raymond Hull

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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.

22. The Founder’s Dilemmas by Noam Wasserman

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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 mistakes before you make them. 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 smoothly, use The Founder’s Dilemma to steer clear of hazards.

23. The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday

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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 towards 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, and turn every business challenge into an opportunity to reach new heights.

24. The Simplicity Cycle by Dan Ward

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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 oftentimes just adds complications.  

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.

25. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

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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. The book 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.

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There you have it: The best books for entrepreneurs at any stage of running a small business.

Keep these books 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!

Think we missed a couple on our list of the best books for entrepreneurs? Leave some in the comments!

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Georgia McIntyre

Georgia McIntyre

Finance Writer at Fundera
Georgia McIntyre is the resident Finance Writer at Fundera. She specializes in all things small business finance, from lending to accounting. Questions for Georgia? Comment below!
Georgia McIntyre

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