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18 Best Business Books You Can Finish on Your Lunch Break

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Vice President and Founding Editor at Fundera
Meredith Wood is the founding editor of the Fundera Ledger and a vice president at Fundera. She launched the Fundera Ledger in 2014 and has specialized in financial advice for small business owners for almost a decade. Meredith is frequently sought out for her expertise in small business lending. She is a monthly columnist for AllBusiness, and her advice has appeared in the SBA, SCORE, Yahoo, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, American Banker, Small Business Trends, MyCorporation, Small Biz Daily, StartupNation, and more. Email: meredith@fundera.com.
Meredith Wood
Editorial Note: Fundera exists to help you make better business decisions. That’s why we make sure our editorial integrity isn’t influenced by our own business. The opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations in this article are those of our editorial team alone.

It can be hard to find the quiet time to read when you’re trying to figure out how to start a business—but many of the world’s most successful people are voracious readers. Warren Buffett is known to read 500 pages a day, and Bill Gates reads around 50 books a year.

It’s no surprise that these famous CEOs read every day. Reading keeps your mind sharp while allowing you to escape from the stresses of everyday life.

If you’re a busy entrepreneur or professional, you may want to maximize the benefits you reap from reading. We’ve found the best business books out there that have earned the praise of some of the world’s most successful people. The best part about these top business books is that even if you can only commit to reading them on an hour-long lunch break, many can be finished within the week.

Check out our article and the infographic below to find your next great read.

18 Best Business Books That You Can Finish During Your Lunch Break

Sometimes you need advice and you need it quickly—luckily some of the best business books of all time can be finished over just a few lunch breaks. If you aren’t spending time talking with coworkers or working through your lunch, you can use your breaks to learn valuable lessons you can apply to your business.

1. “The Accidental Creative” by Todd Henry

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 3

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Learn how to effectively curate your time and surroundings to keep creativity at your fingertips.

Business creativity expert Todd Henry coaches you through accessing your creativity in a fast-paced world. Instead of quick tips and instant gratification, Henry encourages you to take the time to invest in what’s really important, so you can show up as your best self when it really matters.

2. “Zero to One” by Peter Thiel

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 4.5 

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Discover the methods that investor and entrepreneur Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, used to create breakthroughs in his field.

Despite his focus on tech startups, Thiel is really arguing for the possibility of innovation. “Zero to One” champions unconventional thinking, no matter what industry you’re in. This is one of the best business books to read if you’re feeling stuck in the mud.

3. “The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton M. Christensen

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 5

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Christensen details how successful companies can fail, and how innovative entrepreneurs can build a lasting business.

“The Innovator’s Dilemma” has guided game-changing leaders like Steve Jobs to success since it first hit the market in 1997. Christensen’s focus on a then-arriving tech industry and the companies that failed to compete with them is surprisingly applicable in our ever-optimized world. This is one of the best business books to read if you need a reminder to never stop growing.

4. “Made to Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 6

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With examples from viral ideas and stories, this book offers unique insight into what makes some ideas “stickier” than others.

How is it that hoaxes often travel better than a sensible—or even innovative—idea? That’s the question Chip and Dan Heath set out to answer in “Made to Stick.” What makes this one of the top business books out there is that the Heath brothers lay out the six common traits of a “sticky” idea so that you can engage these traits when it comes to selling investors and customers on your best small business ideas.

5. “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 7

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Allow your business to run more efficiently by learning to validate ideas quickly and adjust processes rapidly.

Ries brings scientific rigor to the startup life, making this one of the top business books to read if you’re hoping to pave the way for a sustainable business. Instead of sitting on an idea forever, waiting for perfection, “The Lean Startup” will teach you how to innovate along the way, capturing all the excitement and creativity that starting a business can be about.

6. “The Motivation Myth” by Jeff Haden

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 3.5

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Haden pulls back the curtain on motivation, offering repeatable and concrete techniques for achieving your business goals.

We’ve all had goals we’ve given up on halfway through—don’t expect that to be the case if you’ve picked up “The Motivation Myth,” though. Haden energetically advocates for following through and making a practice out of motivation. Instead of waiting for inspiration to strike, you’ll be amped up to get started on your next idea.

7. “Small Giants” by Bo Burlingham

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 6

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By examining small, yet successful companies, Burlingham reminds us that every business can set their own ideas of success.

A lot of the best business books out there will focus on growth, but Burlingham’s book will encourage you to think of success in a different way. This narrative-driven book shares the stories of well-known companies like Clif Bar and Anchor Brewing to show you all the ways you can redefine your own business goals to make the best product possible.

8. “Search Inside Yourself” by Chade-Meng Tan

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 6 

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Written by a Google engineer, this book reveals the secrets to self-reflection that allow you to find creativity and happiness.

Stress is a given when you’re running a business, but it can seriously get in the way of your health, growth, and the well-being of your company. Using a combination of research, wit, and personal experience, Tan will teach you the de-stressing technique he and his fellow engineers used at Google to focus their minds, solve problems, and become fulfilled people along the way.

9. “Data-Driven Marketing” by Mark Jeffery

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 6.5 

best business books

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With data from successful firms, learn how to accurately predict and execute marketing campaigns.

Marketing is an important function for any business, but when cash is precious, you need to know just what marketing techniques work for you. Luckily, we live in an age of nearly limitless data and Jeffery will show you how to leverage all those numbers to create an effective, streamlined marketing strategy.

10. “Profit First” by Mike Michalowicz

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 4.5

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“Profit First” helps business owners make more money by flipping the traditional sales minus revenue paradigm.

If you’re worried about cash flow, look to Michalowicz, who will transform the way you think about profit and problem-solving with four simple principles.

11. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 6

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In a book that applies to many parts of life, Hill shares the secrets behind the wealth of men like Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford.

“Think and Grow Rich” was originally published in 1937 and still remains a popular business book to read. What makes this such an enduring text? Hill not only offers case studies of the most successful men of his era, but also provides actionable advice you can apply to all facets of your life.

12. “Keys to the Vault” by Keith J. Cunningham

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 6

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For those in the earlier stages of their business, this book is the perfect resource for financing your idea.

Though seeking funding from investors can be scary, Cunningham equips you with all the tools you’ll need to understand what investors are looking for and how you can become a small business that’s attractive to them. Frequently compared to a crash course in getting an MBA, this is one of the best books for starting a business and avoiding common small business mistakes.

13. “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 6.5

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Based on a study of 150 strategic business moves, Kim and Mauborgne argue the best way to compete is to sidestep the competition altogether.

You may be in a crowded marketplace and feel like you’re neck-and-neck with a rival business, but “Blue Ocean Strategy” wants you to know there’s a way around that. This is one of the best books for starting a business in a crowded field since the authors provide useful takeaways for analyzing what consumers really want and assessing how well your business can deliver that to them.

14. “The Effective Executive” by Peter F. Drucker

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 3.5

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Drucker guides you through the habits that turn creativity and insight into results.

Drucker, who was a leader in the management world, leaves an enduring game plan for managers who want to see the best results for their team. By focusing on behaviors you can learn, instead of personality traits you must take on, he teaches you how to be an efficient leader who can prioritize what’s important.

15. “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 5

best business books

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Sinek reveals how successful leaders from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Steve Jobs motivated others to follow them.

Based on Sinek’s popular TED Talk, “Start With Why” elaborates on how the question of “why” can lead you to build a successful company, surround yourself with the right people, and appeal to the right audience—all ensuring a rich, successful business life. This inspiring read is one of the best business books for starting a business if you’re feeling uncertain about your path.

16. “The Charisma Myth” by Olivia Fox Cabane

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 5

best business books

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Become more influential and persuasive by implementing a few simple practices into your daily life.

Armed with research for a plan initially designed for Harvard and MIT, Cabane breaks down the idea that charisma is something you’re either born with or not. Instead, she outlines different types of charisma—some of which you might already be practicing.

17. “Influence” by Robert Cialdini

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 6

best business books

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Cialdini explains the six principles of persuasion that make people say yes—including you.

This is one of the best business books to read if you’re hoping to become a better leader, since Cialdini’s six principles are based off years of research that span everything from war tactics to marketing strategies. You’ll learn both how to detect when you’re being manipulated, and how to become a more persuasive voice yourself.

18. “Good to Great” by Jim Collins

Lunch breaks to complete this book: 8

best business books

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Based on a five-year study of 28 companies, Collins offers insight on effective management and strategy.

By comparing companies that performed miles better than their competitors, Collins and his team were able to narrow down the most successful businesses and study their secrets, including how they were able to stand out from competitors and the types of leaders who ensured their success.

The Final Word on the Best Business Books to Read on Your Lunch Break

If there’s anything you should take away from these top business books, it’s that a good leader makes time for what’s important. You can start practicing this principle by making growth and self-improvement part of your day with some of these best business books for starting a business. If you can’t find time on your lunch break to get to them, maybe you can listen to their audiobook versions at the gym or on a particularly long commute. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Sources:
INC 1, 2 | TheMuse | CNBC |

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Vice President and Founding Editor at Fundera
Meredith Wood is the founding editor of the Fundera Ledger and a vice president at Fundera. She launched the Fundera Ledger in 2014 and has specialized in financial advice for small business owners for almost a decade. Meredith is frequently sought out for her expertise in small business lending. She is a monthly columnist for AllBusiness, and her advice has appeared in the SBA, SCORE, Yahoo, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, American Banker, Small Business Trends, MyCorporation, Small Biz Daily, StartupNation, and more. Email: meredith@fundera.com.
Meredith Wood

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