It’s difficult to be a successful entrepreneur if you only rely on your own knowledge. The best business owners are always reading new books to learn.
Don’t believe me? I’m not making this up.
You probably think it’s only some fringe-celebrity entrepreneurs who read while running a business. But no one notable. No one on Elon Musk’s level (lol, just wait).
Here’s the A Team of the world’s best entrepreneurs and their reading habits:
- Warren Buffett estimates that he spends around 80% of his day reading
- Bill Gates reads about 1 book a week
- Mark Cuban reads over 3 hours every day
- Elon Musk read every book in his local libraries when he was a kid
- Mark Zuckerberg decided to read a book every other week in 2015
Try to find a group of better entrepreneurs out there. I’m waiting. Still waiting.
In seriousness, the reading habits of these proficient businessmen show the importance of this activity more than any high school English teacher or public librarian could persuade you to read.
World-class winners are spending valuable time reading, why aren’t you?
Now it’d be foolish to say all of their achievements can be credited to reading, just as it’d be foolish to say what they read didn’t help them strategize, innovate, and persevere.
If you want an edge in the business world, put your head in a few books. And not just any books, but start off with the best books for entrepreneurs.
I know you’re going to love all of these if you have an entrepreneurial spirit.
15 Best Books For Entrepreneurs
1. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller
This is a common dilemma for young entrepreneurs: You set out to dominate in one area, but along the way as things get hard you’ll get distracted and lose focus on your main objective for less important tasks or projects. You’ll ultimately lose progress along the way on what you set out to do in the first place so you fail.
Gary Keller’s The ONE Thing (one of my favorite books) will teach you why it’s vital you have laser-like focus on your one thing, be obsessed with it, and dedicate almost all of your time to it. There’s no room for distractions if you’re going to take your dreams as far as your ambitions can dream about.
This book isn’t for you if you’re a diehard believer in work life balance. But most entrepreneurs aren’t in the work life balance group for reasons unsaid.
2. Napoleon by Vincent Cronin
How can a French military leader who conquered almost all of Europe in the 19th century teach you about becoming a better entrepreneur? Don’t underestimate the lessons of Napoleon and his rise to power.
He didn’t grow up with the deck stacked in his favor, but made the most of his opportunities to rule the world for a time. This book will inspire you that you can do unbelievable things with your life. That’s empowering in itself. (I found this book after hearing that Oracle’s Larry Ellison appreciated it, and I’m thankful I read it.)
3. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Business is stressful and slanderous rumors can be completely unfair. That’s just how it is when the competition is coming at your neck to beat you down.
But how can you expect to effectively manage your business, your customers, and yourself if your head’s not right? Exactly, you can’t. You’ll take out your frustration in the wrong manner and suffer business consequences because of it.
That’s assuming you don’t read Mediations and learn how to discipline your mind to work for your good. Marcus Aurelius is a genius philosopher who will train you to focus on mastering your thoughts. Your business (and personal mindset) will prosper from putting these teachings to use.
4. Zero To One by Peter Thiel
Thiel, founder of PayPal and one of the most successful entrepreneurs out of Silicon Valley, wrote a book following up his teaching an entrepreneurship class at Stanford. The information in here for running a startup is unbelievable. Many people consider this the number one business book out there, and if they’re wrong they’re not far off.
If you’re looking for insight on using technology to win market share, getting away from competition, sales advice, hiring practices, and so much more, look no further than Zero To One.
5. Business Adventures by John Brooks
You could start your entrepreneurial journey on your own experience and see how that works out for you, maybe it’s a massive success. But I have a good feeling you’ll do better if you take into consideration the lessons in Brooks’ Business Adventures.
This book dives into blockbuster case studies from the past and their clear business lessons on topics like rapid success, market research, revenge, and losing focus on the objective. (P.S. This is Bill Gates’ favorite book on business.)
6. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
Building a business is hard. And with all hard things, there’s no formula or recipe to go from starting point to success. You have to learn as you go and use your personal experiences to make the best choice, even when the future outcome is often unknown.
Any budding entrepreneur could use Horowitz’s insight and personal story to help them navigate their entrepreneurial journey. After all, the struggle of building a company is where greatness comes from.
7. How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Whatever kind of startup or freelance work you venture out on, somewhere you’re going to have to effectively deal with people if you’re going to win. Dale Carnegie’s masterpiece will show you the ropes on how to get the most out of your social interactions.
Dive deep into this book to practice handling people, getting people to like you, win over people to your ideas, and being an effective leader who gets the most out of others. Your business will prosper when people enjoy how you make them feel.
8. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
Want a scientific approach to ensure your business’ success? The Lean Startup will walk you through the exact process ensuring you don’t bring a product or service to market that your customers don’t want or won’t pay for.
Keep your business lean and stay in business by following this model of operation. It’s truly a science that you can replicate over and over again to eliminate uncertainty. I know I’ve referenced this process multiple times to work smarter.
9. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
As an entrepreneur, your company is only as good as your thoughts. You’re only as good as your thoughts. Your employees are only as good as your thoughts. Get the idea?
James Allen’s short read has principles showing how your thoughts lead to your reality. If you’re not happy with where you’re at professionally, use this book to examine your thoughts and how you can improve them for a more prosperous future. The best entrepreneurs are practiced optimists.
10. The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
While the title shouldn’t be taken literally, Tim Ferriss’ hit book provides a ton of great insight for moving from a 9 to 5 job to entrepreneurship. This is especially useful for lifestyle entrepreneurs who want to build a business that supports them and not a huge business that isn’t as easily optimized and automated.
If replacing self-doubt, focusing on only what’s important, earning autopilot cash flow, and having location-independent work is appealing to you, this book is a home run. You’re going to absolutely enjoy this entertaining read!
11. Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia
Think business is all about wringing every last ounce of profit out of the market, and nothing else matters? Mr. Mackey and Sisodia would tell you you’re wrong and that business is about a higher purpose than pure profits.
Read this book if you want to see how your business can both be successful while also making the world a better place in the process through conscious capitalism. You can both improve the standard of living around the world and make a killing, if you try. These authors would tell you to try.
12. The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
In my experience, you’ll run your business as well as you’re mentally prepared to. Meaning how you fundamentally see the world and your behaviors are going to directly influence the progress or recession of your work. Covey covers this and how to change your beliefs for the better.
For example, how you see your business plays a huge factor in your success. Do you see it in a proactive manner where you’re the master of your own fate or in a reactionary mindset where the world happens to you and it’s your job to adjust? Winning entrepreneurs are proactive and bend the world to their desires.
13. Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson
Ben Franklin wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He grew up in humble beginnings and became a printer, only to later invent the lightning rod and play a crucial role in international politics.
So how can this help you build a business? You can learn from Franklin, a true entrepreneur at the core, about how he navigated business to come out on top. He’s a great story of accomplishing the American dream through hard work. If he can do it, you can too.
14. Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Unleashing the power of your subconscious mind is a key principle in this book. It’s also something every entrepreneur can use to achieve unimaginable feats.
For example, there’s no way saying your company’s financial goal in the morning and at night is hurtful. If anything it’s going to frame your day in a way that inspires you to put in the work to achieve it.
And although making a boatload of cash often comes with the territory of achieving excellence, whether that’s your goal or not, you can learn tangible and intangible lessons to push your business forward from Napoleon Hill’s bestseller.
15. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
The last and my personal favorite: Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.
It takes crazy guts and personal willpower to not conform to the world who tells you to go to school and work a 9 to 5 job until you’re 65. This book follows the story of a man with iron will integrity, shining a light on how true freedom is earned by sticking to what you believe and not conforming.
Any entrepreneur who hopes to one day create something magical could learn about the perseverance it takes to keep going when the world is against you. Like I said, I’m a huge fan of this book!
Read 1 Book At A Time
I personally read a book every 1 to 2 weeks (depending how busy I am) since I want to be a top entrepreneur and I know that the average CEO reads 4 to 5 books a month.
But keep in mind, you don’t have to be like me or anyone else.
Be your own entrepreneur. Be your own person. Read at your own pace.
So if you’re not a natural reader, don’t try to read a book a week. That will only frustrate you and you won’t have time to implement anything.
Maybe read 1 book a month to build the habit. And although reading sometimes helps in the short-term, it’s truly a long-term play to learn from people who have succeeded before you and build mental muscle.
Just be patient and know you have time to consume this material.
Oh yeah, take it easy and don’t get pissed off about the book selection. These are my favorite books for entrepreneurs.
But it’s subjective. There’s no factual best book.
So relax. And knock off one of these books every month or until you read them all.
Related: 15 Best Books For College Students