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
What’s The Best Business Idea For Beginner Entrepreneurs?
If you want to become an entrepreneur, the next immediate question has to be, “What’s the best business idea for me to make money?” I have the answer.
For those looking for a quick solution so they can skip any hard work, sorry in advance. This insight is not going to be what you want to hear.
But you’re going to save a ton of time doing it my way instead of the wrong path you might be tempted to go down.
Endurance and patience is always involved, but only fruitful if you’re headed in the right direction.
Let me explain.
Where Beginner Entrepreneurs Go Wrong
Beginner entrepreneurs often go wrong by trying to hit a home run on their first at bat when they have zero entrepreneurial skills, zero connections, zero capital, etc.
That app idea you have? It’s most likely garbage.
The software company you know is going to make you billions? Probably won’t make you a penny.
The new social network that’s better than anything out there? You’re crazy if you think you’re going to beat billion dollar companies in the market today.
And that’s why these beginner entrepreneurs set themselves up to fail.
Biting off more than you can chew is a recipe for disaster (or throwing up your food, gross).
I’m all for having big dreams. I mean the name of this site is Take Your Success, encouraging you to go out in this world and make your dream a reality.
But I’ve found that beginner entrepreneurs who aim too big, too high, too early, come up short and are forever discouraged.
They put their bucket down an empty well and are surprised they come out with no water although they’ve put a year or two into the project.
Think about this.
Jeff Bezos didn’t start his entrepreneurial career by aiming to build the biggest online shopping store in the world. If he did, odds are he would have failed.
He started with books and used what he learned to dominate that industry to expand Amazon.com to what it is today.
Mark Zuckerberg didn’t open Facebook and market it to everyone from the start. That would have slowed the growth tremendously.
His social network only accepted Harvard students, then it slowly expanded to other college students, and then they opened up to every age and went global.
Elon Musk didn’t graduate college and aim to build a rocket company. If he did, my money is it would have flopped in his face.
Instead he built a digital maps program and used what he learned there to build up to PayPal, Tesla, and now SpaceX.
Whether you have similar ambitions as those entrepreneurial giants or just want to quit your job and do what you love, the best business idea to do that is below.
Best Business Idea To Get Started
Maybe this isn’t as profound as you hoped, but I firmly believe people new to the entrepreneurial space will be far more successful and encouraged if they simply copy other successful entrepreneurs who are making a full-time income from their work.
Not billionaires, just millionaires or the average Joe who is making around $100,000 or more a year, for example, in an entrepreneurial pursuit.
Look at individual entrepreneurs who are making things happen on the Internet. Start following their steps to success.
Read their blog. Watch their videos. Sign up for their email list. Listen to their podcast. Understand how they serve an audience through a service or product, and how they monetize it.
You’ll struggle if you try to mimic the CEO of ESPN or Nike.
Because they’re on an entirely different planet with almost unlimited resources compared to your very limited capabilities. And you don’t have decades of experience to rely on like they do.
You can find success vlogging, reviewing products, doing social media marketing for businesses, podcasting, blogging, running an ecommerce shop, doing email marketing, other ideas like that.
I want this article to be timeless so I’m hesitant to recommend specific ideas.
The point is to do some research, consume content, and be self-aware to know your personality and skillset to determine how you’re going to serve the market and get paid for it.
Your primary goal at this stage is to start making money to supplement your income so you can eventually become a full-time entrepreneur. This is key since you can only create so much magic if 40 hours a week you’re tied to a 9 to 5 job.
Although you don’t have to be all in for the money to be an entrepreneur, your work does need to generate income or it’s just a little, cute hobby you do every week.
You don’t want cute. You want the real deal and that means getting paid for your contributions.
And one last reminder—because many young entrepreneurs go wrong here—it’s going to be impossible to try to mimic 13 different entrepreneurs who all are pushing you in different directions.
You’ll end up dazed and confused with no direction.
Find one or two people who you vibe with, and then work hard to take the steps they did to succeed.
Once you have a solid income from your small entrepreneurial pursuit, then you can build off of that foundation to grow your empire.
Build Going Forward
Now once you’ve learned some foundational tips of entrepreneurship, then it’s time to start building from there.
Because by this point you’ll have built a steady stream of monthly income and earned yourself some breathing room to explore grander (and more profitable) projects. Plus, you’ll gain valuable experience to bring with you in this next venture that will increase your odds of success.
Though improving your craft as an entrepreneur at every stage is fun in my opinion, this is where the real enjoyment starts to happen.
For me, this meant going from blogger to cofounding a digital marketing company. The stakes immediately became 100 times more real.
But in the midst of difficulty lies opportunity. And so far, this video proves I’ve taken this opportunity to serve local businesses and I’m making the most of it.
If you want it bad enough, you can become a professional entrepreneur who is in it for the long haul.
How bad do you want this?
Running A New Business? Don’t Overcomplicate Things
It’s likely that there’s nothing more stressful in the world than running a new startup business.
Not only are you attempting to build a business from scratch with limited resources (budget, staff, and marketing exposure), but you have to balance all of these considerations yourself.
Building a product line, marketing your offerings, and reliably fulfilling these product or services is difficult enough. Add to that installing the infrastructure for your business to expand while balancing your growth and you’re in a sticky situation if you’re inexperienced in managing a startup.
Many people who run startups are new to the world of business or are simply trying the ‘what if this works’ attitude towards creating something interesting.
Odds are you’re a beginner entrepreneur, not a 67-year-old veteran CEO with decades of executive positions or you wouldn’t be reading this article in the first place. And if you are, starting a new business is still a giant challenge.
Though that previous paragraph about the difficulties shouldn’t dissuade you from starting a business.
In fact, if you have a solid idea and enough capital to begin your operation then don’t worry too much worry about the beginning days.
You’ll be saving cash up front by being a team of one while you do market research and ensure you’re offering something people are willing to hand over their hard-earned dollars to receive.
And when all you have is yourself to rely on, you have a great degree of freedom to run the business as your heart pleases.
However, the following tips will help you make life easier on yourself so that you can get to the most important duties of your new business.
Cofounder Isn’t A Dirty Word
Many people feel that because they have taken the risk to break from the world of business, they have a right to run the operation all by themselves.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that feeling, but it can leave you a little out in the cold and isolated, especially when you have no one to rely on but yourself and things start going wrong.
Why not consider opening your startup with a cofounder? Two heads are usually better than one, and more importantly for business, two wallets are better than one.
A cofounder is the only person in your startup who will understand your humble beginnings as profoundly as you do, and in that case they will be much different to a standard employee, intern or subcontractor.
They will be more than happy, as you are, to potentially not take a salary or work an excessive amount of hours a week to get the project on the right track because they understand to a surgical level the sacrifices, investments and difficulties you have made to begin your pet project.
Just make sure your cofounders skills complement your own, and don’t simply open a business with someone because you guys are friends.
That can lead to some real issues long-term.
If you’re struggling with a highly specific duty and have limited funds to hire a new staff member and give them a salary, it might be worth checking out what contractual workers you can get your hands on.
Hiring a full-time staff member is a big commitment since you’re responsible to look after them well, pay them a decent wage, as well as having to navigate all of the contractual and dismissal working rights if they come up.
While the goal for the future should be having a full team all working at making your dream come to reality, it’s likely that you’re not quite there yet.
So in the meantime checking out the local talent might be worthwhile.
In an effort to save money, many startup hosts refuse to hire anyone, and this can be damaging in itself.
Sometimes, you simply need more bodies next to you to help you through a tough period, like going through your finances for the end of the tax year, or helping you design your website to make yourself truly accessible and integrated with the modern age.
Contractual workers will all have a list of requirements to be hired, especially if they work through an agency, so be sure to pour through any obligations you have with a close eye.
If you are looking for content generation, you may be able to find freelancers online scouring the internet for the job you are currently offering.
Give them a fair payment package and contractual terms, clearly explain that they are responsible for their own task, and you have on your hands one of the most convenient employment relationships for both your firm and the subcontractor at the same time.
Not everyone is adept at keeping budgets and balancing financial commitments such as where to invest, where to hire, and where to save for the taxman.
It’s important to get this right however, because capital resource management is by far the most terrible thing to get wrong in a business.
It’s likely that you’re working double roles this entire time, so adding another in the form of accountancy, which is also a full-time job, can lead to costly mistakes you really shouldn’t be making.
Hire an accountant, even if only a few times a year to go through your tax contributions and keep things in order. You’ll be surprised at the peace of mind this provides.
These tips can help you make running your startup much less difficult than it has to be.
If you can’t communicate well with other businesses reliably using your business to business connections, you may need to address the communication infrastructure of the space you use as an office.
While many online solutions exist to help you communicate with a plethora of contacts, online instant messaging voice calls and video chat can seem an unprofessional way to conduct business.
Most larger businesses will expect you to call a direct number, and not call them on their Google Hangouts profile. Luckily, there exists a meeting of these two worlds in the form of your business phone systems, namely a VoIP installation.
Voice Over Internet Protocol telephones allow you to save money on analog calling costs by making the telephone call through the Internet.
Luckily, they can also be used as a regular phone if needed, so you needn’t go without or waste time messing between systems.
Even more conveniently, these telephone systems are available to continue using your previous landline number, meaning that you don’t have to migrate to new numbers and the confusion that usually provides.
Good luck in business. Enjoy riding the wave as a new company!
This article was written by an outside contributor.
How To Land Your First Social Media Client
Are you a stud when it comes to growing social media accounts? It can be extremely profitable (and fun) for you to get your first clients under your belt.
Just imagine how your life would improve once you landed your first client.
If you have a 9 to 5 job, you’d generate a solid side hustle income or begin the process of transitioning to do this full time. If you’re a freelancer, this could develop into referrals and more leads for your other services. And if you’re a young entrepreneur, this could not only pay your bills but give you needed breathing room to continue working on your passion or building your business.
Extra money goes a long way regardless of the direction you take!
But I’m sure you know that step 1, getting the client, is easier said than done. Because you’re not the only one out there offering these services.
Working in the social media space is extremely competitive given the rich perks like:
- Getting clients results becomes extremely profitable
- Growing a following and engagement is a lot more fun than most types of jobs
- It’s location-independent work, all you need is Internet
- You get to express your creative side posting different text, images, and videos
- There are essentially zero costs of being in business
So how do you get your first paying clients?
That’s a great question and one I solved in 2015 when I got an individual to pay me to grow his Instagram account. And now I run a digital marketing company where I’m routinely managing clients’ social media accounts.
Here are the 3 best tips I’ve learned from my experiences that I want to pass on to you to help you get your first signed contract.
Tips To Get Social Media Clients
1) Believe in what you’re selling
This is the first building block you need to get right if you’re going to sell social media: believe in what you’re selling so you can be confident.
When you’re confident, it comes through in your communication (handshake, tone, smile, facial expressions, and body language) and leads them to believe you can generate leads from managing their social media account. That alone will push the needle from no deal to deal in many scenarios.
(Related: Is It Possible To Connect With Anyone)
And part of confidence comes with education. Be informed about why social media will produce these businesses more revenue, why social media is not going away, and how it protects their brand, etc.
However, when you, the seller, aren’t confident then that also comes out and returns the opposite effect—no sale.
For example, a business owner I met with for lunch last Friday told a story of how a family friend of his is going door to door selling new utilities packages. He made the joke that no one is actively looking for a new utilities service and he could see it on the guy’s face that he wasn’t all in about his offering. Needless to say, the utilities seller didn’t close the deal.
Why? Because he didn’t even believe in what he was selling so he can’t convince the consumer to believe.
Always remember that confidence is contagious. Use it in your favor when pitching potential new clients.
2) Aim for small commitments
With a confident approach, it’ll still be difficult to get business owners to open their checkbook and give their hard-earned money to you. Except you can make this process easier by first asking for small commitments.
The persuasion tactic behind pitching a small commitment is you’re showing that you’re confident in what you do, you’re patient, and you’re willing to build the relationship through trust before signing a monthly contract.
This goes a long way to any business owner, especially the social media advertising skeptics.
Small commitments look like: a 5 minute meeting, a 30 minute meeting, and then a small trial to show them what you can do.
They’d have to be silly to turn down a trial where they don’t have to pay for your work and only have to pay for the Facebook advertising spend.
Take a look at something you could say below.
Hey, I’ve been a big fan of this clothing store for years and love the product you guys put out. Reason I’m reaching out is I’m confident I can bring you more customers through social media marketing. Tell you what, if you can run a small trial with me for $100-$200, I won’t charge you. I believe in earning business, not asking for it. What do you think?
It doesn’t need to be said exactly like that, but the formula of compliment, make your claim, and then go for a small ask works extremely well.
You’ll get nearly 99% more conversations compared to asking for a big deal when they’ve never seen you before, “Hey, I do social media marketing for businesses. My rate is $1,000 a month. Do we have a deal?”
Good luck if that’s your opening pitch!
Once you get the trial, all that’s left to do is produce results and you’ll sign them right away. It will be the easiest pitch of your life after you show social media marketing works.
Of course, when business is booming then you don’t need to ask for small commitments if you don’t want to anymore. Your approach can be a bolder “take it or leave it” which actually could convert better sometimes given the context.
Though asking for small commitments is how you’re going to quickly sign new clients in the beginning days of your business.
3) Always be hungry
As I said back in the introduction, a lot of people would love to manage social media accounts. The appeal of getting paid to work on the beach in Australia, with a drink in their hands, and the sun shining is dream-like.
That means you need to cut through the competition to get your own clients or someone else will grab them eventually.
How do you rise to the top? Be hungry at all times.
In my mind at least, being hungry means focusing on the sole mission of getting a new client regardless of other distractions.
It’s getting rid of your feelings of insecurity, tiredness, shame, and embarrassment, to go sell like your life depends on it. For some of you, it actually might.
You could be told no 100 times from Monday to Thursday, but if you stay hungry you increase the odds of getting a yes at 4 PM on a Friday.
Sales is a numbers game. The more effort you put into pitching clients, the more rejections you’re going to get. But at the same time, you’re going to get more clients signed.
Don’t let the rejections get to you, realistically they’re just road signs you’re closer to getting your next yes.
And hungry people get the lion’s share of the clients and money. Not to mention the peace of mind that they worked extremely hard that day.
So whether you have 0, 1, 10, 50 or 100 clients, always be hungry for more! That’s assuming you want to do this full-time, like I do 😉
All It Takes Is One
Just like getting accepted in college, receiving your first after college job offer, and finding a spouse who loves you, all it takes is one client to pay you to manage their social media accounts.
That should encourage you big time!
This means you’re one conversation away from meeting the right person who will take a chance on you running Facebook ads, posting from their profiles, and offering creative content ideas.
Just one man or woman who is positive mindset that day open for new opportunities. Maybe since they’re not technologically savvy and know they need to be on social media, they hire you. Or they respect your hustle and see a younger version of themselves in you so they give you a shot to prove yourself.
The list of possibilities goes on and on, but only if you put yourself out there.
Think about every business owner who you have a personal relationship with and reach out to them. Tell your family and friends what you’re up to and ask if they know anyone who might be interested. Email your previous professors and do the same.
Plus, you’re going to have to do the dreaded cold calling over email, the phone, or in person. I prefer to get as many in-person meetings as possible since I’ve found that’s the best medium to convert a deal.
And once that initial person or company takes a chance on you, then you can get the ball rolling and build your portfolio over time to land other clients (if you so choose).
You’re in the worst of it right now and it’s only going to get better going forward if you stay committed.
This has less to do with natural talent or skill, and everything to do with working hard.
Now go out there and land your first client already.
You can do this. I believe in you!