The ultimate goal is to be able to make a living doing what you love. Millions of people every year start their own businesses with the goal of getting paid to do what they love.
Sad to say, roughly half of all new business owners fail within the first five years. It takes at least three years on average, and at least one in four attempts fails, before success is achieved. How can you guarantee success the very first time?
Starting a business calls for bravery, realism, and perseverance in the face of adversity. When our work improves the lives of others, we face our greatest challenge and reap our greatest reward.
We’ve summarized over a thousand books at Four Minute Books, including hundreds on business. We’ve picked up some knowledge along the way, and we know which lessons are worth your time.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, but if you’re interested in learning the ins and outs of starting a business or becoming a successful freelancer on your own, this reading list is a great place to start.
Our favorite quote from each book, along with three key points and a brief synopsis, are included below. To find out when and why we think you should read the book, scroll down a little further. You can skip directly to the chapter or book that most interests you using the table of contents provided below.
Let’s not waste any time getting down to business.
The best entrepreneur books to read
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
An Introduction to the Art of Social Persuasion The experience of people will undoubtedly alter your future. It can help you become a more successful businessperson in addition to teaching you the social graces.
Dale Carnegie lays out the steps you need to take to become friends with everyone you meet, which is a skill just as important as having influence online but has become more difficult in today’s digital age. It teaches you the social graces to use when confronted with rivals or when attempting to sway an audience that is either unreceptive to your ideas or resistant to your presentation.
This book is a classic in the business world and should be read by every entrepreneur at least once a year.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter
If you’re an entrepreneur, Rich Dad Poor Dad is required reading.
You may be at a disadvantage if your level of financial literacy is lower than that of your older rivals. The information in Robert Kiyosaki’s book is straightforward and won’t leave you feeling overwhelmed.
This book will shed light on the 9 to 5 grind, the rat race, and the necessity of working a job you despise just to make ends meet. He tells it like it is: if you want to be successful in business, you won’t get there by studying hard, getting good grades, graduating from college, and landing a job with a stable company.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman discusses the two mental processes that can make or break our progress and success in life.
He describes how our minds are made up of two distinct parts—the fast and emotional system, and the slow and logical system. He describes how each system influences our achievement, outlook, self-assurance, and potential for learning.
This book is required reading for anyone seeking a way to the top of the tower without killing the dragon.
The $100 Startup by Chris Gillebeau
If you’re having trouble getting motivated because you don’t have enough money, The $100 Startup is a great book to read. Chris flips the script and puts you in command.
In his book, he recounts the incredible tales of fifty business owners who went from having nothing to a net worth of more than $50,000.
If you need some inspiration to get things done but don’t want to think about logistics like money or methods, this is the book for you. The key is to get the idea and to care deeply about it.
Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston
After the fact, everyone hears about the person who went from nothing to a million dollars by starting a business with only a thousand dollars.
You might be wondering, though, how they managed to expand their company from there. When did they start making all that money? Where did they go, exactly? When they were trying to overcome those challenges, how did they feel?
In her book Founders at Work, Jessica Livingston answers all these questions and more through in-depth interviews with some of the world’s most successful business owners.
How did Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak expand his company? How did Sabeer Bhatia find the fortitude to persevere? You’ll have to read the book to find out the answers to all these questions.
Beating the Odds by Eddie Brown
Eddie Brown’s book Beating the Odds details his journey to found Brown Capital Management. How he overcame tragedy on 9/11 is detailed. He also discusses the economic downturn that started in 2008. Brown provides extensive detail about his time as an engineer at IBM and his subsequent founding of his own company later in this book.
American entrepreneur and philanthropist Eddie Brown. He used to be an engineer at IBM. After that, Brown established his own company, which eventually grew to be worth a billion dollars.
Brown’s autobiography is heartfelt and candid. If you are experiencing difficulties in the early stages of your business, reading Brown’s autobiography can teach you how to deal with them.
Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown
Dare to Lead is a guidebook for entrepreneurs that explains the basics of leadership and provides them with the tools they need to run a successful business. The book is broken up into sections based on the main topic that each section will cover.
Brown argues that a few core principles, including emotion and bravery, are essential for new leaders to succeed. You should know how to leverage these characteristics for greater influence and success in business.
Give this book a try if you’re interested in learning more about the four essential abilities every effective leader must possess. In addition, this perfect book includes the stories, research, and examples you need to keep an open eye for new findings, which are essential to running a successful business.
Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive by Dorie Clark
Clark has written a comprehensive manual for business owners who need a push in the right direction to realize they can make money doing what they love.
In addition, she provides the fundamentals for getting started and maintaining momentum in order to maximize profits and achieve success.
This comprehensive manual walks business owners through the steps necessary to begin making money from their endeavors, using real-world examples as case studies.
Give this book a read if you’re interested in starting a career as an inspiring entrepreneur and making money off of your knowledge and experience the right way. This book could be the key to your financial and professional independence.
Online Influence by Bas Wouters
Do you want to open a web store or expand your current one quickly? Read Online Influence by Bas Wouters and Joris Groen if you answered yes. Every webstore owner wants to increase conversion rates, and this book explains how to do so using psychological principles, as well as providing actionable advice for enhancing the user experience.
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
What, $2000 to new hires who resign immediately? Do you really think that’s a good plan? Tony Hsieh details his strategy for growing Zappos into an online retail giant with annual sales of over a billion euros in his book, Delivering Happiness.
What can you expect to take away from this book? How to create a welcoming workplace and draw in customers who are eager to make a purchase from your online store.
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
Are you hoping to achieve more independence by launching your own business? This is a common reason given for starting a business. However, this is a trap because it leads new business owners to spend too much time working “in” rather than “on” their company. As a result, they are unable to pursue their goal of opening their own company.
Michael Gerber addresses this issue and others like it in his book, showing readers how to effectively manage a small company.
Start With Why by Simon Sinek
Successful CEOs, professional athletes, and public speakers all share one trait: they know their “why.” People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it, as Simon Sinek argues in his book Start With Why. The most ground-breaking businesses operate from the perspective of their “why”: a genuine mission. The information in this book will help you define your purpose and investigate your motivations.
Mind Your Business: A Workbook to Grow Your Creative Passion Into a Full-time Gig by Ilana Griffo
Using insider tips that show readers the way to form a clear roadmap for their businesses, Griffo walks you through the steps of creating a business plan that will accelerate the entire process while enhancing it.
In addition, the book covers expanding without much difficulty, allowing you to form your own long-term business plan based on the information it provides.
The solution is incredibly elementary. This book could be a great first step toward financial independence if you’re looking for advice on how to conduct market research, build a customer base, and safeguard your assets.
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
The film Behold the Dreamers moves audiences with its enduring call to be brave. This New York Times best-seller is told from the perspective of a young Cameroonian woman during the financial crisis of 2008, and it sheds light on the immigrant experience with wit and compassion that are sorely lacking in the political discourse of today. The story seems more timely than ever because the fight for equality has changed the definition of what it means to be an immigrant in the United States.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Everyone in the business world knows at least a little bit about Apple’s late founder, Steve Jobs. The fascinating life story of the Silicon Valley legend, as told by Walter Isaacson, will motivate you to become an entrepreneur and create products that people want, push the limits of innovation, and ultimately change the world.
Female Innovators at Work by Danielle Newnham
All current and future female business leaders owe it to themselves to read Female Innovators At Work. This book by Danielle Newnham features insightful interviews with and case studies of successful female CEOs, founders, and inventors across a wide range of technological fields. They discuss the trials and triumphs they’ve faced and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
The importance of hard work and determination is well-known. Those who are successful aren’t necessarily the most intelligent or well-off. The ones who work hard and get better every day do so in spite of setbacks. This is the essence of Grit. This New York Times bestseller by Angela Duckworth instructs business leaders on how to develop the perseverance necessary for success and how to instill that same trait in their employees.
What is the best book for becoming an entrepreneur?
The best books for entrepreneurs include Eddie Brown’s Against All Odds and Jason Fried’s Rework. Reading these books can help you develop a winning business strategy that will lead to expansion.
Can I become an entrepreneur by reading books?
You can improve your chances of becoming a successful entrepreneur by reading about the trials and tribulations of other businesspeople and deciding whether or not to emulate their methods.
Some business book subjects may be more engaging or useful to you than others. No matter your motivation, these timeless tomes can equip you with the knowledge you need, motivate you with tales of other people’s achievements, and instruct you with the lessons learned from the mistakes of history’s and today’s most successful businesspeople. With this advice in hand, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful entrepreneur.