11 Books Every Entrepreneur Must Read

Aspiring entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, or even successful entrepreneurs have one thing in common: they all read. Granted, some read more than others, but the truly great ones are avid readers.

At some point in my life I realized this, and I started reading..a lot. I can say, with 100% certainty, that the books on this list have changed my life. They’ve changed the way I think, and as a result, my actions have changed. If you haven’t read a book on this list, I highly encourage you to spend a few bucks and check it out. It will definitely be worth your time, and I am confident you’ll walk away way more prepared for success than you were before you read ANY of these titles. I should also mention that this list is in no particular order. Infact, if you tried to make me order them, I don’t think I could, honestly!

1. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t. by Jim Collins

Good to Great is a classic. Some companies make it required reading for new employees. I own three copies of it. I hold it with such high regard, that I once bought a copy because I was too impatient to wait till I got home from a business trip to read it. It’s good enough, that I use as a guidepost for my business activities. 

Good to Great is an analysis of various companies who broke through and saw massive success, as well as those who had the opportunity to experience tremendous growth – but didn’t. It’s an eye opening book for entrepreneurs, and those interested in why some succeed, and why some don’t.

A couple of nuggets of wisdom from Good to Great:

  • The Flywheel Effect
    • Starting is hard. As you gain momentum, it gets easier, and it becomes harder to stop the flywheel.
  • Get the right people in the right seats.
    • Hiring the right people isn’t enough – they need to be in the right roles to succeed.

2. The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin

If you’ve ever started a business venture, website, blog – whatever – you’ve experienced the dip. The Dip, as Godin puts it, is the time after the newness of starting a project wears off, and before you master it. That long midsection is the miserable area where it’s hard, and you don’t see many results. Some entrepreneurs experience longer dips than others, but if you can survive the dip, your chances of success increases dramatically. Seth also discusses when it makes sense to quit – as it can, sometimes, be a productive move to take.

This book really resonated with me, because I’ve spent a lot of time in the dip on various projects.

3. Create Or Hate: Successful People Make Things by Dan Norris

Create or Hate is my all-time favorite of 2016, I think. In a word, the lesson is: create. I often start a project, get excited, and then I start doubting myself. I start thinking ‘I can’t do that’ or come up with a bunch of reasons why I won’t succeed.

What this book is really good at, is getting you excited about creating things. People who create things – blog posts, products, services, websites – are the ones who profit. If you’re consuming (buying) more than you’re creating (profiting) – then you need this book.

4. The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon

Every entrepreneur is in sales. I know many are disgusted by this idea, or in denial, but it’s true. In my case, I sell on a daily basis in my 9-5, so I’ve been fortunate enough to develop these skills a little. Let me tell you this – I’ve learned in my day job, that having the ability to sell, is a massive career/business game-changer. If you want to run a business, I’m not saying you should go door to door and sell – but reading the Challenger Sale makes a whole lot of sense.

What’s it about? Well, the authors begin with the assumption (and offer evidence to support this) that there’s several ‘profiles’ of sales people. The Lone Wolf, is one – which is the salesperson who does their own thing, and is sort of a loose cannon. You have the Relationship Builder, who believes selling is all about building relationships and nothing else (most salespeople fall into this category). Then – you have the challengers. I won’t ruin the book for you, but there’s a few reasons why the Challengers can dominate the sales world, and believe it or not, they’re a rare breed. I aspire to be one.

5. Pricing for Profit: How to Command Higher Prices for Your Products and Services by David Furtwengler

One of the biggest mistakes not only entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small business owners make, is under-valuing their service or product. I was guilty of this myself at one point, which led me to discovering this book.

In a nutshell, if want a sanity check to understand if you’re pricing your product or service correctly – check Pricing for Profit out. I guarantee you’ll learn new things about pricing that will be applicable to your own business.

6. Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin


Talent is Overrated, by Geoff Colvin
, aims to teach a few core lessons. Here’s some examples:

There is a blueprint you can use to become exceptional at (almost) anything.

You don’t have to become a virtuoso to beat your competitors.

Doing is better than reading. 

There’s more, and I love the way Geoff articulates his research on the topic of success and human performance. I know I’ve said it a lot (and I’m not done saying it) – but this is a must have for any entrepreneur who is faced with needing to learn new skills.

7. Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers is easily the most thought-provoking book on this list. It answers one simple question: “Are we born with particular traits that enable us to be successful?” While it does thoroughly answer this question, it’s also one of my all-time favorite books.

“He’s a prodigy.”

“She was born to do this!”

“He has the X factor!”

All of these phrases imply that someone is born with “something” that enables them to be great at whatever they do. The book aims to dispel the myth that you either “got it” or you don’t. Greatness can be learned, in most cases.

8. How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It. by Mark Cuban

Billionaire Mark Cuban has a history of success in business that is absolutely undisputed. He started out studying computer manuals and performing computer/networking services and selling software. He later sold his first company for $2M, and began growing from there, eventually founding AudioNet, which was later renamed to Broadcast.com. Cuban and his partner then sold Broadcast.com to Yahoo! for nearly $6 billion. He’s an avid basketball fan, if you don’t know – and owns the Dallas Mavericks.

Suffice to say, Cuban is qualified to discuss both sports and business. His book, although not edited very well, is a bunch of miscellaneous thoughts scribbled down and put onto paper – but it’s awesome. It’s probably the most unpolished book on this list, but I really enjoyed hearing about Cuban’s successes and failures. He’s tremendously open, sharing many details most people wouldn’t want to share.

9. The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ Demarco

I love this book. In a nutshell, it’s all about building income streams which are either fully passive, or require very low involvement by you. In MJ’s case, he was driving limo’s in Chicago years ago, and had a client ask for a limo recommendation in another city. MJ realized there wasn’t an easy way to do this – so he invented a service to satisfy this need. He later sold it for millions, and went on to run other successful businesses.

If you’ve ever felt like you’re alone on the entrepreneur path, I encourage you to read this book. I felt like MJ “understood me” – in a way. I know that sounds weird, but, it’s true.

10. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich is a classic. – many of the most famous people in the world recommend it, and with good reason. As the title alludes to, it’s all about getting your mind right in order to achieve financial independence. I cannot come up with words that do this book justice, but suffice to say, it’s a “must read” for any entrepreneur, whether you’re established, or just starting out.

11. The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs

I love the way The Entrepreneur Mind is structured. It lays out 100 different beliefs, tips, characteristics that are useful to any entrepreneur. Many I knew, some I didn’t, but I appreciated all of them. One example, is “No competition means your idea probably has little merit.” Brutal advice? Yes, but incredibly true.

Another one of my favorites is: “An Idea’s Execution, Not it’s Uniqueness, Yields Success.” I feel that 95% of Wantrepreneurs fall into this trap. They’re all about finding the perfect idea that has zero competitors, but it doesn’t matter if you have competitors. Facebook, Myspace, Walmart, Kmart, CVS, Rite Aid – you get the idea..they all had competitors. Some succeeded, some didn’t. It’s all about who executes on the idea in the most effective way. I could go all day quoting this book – it’s that good. In all honesty, I’ll be re-reading it this week, for the 5th or 6th time.

There’s a LOT of fantastic books out there. I tried to call out the ones that may be lesser known, but still valuable – but I want your feedback: which ones did I miss? 

 

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