If you want to excel in business and entrepreneurship, reading is one of the best hobbies that you can pick up to help you in that endeavor.
If you’re like me and prefer reading over listening, books could be your gateway to gain enough knowledge and confidence to start your own business, move up in your career, or generally do good work.
There are so many entrepreneurship books out there that, when you take everything in, they can cancel each of the tips and advice out. I’ve narrowed down a list of 7 books that also serve advice with a notion of realism.
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't
By James C. Collins
There are successful companies and then there are legendary companies. To become an entrepreneur, you need to be fearless in the face of risks and failures. But sometimes, along the way, some entrepreneurs put a limit to their success without intending to.
It’s understandable because when you start out, there’s less to lose than when you’re upgrading to something bigger. With the latter, you could achieve more but you could also lose more. To move your business from good to great, there are great risks and sacrifices.
This book talks about what differs good entrepreneurs from great entrepreneurs. They used research based on companies’ financial performance to figure out how some of them identify their metrics of greatness and how they achieve that.
Best for: Experienced entrepreneurs who want to move up and forward in their business endeavors
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
By Angela Duckworth
You might have seen Angela Duckworth’s TED talk about grit and how it trumps intelligence and socio-economic status when it comes to attaining successful outcomes in life. This book expands more on her research about grit and provides real life anecdotes to ground those claims.
It’s heavily based on statistics and data that she has gathered extensively over the years. She touches on the factors that may have affected the development of grit from adolescence, and also came up with a tested grit scale. If you find yourself without a gritty attitude, there’s also a whole section about how you can improve your persistence.
Best for: Individuals who find themselves lacking in the right entrepreneurial attitude (grit)
The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage
By Daymond John
If Grit was more theoretical, The Power of Broke is objective to a T. Daymond John carries a great story of how a good work ethic and perseverance outshines what is commonly considered the default factors to success.
He started a clothing company with only $40 by hand-sewing hats. His company FUBU eventually reached gross sales of $350 million at its peak in 1998. That’s a good story, but this book is about how he took his disadvantages to work in his favor.
The way he turned his lack of resources into success is a good tool for new and experienced entrepreneurs alike to gain perspective on using creativity to move forward.
Best for: Individuals who want to build a business starting with close to nothing
Outliers: The Story of Success
By Malcolm Gladwell
You might know Malcolm Gladwell from the “10,000 hour rule” for mastering any subject or craft. His book Outliers is actually based on the research that led to that rule, and it mentions it throughout the text.
In this book, he unpacks the background of high-achieving people to understand the reasons and factors that make them different from most people. This book also explains the cliches and stereotypes that we have for certain groups of people like how Asians are good at math and science, or why billionaires in the tech industry reach that level.
Best for: Entrepreneurs who want to know what makes up “the best and the brightest”
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
By Cal Newport
Cal Newport is a notable author that often talks about focus and the impact of social media to our attention spans. His book, Deep Work, is no different from his many articles but it dives deep into this skill of hyper-focusing despite how distracted the world has become.
This is not only about the cliche of how to be more productive and topics like that. It actually explains how mastering this one skill can change so many aspects of your business and life in general.
From the small things like busying yourself with unimportant tasks to big things like being distracted by misguided opportunities, this book is very real about how susceptible entrepreneurs are to distractions and how you can avoid that.
Best for: Entrepreneurs who are looking to level up their productivity and efficiency
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
By Simon Sinek
Simon Sinek was another great speaker who delivered his TED talk about similar subjects as his book, Start with Why. This might sound like another book packed with cliche tips and advice, but it actually has an interesting perspective.
It focuses mainly on how the greatest leaders have one way of communicating and how that largely differs from how other people operate. This difference is what makes they so successful. It has garnered quite opposite reactions from people. The negative usually come from people who are triggered by what this book says, but mostly because they refuse to evaluate themselves truthfully.
Best for: Entrepreneurs who are open to criticisms about their own leadership
How to Win Friends and Influence People
By Dale Carnegie
This book doesn’t need any introduction. It stood the test of time. First published in 1936, it has now existed for more than 85 years and still it has the great impact it had then.
Every chapter in this book contains an actionable point that you can implement in your life right away. Just like it said in the beginning, the best way to read this book is to read every chapter twice. First for getting the basic idea, and the second time for taking notes and planning how you can apply the action points into your life.
This is not directly about entrepreneurship, but it has made so many ripples in entrepreneurs’ life because of how simple yet life-changing the whole book is.
Best for: People who want to thrive in life in general
Getting into all of these books won’t confuse your mind with opposite advice. They all go together seamlessly with different advice overlapping with each other. Get your fill of motivation, success stories, and actionable advice from these books, but also take your time with it. Real progress doesn’t take finishing just one book or seven. It takes work and action.