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Start Your Business Entrepreneurs

40 Business Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read

40 Business Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read
Credit: Sfio Cracho/Shutterstock

Every entrepreneur needs a source of inspiration, and what's a better source than the words of already successful business owners and experts?

Whether you're just starting your business or you're looking to grow an established brand, great business books can make all the difference in how you run your company. The right books can teach you how to grow your profits, motivate your employees and achieve work-life balance. They can even shape how you choose to define success. 

Business News Daily asked entrepreneurs, authors and professionals what they felt were the best business books of all time. From new releases to old bestsellers, and from technical business guides to motivating success stories, here are 40 books experts say every entrepreneur should read:

"10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management" by Hyrum W. Smith

"In the book, Hyrum presents 10 strategies for clarifying one's values, aligning to those values, and enjoying greater productivity and inner harmony because of that alignment. [This] book helped nudge me further along the path to values alignment through valued behaviors, which is the core of my consulting business today."  – Chris Edmonds, founder and CEO, Purposeful Culture Group

On Amazon

"100 Ways to Motivate Others" by Steve Chandler and Scott Richardson

"[It's] great because it helps teach you to be a leader and not a boss. It shows how most management out there right now is demotivating and decreasing productivity on their teams, rather than inspiring and motivating. Of course this is directly related to the type of leader the team has — and even in a bad recession, with dismal outside circumstances, one can create a happy, productive and successful team that will thrive." – Jamie Thomas, executive director, Motley Zoo Animal Rescue

On Amazon

"Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty" by Harvey Mackay

"Just like in Hollywood, it's not what you know, it's who you know! [This book] drives that point home, not only in business but your personal life. Mastering the art of networking — quality not quantity — as well as creating lasting relationships is the key to a successful life." – Bruce Specter, principal consultant, 3rd Rock Communications

On Amazon

"Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" by Daniel Pink

"'Drive' by Daniel Pink calls into question a lot of common-sense approaches to getting people to work for you. Counterintuitive to what we have come to believe about bonuses and incentive pay, Mr. Pink introduces the human side of being an employee." – Julianne Haydel, owner, Haydel Consulting Services

On Amazon

"How to License Your Million Dollar Idea" by Harvey Reese

"Written by a serial inventor, great book for anyone interested in developing new products and licensing them to large companies. Also contains excellent tips on how to be creative and develop new ideas." – Michael Ihns, owner, Improved Racing Products

On Amazon

"How to Win Friends & Influence People" by Dale Carnegie

"Business is about sales. Whether you're selling products to decision makers, or ideas to employees. It's all about sales. Dale Carnegie was the greatest salesman of his time. This timeless book dives into what it takes to get other people on your side. A must read for all young executives." – Phil Sexton, partner, The Sibbach Team

On Amazon

"Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World" by Margaret Wheatley

"As complexity theory permeated science, and then social science, Margaret Wheatley's book brought it to leadership and helped us understand how these profound ideas can help us all better organize. Her pros are poetic, yet she is grounded in science. I have seen her book on hundreds of shelves in offices, both academic and in industry. Everyone who I have talked to about reading it says, 'That book changed my life.'" – Scott Hammond, professor of management, Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

On Amazon

"Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won't Teach You at Business School" by Richard Branson

"In this book, Richard Branson goes through the trials and tribulations of an entrepreneur with direct and actionable advice on how to handle things. This book is a must read for anyone in the business world." – Jonathan Tavarez, founder, Vantage Internet Group

On Amazon

"Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die" by Chip and Dan Heath

"['Made to Stick' is] a fantastic guide for teaching you how to craft compelling presentations. How to appeal to your audience is not just a useful but a necessary skill for any business to have." –Sheena Iyengar, S.T. Lee professor of business, Columbia Business School

On Amazon

"Ogilvy on Advertising" by David Ogilvy

"Despite being published in 1983, the 'Father of Advertising' offers the straightforward, universally applicable credos that helped make him so successful — being bold, focusing on a 'big idea,' and always holding fast to your opinion. Ogilvy believed that 'advertising is salesmanship,' and that your brand's image in the customer's mind is everything." –Zak Dabbas, CEO, Punchkick Interactive

On Amazon

"Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind" by Al Ries and Jack Trout

"[It] totally redefined the way people look at positioning themselves in the mind of the consumer ... one of the best marketing books ever written ... filled with great branding stories. They wrote a number of follow-up related books ... all great! They really helped me successfully define my marketing niche." – Craig Wolfe, president, CelebriDucks

On Amazon

"Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big" by Bo Burlingham

"This book provides examples of successful companies that were smart enough to know when they reached their optimal size without the increasing complications and taking on too much risk that would occur if they continued to try to grow. Most of these companies are very ethical, environmentally friendly and have excellent employee morale." – Matthew Reibel, marketing and communications manager, Independent Living Systems

On Amazon

"The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It" by Michael Gerber

"The main takeaway is if you can't walk away from your business for a month without it falling apart then you're not running a valuable business. Gerber teaches us that we need to build processes and [replicable] systems in order to create something that sustain[s] independently. For what it's worth, I've got a long way to go!" – Gene Marks, speaker, columnist and president of The Marks Group

On Amazon

"The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter" by Michael Watkins

"[It] helps create the road map for any executive entering into a new company or role, [and] provides excellent tips, guidelines and [the] framework for success. Brilliant in its simplicity." – Ruth Frantz, senior partner, Wiser Partners

On Amazon

"The Innovator's Dilemma" by Clayton M. Christensen

"'The Innovator's Dilemma' advocates acting against a lot of safe, traditional business advice and encourages companies — especially bigger, more stable companies — to keep taking necessary risks that might be scary but will ultimately end up saving them by keeping them relevant." – Sanjay Singhal, CEO, Audiobooks.com

On Amazon

"The One Minute Manager" by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

"It is probably the most maligned business book in the history of business books, but that's because critics don't understand the difference between simple and simplistic. The basics of good management are simple — but that doesn't mean they're easy. The basics are: (1) set goals with your people, (2) provide ongoing feedback and coaching, and (3) provide rewards for a job well done. [If] you can master the three basic principles outlined in 'The One Minute Manager,' you'll be successful. It's no accident that this book has sold tens of millions of copies around the world and is still selling well three decades after its initial publication." – BJ Gallagher, best-selling author and speaker

On Amazon

"The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be" by Jack Canfield

"It covers such a wide range of topics but still manages to go as in depth as you need, and sums up just about all of the personal development subjects that have been written about and that anyone would require to actually be successful." – Susan Baroncini-Moe, speaker, author and executive coach

On Amazon

"Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill

"The book really lays the foundation for a proper mindset of owning and operating a business, how to manage people and how to really begin thinking about how daily activity produces long-term wealth. This book completely changed my approach to my daily work, and my goals are 10 times bigger than they ever were before. And the best part? I'm beginning to achieve them one by one much faster!" – Jason Fisher, co-founder, Waterway Financial Group

On Amazon

"Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us" by Seth Godin

"It's a great (short) resource on how to build and lead a group of people who are connected to each other by an idea or interest. I've used it to build a tight-knit tribe of people interested in improving the business of dirt track racing from the inside - a small niche in a small niche. I highly recommend it for anyone who's part of a team, group or community." – Kristin Swartzlander, owner, DirtyMouth Communications

On Amazon

"Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done" by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan

"It's so good because it is so practical. Filled with examples of issues a manager runs into and how to deal with them effectively. At the end of the day you can have a great strategy, but if you don't execute it well, you won't get great results. 'Execution' teaches you how to run a business. I love the book because I can pick it up again and again and get inspired about getting into the office the next morning." – Henry Stimpson, Stimpson Communications

On Amazon

"From Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … And Others Don't" by Jim Collins

"This book is a comparison study of companies that transition from good to great financial marks over a period of time compared with others who do not. The examples provide the reader with ideas of how a company may face financial and other pitfalls and change for the better through the use of real-life companies. While these actions cannot always be replicated, they do give ideas to leaders on how to handle challenges and what to remain acutely aware of during positive or turbulent times." –Marie Hansen, dean of the College of Business, Husson University

On Amazon

"Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success" by Adam Grant

"'Give and Take' is an amazing business book that shows how giving can get a promotion, make you more money, advance your career or help make your business much more successful. There are 100s of research studies and stories on how to using giving to vault your business and career." – Jason Treu, life mastery coach, Be Extraordinary

On Amazon

"How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination" by Sally Hogshead

"It teaches that instead of trying to be the best at everything or be a jack of all trades, you need to focus and excel at your dominant personality Advantages and avoid your dormant Advantages (the ones you are not so good at)." – Irina Jordan, founder, ARTISURN

On Amazon

"Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing Out of Sync?" by Seth Godin

"The book gives actionable tips on how to use new social media marketing tools to become a better organization that is faster, more flexible and even more fun, [as well as] how to establish a marketing plan that is in sync with long-term strategic initiatives." –David Reischer, COO and founder, LegalAdvice.com

On Amazon

"Million Dollar Consulting" by Alan Weiss

"This book really changed the way that I operated my consulting business and viewed my value to my clients. Just as important as the topic of value-based fees that is inside is the theory of marketing gravity, which I have used in my own business, but have also used to accelerate the marketing pull of organizations that I am involved with." – David Wakeman, principal, Wakeman Consulting Group

On Amazon

"Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time" by Keith Ferrazzi

"Businesses thrive when you form and nurture valuable business connections through a variety of channels.  ‘Never Eat Alone' is a great resource on how to accomplish this and is an easy and fun reminder to open up as a business leader and go beyond networking to a new level of communication and exchange." – Chad Buckmaster, CEO, Processing Point

On Amazon

"Redemption: The Cooperative Revolution" by Berny Dohrmann

"Perhaps the most important book of our lifetime. Cooperation is what made this country great and it's the only thing that can help the global economy. Get rid of corporate greed and competition. Cooperate to succeed." – Dave Phillipson, representative, CEO Space

On Amazon (for Kindle)

"Remote: Office Not Required" by Jason Fried

"[It's] extremely relevant to anyone in the technology sector, and it gives a fresh perspective on how we can operate businesses in the 21st century. Not only can allowing your employees to work remotely save your company money, but it can increase your employees' job satisfaction, among other benefits." – Simon Slade, CEO and co-founder, Affilorama

On Amazon (for Kindle)

"Success or Your Money Back" by Shed Simove

"With modern-day schooling instilling a regiment of simply pass or fail, it is scary for a young adult to feel confident trying to achieve anything as an entrepreneur. Schools are meant for 'learn this skill, obtain this degree, and get this specific job.' They do not teach entrepreneurship and in this book, Shed explains that anyone can create results out of any simple idea (and has proven his method viable by result of over a million units of product sold.)" – Candice Yoneyama, founder, Crossroads Careers

On Amazon

"Teaching an Anthill to Fetch" by Stephen James Joyce

"The only recent book I've really liked, it's a fantastic exploration of what it takes to build and use what Joyce calls collaborative intelligence." – Casey Fleming, author and mortgage advisor, C2 Financial

On Amazon

"The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization" by John C. Maxwell

"We often feel unless we're in positions of power in our organization that we have no influence. Maxwell challenges us to take up the mantle of leadership wherever we are." – Michael Chadwick, licensed real estate salesperson, Bond NY

On Amazon

"The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich" by Timothy Ferriss

"This book opened my eyes to entrepreneurial possibilities I never knew existed. It expanded my mind to creatively think outside the box in how I can have an impact in the world. Ferriss brings you through his DEAL formula in relation to entrepreneurship and lifestyle design. DEAL stands for Definition, Elimination, Automation, and Liberation. To understand how important this DEAL formula is, you'll have to pick the book up and start reading." – David J. Bradley, founder, Primal Digital Marketing

On Amazon

"The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary" by Mark Sanborn

"It tells not just how the execs can get ahead but how any employee can be extraordinary. This is information that can be communicated companywide, through the great story about Sanborn's mailman and Sanborn's thinking about what he did. [It's] a short and highly readable book [that] even somebody with only a high school education working on a loading dock can read and get something out of." –Amy Alkon, advice columnist

On Amazon

"The Laws of Success: The Master Wealth-Builder's Complete and Original Lesson Plan for Achieving Your Dreams" by Napoleon Hill

"[It's] excellent because it approaches business success by having an individual focus on oneself (confidence, work ethic, motivation, etc.) to achieve that success, as opposed to the typical humdrum of 'say this, do this and you'll be successful' that you'll get from other books." – Garrett Smith, financial advisor, Wells Fargo Advisors

On Amazon

"The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale

"[This book] teaches readers how to believe in themselves, build determination, reach your goals, eliminate worry and fear, and improve relationships." – Harrine Freeman, owner and CEO, H.E. Freeman Enterprises

On Amazon

"The Un-Bossy Boss" by Gary Magenta

"Most people don't quit a job because they hate the company. They quit because they hate their boss. This book helps managers, as well as company leaders and those working their way up the food chain, to be better at managing others. [It] is an amazing guide to help all of us managers to do our jobs better, which will help our people to feel more engaged, to work with more passion and commitment, and to help them build their careers in a way that makes them feel respected, happy and fulfilled." – Jim Haudan, CEO, Root

On Amazon

"To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others" by Daniel Pink

"[This book] really drives home the point that no matter what we do, we are all in the business of sales — selling products, selling services, selling someone on an idea, selling someone on why your proposal or version of the facts is more accurate — and more importantly, how to use that information to more effectively persuade others." –Nina B. Ries, principal, Ries Law Group

On Amazon

"Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator" by Ryan Holiday

"You'll learn how the online world of content works and how to manipulate giant scale companies, communities and sites to promote your content for almost free." – Charles Floate, owner, Godlike Marketing

On Amazon

"Wall Street: How It Works and for Whom" by Doug Henwood

"This great book is a coherent, although somewhat biased, critique of everything that's wrong with Wall Street. The good news is that for every abuse of power and every misaligned incentive, there is an opportunity for entrepreneurs and new ventures to provide investors with a better deal." – Asheesh Advani, CEO, Covestor

On Amazon

"Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life" by Spencer Johnson, M.D.

"I re-read this book about every five years simply to remind myself that change is good and to embrace the unknown. It has helped shape the way I view business, the world and life in general." – Valerie Reddemann, principal, Hero CMO

On Amazon

Brittney Helmrich
Brittney Helmrich

Brittney M. Helmrich graduated from Drew University in 2012 with a B.A. in History and Creative Writing. She joined the Business News Daily team in 2014 after working as the editor-in-chief of an online college life and advice publication for two years. Follow Brittney on Twitter at @brittneyplz, or contact her by email.