Best Business Books To Read For An Entrepreneur
Why do we read business books as an entrepreneur? I know, some people think business books are cliche self-help books that won’t do much. You’re only really half right! Are business books cliche, yes! Will they help you, yes!(If you read the right ones).
How Are Business Books Helpful?
Business books expand what we think is possible. Working a 9-5 typically tricks the mind into thinking it is only worth 50, 100, 150k a year. Guess what, your time is worth way more! Reading business books helps us see how other people have gotten there.
Think about it, why do CEOs get to make so much more than you? Are they smarter than you (Maybe)? Are they 100x smarter than you (Probably Not)? Do they work 100x harder then you (Probably not)?. So why do they get to make so much?
Part of it is because they realized early on that they could. I am not saying you are going to make $15 million dollars a year. But maybe, if you plan properly, $500,000 – $1 million is not that impossible! In fact, it is possible. The only limitation is your mind and the standard 9-5 mind set. Like many business books and people who are well off will point out. You have to do more than your standard 9-5 to make over $200-$300k. Unless you are an executive, you’re most likely in the $50-$150k range, even as a senior engineer.
So how do you break that mindset? Where do you see how successful people have gotten to where they are! This lists of the best business books (in my opinion) below will help you get started
1. Never Eat Alone – Keith Ferrazzi
If I were to tell you what book impacted me the most. It was Never Eat Alone. I used to be a person that was anti-social, never asked for anything, always helped people and never expanded his network. This book challenged me. That’s what I really enjoyed, it showed me what was possible. If I actually put myself out there. Guess what, I would start to meet people who I could help and who could help me. The funny thing is, you don’t even have to think too much about it after a while. Once you have put in the ground work, you just start getting invited to things, introduced to people, asked to speak at events, and it is great! Suddenly, you are doing consulting projects, finding mentors, and so many other doors that just seem to open out of no where. Until you recall all the hard work you put months before.
There are very few books I read over and over again. This one I do. If you are already a social person. Then you might not find as much value. However, if you think you are not a social person, this is a book for you.
2. The Power Of Broke – Daniel Paisner and Daymond John
The key point to get from this book is that stress pushes us! I was just talking to a friend who is brilliant and has everything come easy to him(He was making 80k at 20 years old). Yet, he doesn’t seem to grow financially. Why? Because, he has never been stressed.In this book, Daymound John discusses how being broke, and having a hunger for success gave him a competitive advantage.
I totally agree! In fact, being broke or being limited on resources forces you to be more creative and find more efficient ways to do everything! The stress pushes you to make more with less.
It reminds me about the case of Alibaba vs Ebay. This was back when Alibaba was still a baby company. Ebay looked to smash the Chinese market, they poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the market. Jack Ma laughed at this! He stated “They must be very dumb if they can’t figure out how to solve the problem without money”(slightly paraphrased from The House That Jack Ma Built, guess you got a bonus business book recommendation in here). The point is simple, money doesn’t solve all problems. In fact, sometimes it just causes you to waste more money than you should! Everyone likes to say “I need more people”, “I need more budget” and “We can’t”, but not very many people like to think about how to do more with less. There are obviously cases where they may be true. Nevertheless, they should not be the first statement out of a business owner, start up founder or executives mouth.
I love this book because it shows that even with very little, you can do it! Never forget that!
3. The General Theory Of Employment, Interest and Money – John Maynard Keynes
This is an older book, but I would still recommend it! In fact, I have several older economics books I would recommend to any business owner(however, I don’t think you would find them interesting!). This book looks at macroeconomics and how employment actually works on a whole. It beautifully analyzes complex concepts, and how they affect our daily lives!
Personally, it gives great perspective for employees and employers in to how our capitalist society works. What role does labor play, how does that affect prices, and the well being of society? Why do we consume? What role does that play for the world? It makes you question the larger financial system, which is exactly what I think books are supposed to do!
4. The 4 Hour Work Week – Tim Ferriss
Remember how I started this whole post talking about why to read business books. How they can help you? Well, here is a great example of what I mean when I say they help you see what is possible. Tim tells you step by step how to take yourself from working a standard job, to working a 4 hour work week (so to speak). Honestly, I still haven’t gotten to such a low number of hours.
It does make you realize your time is valuable and there are plenty of ways to live life, besides the way you were told since you were little. You don’t have to wait until retirement, you can live your life now! You can go to Europe, you can have a business, you can be successful, without clawing for scraps. I won’t spoil too much! This is worth reading yourself.
5. Think Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
When I look back at all the books I have read. I am astonished. These are just seven of many. Why I picked them, I don’t recall. Luckily, I have a local book store near me that I go to and read books all the time!
This book is based on behavioral economics. The author goes over his research where he delineates two different thought systems. One that is quick and impulsive, and the other that is more thought out an methodological. He examines how we use bias as a short cut, as well as going over several key behavioral economic terms like “Anchoring”, “Substitution”, and “loss aversion”. It’s a door into the way people think! There is a lot of value there and worth looking into to help understand why you think the way you think.
6. Grit – Angela Duckworth
For this business book, instead of a picture, I think seeing a little about what this author is about is great! Here she is talking at Google about how she thinks that a high IQ is not the only thing that makes people successful. If you don’t have time to read her book. This is a great summary!
Her book discusses how it is the effort you put in to getting better that makes people great. She discusses the small details that we notice. For instance, one thing I noticed when I was 20 was I apologized way too much. I started to keep track and realized I would apologize in the range of 40-80 times a day! Call it OCD, but I don’t think it was. I wanted to improve myself. So, I worked on it, and now I have gotten myself down to 0-3 times day…more on the 0 side. Its paying attention to those details and making effort to improve! That is grit!
Along with paying attention to details and focusing passionately to improve, it is also important to know that as an entrepreneur, you are going to fail. Get that in your head right now! Don’t ever let it leave. That does not mean you give up! That is the key to this book. Have grit, gumption, and keep fighting. That is what brings you to success.
Its a combination of passion and perseverance. Not everyone has both. We live in a world that wants instant gratification. As a business owner, you better believe that won’t happen. I like this equation she gives: Talent × effort = skill. Skill × effort = achievement. In other words, “Effort counts twice.” You have to push through things, to get your reward. It won’t just happen.
7. Good To Great – Jim C. Collins
Have you ever wondered what makes great businesses, well, great! This book is the culmination of a 5 year research project where Jim and his team analyzed why some companies only remained good and others seemed to make giant leaps forward into what he dubs as great! The book looks at older companies that have more data on them, so no Amazon or Google here. Nope, instead he talks about companies like Walgreen’s, Phillip Moriss and Kroger(to name a few). Have some of these companies not done so well in the passed few years, or merged. Yes, but he was analyzing them during their peaks. A great read to understand being a better manager, and operating businesses at the highest level.
8. Rationally Irrational – Dan Ariely
Rationally Irrational is not so much a business book per-se. It is more of an behavioral economics book. Dan Ariely is a professor in psychology at Duke university and he looks at what makes humans tick. He analyzes our very nature, how we respond to sales, and purchases. The end result is, we are not as rational as we all like to think. Our ability to reason can be tricked by salesmen, and even our own minds. I don’t think you should go out and trick people. I do however, believe you would benefit reading this book because it will help in developing empathy. As an entrepreneur, one of the skills we have I believe in the ability to sense what causes other people business pain. That is where the value is. If you can tell where a company, or a lot of companies are struggling and you fill that need. You’re golden for the rest of your life.
9. Black Swan – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Finally, this last book is one step further from a business book. Nassim Taleb is a brilliant quant who understands that sometimes the unexpected happens. You can plan all you want, run all the algorithms, program every variable, and guess what? Everything could still go wrong(Like in this blog post about data science and machine learning going wrong). He is a great story teller and offers great perspective into the world. It is not as business focused, but you will benefit greatly from his intuition and wisdom. It helps you see case studies of when people planned things down to a t and yet things didn’t go as they should have! It’s ok, if you have Grit! You will survive! The business world is constantly being disrupted. It is about seeing it, and adapting. If you haven’t heard this quote before remember!
“Luck prefers the prepared mind” – Louis Pasture (Yes, he is the guy that came up with pasteurization)
So Why Read Business Books?
As en entrepreneur, business man or woman and or start up founder. You are not an island. We like to think we can do it on our own, but we need the advice of others. One of the richest places to find valuable advice is in books! Pick up one of these books today!
What If You Really Hate Reading?
What is also great today! Is videos, podcasts, and all other forms of media. Find ones you like! Find successful people who you want to be like, and figure out how they got there! Here is a great clip of two people who are kicking business butt and taking names!
It’s not about imitating or pretending to be these people. We are all unique, we all have different backgrounds and transcribe experiences differently. How you learn from these people’s experiences, and how you apply it may be totally different than myself.
Just learn! Learn as much as you can!