Starting a business can be exciting, scary, and confusing, all at the same time. Whether you’re still considering the potential of entrepreneurship or are already working to get your business off the ground, here are 10 books that will provide you with valuable insights.
A Blueprint for Success
Looking for tangible steps to take in your business journey? Check out these popular reads.
The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf
If you have a great business idea but no experience and no clue how to turn it into reality, pick up The Startup Owner’s Manual by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf. This very thorough guidebook will walk you through a process taught to business students at over 100 universities around the world. It’s filled with charts, diagrams, and checklists that give you actionable steps to get started with your business.
Founded: The No B.S. Guide for Student Entrepreneurs by Melissa Kaufman and Mike Raab
Considered an essential read for first-time entrepreneurs, Founded: The No B.S. Guide for Student Entrepreneurs is written by Melissa Kaufman and Mike Raab, the directors of Northwestern University’s student entrepreneurship program. They’ve helped hundreds of startups get off the ground, and their wealth of knowledge and experience can help you avoid common mistakes and get your business started on the right track.
How to Build a Goddamn Empire: Advice on Creating Your Brand with High-Tech Smarts, Elbow Grease, Infinite Hustle, and a Whole Lotta Heart by Ali Kriegsman
If you’ve ever struggled with imposter syndrome (the feeling that you aren’t qualified in what you’re trying to achieve), then Ali Kriegsman’s experience will resonate with you. How to Build a Goddamn Empire walks you through her story and provides actionable advice to apply to your business or business idea. This recent publication even includes insights on how Kriegsman dealt with the impact of COVID-19 on her business.
Trajectory: Startup: Ideation to Product/Market Fit by Dave Parker
We can learn just as much from failures as we can from success. As someone who has sold three startups—and closed two—Dave Parker shares a path that will help you take your business from just an idea to operational in only six months. In Trajectory: Startup, you’ll find a detailed timeline of tasks to achieve each month to stay on track.
Learning from the Greats
From inspirational stories of building businesses despite hardship to surprising tales of overnight success, reading about other entrepreneurs can be a reminder of hope if you’re currently in the trenches trying to bring your dream to life. If you’re in the mood to learn about the unique ideas that sparked some of today’s most successful brands, check out How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs by NPR journalist Guy Raz. If you’d rather read dramatic and adventurous tales about some of Wall Street’s most iconic companies, you’ll enjoy Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by New Yorker contributor John Brooks.
Life Skills to Help You in Business and Beyond
Speed Reading Books
This list is a mere fraction of all the books dedicated to those looking to excel in business. Besides books, there’s an ever-increasing amount of news content, both online and in print, that will keep you in-the-know. Not to mention all the emails and internal communications a business owner is bound to encounter. How do you consume all that content without becoming overwhelmed or burnt out?
In elementary school, we’re taught to read everything word for word, which slows down our reading speed considerably. Luckily, with a little practice, it’s possible to become a much faster reader, increasing the amount of content you can consume. You can find a list of today’s top speed-reading books here.
How to Win Friends and Influence People
To be a good business leader, you need to know how to effectively communicate with everyone around you, including your employees, vendors, business partners, and customers. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie was originally published in 1936 and has stood the test of time as a self-help best seller. Its advice will help you achieve success in both your business and personal success.
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
Nothing will inspire you to jump out of bed and get to work faster than Atomic Habits by James Clear. This wildly popular book (and entire educational program built from it) will walk you through how to make tiny changes in your life that add up to great success. Whether the habits you’re trying to form are business related (like chipping away daily at a marketing plan you’ve been writing or establishing consistent communication with your customers) or entirely personal (like running a mile three times a week or making your bed every morning), this book will help you get there.
Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins
If you’re interested in learning about successful habits but would like to keep the topic strictly to the business world, pick up Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins. The book draws on research conducted on 18 large companies to determine the practices that contributed to their success. You’ll find hundreds of specific examples and a framework of concepts that can be incorporated into your own business venture.
Learning about entrepreneurship through books is an excellent place to start and a great way of combining education with an enjoyable leisure activity. But when you’re ready to put your learnings into practice, it helps to have a real-life guide assisting you through the process. Here at LifeWorking, our Community Innovation Collaborative is designed to do exactly that. For access to entrepreneurship mentors, funding, business resources, and a collaborative community, sign up to be part of our CIC Business Incubator.