11 Essential Reads for Every Aspiring Entrepreneur

11 Essential Reads for Every Aspiring Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship is exciting; the chance to finally be your own boss lures many, but it’s not without its challenges. You probably have a rock-solid idea, but are puzzled at how you can start your business and make it successful. Most of the world’s renowned business owners have faced a similar situation early on in their journey. Luckily for you, many have penned down their tips, strategies, and top takeaways in books—something that you can read and get the ground running.

To make things even easier, here’s a list of the top 11 books every aspiring entrepreneur should read. They are a treasure trove of inspiring and relevant stories that will give you valuable guidance and possibly even a strategic plan for your business journey.

Must read books for startups

Here’s a round-up of 11 business books you should add to your library. In addition to giving a quick synopsis, we also discuss why we believe every budding entrepreneur should read them.

1. The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage

Don’t have a lot of money to make your business idea into a reality? Pick up Daymond John’s bestseller, The Power of Broke. In this book, Daymond discusses how having tight pockets can actually be beneficial, and you don’t need a lot of funds or resources to achieve success. The key, he says, is in your mindset and willingness to work hard.

The book also states that being “broke” is a powerful asset because it forces you to be inventive, prudent, and resourceful. And he’s right, isn’t he? If you had all the money in the world, wouldn’t you be more tempted to splurge and not work hard to really analyze whether a process or material is the best for your business?

Other key points made by Daymond are:

1) Not understanding the importance and power of hustling: Without a big bank account, success relies on your drive and determination. The book emphasizes the importance of hard work, perseverance, and a "never give up" attitude.

2) Embracing the advantage: The book showcases stories of other entrepreneurs who thrived with limited resources. By highlighting other journeys, Daymond makes a strong case and shows that his success was not a “one-shot” thing.

3) Increases business agility: The book also emphasizes that this "power of broke" mentality can lead to a more efficient and adaptable business model.

The Power of Broke

2. Start with Why

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out, Simon Sinek’s Start with Why is the quintessential business book to have. It’s an extremely powerful book that can help you establish a strong company culture and related branding practices.

The core idea of Start with Why is that a business and its leader should have a strong understanding of their “why’--- why are they starting this business, what’s its purpose, and how exactly it solves the end user’s problem. When the purpose and central “Why” are clear, the business leader is able to resonate with people (employees and external stakeholders) at a deeper, emotional level that’s bigger than just monetary gains.

Simon Sinek introduces the “Golden Circle” framework, which segregates how businesses communicate into three sections:

  • WHY: This is the core, the purpose, cause, or belief that drives the organization.

  • HOW: This describes the specific methods and processes used to achieve the WHY.

  • WHAT: This is the most outward layer, representing the tangible products or services offered.

Reading this book will not only leave you with a sense of inspiration but will make you reflect on your business idea and work towards finding a “Why” that truly resonates with you and others.

Start with Why

3. Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less

Here’s a special book targeting budding women entrepreneurs and leaders who are questioning, “Can they do it all?” Through Drop the Ball, motivational speaker and author Tiffany Dafu aims to empower women and get them to shed some of the external pressure they face of being “perfect” in everything they do. Dafu argues that women need to define their own success metrics so they can enjoy life with a sense of achievement and guilt free.

Here's a quick gist of the book:

  • Challenge the "Do it All" Mentality: Dufu urges women to break the societal pressure to excel in every aspect of life. She says that aiming for perfection creates unrealistic expectations that eventually lead to burnout, stress, low job satisfaction, and disengagement.
  • Learning Prioritization and Letting Go: The book emphasizes the importance of prioritizing what truly matters and letting go of unnecessary tasks. Dufu encourages readers to re-evaluate their to-do lists and delegate or eliminate non-essential activities.
  • Asking and Finding Balance and Support: This book also promotes getting a balance between work and personal life. It champions the importance of asking for help and building a support system, whether from family, friends, or professional services.
  • Focusing on Flourishing: Dufu says that a “just surviving” mindset is not good. She asks women to think beyond simply coping with the demands of work and family. Dafu presents the case for empowering women to thrive in all areas of life by focusing on their purpose and cultivating meaningful relationships.

Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less

4. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

Does the thought that running a business will give you no time for your personal life? It’s a valid concern as we’ve seen endless businessmen say they worked day and night before they achieved any success. Tim Ferriss' The 4-Hour Workweek presents a different perspective and challenges to the point of consistently working hard and long hours and sacrificing your present for a better future tomorrow.

Ferriss makes the case that financial success can be achieved while having a distinct work-life balance. It’s about working smarter.

Here’s the main point, while the title says “4-hour workweek,” Ferriss is actually championing the idea of working efficiently and effectively. He also encourages aspiring business owners to find an idea and build a model that allows for flexibility and freedom. The exact hours one will have to put in will depend on the business.

How does one do that? Ferriss recommends that entrepreneurs rethink what it means to be “successful” and focus on building a business that will allow them to pursue their passion, whatever it may be (travel, scuba diving, running, etc.). He also encourages business leaders to embrace technology wherever they can so they can free up their time and automate processes.

The 4-Hour Workweek

5. The Virgin Way: Secrets They Don’t Teach You at Business School

Richard Branson single-handedly transformed the Virgin Group into what it is today. "The Virgin Way" offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into his unconventional philosophies and the principles that guided his journey. It’s a great source of inspiration and practical insights on decision-making and leadership for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Branson shares his advice through related and interesting anecdotes and incidents, which makes the book related to almost all. He emphasizes the importance of building a strong company culture that puts its people on the top and allows them to feel valued and empowered. This people-centric approach can help budding entrepreneurs not only attract and retain top talent but also people who will put their best foot forward for customers.

Another point the puts forth is that budding entrepreneurs shouldn’t be afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone and taking on risks.

Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won't Teach You at Business School

6. Beating the Odds

9/11, the 2008 financial recession, and the Iraq war—all presented tough times for the business world. Eddie Brown’s Beating the Odds is the perfect read for aspiring business leaders of today because the marketplace is again facing a challenging situation with increasing prices, recession in Western countries, and multiple nations on the brink of war.

In his book, Beating the Odds, Brown walks one through how he built his billion-dollar company, Brown Capital Company. He goes as far back as his childhood and shares stories of how he managed to build his own path in the face of immense hardships (Brown’s mother died shortly after his birth).

Other lessons that Brown prioritizes are around:

Valuing Education: Despite the challenging cards Brown was dealt, he prioritizes education. The book emphasizes the importance of learning and knowledge as stepping stones to opportunity. He goes a bit deeper and says that the education has to be relevant to the field or industry one’s pursuing.

Working with a Mentor: Brown doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the guidance and support he received from various people throughout his life. The book highlights the value of mentorship and building a network of supportive individuals.

Giving Back: Brown's success story isn't solely focused on financial gain. The book emphasizes the importance of giving back and using your resources to help others.

If we had to describe the book in a nutshell, it’s a true story about believing in yourself and working towards your goals with perseverance.

Beating the Odds

7. Female Innovators at Work

There’s been a significant rise in women's entrepreneurship. Statistics as of April 2024 highlight that women own 42% of all U.S. businesses, which is almost 13 million businesses that employ nearly 10 million people, generating a whopping $1.9 trillion in revenue. It’s a thriving time for women to step into the business world. If you are a woman entrepreneur in the tech realm and are looking for some extra push, get your hands on Female Innovators At Work by Danielle Newhman.

This book shares inspiring stories from successful women in technology who hold key leadership positions. It highlights their journeys, challenges, wisdom, and key learnings. These stories are primarily told in the form of interviews and cover a wide gamut of tech-based startups: gaming, e-commerce, mobile technology, and online education.

Female Innovators at Work

8. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World

It’s redundant to say we live in a social media world, but we do! So any aspiring entrepreneur would be amiss if they skipped reading this gem from Gary Vaynerchuk. The title is a play on the boxing metaphor and means “how to get attention in a crowded place.”

Without a strong social media presence today, your “best” product or service might never reach the intended audience. On the flip side, just blindly posting content on social media won’t generate sales either. So how does one win at the social media game?

In this book, Vaynerchuk shares how a business can thrive in the digital space. He outlines how to connect with customers and beat the competition. Vaynerchuk shares practical advice on how you can transform social media traffic and followers into customers that drive long-term sales.

Vaynerchuk recommends that aspiring business owners think about the following:

  • Creating impactful content

  • Earning customer’s trust

  • Optimization for mobile

  • Practicing consistency

  • Telling a brand story

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World

9. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

Fearful of competition eating your business up once you start? It’s a valid concern, one that PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel has a unique solution to. Thiel says that every budding entrepreneur should really find an idea to do something new. Why? Because once you’ve created something new, you don’t really need to worry about competition.

He also offers practical advice on setting a business strategy, creating a business model that breaks the norm, and fostering a culture of innovation.

Some critics would say that Thiel’s book is primarily for the technology industry and entrepreneurs in that field. However, the lessons and thinking processes shared in this book could be applied in almost any field. For instance, if you’re looking to start a bakery, why not find or invent technology that is different from the rest? Also, Thiel emphasizes the importance of sales and marketing. Your bakery can’t just have a good product and rely on word of mouth, you have to think about how to position the bakery so it makes a mark in the customers’ eyes.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

10. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones"

Some might consider James Clear’s Atomic Habits more of a self-help book, but nonetheless, it’s one that any aspiring businessman or woman should read. The main idea that Clear presents is that small, consistent improvements (even if they are 1% increments) can make a massive impact over time. So as a new leader, the focus should be on doing small things right.

The book also argues that a leader should focus on building good habits and routines that will drive long-term, sustainable success. These habits won’t only help your business but also your personal life.

Clear describes starting a business as a marathon and not a sprint. Therefore, an aspiring entrepreneur should build strong habits around tasks like marketing, learning new skills, staying disciplined, and using appropriate technology. These positive habits build consistency and further fuel motivation. They also keep one moving forward, even in the face of adversity.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

11. The Lean Startup

The last book, but certainly, not the least important book on our list, is the infamous The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. This book is almost on everyone’s business book list because it tackles almost all issues a starting-out entrepreneur would face.

The main takeaway from this book is a business owner should focus on creating a minimum viable product (MVP) or service. Then they should work on constantly testing and perfecting it.

The great thing about Ries is that he not only presents commonly faced problems, he also provides scientific thinking processes that can help any budding business owner come up with viable solutions. Another aspect that Ries discusses is how startups can leverage resources and take in customer feedback to constantly improve themselves.

The book is filled with real-life stories and case studies, making it an enjoyable and related read for all.

The Lean Startup

Tips for reading these books

In a world where we are constantly consuming content, setting aside time to read is difficult, let alone really understanding what the author is saying. Therefore, here are some tips that will help you get the most from these entrepreneurship books.

  • Highlight sections that speak to you for quick reference

  • Take notes after each chapter because it helps you remember the topics and solutions

  • Create a “reading nook” that’s free of distraction and clutter

  • Write down to-do action items that you want to implement

  • Think about how concepts might apply to your situation or business

  • Discuss the books in a reading group or with other business owners

  • Do your own research on ideas discussed in the books

  • Make reading a continuous processChoose which style works for you– you might prefer to listen to some of these as audiobooks while driving

  • Try to get through 1-2 books thoroughly instead of racing through 5 within a month

Using these strategies will help you gain as much knowledge as you can from these powerful sources of information.

Happy Reading

The truth is that the entrepreneurial journey will have some of your highest highs and some of the most challenging lows. But with the right books by your side, you'll gain valuable insights, develop a strategic mindset, and, most importantly, fuel the fire of your entrepreneurial spirit. So, grab a cup of coffee, find a cozy corner, and get ready to embark on a reading adventure that will prepare you to conquer the business world!

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Marketing Consultant
Nikita Sharma
Nikita Sharma, an impassioned Marketing Consultant at eResource Scheduler, has been shaping the digital marketing landscape since January 2021. With a rich background in web development and digital marketing strategy, she's a beacon of innovation in the field. Nikita has achieved remarkable milestones, including reaching over 1 million social media users for the Jaipur International Film Festival and 3 million-plus SERP impressions for Enbraun Technologies. Her tenure at Nexa as a Digital Marketing Strategist in Dubai, certified by Google and Hubspot, underscores her profound expertise. Nikita's educational journey in Computer Science from Rajasthan Technical University and advanced programming courses have been pivotal in her career. She exemplifies dedication, creativity, and a deep understanding of digital trends, making significant impacts across diverse industries.

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