33 Must Read Books for Entrepreneurs


Reading good books is like talking with some of the greatest thinkers of our time, and centuries past. 

Reading is particularly important for entrepreneurs. Many authors have spent a lifetime gaining a wealth of knowledge, and learning the lessons in their books the hard way so you don't have to. 

These are my favorite books that will help you grow as an entrepreneur. The topics cover a broad spectrum, and you'll find each brings a little something different to the table. There is a link to buy each book, and all of the money earned from Amazon's affiliate program will go to Acumen Fund, a non-profit venture that supports entrepreneurs in developing countries.
 
Let us know what you think should have made the list in the comments. 
 

The 4-Hour Workweek

Timothy Ferriss

This is a blueprint on how to make more money while working less. Tim Ferriss draws from real life experiences and presents a step-by-step guide to a low-stress high income life.


Reality Check

Guy Kawasaki

Kawasaki helped make Apple a household name. This book gives real-world advice on how to outsmart, outmanage, and outmarket your competition. 


Screw Business As Usual

Richard Branson

Business advice from the man who founded and grew Virgin Group to a 21 billion dollar company. Branson suggests you should turn traditional business strategies on their head. 


The Startup Owner’s Manual

Steve Blank & Bob Dorf

A step-by-step guide of nearly encyclopedic proportions that teaches how to create a successful company. Learn "new math" for startups, business model canvas, and everything else you need to know.


REWORK

Jason Fried & David H Hansson

A collection of short & aggressive chapters that present counterintuitive ideas with straightforward language. Some learnings: underdo the competition, meetings are toxic, and asap is poison.


Made To Stick

Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Why some ideas thrive and others die. Here you'll learn to make ideas stickier by applying the "human scale principle," using the "velcro theory of memory," and more. 


The Thank You Economy

Gary Vaynerchuk

Ecommerce and social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk reveals how companies big and small can scale personal, one-on-one attention to their entire customer base. 


Trust Agents

Chris Brogan & Julien Smith

How to build networks of influence to grow your business by combining high-level theory and practical actions through social media. Build influence, reputation, and earn trust.


The Lean Startup

Eric Ries

A guide to allocate your resources as efficiently as possible and how entrepreneurs should use continuous innovation to create successful businesses.


Midas Touch

Donald Trump & Robert Kiyosaki

Through real life stories of success, failure, perseverance, and purpose, you'll learn how these two entrepreneurial icons have gotten rich, while many others haven't.


Getting Things Done

David Allen

A national bestseller from 2002 that remains relevant. Allen's premise: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. This book will teach you the art of stress-free productivity.


Crossing The Chasm

Geoffrey Moore

Moore's chasm theory describes how high-tech products initially sell well to tech literate customers, then hit a lull as marketing pros  try to cross the chasm to mainstream buyers.


How to Win Friends & Influence People

Dale Carnegie

Published in 1936, this classic has sold over 15 million copies. The learnings are simple: how to win friends, and influence people, and you'll find the skills completely transferable to today's business world.


Poke The Box

Seth Godin

A manifesto by marketing guru Seth Godin. It's a call to action about the initiative you're taking, in your job, or in your life. This is the ultimate kick in the pants to shake up your life.


Escape From Cubicle Nation

Pamela Slim

Slim explores the emotional issues of leaving the corporate world and the nuts and bolts of lauching a business. Drawing from her own career, this will help you wiegh your options and make a successful escape if you decide to...


The Four Steps to the Epiphany

Steve Blank

Learn to write a business, marketing, and sales plan. Also provides step-by-step strategy on how to organize sales, marketing, and BD for a new product or company.


Crush It

Gary Vaynerchuk

Learn to turn your passions and interests into real businesses using social media, passion, transparency, and reactionary business practices. 


In The Plex

Steven Levy

Veteran tech reporter Steven Levy was granted unprecedented access into Google HQ and shares his insight. He reveals its key values: speed, openness, experimentation, risk raking, and more.


Good To Great

Jim Collins

Eleven years ago Collins asked the question, "Can a good company become a great company and if so, how?" This book is his answer.


The Tipping Point

Malcolm Gladwell

The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, and spreads like wildfire. Gladwell explores and illuminates the tipping point phenomenon.


Awaken The Giant Within

Anthony Robbins

Famous motivational speaker, Anthony Robbins, reveals his most effective strategies and techniques to master your emotions, body, relationships, finances, and your life in general. 


Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High

Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler

Entrepreneurs find themselves in crucial conversations on a regular basis, and this book will teach you how to most effectively deal with them.


Founders At Work

Jessica Livingston

This is a series of interviews with founders of famous technology companies about what happened in the earliest days. Interviews with: Apple, Flickr, PayPal, 37Signals, Gmail, and more.


Linchpin

Seth Godin

There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there's a third team, the linchpins - those indispensable people that get things done. 


Economics In One Lesson

Henry Hazlitt

Every entrepreneurs should have basic knowledge of economics. This book is the shortest and surest way to understand basic economics.  


Smarter, Faster, Cheaper

David Garland

You'll learn innovative ways to market, promote, and improve your business by way of practical advice as opposed to fluffy theory. This is a smart and fresh book that's easy to digest and put to use immediately.


UnMarketing

Scott Stratten

People don't like getting cold calls and spam. This book will show you how to unlearn the old marketing methods, and teach you to build relationships with your customers and make yourself the logical answer to their needs.


Power Friending

Amber Mac

Amber wants you to think of your audience as your friends and then treat them that way. The Power Friending approaching is all about developing business relationships based on mutual respect and support. 


The Innovator’s Dilemma

Clayton M. Christensen

Learn how companies can do everything right and still lose their market leadership or disappear altogether. This extremely sharp book presents a set of rules for capitalizing on the disruptive innovation.


The Innovator’s Solution

Clayton M. Christensen & Michael E. Raynor

The followup book to The Innovator's Dilema published six years later. This beautifully written best seller further explores the ideas and paradoxes presented in the first book.


How To Make Millions With Apps

Chad Mureta

Mureta made millions by starting a successful app business with zero experience, and he explains how you can do it too. 


Delivering Happiness

Tony Hsieh

The visionary CEO of Zappos explains how his obsession with corporate culture and customer service lead to unprecedented success.


Worth Every Penny

Sarah Petty & Erin Verbeck

Too many entrepreneurs discount their products to compete with the big guys, but this book argues there's a better way... because your product is 'worth every penny.'


Also Check Out "12 Must Watch TED Talks for Entrepreneurs:

 

36 comments

  • Daniel
    Daniel
    May 02 2012, 02:41PM

    Nice collection but if I had to read all of that before starting my business I would still be reading!

    If I had to choose only one it would be ‘Rework’.

  • Rachel Miller
    Rachel Miller
    May 02 2012, 02:44PM

    Great List!

  • Barry Martin
    Barry Martin
    May 02 2012, 03:18PM

    Have to agree with @Daniel.

    I’ve read half of them, but after 15 years of running this business, I can tell you that the most pragmatic, actionable advice is in Rework. Don’t miss Made to Stick either.

    I’m sure many of the lessons and ideas here overlap.

    Oh, and one that’s understandably missing because it only came out a couple of weeks agi is Mike Monteiro’s “Design is a Job”. Applicable ideas for all SMBs out of the gate.

  • Andrew Youderian
    Andrew Youderian
    May 02 2012, 05:05PM

    Awesome list, Mark! I will definitely second The “4-Hour Work Week” and “Rework” – both excellent books. I know “Getting Things Done” is a productivity staple, but I didn’t find it too useful – the system was so involved I ended up not using it.

    Another book to consider – especially for those managing teams – is EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey. He’s not your traditional tech guy, but the book is a great guide on how to really build a loyal, hardworking productive culture through quality leadership and management. Highly recommended.

  • Jason
    Jason
    May 02 2012, 05:23PM

    Just purchased 4 of them! And ‘How to make millions with Apps’ just last week.

  • Gianluca
    Gianluca
    May 02 2012, 07:23PM

    I would add the Fastlane Millionaire to the list. Very concrete story, a must read!

  • Jamie Finlay
    Jamie Finlay
    May 03 2012, 03:37AM

    Some great books on the list. I’ve read Rework, Tipping Point and 4HWW all of which are inspirational. For the practical day-to-day management of workflow and life I’d love to see Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits book up there too. Can’t recommend his philosophy enough.

  • Kevin Duncan
    Kevin Duncan
    May 03 2012, 03:51AM

    http://greatesthitsblog.com/ features 8 of these books if anyone wants to read a one-page or one-sentence summary.

  • Mirek Burnejko
    Mirek Burnejko
    May 03 2012, 04:12AM

    Amazing list, but I don’t see one of the best business books – “How to get rich” by Felix Dennis.

  • christina
    christina
    May 03 2012, 09:25AM

    Rather poor description of Four steps to epiphany, I think. The ideas in it have transformed how startups work in the valley; and the key idea adopted everywhere, including by the lean movement is the customer development cycle. If there was one book to read, I’d name that one (only because I haven’t read Blank’s other book yet; I suspect it’s just as important).

    Rework, Linchpin, etc are cute “controversial” fun reads, but Blanks work will make your product company successful, and that’s all that really matters. Eric Reis’s continuation in Lean Start up is also incredibly valuable.

    Innovator’s dilemma/solution, while important books, are more useful if you are trying to be entrepreneurial in a large company that starting your own thing.

    Good to great is outdated and now has proven inaccurate, as well as being more for inhouse big companies than entrapreneurs.

    The one missing book every entrepreneur should read before starting a company (or perhaps after, if they are less than happy) is The Monk and the Riddle.

    Finally I’d argue that Kawasaki’s Art of the Start is more directly applicable to start ups than his others.

  • Frédérick Dubois
    Frédérick Dubois
    May 03 2012, 12:30PM

    Awesome list indeed, very good suggestions

    personnally I read Crush it, Rework and I’m halfway through Linchpin.

    I also particularly enjoyed reading Being Geek which is not on your list but thought deserved a mention.
    http://tum.bz/book/4f11bb483579a6000103b80f/michael-lopp-being-geek-the-software-developer-s-career-handbook

    My favorite of those 4!

    Hard to choose which will be the next one :)

  • Jason Richelson
    Jason Richelson
    May 03 2012, 04:59PM

    I would add to the list “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind” By Al Ries and Jack Trout. It is a must read to learn about branding and psychology.

  • Dave
    Dave
    May 03 2012, 05:33PM

    Great list shopify thanks for these excellent book recommendations. you should start a shopify book club, I would join.

  • Chris Spurvey
    Chris Spurvey
    May 03 2012, 08:36PM

    Great list!
    I have actually read all but 7!
    Must read the remaining.

  • Alishia Willardson
    Alishia Willardson
    May 06 2012, 09:55PM

    Great list! I am setting a personal goal to have them ALL read by May 3rd 2013, right before we leave on our Disney Cruise…

    “Live at Your Peak Personal Power”
    Alishia Willardson
    http://www.yourpeakpersonalpower.com

  • flo
    flo
    May 06 2012, 10:48PM

    I would love to read them all, what a great collection. thank you

  • Marc Ensign
    Marc Ensign
    May 07 2012, 09:29AM

    Thanks for this list! There are a few here that I haven’t read yet. Off to the iBooks store!

  • Jim Wagner
    Jim Wagner
    May 08 2012, 05:37PM

    “Nothing to Lose: Everything to Gain” Ryan Blair. No secret formulas. A focus on some good strategies but a down to Earth reverence for what everyone seems to want to avoid: long hours and hard work. There’s no such thing as an overnight success. All rags to riches stories, unless they involve being a part of the luck sperm club are predated by years of long lonely days.

  • @Shopify Mark Hayes
    Mark Hayes
    May 11 2012, 05:04PM

    WOW! Thanks for all the great comments! I’m so glad everyone is enjoying the list I put together. Happy reading!

  • RJ
    RJ
    May 13 2012, 12:38AM

    That’s a nice list! I’d like to know what books you would select if you had to narrow it down to your top 10 must read?

    Someone mentioned the book Positioning, by Al Ries and Jack Trout. I’d second that. (Not sure about top 10, but maybe).

  • @Shopify Mark Hayes
    Mark Hayes
    May 18 2012, 12:59PM

    RJ: I guess that would depend on what you’re looking to learn! Even still, I’m not sure I could narrow it down any further – in fact, it was difficult enough to get it down to 33.

    :-)

    Glad you enjoyed my list!

  • Josue
    Josue
    May 21 2012, 04:41AM

    Looks like I’ll be reading “Rework” from all the recommendations I see. Great list though. Several of the books I’ve already read and its always awesome to discover new ones.

  • le
    le
    June 03 2012, 03:42AM

    Great round up. You have two of my favorites: 4 hour work week and Rework. I’ll be looking at the others. The “How To Make Millions With Apps” book is intriguing. I’ve been thinking of this for awhile.

  • Mark
    Mark
    June 18 2012, 02:08AM

    Amazing list! I have so many books saved on my Amazon wish list, this just added a whole ton more, and so perfectly relevant to my Shopify startup!

  • Jim
    Jim
    June 25 2012, 09:39PM

    I’ve got both of Gary Vaynerchuk’s books and they are great. Right now I’m reading The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future from Chris Guillebeau. It’s got some great real world examples in it.

  • Jonny
    Jonny
    August 15 2012, 05:54PM

    A great list, though I would add Luke Johnson’s book Start It Up as a very useful, honest guide to entrepreneurship – he doesn’t sugar-coat the pitfalls and risks to setting up your own business, but has plenty of reasons to still do it anyway.

  • Joelle D'Aoust
    Joelle D'Aoust
    August 23 2012, 08:41PM

    Just finished The Thank You Economy – absolutely worth the read, definitely helped me refocus my commitment to social media, and too much success!!

  • Jaret Manuel
    Jaret Manuel
    September 12 2012, 11:11PM

    -4 Hour Work week … good ideas.
    -Screw it let’s do it (not sure if that is same as Screw Business as usual). Branson has great story’s.
    -Rework: Amazing. Amazing. Practical. Amazing. Get it.
    -Made to Stick: It’s been a while but it is no rework.
    -The Lean Startup: High level. Blank’s books may be better.
    -Getting Things Done: Overkill. Can be simplified and updated with the times.
    -How to win friends and influence people: Great book on some basics.
    -Poke the Box: Neat but no need to read.
    -Crush It: Will pump you up but no need.
    -Good to Great: For large companies.
    -Awaken the Giant: there is motivational value but there is stuff on Nutrition for example that Tony Robbins has said himself he was wrong. Just watch his Ted Talk instead. It’s solid.
    -Founders at Work is amazing by I think a modern suggestion is Jared Tame’s StartUpsOpenSourced.com and available on Amazon. I really enjoyed this.
    -Unmarketing: Nothing Special but some decent ideas.
    -Delivering Happiness: Solid book on creating a loyal culture and customer base.

    Summary: Rework should be the only “if 1” book. Someone mentioned Felix Dennis’s “How to Get Rich”. The title may be off putting but damn was that a candid and awesome read. He has a very interesting Ted talk (or poetry reading) as well.

    I’ve read a ton of these types of books and there is value in it but I am convinced there is more value in doing vs. viewing. Awesome if you can do both but quite often one can get caught up in reading paralysis.

    You can read my list: www.goodreads.com/jaretmanuel

    Rock on Shopify! You guys are awesome…

    @JaretManuel

  • John
    John
    December 01 2012, 11:37PM

    I’d strongly recommend Alexis Ohanian’s “Make Something People Love”. His book made me realize how important it is that your product or service “wow” your customer. For example his book made an impression on me and here I am recommending it.

  • joe
    joe
    January 17 2013, 02:44PM

    The E-Myth
    Set me on a new course that I’m still working on.

  • App Mockup Tools
    App Mockup Tools
    January 17 2013, 06:01PM

    The $100 Startup is great. Thee are no reasons not to go for it now.

  • hacene
    hacene
    January 20 2013, 09:24PM

    e-myth should be in the list. great list thanks.

  • Mike
    Mike
    February 05 2013, 06:03PM

    Hey!

    Think also about “Business Model Canvas” A.Ostervald :)

  • Carmen
    Carmen
    March 25 2013, 12:47AM

    Where’s the E-Myth?

  • Mike
    Mike
    December 10 2013, 01:08PM

    Great List – some I have yet to read but there are a few I would add… From Good to Great; J.Collins and eMyth by Gerber.

    Learning is knowledge. They rest is just information. A.Einstein

  • Zohaib Akhlaq
    Zohaib Akhlaq
    July 06 2014, 11:41AM

    From an entrepreneur and business owner who has launched several.. Just my opinion. Books not to be ‘just read’ but rather read, studied and applied. Start with these three! Think and grow rich -Napoleon Hill How to win friends and influence people -Dale Carnegie The seven habits of Highly Effective People -Steven Covey

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