We've compiled a list of the best books by renowned business leaders, novelists, and successful entrepreneurs, packed with practical advice on becoming an industry innovator and finding your passion through meaningful work. With these books, you too can build your own business and thrive.
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32 must-read entrepreneur books for 2020
1. The Power of Broke
Author: Daymond John
Daymond John is an influential voice for founders who don’t have a ton of money to get their small business started. In his bestselling The Power of Broke, he discusses how being broke and on a tight budget can motivate you to achieve great things—as long as you’re hungry for success.
2. Behold the Dreamers
Author: Imbolo Mbue
Behold the Dreamers inspires with its timeless plea for courage. Set during the 2008 financial crisis, this New York Times bestselling novel is told through the eyes of a young Cameroonian woman and shines a light on the immigrant experience with a wit and compassion that’s lacking in today’s political conversation. The story feels more relevant than ever as equality movements redefine what it means to be an immigrant living in the United States.
3. The Virgin Way
Author: Richard Branson
Richard Branson was just 16 years old when he dropped out of school and started working for himself. Some 40 years later, his Virgin Group is an international brand. This is the playbook for leadership, showing how family, fun, passion, and listening are key to creating a successful, worldwide team of employees.
4. Steve Jobs
Author: Walter Isaacson
Anyone involved in business has heard at least a few stories about Apple founder Steve Jobs. Walter Isaacson’s riveting biography of the Silicon Valley icon will inspire you to build and create products that people want, to test the boundaries of innovation, and to become an entrepreneurial success with a business plan to change the world.
5. Year of Yes
Author: Shonda Rhimes
Leading Hollywood producer Shonda Rhimes, best known for her hit series Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, lets readers in on her personal industry experiences in Year of Yes. Rhimes shares her journey from being a shy and nervous introvert who turned down endless opportunities to becoming a confident speaker and authoritative figure who said yes to everything that came her way. This book is for anyone who wants to bust out of their shell and bring their voice into the world.
6. Beating the Odds
Author: Eddie Brown
Philanthropist and business magnate Eddie Brown walks you through how he built and maintained Brown Capital Management through hard times, like 9/11 and the 2008 recession. In his autobiography, Beating the Odds, Brown offers a fascinating look at being born in the rural South to a 13-year-old mother who died shortly after his birth. Brown tells how, despite endless hardships, he created his own life path—graduating college, joining the Army, and becoming an engineer at IBM—and eventually built his billion-dollar company.
7. Female Innovators at Work
Author: Danielle Newnham
Female Innovators At Work is a must-read for all current and aspiring leaders of women-owned businesses. Danielle Newnham’s book is full of inspiring interviews and case studies from female CEOs, founders, and inventors from various different areas of tech, as they share their experiences, challenges, and lessons learned on their journeys through entrepreneurship.
8. In the Company of Women
Author: Grace Bonney
In the Company of Women shares and highlights inspiring advice and life stories from women entrepreneurs across various industries, careers, backgrounds, races, and places, showing how visibility is the key to success for women leaders today. If you want to gain new perspectives and soak up some inspiration, this is one of the best entrepreneur books to check out.
9. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Author: Angela Duckworth
Many of us know persistence and effort are key to success. Those who “make it” aren’t always the ones with the best ideas or resources. They’re the ones who work and improve every day—no matter what. This is what Grit is about. In this New York Times bestseller, Angela Duckworth teaches business owners how to cultivate more grit in themselves and the people around them.
10. The Last Black Unicorn
Author: Tiffany Haddish
In this autobiography, actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish shares her rags-to-riches story. The Last Black Unicorn is a powerful and personal tale of how you can come from nothing and make it to the top by following your dreams and being true to who you are. If you want to have a good laugh and a dose of inspiration, this is your must-read book of the year.
11. Girl Code
Author: Cara Alwill Leyba
One of the many tough parts of being a female entrepreneur can be dealing with other women. But when women show up for and support each other, amazing things happen. In this powerful book for female entrepreneurs, Cara Alwill Leyba shares the secrets to building confidence and empowering other women. Girl Code helps you connect with why you do what you do in your life and business, handle jealousy, burn out, and self care, and find out what success means to you.
12. David and Goliath
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Each of Malcolm Gladwell’s books are riveting. In David and Goliath, heexamines how we think about challenges and disadvantages while offering a new look at what it means to be discriminated against, lose a parent, attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of life setbacks. Learn about the success of the Impressionists, the history of the full-court press, and why you should avoid elite colleges like Harvard and Brown.
13. The 4-Hour Workweek
Author: Timothy Ferriss
If you follow the Shopify blog, you’re aware of Timothy Ferriss. In this book, you’ll learn how he went from working 80 hours a week and earning $40,000 a year to earning $40,000 a month working only four hours a week.
14. All Marketers Are Liars
Author: Seth Godin
Great marketers don’t talk about features or benefits. They tell stories. In All Marketers Are Liars, Seth Godin shines some new light on this industry, discussing how marketers think and create stores—as well as lies and frauds— that have an impact on the lives of many, for better or for worse. His book will also teach you how to build a brand and craft your story.
15. Purple Cow
Author: Seth Godin
Purple Cow, another book by Seth Godin, showcases one core principle of marketing: be remarkable. Godin discusses how the old way of building a business—making safe, average products then advertising them on TV—is long gone. Instead, he argues here, you need to stop advertising, start innovating, and build remarkable products.
16. The Hard Thing About Hard Things
Author: Ben Horowitz
Does the name Horowitz seem familiar? Ben Horowitz is one half of Andreessen Horowitz, one of the most respected VCs in Silicon Valley. Here, Horowitz offers essential advice on founding and running a startup, as well as practical wisdom for navigating the biggest challenges business schools don’t cover.
Authors: Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
In Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson convincingly show that most of what we regard as obstacles—hiring staff, dealing with paperwork, decision making, time management, renting an office—are simply excuses not to get started. With its direct language and simple-is-better technique, Rework is the best playbook for anyone who’s dreamed of running a successful business of their own.
18. Trust Me, I’m Lying
Author: Ryan Holiday
Do you want to know how the media really works? Ryan Holiday claims to know. As a media manipulator, he uses blogging to control and distort the news, as much as any one person can. Trust Me, I’m Lying shows you how he does it. But be careful—the information provided here is dangerous.
19. The Lean Startup
Author: Eric Ries
Rather than waste your time creating a big business plan, The Lean Startup offers companies of all sizes a new way to test their vision, adjust, and adapt—fast. Eric Ries provides a scientific approach to creating a successful startup—whether founded in a Fortune 100 boardroom or a garage, like Amazon—in a time when companies need to innovate to thrive.
20. The Startup Owner’s Manual
Authors: Steve Blank and Bob Dorf
The Startup Owner’s Manual is a 608-page how-to guide on how to run a startup. If you like charts, graphs, diagrams, and unlocking the secrets to building a successful, scalable company, this is the business book for you.
21. Crush It!
Author: Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary Vaynerchuk discovered the possibilities of sales through the internet earlier than many. In Crush It!, you’ll learn his advice for turning your web presence into a personal brand—just like Vaynerchuk did when he grew his family’s wine business from a $4-million venture to a $60-million one.
22. The Tipping Point
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
The Tipping Point is Malcolm Gladwell’s seminal book about how small changes can prompt big ones. In this bestseller, Gladwell explores and explains the “tipping point phenomenon,” which changed how people throughout the world think about selling products and sharing ideas. You’ve heard about it. Now it’s time to read it.
23. Good to Great
Author: Jim Collins
In Good to Great, Jim Collins profiles major companies such as Intel, Coca-Cola, and Merck to discover how they took quantum leaps ahead of their competitors. To find out what makes a company great, Collins and his 21-person research team read and coded 6,000 articles, produced more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts, and created 384 megabytes of computer data over the course of five years. Their findings are presented in this intriguing business book.
24. Getting to Yes
Author: Roger Fisher and William Ury
Getting to Yes is based on the work of the Harvard Negotiation project, a group that deals with all levels of negotiation and conflict resolution. This book has been published continuously for 30 years, teaching business owners a step-by-step strategy for coming to mutual agreements in every sort of conflict. Not many business books can claim the same.
25. The Power of Visual Storytelling
Author: Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio
The Power of Visual Storytelling is one-of-a-kind guide to developing powerful marketing programs using visual storytelling. In this book, you’ll learn how to grow your business and strengthen your brand by leveraging photos, videos, infographics, presentations, and other rich media.
Author: Nir Eyal
Looking for a product to sell and open to trying anything? Consult Nir Eyal’s Hook Model, a four-step process to build customer habits and learn how to build products that people can’t put down.
27. Ogilvy on Advertising
Author: David Ogilvy
Ogilvy on Advertising is a classic book for entrepreneurs, written by David Ogilvy, one of the co-founders of Ogilvy & Mather who’s also been called the original Mad Man.
28. How to Win Friends and Influence People
Author: Dale Carnegie
Since 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies. This timeless bestseller is packed with actionable advice that has carried hundreds of thousands of successful people through their business and personal lives. It can teach you some new people skills and how to achieve maximum potential in a noisy and competitive age.
29. The Art of the Start
Author: Guy Kawasaki
Guy Kawasaki was one of the first marketers for Apple, where he cultivated the ability to put ideas into action. From raising money to hiring the right people, defining your position and building a brand, creating hype and fostering a community, this business book will guide you through the journey of starting a business.
30. Start With Why
Author: Simon Sinek
Start With Why takes you inside the minds of business leaders who’ve had the greatest influence on the world. Simon Sinek explores how they think, act, and communicate. Pulling from real-life experiences, he brings together a clear playbook for what it takes to lead and inspire. If you want to inspire others, or learn how to find a mentor who inspires you, this book will show you how.
31. Rich Dad Poor Dad
Author: Robert T. Kiyosaki
Rich Dad Poor Dad tells Robert Kiyosaki’s story of growing up with two dads: his biological father and his fathers’ best friend—his “rich dad.” Kiyosaki shares how both men shaped his thoughts about money and investing. He also explores the myth of earning a high income to become rich and shows how you can use money to work for you, rather than constantly working for money.
32. Zero to One
Author: Peter Thiel
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, explores how to build a better future in his bestselling book, Zero to One. Thiel presents a positive look into the future of America’s tech world and offers a new way of thinking about innovation—learning how to ask the right questions that lead you to discover value in the most unexpected places.
What are the best entrepreneur books you’re reading?
When it comes to entrepreneur books, you may find some topics more interesting or practical than others. Regardless, reading these types of books helps you learn from other successful entrepreneurs’ mistakes and take advantage of their lessons, so you too can build a profitable business of your own.
If you want to learn more about entrepreneurship, check out these top business podcasts to explore more tips, tricks, challenges, and lessons.