Do you want to start a new business or grow your existing business? Being an entrepreneur is a lonely job.
But fortunately, you can always rely on books. Forget about going to networking events, meetups, or browsing the internet for useful advice.
To me, reading business books is the best use of my time. And in this article, you’ll find a list of books that have helped me with 6 skills I think every entrepreneur can benefit from:
- Adopting the mindset of an entrepreneur. It might sound easy, but it’s not. Succeeding as an entrepreneur largely depends on your mindset, not your talents or resources.
- Productivity. I look at productivity as the vehicle to your goals and desires. Without a productivity system, you’ll often end up working on unimportant things that will not bring you closer to your goals.
- Business writing. Even though media is getting more visual by the day, we communicate more with words than ever. Being an effective writer helps you to get people to act with your words.
- Persuasion. An entrepreneur is nothing more than a salesperson who sells their own products. So you better be good at persuading others.
- Public Speaking. You can quickly stand out from the crowd by adding public speaking to your arsenal of skills. And it’s not only a skill that you can use for giving talks or presentations. Want to make better videos for YouTube or social media? Get better at public speaking.
- Marketing. How do you position, package, and develop products that people actually need? That’s marketing. And that’s a skill you need to be an effective entrepreneur.
You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to benefit from these skills. Every person who works for a business can use these skills to advance their career.
Below, I mention at least one book for every skill I’ve listed above. I’ve spent a long time thinking about which books to mention here.
And I decided to focus on books I think will be relevant for decades to come. The last thing you want is to read a book that’s useless next year. Let’s get started.
This timeless book, published in 1959, inspires you to think positively about your life and career. Schwartz has a very practical approach and shares ideas that work. Thinking big has nothing to do with having big dreams. It’s about acting big.
Cardone is one of the biggest names in sales training. And rightfully so. Sure, Grant Cardone brags a lot. And I’m not a fan of his social media persona. But I do like his books. Particularly The 10X Rule. The book comes down to this: Want to reach 100K people with your products? Focus on 1.000.000 instead. Btw, get the audiobook, which is read by Grant himself. You’ll laugh and learn. We can all use a bit of encouragement.
As an entrepreneur, you need a growth mindset to survive. Life is about solving problems and finding solutions. If you always look at the risks and consequences of everything, you might play it safe, but you’ll also never grow. Carol Dweck’s book is one of my favorite books about developing the mindset you need to succeed in life.
Productivity is about doing the right things. And this book helps you to focus better on what matters to you, personally. Once you know what you’re after, it’s easier to get there. That’s really important as an entrepreneur. You must have a direction and be very focused about your execution. McKeown is a great writer, and I think this will be a long-time best-seller in this category.
Gary Halbert was a successful copywriter. And today, he’s still a legend in the marketing world. But this collection of letters goes beyond marketing. Halbert uses his copywriting skills to teach his son about direct response marketing, life, health, and being successful. He wrote these letters while he was serving time in federal prison.
The all-time classic book on persuasion is Influence by Robert Cialdini. I highly recommend reading that book. However, that book is very theoretical and broad. If you specifically want to read more about how you can persuade others of your ideas, Made to Stick is great. Telling persuasive stories is one of your key responsibilities as an entrepreneur.
A book list without Dale Carnegie is never complete. I’ve read a bunch of books about public speaking. New and old. But this book is still the best book I’ve read on the topic. It really is a quick and easy way to effectively speak so that you can start spreading your ideas better than ever.
Isaacson is one of the best biographers, and Elon Musk is one of the most interesting people in the world. I knew this would be a good book. It’s particularly interesting for entrepreneurs because Musk is the ultimate entrepreneur. As everyone knows, he’s a troubled man and has a wild personal life. If you’re interested in that, you can also read about that. I personally enjoyed reading about his childhood, early business ventures, and how he survived the challenges of building Tesla.
I have to confess that I’ve been familiar with the concept of ‘blue oceans’ and ‘red oceans’ in the marketing world for a few years. However, I haven’t been applying it as much as I should. Too often, we try to compete with other businesses in the red oceans. Why do we do it? Why do we always try to be better and not different? Blue Ocean Strategy provides valuable answers that help you create unique products that serve new markets.
Almost all entrepreneurs I know are lazy. I’m the biggest example of that. Why do you think I’m so big on productivity? I don’t want to waste my time on unnecessary things. Even though reading is one of the most necessary things to me as an entrepreneur, I understand that you might not have time to read all these books. Maybe you have a 9–5 job, run multiple businesses, or have a house full of kids. These are all legitimate reasons for lack of time.
In that case, I recommend reading Anything You Want, which is one of my favorite books from one of my favorite people. Derek Sivers built CD Baby and sold it later for $22 million. And in this book, Derek shares “the biggest mistakes, keys to its success, and the philosophies behind the big decisions.” You can read it in an hour (and if you don’t even have an hour of free time, you want to rethink your life).
There you go. These books have taught me more about business than my master’s degree. And the best thing? The books will cost you less than 150 bucks. What’s the cost of a master’s degree? Actually, don’t get me started.
Just start reading. That’s more than enough. In fact, if you read these books, you’ll know more than 99% of all other entrepreneurs.
Now, you and I only need to act on the ideas we’ve learned.