Regardless of age and experience, entrepreneurs endure a continuous learning process when establishing, launching and maintaining a business. The best way to continue enhancing your skills and knowledge as an entrepreneur is through picking up, and reading a book. I’m a strong advocate of continuous improvement, and I believe that continuous improvement of your business starts with you.
Generally, entrepreneurs are people who like to innovate through using teachings from the past, and present to pave the way for the future. When carrying out research, the technology entrepreneurs have available is in abundance, but I still believe the old tried and tested methods stand the test of time. By simply picking up a book you can gain insight to some of the greatest minds and teachers from the past and present. It doesn’t matter if you are on a budget or one of the richest young entrepreneurs, you can still gain access to some of these gems.
Where do you start when choosing a book? By carrying out a random search on Amazon or Google you will be inundated, and overwhelmed by all the suggestions. Separating and distinguishing between the weak, and the strong contenders can be overwhelming. Hopefully this article will do some of that work for you
From classics to new releases, here are 10 great books that I believe all entrepreneurs and those fascinated by startups should find the time to read.
1. The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change The Way You Do Business by Clayton M. Christenen, 1997
This book from leading Harvard professor Clayton Christenen looks at how key technologies cause disruptive change, and propels their exploiters into the lead. Christensen takes the position that great companies can fail precisely because they do everything right.
Large established companies cling to the status quo, whilst deliberating about innovation; it is the entrepreneur who takes the initiative and forces through innovation. Without legacy systems and overbearing bureaucracy it is the entrepreneur who has the upper hand.
2. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries, 2011.
The book deals primarily with the strategy of building startups, and in particular, with those that require innovation to stake their claim in the modern entrepreneurial environmental. Eric highlights that “validated learning” as opposed to failure is the most effective way of learning, and successfully launching a startup. He says, “a failure to deliver results is due to either a failure to plan adequately or a failure to execute properly.”
3. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, 1936
A classic book that has assisted people from all walks of life for over 80 years. The magic and success of this book is the easy to read material and the practical references such as, six ways to get people to like you, 12 ways to encourage others to buy into your thinking or nine ways to change people’s minds without any resentment.
4. The Startup of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman, 2012
Written by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and author Ben Casnocha. This book shows that being an entrepreneur isn’t really about starting a business. It’s a way of looking at the world: seeing opportunity where others see obstacles, taking risks when others take refuge. Whatever career you’re in or want to be in The Startup of You holds lessons for success.
5. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau, 2012
In The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau (author of The Art of Non-Conformity) accomplishes something unique. Instead of discussing how to grow, scale, leverage, and sell a new business, which is typical of much of the entrepreneurship literature out there. He focuses entirely on “microbusinesses”: tiny, one- or two-person operations that maximize freedom and generate roughly $50,000 per year.
Much of Chris’ advice will benefit solo creatives who rely upon strong online presences, as Chris himself makes a living from writing, blogging, and selling digital guides.
6. Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder, 2010
Freethinking entrepreneurs and visionaries swear by this book. As business structures and practices change, it makes sense that business models also evolve. This book disrupts the traditional thought patterns that get in the way of fresh thinking. Most importantly, the book practices what it preaches.
7. The Practice Of Management by Peter Drucker, 2006
The late Peter F. Drucker is the most influential management thinker of the 20th Century. This book was first published in 1955, and is often credited with single-handedly creating and popularising the idea that management was something that could be studied, measured, and improved. Not fads can be found in this book, just solid and detailed reference on the problems and challenges of management and the practice of management.
8. Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises by Timothy F. Geithner, 2014
“Sensational . . . Tim’s book will forever be the definitive work on what causes financial panics and what must be done to stem them when they occur.” —Warren Buffett
9. Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Peter Drucker, 2006
Drucker was one of the top management thinkers of his generation. In this book he provides a detailed analysis of the sources of innovation and strategies for the implementation of innovation-based changes. He uses real examples to demonstrate how systematic innovation can be applied to business, government, politics, non-profit and service organizations. His analysis is thorough, well structured and easy to understand. He finishes with an interesting discussion on why innovation is so necessary today. All of this is backed-up with examples of areas of society that are still operating on dated assumptions, and he offers some insightful innovations.
10. Cold Calling Techniques (That Really Work) by Stephen Schiffman, 2014
This book goes back to basics. Forget social media, and new technology. As an entrepreneur, at some point you are going to have to pick up the phone, or meet someone face-to-face to convince them to support your idea in some capacity. The real gold is in the simple approach. The book cuts through tons of theory, and tells you what works.
Please share your thoughts if there are any books that you think should have been included in this list.