Launching a business is both exciting and terrifying. It takes a wild leap of faith, strategic planning, and dedication, and even if you have those things, 20% of businesses fail in the first year. To help you avoid common entrepreneurial pitfalls, we’ve put together a list of the best books for entrepreneurs to read in 2023.
This list of highly recommended books will motivate and inspire you to build the business of your dreams while keeping your wits.
17 Must-Read Books for Entrepreneurs
1. The Lean Startup
By Eric Ries
The Lean Startup focuses on helping startup entrepreneurs avoid common pitfalls as they launch their companies. It teaches an approach that focuses on effectively fostering creativity, experimentation, and measuring success using metrics that actually count. This is one of the best books for entrepreneurs who want to take a no-fuss approach to starting their business.
All innovation begins with vision. It’s what happens next that is critical.
By Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
The problem many entrepreneurs face is that they focus on talking rather than doing, and Rework helps you focus on productivity from the beginning. The authors cut through all of the most common excuses newbie entrepreneurs have when they start and help you get to work. Rework helps you avoid burnout and reminds you that working and building a company doesn’t have to crush your spirit.
Workaholics aren't heroes. They don't save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is home because she figured out a faster way.
3. Zero to One
By Peter Thiel and Blake Masters
While this New York Times bestselling book is mainly focused on building and investing in innovative companies, it’s an excellent resource for small business entrepreneurs who want to create a profitable niche for themselves. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, founder, or investor, you will gain something from this future-focused book that explains how tomorrow’s winners are those thinking up and building unique businesses.
The best projects are likely to be overlooked, not trumpeted by a crowd; the best problems to work on are often the ones nobody else even tries to solve.
By Gino Wickman
In Traction, Gino Wickman helps entrepreneurs implement what he calls the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) to gain traction and grow with businesses. Wickman’s system helps heads of new companies avoid common frustrations, such as a lack of control, people, lack of profits, the ceiling, and the feeling that nothing is working.
Most people are sitting on their own diamond mines. The surest ways to lose your diamond mine are to get bored, become overambitious, or start thinking that the grass is greener on the other side. Find your core focus, stick to it, and devote your time and resources to excelling at it.
5. The E-Myth Revisited
By Michael E. Gerber
Michael E. Geber explains that starting a business takes a tremendous amount of work, and what new entrepreneurs fail to do is work on their business more than working in their business. And he explains the three personality types you need to have in order for success: The Entrepreneur, The Manager, and The Technician.
The difference between great people and everyone else is that great people create their lives actively, while everyone else is created by their lives, passively waiting to see where life takes them next. The difference between the two is living fully and just existing.
6. The $100 Startup
By Chris Guillebeau
There are many challenges when starting a business, and The $100 Startup is meant to be a guide to overcoming challenges like finding a marketable idea, keeping your costs low, knowing the difference between what customers say they want and what they really want, and more.
If you make your business about helping others, you’ll always have plenty of work.
7. Company of One
By Paul Jarvis
This is one of the best books for entrepreneurs who want to prioritize a rich life. Jarvis explains how staying small offers more freedom, and the power in making a commitment to being better instead of bigger.
The gist is this: you can pursue any passion you want, but you shouldn’t feel entitled to make money off it. Passion in work comes from first crafting a valuable skill set and mastering your work. This is great news, because it means you no longer have to beat yourself up for not finding your true, hidden passions. Instead, you can simply get to work.
8. The Hard Thing About Hard Things
By Ben Horowitz
Ben Horowitz knows that starting a business is great and has learned a lot selling, investing, managing, and supervising. But in his book, he uses his experience to analyze the problems entrepreneurs face on a daily basis. Horowitz is a funny, straightforward author who shares personal stories as he inspires and educates future entrepreneurs.
Hard things are hard because there are no easy answers or recipes. They are hard because your emotions are at odds with your logic. They are hard because you don’t know the answer and you cannot ask for help without showing weakness.
9. Start with Why
By Simon Sinek
Simon Sinek inspires us to ask the question “Why?” He looks at why some companies are more innovative, why some people are more influential than others, and why some are more profitable. Sinek discusses why people like Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Wright Brothers all began with the same question: why?
Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.
10. The Startup of You
By Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha
This book is less about becoming an entrepreneur and more about becoming the most successful version of yourself, whether that’s starting your own business or upping your career. The authors explain how to treat your career like a startup — staying nimble, dynamic, and willing to take risks.
If you want to build a strong network that will help you move ahead in your career, it's vital to first take stock of the connections you already have.
11. Crushing It!
By Gary Vaynerchuk
Crushing It! is one of the best books for entrepreneurs who want a practical and inspiring perspective on building a business. Vaynerchuk gives actionable advice about how to leverage social media, shares stories from successful entrepreneurs, and talks about building your personal brand.
Know yourself. Choose the right medium, choose the right topic, create awesome content, and you can make a lot of money being happy.
12. Your Next Five Moves
By Patrick Bet-David
Your Next Five Moves is an excellent book for entrepreneurs who want to strategize for long-term business success. The idea comes from master chess players who always plan five steps ahead. Bet-David suggests adopting this strategy in every aspect of your life and business.
You want to choose a path that puts the odds of winning in your favor; in poker, it’s called game selection. What determines if you win in any game (or business) isn’t how good you are; it’s how good you are relative to your competition. That’s why it’s so important to know your own strengths and weaknesses and find a market in which you have an inherent advantage.
13. Steve Jobs
By Walter Isaacson
This best-selling biography is one of the best books for entrepreneurs who want to learn from a 21st century icon, Steve Jobs. You will learn about the life of Steve Jobs, from his early experiences to his time at Apple. Isaacson interviewed Jobs more than 40 times and more than hundreds of people who knew Jobs well.
People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.
14. Radical Candor
By Kim Scott
Radical Candor is less about being an entrepreneur and more about how to become the best and most effective boss possible. Author Kim Scott was a successful leader at Google and Apple, which led to the writing of her book, which explains that, as a leader, you don’t need to be a pushover or a jerk.
A better start to a healthy relationship is to leave the unwanted things in their way and make a fresh start.
15. The Virgin Way
By Richard Branson
Richard Branson lives a wild, adventurous life, and spent over forty years building the Virgin Group and never shying away from personal and professional challenges. Branson leads differently than most high-level executives, and his unique leadership style is what’s known as “the Virgin Way.”
Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.
16. Year of Yes
By Shonda Rhimes
Shonda Rhimes is responsible for creating some of the most popular TV shows of the past decade, like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. But you might not realize that Rhimes is a self-proclaimed introvert who absolutely hates putting herself out there. In Year of Yes, Rhimes shares how agreeing to everything that scared her for an entire year changed her relationship with herself. It’s one of the best books for entrepreneurs who are afraid of moving forward with their business.
I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.
By Angela Duckworth
Grit was an instant New York Times bestseller, and it’s become a go-to read for anyone who wants to understand and leverage what author Angel Duckworth refers to as “grit.” Duckworth believes that it isn’t IQ or circumstances that lead to success — it’s your ability to persist in the face of adversity. This is a must-read if you’ve been looking for the motivation to push forward into the next phase of your life.
Without effort, your talent is nothing more than unmet potential. Without effort, your skill is nothing more than what you could have done but didn't.
Final Word on Must-Read Books for Entrepreneurs
Learning from the successes and failures of others is one step toward starting your own business, but you still need to make the leap. We’re here to help you on your journey, and here are several articles with practical information for different stages of your business:
There are so many excellent books for entrepreneurs, and one of our favorites is Company of One. It explains the benefits of starting small — you can build a dynamic and nimble business that gives you a sense of pride. Even if you decide to scale, this is a must-read for solopreneurs or newbie entrepreneurs.
CEOs are constantly reaching for more knowledge, and reading books is one of the best ways to gain that knowledge. They offer insider tips to strategizing and scaling your business so it stays profitable and dynamic.