s a business owner or an aspiring business owner, it is important to arm yourself with the best strategies and frameworks available. There's a reason that people say "knowledge is power". Having the right information at the right time is crucial for making the best decisions. But, not everybody has the time, money, or desire to take a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). And, fortunately, it is not needed. To help you on your journey we have assembled this list of the must-read business books for entrepreneurs.
Reading is one of the most effective and affordable ways to acquire knowledge and skills. Reading allows you to access insights and lessons from successful people from all walks of life. How much would you pay to pick Warren Buffett's mind on his investment strategies for an hour? Or how about to pick Tiger Woods's brain on his golfing strategy?
The reality is that high-performers are very protective of their time, as they should be. They don't have time to hold your hand as you work on achieving your goals. But, just because they are unavailable does not mean that you don't have any access to their knowledge. You can still learn from the best, despite never having any direct contact with them.
The value of reading doesn't come from the content. The value comes from the way the content changes our mindset, and the ways we think. Reading is a source of personal growth, and each book is a step down the path towards self-empowerment.
We have compiled this list to serve as a jumping-off point for your educational journey. There are millions of books that have value to give, but these were some of our favorites.
Must-Read Books for Entrepreneurs
The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
One of the best books for entrepreneurs we have ever encountered is the 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. Business books are quick to tell you what to do and how to do it, but few of them discuss why. In The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss does an excellent job of providing you with a wide range of tools, tricks, and mental frameworks to help you succeed in your business. But, what sets this book apart is that Tim not only discusses the merits of digital entrepreneurship but also the lifestyle that it can afford you. While some of us truly enjoy working long weeks, many of us would prefer to work shorter, more effective weeks while keeping the same income. This is Tim's world.
- How to test the market for a product without a significant financial commitment
- Ways to automate your business to run without you
- How to hire and train a virtual assistant
- How to handle administrative tasks more effectively
- And, what to do with all of the freedom that your newly optimized business affords you
The frameworks and ideologies presented in this book are crucial for helping you build a business can function without you. The idea is that by implementing the lessons and techniques the book offers, you will be able to cut your schedule down to a 4-Hour Workweek. While this is definitely a bit of an exaggeration, Tim Ferriss serves as a living example. After optimizing his business he was able to travel the world for upwards of a year, often not doing any more work than checking his emails every week or two. The result? His business thrived.
Whether you are looking to start a business, grow your current business, or make the transition to working remotely, we cannot recommend this book enough.
Built to Sell by John Warrillow
Regardless of what industry you are in, most business owners will eventually find themselves in a tough position - their business is incapable of running without them.
Many entrepreneurs start out on their path because they want to be the boss rather than work for one. But, they end up creating a job rather than a business. Even worse, their new job is even more demanding of their time and attention than their previous job.
This is the problem that John Warrillow set out to solve in Built to Sell, and why it is one of the best books for entrepreneurs. This 153-page book is written as a story, making it a quick and easy read. But, despite the short length, it is full of knowledge and will change the way you think about running a business.
Key Lessons :
- A business that relies on its owner cannot be sold for much, if at all. Investors are too afraid of it failing after the purchase.
- The only way to automate your business is to create systems and processes that replace you or your employees.
- Even if you don't intend to sell your business, you can still build it to function without you. This will free up your time to work on growing the business and make it a much more enjoyable experience.
While most beginners are thinking about building their business rather than selling it, the beginning is precisely the best time to start thinking about creating systems. Rather than trying to adapt your business to be sold later on, you can simply build it in a way that leaves the opportunity open.
This is a must-read for anyone new to building businesses, and it has the potential to drastically change your mindset.
The CashFlow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki
Robert Kiyosaki is best-known for his iconic personal finance book Rich Dad Poor Dad. But, one that is equally as influential is the Cashflow Quadrant.
The Cashflow Quadrant is a short book that breaks down Kiyosaki's framework of the same name. Kiyosaki outlines the four different types of income (i.e. cashflow), as well as the benefits and disadvantages of each one.
The Four Types of Income :
- Employment (i.e. working for a paycheque)
- Self-Employment (Working as a professional, e.g. Lawyer or Contractor)
- Business Ownership (Creating employment for others)
- Investing (In assets like real estate, or the stock market)
In the book, Kiyosaki goes over the four types of income in-depth. He also demonstrates that there are significant tax benefits to being in the 3rd or 4th categories. Kiyosaki then goes on to explain the differences in how social classes tend to spend their income. He ends off by giving some insights about how you can change which category you draw your income from.
While not specifically related to e-commerce, this book will shape the way you think about income and is likely to play a big role in how you evaluate business opportunities in the future. It is a short read, but undoubtedly one of the best books for entrepreneurs you'll find.
The Lean StartUp by Eric Ries | Books for Entrepreneurs
As technology advances at a near-exponential pace, the question business owners are asking themselves has shifted from “could we build this?” to “should we build this?”. Without a doubt, there are thousands of engineers and business leaders who are currently building products that will never hit the shelves. The problem? People are building products and services without ever speaking to the end customer, or validating which features the customer actually wants to see.
Traditional Path for Businesses:
- An entrepreneur comes up with an idea for an innovative product or service
- The entrepreneur comes up with their idea of how the product should be made, what it should offer, and how it should look
- The entrepreneur secures some financing and assembles a team
- The team build the product over the next week/month/year
- The team implements a marketing plan and launches the product
- The customer finally gets to interact with the end product
If you haven’t realized by now, the traditional path takes forever to actually receive any feedback from the customer. By the time the customer is able to offer their insights or criticisms, the team has already exhausted most of their income, and is unable to fund any large pivots.
This is what happened to Eric Ries. As the Chief Technology Officer of a tech start-up in the mid 2000s, he spend hundreds of hours developing features and integrations for a product that ultimately ended up flopping. Customers hated the initial version. His team ended up changing the product significantly, and all of his hard work went down the drain.
Ries took his lessons and compiled them in The Lean StartUp to help entrepreneurs find ways of gathering insights based on hard data, rather than the opinions offered by friends, customers, or even worse, the founders.
This book is extremely useful in helping you understand how to do product-market testing before you invest your time and money into further product development. This is not only one of the best books for entrepreneurs. The lessons can also be carried over to most forms of projects, especially creative or ambiguous ones. It is certainly worth a read.