Are you an entrepreneur looking for motivation, inspiration, or perhaps ideas and strategies on how to better run your business? Check out our list of 5 books that will help you establish actionable steps in improving every aspect of your professional life from leadership advice to turning your ideas into realities.
No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline
You will never accomplish anything without self-discipline. This is a foundational trait needed to accomplish ANY goal you set for yourself. Author Brian Tracy starts with a definition of self-discipline: the ability to “do what you should do when you should do it whether you feel like it or not.” The top hindrances of self-discipline are shortcuts — referred to as the path of least resistance — and the notion of instant gratification. This book helps to build self-discipline by eliminating the number one deterrent to realizing your ambitions: excuses. Inside he provides 21 rules that span over three areas of life. These rules not only build self-discipline but also provide actionable measures to gain more self-respect and confidence.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Successful entrepreneurs are constantly practicing self-improvement. This book by Stephen Covey provides powerful lessons in personal change and is so relevant that it has almost become a cliché for increasing personal effectiveness. The author writes about a paradigm shift: the framework containing your basic assumptions and ways of thinking. Lessons shown include quotes from Holocaust victim Victor Frankl: “Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.” This means recognizing your responsibility on how you respond to factors such as genetics, upbringing, or your environment. Habits also include worrying or complaining about things you can or can’t control: your circle of influence. In order to operate your business more effectively, you must first make the change within — and this book is the perfect start.
Think and Grow Rich
Known as one of the all-time best sellers in the personal success category, Napoleon Hill provides leading insight from the 20th century. Think and Grow Rich is one of the most recommended reads from entrepreneurs of both past and present, making a case for the value of its timeless advice. It is based on interviews from some of the greatest men known in history: John D.Rockefeller, Henry Ford, JP Morgan, Thomas Edison, and Theodore Roosevelt. Topics touch on desire, faith, influencing your subconscious mind, mastering procrastination, and persistence to name a few. With advice and knowledge from these notable 20th-century influencers, several keys to success can definitely be found here.
The Art of War
Believed to have been published in the 4th or 5th Century, The Art of War is a timeless classic. It is generally accepted that Chinese Military leader Sun Tzu is the author. However, some argue that the book is an accumulation of theories and teachings from generations of Chinese military strategy. It was near the 18th Century when the book reached the Western world, with historians noting French emperor Napoleon as the first Western leader to follow its teachings. So why should founders read a book on war? The teachings applied in this book transcend just the battlefield alone. The 13-chapter book includes rules such as “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight;” and “He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.” Many successful entrepreneurs today such as Richard Jenkins of Saildrone praise the lessons learned: “It has probably had the biggest single impact in guiding my decision-making and strategy, etc., not just in business, but in ideas and even personal life.”
The Startup Owner’s Manual
Written by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf, there is no better guide to help you move your idea from concept to market. In this book Blank and Dorf detail, all the processes needed beforehand when launching a product. Now, this isn’t your normal book, it’s literally styled similarly to an auto repair manual, but for startup owners. When looking at the book you would definitely see the resemblance. Before the start of the book, there is a word of caution from the authors: “Don’t read too much at a time.” Phases include customer discovery, customer validation, customer creation, and company building. Each step can be repeated as needed but the customer development phase is imperative for startups. Since most businesses in the United States today are small to medium sized businesses, this book is the ultimate tool when it comes to preparing to scale.
Though we’ve condensed this list to only five books, we know there are other gems that can truly make a difference in fellow entrepreneurs lives. If you have any recommendations for something you think deserved a top five slot, drop it in the comments below!