15 Best Business Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read

By Emma Kerr

Launching a business can feel like an act of rebellion against more traditional professional paths, but that doesn’t mean entrepreneurs and small business owners have to do it alone. Business books are one way to learn from seasoned experts and get help guiding your business to success.

These 15 business books come highly recommended by financial experts and reviewers on popular book site Goodreads to reinvigorate long-time business owners and inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs:

  • “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” by Peter Thiel
  • “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek
  • “Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg
  • “An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination” by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang
  • “Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive” by Dorie Clark
  • “Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography” by Walter Isaacson
  • “Starting a Business QuickStart Guide” by Ken Colwell
  • “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business” by Gino Wickman
  • “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” by Eric Ries
  • “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
  • “In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules” by Stacy Perman
  • “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear
  • “Rework” by Jason Fried
  • “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss
  • “The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business” by Josh Kaufman

“Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” by Peter Thiel

Thiel’s “Zero to One” is a book that will ignite your curiosity and inspire those entrepreneurs experiencing stagnation in business.

This book may be best suited for readers with a rebellious spirit, rather than those hoping to improve upon existing business models. One Goodreads reviewer wrote, “A fascinating book, great for investing and entrepreneurs. I like how he really focuses on contrarian thinking, and his mental models for it.”

“Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek

During a 2009 TED Talk that’s been viewed more than 56 million times, Sinek told the crowd, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”

“Start with Why” explores this idea further, outlining how entrepreneurs and business owners can discover their purpose and, in turn, inspire others.

“Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg

There’s no doubt owning a business requires any number of challenging decisions in a single day. Readers can harness insights from the latest research in the fields of neuroscience, psychology and behavioral economics in “Smarter Faster Better” to streamline those decision-making and goal-setting processes.

“For small businesses, productivity is the difference between success and failure. But not all productivity is equal,” Duhigg says. “Optimizing something that you should never have done in the first place is productivity death. And so every entrepreneur should remember that, throughout all of history, there has only been one killer productivity app: thinking more deeply about the choices you are making, and finding some way to force yourself to think when it’s hardest to do.”

“An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination” by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang

Named the 2021 Best in Business Book Award winner by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, “An Ugly Truth” explores how Facebook became one of the most successful companies out of Silicon Valley as well as why it has descended into a period of heightened criticism as it evolved into a “data-mining machine” in recent years.

For better or worse, Facebook – now Meta – is a company worth watching and understanding if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur.

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