Was one of your new year’s resolutions to read as many of the best business books you could get your hands on?
If so, you’ve come to the right place.
Business books have always been a popular source for priceless insight and information. They’ve given entrepreneurs everywhere crash courses in a wide range of topics, minus the hefty price tag found in other educational pathways.
There’s books for everything these days, from starting a blog, to picking up new skills, to how you can grow your business at an accelerated rate. With more variety comes more confusion.
After all, not every business-oriented book was created equal.
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Some are far better at helping you on your way to greater success in the areas that matter. In this post we’ll be looking at the best business books to help entrepreneurs better themselves and their businesses by proxy.
If you’re only just starting out, we’d recommend checking out our rundown of the best books for startups.
It’s not that this business books blog won’t appeal to these individuals. We just wanted to provide some additional suggestions for those interested in literature that appeals to them specifically.
Think of this blog as more of a mix that should appeal to entrepreneurs from all market backgrounds.
Oh, and this list is in no particular order.
So work your way through the list at your own leisure.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
The first business book we’d like to direct your attention to is ‘Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World’ by Cal Newport.
A Wall Street Bestseller, this book teaches readers how to focus up, and work without distractions, despite the temptation to procrastinate when approaching something complicated or demanding.
Newport explains that those who can master this art of subduing distractions will benefit from increased motivation, and even, complete tasks well ahead of schedule.
User reviews for this book are incredibly positive, detailing how ‘Deep Work’ helped them become better at managing their time. It’s a popular book for content marketers too, given the number of content-related comments we’ve seen when referencing this business book.
There’s no better book out there for managing your workload on the road to success! This book is also available in audiobook format for those who prefer listening over reading.
The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win by Jeff Haden
From one motivator to the next.
The ‘The Motivation Myth’ is a practical guide to finding and maintaining that motivation that turns basic brands into well-oiled machines that rarely slow down on the path to success.
Underpinning the entire book is Jeff Haden’s belief that ‘motivation’ is simply a myth, and that motivation is more of a result of process, not cause. There’s a bunch of self-help business books out there. But none of them approach motivation quite like Haden.
In short, this book is a paradigm shift in the best way. Every entrepreneur should have at least one copy of this business book at home.
Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depends On It by Chris Voss
Negotiating can feel a lot like life and death, can’t it?
In this business book, author Chris Voss offers an extreme approach to being persuasive in business. Voss, a former hostage negotiator for the FBI, applies the skills and strategies of that role in being an effective entrepreneur.
You might think that the two roles have nothing in common with each other. But this business book more than proves otherwise.
Honestly, the premise alone should pique your interest. It certainly did for me when I first heard about it. It’s a motivating and inspiring read, one you’ll keep coming back to, guaranteed.
Zero to One: Notes on Startups or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters
So good, we had to feature it twice, ‘Zero to One: Notes on Startups or How to Build the Future’ is a book we’ve covered already in another post. But we thought we’d bring it back with it being one of the best business books there is, period.
‘Zero to One’ is a book aimed at startups, only the ideas/opinions shared here go beyond what you might expect.
PayPal founder and early Facebook investor, Peter Thiel explains that we’re all way too distracted by the shiny things to truly understand innovation in its actual definition. He states that to be innovative, brands should think for themselves and look past the superficial.
Simply providing an update of existing products isn’t the same as to actually offer something innovative that makes an impact.
This business book is a lot more about training yourself to become an innovative entrepreneur than it is to get your business up and running.
If we had to rate it, we’d give it a solid 10/10.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
You’ve more than likely heard of this book, or seen it heavily featured in your local bookstore. And there’s a pretty good reason for that.
This business book is a New York Times Bestseller, and a lesson in how to move throughout your job with much thicker skin. For many entrepreneurs, their business is their baby. They can’t handle criticism or negativity.
‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’ will teach you how to embrace your fears, faults and uncertainties in a way that is constructive, not to mention, healthy.
And yes, the title of the book does reflect the writing style of the author. It’s a business book that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
A light warning:
There’s a lot of swearing and a lot of slang included, which was sort of expected given the title. This book toes that fine line between funny and helpful, making for an incredibly easy read.
The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman
Josh Kaufman is an international bestselling author. And his business book ‘The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business’ is a counter option for anyone looking to join those big business schools you see and hear about so often.
In this book, Kaufman outlines the key areas that are so often overlooked on these courses, teaching readers how to learn about the fundamentals of business without having to break the bank.
Business development books like this are fantastic for those in need of clarity or context behind what they’re doing.
It also sheds light on the areas that you might not think about too much when running a business. Seriously, go give this book a read and let us know what you think.
We found it incredibly useful, not to mention, eye-opening.
Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
At first glance, the cover of this book looks like something FMCG brand Milka would put together to market its next line of chocolate bars.
In ‘Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable,’ Godin suggests that the fourth P of marketing after price, product and publicity, is ‘the purple cow.’
It sounds complicated, but Godin is using a metaphor here to sell the idea that a standard cow on its own is nothing to gawk at. A purple cow, on the other hand, is unforgettable. In other words, Godin is teaching readers how to make an ordinary business seem extraordinary.
In this business book you’ll find a range of strategies and tips. Consider ‘Purple Cow’ essential reading for entrepreneurs looking to stand out in an overcrowded market.
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip and Dan Heath
It’s hard not to remember a business book like this, what with the 8-ball found on the cover. Open it up and you’ll find everything you need to make better decisions in business.
Making decisions is an everyday occurrence for entrepreneurs. Only the decisions they make do tend to vary in terms of size and scale. This business book details a four-step process, one that will teach you how to make stronger decisions both in work hours and out.
In ‘Decisive,’ Chip and Dan Heath draw on decades of psychological research to explain why we so often get it very badly wrong – why our supposedly rational brains are frequently tripped up by powerful biases and wishful thinking.
Easily one of the best things about this book is how it demonstrates how simple it is to avoid certain pitfalls, and make decisions that benefit you in the long run.
The 360 approach to decision making in ‘Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work’ is super helpful, as you can imagine. Everything covered in this book is backed by the finest research too, which only adds credibility to an already stellar read.
Virtuous Leadership by Alexandre Havard
One of the best business books, and a book that has been translated in more than 20 languages to date. We’re of course referring to ‘Virtuous Leadership by Alexandre Havard’ by Alexandre Havard.
Virtue in business is an interesting one, as most entrepreneurs probably believe themselves to be virtuous. When in reality, their morals only apply to certain parts of the brand, not the brand as a whole.
This book is a guidebook on how to become that morals-oriented leader. Someone who inspires the rest of your team to work towards a shared goal.
In ‘Virtuous Leadership’ Alexandre Havard draws on the lives of some of the greatest political, intellectual and religious leaders from modern times. He also spends quite a lot of the book reciting his own experiences.
The result is one of the best business books there is for entrepreneurs.
The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs by Kevin D. Johnson
Learning from other successful entrepreneurs is one of the ways to fast-track your understanding of what’s required to be successful.
Which is exactly what ‘The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs’ is all about. In this book you’ll find 100 key lessons that help you in various areas of business, including but not limited to:
Kevin Johnson, the author of this book, just so happens to be the president of a multimillion-dollar marketing agency. He’s worked alongside the likes of Cadillac, Bank of America and Coca Cola.
It goes without saying, but Johnson clearly knows his stuff, and is willing to share it with those willing to learn.
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
To conform is to accept defeat, according to ‘Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World’ from New York Times bestselling author Adam Grant. You might be familiar with his other book ‘Give and Take’?
As its name suggests, ‘Originals’ is about how you use your creative thoughts to battle the status quo in your respective market. In the book, Grant will teach you how to formulate your own ideas and then double-down on them.
To demonstrate this, he pulls from a variety of real-world examples. Without spoiling too much, one example looks at how an entrepreneur sells his business to investors by outlining all the reasons for them not to invest.
This is but a taste of what to expect from one of our personal favourite business development books.
The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business by Erin Meyer
Becoming a global brand is the goal of many, but only so few actually break through. This business book from Erin Meyer will show you the path forwards, mapping out clear strategies to become recognised on a much larger scale.
Not only that, but you’ll also learn how to navigate differences in culture that could have a negative effect on how you do business in local markets in foreign countries.
One wrong move could damage the overall reputation of the brand, especially if what you’ve done is culturally inappropriate.
Not sure what is/isn’t inappropriate to cultures unlike your own?
Read ‘The Culture Map’ to find out more!
The ONE Thing The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller
For entrepreneurs, getting results is easier said than done. Some spend months chasing those greater goals and objectives, but to no avail.
‘The ONE Thing The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results’ will show you A) how to hone in on your targets, and B) How to outline the major big picture targets that help carry the brand as a whole forward.
What’s more, this business book will teach you how to be a lot more productive on your journey towards these larger goals, ridding yourself of all the productivity killers that you might be familiar with.
All in all, it’s a great business book for identifying your primary targets, and making sure that every step you take is in service of said targets.
Startup Opportunities: Know when to Quit Your Day Job by Sean Wise & Brad Feld
Sometimes, to move forwards, we need to look back.
‘Startup Opportunities: Know when to Quit Your Day Job’ by Sean Wise & Brad Feld is all about validating your ideas, and growing revenue off the back of those ideas.
How this book helps non-startups is simple:
It provides clarity.
In that every decision you make is in service of your audience and business overall. Most businesses don’t last longer than five years tops. And this business book explains why that is, plus the ways to avoid disaster.
We’ve mostly chosen to include this book in our list of the best books to help make you a better entrepreneur because of the sections that cover building a business at a rate you’re comfortable with. It’s an underrated talking point, one that many entrepreneurs skip over or don’t think about all too much.
So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport
The second Cal Newport book to make our list is one of the best business books you’ll read. Why that is comes down to the cold hard truth that is:
In the game of business, skill beats passion everyday of the week.
In ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’ Newport explains that true passion is unlocked only after you put the time in to develop your skills and hone your craft.
He argues that these skills are what should determine your career path, and that the classic “follow your passion” does more harm than good. He considers this advice a misdirect that is more likely to cause anxiety and depression more than anything else.
Is he right?
We’ll let you decide. Although, we do agree that passions are strengthened and earned through actually doing it, for real.
Case in point, we’ve helped countless entrepreneurs in areas such as branding and websites, and our passions for these things have only gotten stronger as we see them get results.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight
There’s nothing like some inspirational reading to help fuel your own entrepreneurial endeavours.
‘Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike’ is written by the one and only Phil Knight, a man that founded one of the most iconic/successful brands on the entire planet. This business book tells the story of Nike, or at least the early days of the company before it became the clothing juggernaut that it is today.
In these pages, Knight talks about his own life, and everything leading up to starting Nike. Again, we’re not in the business of spoilers so we don’t want to say too much about this one.
Just know that it’s one of the best books you’ll read all year.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Now here’s a business book with a lot of history behind it. ‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill has been around since 1937, if you can believe that. Later editions did bring the book up to the 21st century, but the information on offer is still from Hill’s own words.
In this book, Hill sat and studied the lives of many successful people, before coming up with 13 key principles to success. A lot of the book is about convincing yourself to become wealthy, thus manifesting your goals in real life.
While the information is quite dated (it was written during the Great Depression), the techniques included do hold up in the modern day.
Although, one statistic found within the book – the one about how 99% of the public has no actual goal in life – probably doesn’t hold as much truth as it once did.
The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life Before 8AM by Hal Elrod
It’s how you start the day that sets you up for the rest of it, according to Hal Elrod, entrepreneur and author of ‘The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life Before 8AM.’
In this book you’ll find everything you need to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle that day’s particular list of challenges and objectives.
The book is less about jotting down notes of what you hope to get done, and more of a guide to using this small time frame to set the mood accordingly. For 10 minutes each morning, he recommends doing one of the following:
Doing one or multiple of these things is said to help entrepreneurs relieve stress, while ensuring that they are as productive as possible each day.
Elrod has a very positive outlook on things, which makes for quite a breezy read. His tactics are also very approachable. In other words, you don’t need to be a qualified guru to implement these practices into your day-to-day routines.
Prepare to be a morning person.
The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do In 12 Months by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington
Next up on our list of the best business books to make you a better entrepreneur is a classic. ‘The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do In 12 Months’ is all about consolidating your time wisely.
According to authors Brian Moran and Michael Lennington, entrepreneurs can essentially speedrun the typical processes of business by doing it all within 90 days.
Their logic is simple:
With a traditional 12 month calendar, there are peak times and slump times. Whereas within a 12 week period, there are fewer opportunities for productivity to dip, allowing you to remain a lot more focused given the limited time frame.
‘Speedrunning’ is probably the best way of describing it.
It’s an interesting concept that won’t suit every entrepreneur’s tastes. But you can’t say it ain’t interesting.
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout
Don’t have a lot of experience on the marketing front and don’t know where to begin?
We have just the thing.
Introducing ‘The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing’ by Al Ries and Jack Trout, a timeless guide to the ever-expanding world of marketing.
In this business book, Ries and Trout are the enforcers, warning readers of what might happen should they ‘violate’ certain rules associated with marketing. Each ‘law’ as they call them, applies to multiple areas of note.
Take the Law of the Mind, for example. According to Ries and Trout, this law is important as it explains the importance of being first in the mind rather than first in the marketplace. In other words, brand loyalty rules.
To learn about the other 21 laws you’ll just have to buy this business book for yourself…
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg
And finally, in our list of the best business books to raise your entrepreneurial game, we have ‘Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead’ by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg.
In case the title of the book wasn’t a dead giveaway, this business book is all about encouraging women to become entrepreneurs and then empower them to strive for the same success as Sandberg, the current COO of Meta.
The ‘Lean In’ name references Sandberg’s theory that learning to lean in is about tackling the anxieties and preconceptions that stop women “reaching their full potential, taking place at the table, and being a part of the debate.”
This business book is hailed by many female entrepreneurs as being the best business book there is. Released back in 2013, ‘Lean In’ continues to inspire women around the world to pursue competitive careers and thrive.
Best Business Books That Will Make You a Better Entrepreneur
That’s all folks.
We hope you found our list, in a word, motivating.
If we had to pick a favourite from the list, we’d probably have to go with ‘Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike’ for its inspiring tale of an entrepreneur who paid $35 to an unknown graphic designer to create arguably the most iconic logo of all time.
Did we miss any other business development books that have helped you become a better entrepreneur? If so, do leave us a comment on social media using the channel of your choosing. You’ll find us on all the major platforms.
Oh, and if you find you need help with branding, websites, content or video, be sure to get in touch with us here at Canny. It’s like we said earlier:
We’ve helped countless entrepreneurs find success in the areas that matter to them, and can do the same for you.