Recommended books for entrepreneurs to read?


I just started reading The Entrepreneur's Guide to Business Law and it is very good. Are there any other books you would recommend?

Resources Books

asked Oct 10 '09 at 16:22
Stapler Scissor
96 points

27 Answers


Here's a good list of books I follow, from different areas of doing business:

Business CreationValue-Creation & TestingMarketingSalesValue-DeliveryFinance & AccountingThe Human MindProductivity & EffectivenessProblem SolvingBehavioral ChangeDecision-MakingCommunicationInfluenceNegotiationManagementLeadershipProject ManagementSystemsAnalysisStatisticsCorporate SkillsCorporate StrategyCreativity & InnovationDesignConsultingPersonal Finance

Personal Growth

answered Oct 11 '09 at 12:17
201 points


Newbies on this site can only post one link per comment so I created this blog post listing the 10 books I think every entrepreneur should read:

  1. The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Law – LLC vs C-corp vs S-Corp? Founder’s vesting? Liquidation Preferences? Equity vs Debt financing? This book will educate you enough to be able to answer these and many other important questions.
  2. Bootstrapping Your Business – The amazing story of how a geographically-challenged (Montana) entrepreneur built a world class business.
  3. Purple Cow by Seth Godin – Dead simple premise, the key to marketing is to build something remarkable.
  4. The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki – The Art of Pitching, Marketing, and Funding your Startup.
  5. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen – If your startup beats all the odds and becomes hugely successful prepare yourself for the innovator’s dilemma, cannibalize your product before someone else does.
  6. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber - How-to create a business not a job.
  7. Permission Marketing by Seth Godin - The greatest marketing asset your startup can build is the permission to market to your customers and prospects.
  8. Growing a Business by Paul Hawken – Sincere advice for creating a company culture that your team and customers will love.
  9. The Cluetrain Manifesto by Rick Levine – Successful marketing is a conversation.
  10. Bottom-up Marketing By Al Ries - Pure bottoms-up execution. Marketing tactics to grow your business.
answered Oct 11 '09 at 10:10
David Cancel
61 points


Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank, a serial entrepreneur. Also check out Steve Blank's blog.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 17:53
Alexandre Gomes
95 points


As an entrepreneur, my most valuable resource is my time. Which means that I need to make sure I get the most out of the books I do read.

In general, I find that most business books have a few good ideas, and a lot of irrelevant text. To get the most out of business books, I recommend either skimming through them or reading book summaries.

There are lots of different summaries providers, most provide some free trial of their books.

As for the books themselves, it depends on which stage you are currently on, and what you are looking to learn. If you are looking for business strategy books, I recommend Blue Ocean Strategy and Judo Economics. Wikinomics is too boring and long to read, so skimming though the book summary might work. The long tail also has some interesting ideas.

If you are looking for a book that will get you started after you have your general direction and business strategy, I recommend the Art of the Start. If you are looking for time management advice, I recommend Getting Things Done. If you are looking for a book on negotiations, I recommend Bargaining For Advantage (Getting To Yes is also good, but too simplistic for the real world in my opinion). If you need to know about product design, I recommend Product Design and Development. It is incredibly boring, but has some very good information in it.

There are tons of books on every subject, from marketing to finance to self help. Most of the books are not good, but once you start skimming through them or their summaries, you should spot the good ones very fast.

Also, universities usually have agreements with barns an nobles so that they have special sections in their websites where you can find which books are required reading for which subjects. If there is a subject you are interested in, you can see what the professors recommend, you would read without having to pay the tuition and spend the time doing any homework.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 17:46
Ron Ga
2,181 points
  • Blue Ocean Strategy is a must read for any Entrepreneur. – Jed Regan 14 years ago


First, you need some inspiration for actually wanting to start a business, and then never give up once you face some hurdles.

Hackers & Painters is a great choice.

Next, business is all about people and connections so I'd go with these two:

Some Seth Godin books are a must to start you on marketing:

For the more strategic minded, these two are a must:

Many more, but you have to do some work, not just read all day.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 17:33
Elad Kehat
441 points


Very surprised that no one mentioned Good to Great by Jim Collins. It should be required reading for any business leader.

Glad to see the references to The E-Myth Revisited. It really made me think about how to build software and run a software company.

answered Oct 11 '09 at 12:00
81 points


Getting Real by the guys from Basecamp / 37signals is an interesting choice. It will at least make you think about stuff. Even if you're not in the web application business.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 16:41
121 points


Try Guy Kawasaki books, especially The Art of Start. Also, Robert Kiyosaki books (namely Rich Dad Poor Dad series), can help you reach something more.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 17:06
21 points
  • I was disappointed by Poor Dad/Rich Dad. Kiyosaki is an excellent writer, but he doesn't offer any concrete advice. It's more of a "feel good" book about making money. I feel it is more suited for the "real estate"/"stock broker" businessman as opposed to the innovator. Furthermore, his status as a successful businessman is very questionable as he has made most of his wealth selling his books on topics he didn't personnally succeed. – Olivier Lalonde 14 years ago


My bookshelf as of now is a mix of business, design and programming books. I'll focus this answer on the business books:

Many years ago I read the first half of "You need to be a little crazy", which made me realize that I wasn't ready to be an entrepreneur, saving me a lot of time and pain.

When I was ready to start up, I would say Crossing the Chasm, The Art of the Start, Erik Sink on The Business of Software and Micro-ISV, from vision to reality are the ones where I got the most value out of. Founders at Work was also good to learn that a) there's no such thing as first mover advantage and b) your first idea is usually not what you end up doing, so just start with whatever you have.

Growing a Business is one of my favorites.

Books I didn't like: The 4 hour Workweek, Bootstrapped and Wikinomics.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 17:29
Peldi Guilizzoni
321 points
  • Great List Peldi! – Anup 14 years ago


Seth Godin's The Purple Cow is the single best book on building business and products that I've read.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 20:10
Martin Hn
234 points

answered Sep 26 '10 at 10:11
331 points


To be honest, after reading so many business books and being in the business for a long time what I realized is:

If you don't know what you are looking for, none of the books will help.

While good books always expands your thinking and horizon, but no recipe for success.

Its just your passion defines you and your company in the long run.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 17:41
264 points


The books that are best summarized tend to be ones that are perhaps not worth owning if you have a limited budget - they're the ones that take a core idea that could be described in a brief article and try and drag a book out of it.

In any case, some of my favorites:

Information Rules
It covers the economics of many high tech goods, which is timeless information - it will still be valid even if the underlying technology changes.

In Search of Stupidity: Over Twenty Years of High Tech Marketing Disasters
This looks at a lot of failures, rather than just "rah-rah" success stories.

Founders at Work is good because it covers so many different types of success and company (well, they're all high tech, but still).

Paul Hawken's Growing a Business is old, but gold. It says a lot of what you can find in other, later books in a very approachable way. Also, the fact that he's not talking about high tech, and yet his advice still rings true makes it a good read - it's passed the test of time.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 17:51
121 points
  • +1 for the "I can't let you do that..." rant. Let us post links Jeff Atwood! – Clint 14 years ago


A Good one for me was Bob Walsh's Web Startup Success Guide.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 20:04
141 points
  • For me that book was quite basic and doesn't teach you anything new. Unless you don't browse the internet that much, this book is pretty useless. – Jpartogi 14 years ago


I have read many business books, and two that sticks in my mind are:

E-Myth by Michael Gerber


Getting Things Done by David Allen

The first one is about growing from one person to employing staff, and all the problems in between, about trust, delegation, etc. Just look at the reviews on Amazon, you will see it's a must read.

Getting Things Done (GTD) really helped me with getting organized, especially with the flow of emails I receive every day, and the 500 tasks that always seem to crop up on you when you start a business.

answered Dec 18 '09 at 08:48
Guillaume Justier
796 points


Be sure to read The Dip by Seth Godin. I think it covers the number one problem of building any company and ways to approach and overcome it.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 22:11
James Avery
570 points


We review business books all the time. If you are just getting started the E-Myth Revisited by Gerber is a classic. I liked Work the System by Sam Carpenter, which is a more recent book.

If you are less concerned about business start-up books, Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely was an excellent book that looked at emerging thought in the area of behavioral economics that helps readers understand why customers buy.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 16:42
Julie King
871 points


One book that I continue to re-read whenever I need some inspiration is The Republic of Tea by Mel & Patricia Ziegler

answered Oct 11 '09 at 05:42
Usman Sheikh
1,728 points

answered Mar 10 '10 at 10:55
433 points


One excellent book that is missing in the answers above is Jerry Kaplan's Startup (a Silicon Valley Adventure). It is a horrible, vivid retelling of the story of Go Computers, how the founders worked like madmen, how Jerry more or less missed out on his Fathers death because he was so busy saving his company, and how the company eventually went bankrupt.

This book tells you about the 'other side', how bad things can go -- don't ever let that demotivate you, but stay aware of it and make smart decisions.

answered Dec 18 '09 at 12:28
Jesper Mortensen
15,292 points


Everyone starting a business should read The Ten Day MBA. It covers all the basics of bookkeeping, accounting, finance, and management. It's a good crash-course introduction to the business world. It also makes a nice refresher if you've been out of biz school for a bit.

answered Oct 11 '09 at 13:06
D Thrasher
894 points


A couple come to mind:

The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley, Jonathan Littman (About IDEO): Great look at a truly creative company.

The No Asshole Rule by Robert I. Sutton: Brilliant advice on dealing with difficult people.

Managing Humans by Michael Lopp: Wonderful stories and insights into a Silicon Valley Software Manager.

Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark: If you blog, this is a must. Great tools for making your prose effective.

answered Dec 19 '09 at 07:50
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points


The Books in my library that I have and recommend are:

  1. The Web Startup Success Guide, by Bob Walsh
  2. Business of Software, by Michael A. Cusumano
  3. Micro-ISV From Vision to Reality, by Bob Walsh

And once you're ready to take the next step:

  1. Crossing the Chasm, by Geoffrey A. Moore
answered Jun 14 '11 at 00:33
1,471 points


Other books not included in that list:

answered Jun 14 '11 at 00:37
Filippo Diotalevi
2,573 points


For more of a "case study" type of story, I suggest reading Jerry Kaplan's book, Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure. He chronicles his time as cofounder of Go Corporation. It's a lesser known story, but involves a lot of the famous silicon valley moguls who made it big. I think of it as a behind the scenes tale of what went on in other valley companies while everyone was enchanted with Microsoft and Apple.

Jerry's book has inspired me because it is told from his point of view as a genuine entrepreneur and gives a lot of the gritty details of what really goes on in the meeting room. Also really interesting to hear what guys like Bill Gates were like back in the day.

answered Oct 27 '09 at 11:08
277 points


I have read many of the books answered. Founders at Work and How to win friends and influence people along with Getting Real are awesome for various reasons. I am not from a technical background and wondering a good book I should read if I was to dive deeper in this area.

answered Oct 27 '09 at 15:10
Jaret Manuel
76 points

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