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12 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read Early on in Their Career

What is one book that you think all entrepreneurs should read early on in their careers, and how did this book influence your outlook on entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneur reading a book

The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. ‘Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth,’ by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

Early on, I spent $10,000 on a television commercial that was a total waste of money. I pretty much knew it, but the sales guy was good and I was hopeful. “Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth,” by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, helps break down so many of the early mistakes that I made, like that commercial. It teaches you how to view cost and risk, and develop actionable sales and marketing strategies to maximize your sales and marketing spend.

Josh Sprague, Orange Mud

2. ‘The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It,’ by Michael E. Gerber

Thankfully, the first book I read was “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It,” by Michael E. Gerber. It taught me the value of focusing on a successful business model rather than a passion. It crystallized the idea that building a successful business and culture was my ultimate passion and greatest chance at becoming an accomplished entrepreneur.

Ben Camerota, MVP Visuals

3. ‘The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich,’ by Timothy Ferriss

I read the “The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich,” by Timothy Ferriss, early in my career and it completely changed the way I do business. I realized that in order for me to scale my company, I needed to stop being a “bottleneck of information” so that I could grow without needing to be involved in small details. I learned to delegate efficiently and hired virtual assistants before I could afford full-time employees.

Rachel Beider, Massage Greenpoint, Massage Williamsburg

4. ‘The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure,’ by Grant Cardone

The book every entrepreneur should read is “The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure,” by Grant Cardone. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in; it applies to everyone. This book shows what it’s going to take mentally for you to be successful in your company and in your industry. This book has influenced me to 10X everything I do.

Russell Kommer, eSoftware Associates Inc

5. ‘The Art of Action: How Leaders Close the Gaps between Plans, Actions and Results,’ by Stephen Bungay

The Art of Action: How Leaders Close the Gaps between Plans, Actions and Results,” by Stephen Bungay, is a must-read for early entrepreneurs because it makes a definitive case for executing on situations based on the information that you have available. It helped me empower my team to make calculated decisions and to challenge the direction I was setting forth for the company, so that we were leveraging our full intellectual capabilities.

Michael Spinosa, Unleashed Technologies

6. ‘What to Do When it’s Your Turn (and it’s Always Your Turn),’ by Seth Godin

I first got into Seth Godin’s work after watching his TED Talk called “This is Broken” (which I also highly recommend). “What to Do When it’s Your Turn (and it’s Always Your Turn)” was a great resource for helping me overcome burnout and feeling jaded about business. Enthusiasm is the only unlimited resource, which sometimes fools you into thinking that it’s depleted. However, this book gets you right back on track!

Cody McLain, SupportNinja

7. ‘Servant Leader,’ by Ken Blanchard

One book I read early in my career is “Servant Leader,” by Ken Blanchard, which highlights the importance of seeing employees as assets for the company. Leadership is an essential skill for all entrepreneurs: The earlier you perfect your leadership skills, the better off you and your company will be. For me, this book changed the way I viewed employees and made me a better leader overall.

David Ciccarelli, Voices.com

8. ‘The Pitching Bible: The Seven Secrets of a Successful Business Pitch,’ by Paul Boross

Being able to deliver a great pitch is crucial for any entrepreneur, especially when you’re just getting started. My biggest takeaway from reading “The Pitching Bible: The Seven Secrets of a Successful Business Pitch,” by Paul Boross, was the importance of good storytelling and how you can implement this skill into every aspect of your business.

Patrick Barnhill, Specialist ID, Inc.

9. ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers,’ by Ben Horowitz

I and many other founders I know consider “The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers,” by Ben Horowitz, to be the bible. Ben has said elsewhere that “the mechanics of starting a company are easy, the psychology involved is hard,” and that it’s his job to help his founders manage their own psychology. His book helps people do just that, and acts as a reference guide for so many entrepreneurs, including myself.

Hongwei Liu, mappedin

10. ‘The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field,’ by Mike Michalowicz

I was fortunate to read “The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field” early on, and it forever changed the way I thought about business strategy. Through the metaphor of pumpkin farming, author Mike Michalowicz does an exceptional job of showing why age-old tactics like diversification, competing on price and other “common knowledge” strategies are the fastest way to fail as a new business. It’s a must-read for every entrepreneur!

Peter Kozodoy, GEM Advertising

11. ‘Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,’ by Sheryl Sandberg

While targeted to females, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” by Sheryl Sandberg, is an incredible book that opens your eyes to how women experience working life differently from men. It shows you how to adapt or shift your awareness to compensate for these intrinsic differences. As a female entrepreneur, it gave me a framework and the motivation to forward my career in a male-dominated business world.

Adelyn Zhou, TOPBOTS

12. ‘The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results,’ by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

The book “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results,” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, focused and drove me more than anything. When you feel like things could become overwhelming, this book simply breaks it down to easy, manageable goals that move you forward in a big way. To this day, I still reference this book if I find myself in a bind.

Renato Libric, Bouxtie Inc

About author

The YEC
The YEC 105 posts

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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