18 Books to Read Before Starting a Business

What’s one book you would recommend all entrepreneurs read before they start a business? Why?

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

Entrepreneur reading a book
photo credit: Christina Morillo / Pexels

1. Hooked

We always recommend Hooked by Nir Eyal. This is a great book on product psychology, especially for startup founders who want to make sure they’re building sticky technology.

Keith Shields, Designli

2. $100M Offers

Alex Hormozi’s $100M Offers and $100M Leads. Those two books contain all the basics of marketing and business growth. Everything on top of that is just a matter of experience and complexity. Also, those books are written in a very engaging and accessible language, and they are very practical. You can apply the lessons from it as you read.

Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS – Integrated Marketing Solutions

3. The Mom Test

The Mom Test. A very straightforward read, the book provides its readers with a great framework to identify the root cause of problems, and truly validate ideas. In an age where the majority of entrepreneurs are looking to iterate through several ideas and find something that sticks, The Mom Test will ensure that they’re never getting misguided or misinterpreting user wants and feedback.

Mohnish Chakravarti, Rails

4. The Lean Startup

I recommend “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries. It offers essential guidance on lean methodology, helping entrepreneurs validate ideas efficiently, minimize waste, and stay agile in a dynamic business environment. This book equips them with practical strategies to build a successful and scalable startup.

Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME

5. Blue Ocean Strategy

I love Blue Ocean Strategy by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim. It teaches entrepreneurs how to identify unserved needs in the market, build a business that has unfair advantages in capturing markets, and avoid competition and their incumbent advantages. It focuses your business idea on how to be different, including actively choosing what not to do, which is critical to success.

Trevor Sumner, Raydiant

6. Reframe Your Brain

I think that mental frames and mindset tools are important for any entrepreneur who wants to think their best and make good decisions. On that note, I suggest ‘Reframe Your Brain’ by Scott Adams. This author makes you think differently and reframe normal issues and concerns into empowering statements and ideas that will change how you approach your business and life overall.

Blair Williams, MemberPress

The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

7. 4 Hour Work Week

The 4 hour work week by Timothy Ferris is a must read for all entrepreneurs out there. This book had truly change my perspective when it comes to running a business. You’re time is the most valuable asset so make sure you work as efficiently as much as possible. This book will change your perspective when it comes to white-labeling, delegating work and the whole work-life balance lifestyle.

Fritz Colcol, Simply Thalia

8. Managing Oneself

Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker is a fascinating read about charting your path and coming to an expert understanding of yourself. It is prescriptive and sounds obvious to ask yourself, what am I good at? But rarely do people take the time to perform the proper inventory before pursuing a business. This is a critical step to becoming an entrepreneur, and an excellent practice in life.

Matthew Capala, Alphametic

9. The E-Myth Revisited

I recommend all entrepreneurs read The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber. It highlights why most small businesses fail and how to overcome these challenges by systematizing your business. This book is essential for understanding the importance of working on your business, not just in it.

Jack Perkins, CFO Hub

10. Good to Great

I think every entrepreneur should read Good to Great by Jim C. Collins. The book showcases things that help companies grow by leaps and bounds and achieve more than their set expectations. This is an inspirational read for entrepreneurs, comprising a variety of key takeaways. It will help them think big and devise stellar growth strategies for their respective businesses.

Chris Klosowski, Easy Digital Downloads

11. Start with Why

I’d like to recommend Start with Why by Simon Sinek. Entrepreneurs often find it difficult to stay consistent. They may start with the utmost dedication. But their consistency fades over time due to several reasons, like self-doubt, obstacles, subpar business performance, etc. The book helps you understand the importance of staying true to your purpose, which in turn fuels your consistency.

Jared Atchison, WPForms

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

12. Mistborn: The Final Empire

Everyone has their classic books on business and entrepreneurship, so for a bit of a different flavor, “Mistborn: The Final Empire” by Brandon Sanderson is packed with lessons on leadership, resilience, and teamwork, all wrapped up in an epic fantasy story. Reading it before starting a business can inspire creative problem-solving and perseverance in a way traditional business books might not.

Travis Schreiber, Erase Technologies, LLC

13. How to Win Friends and Influence People

One book recommended to all entrepreneurs before they start a business is “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Although not strictly a business book, it offers invaluable insights into human relations that are fundamental to the success of any business venture. Carnegie’s principles of interacting with people, understanding perspectives, and communicating crossover well.

Bryce Welker, Accounting Institute of CPAs

14. Think and Grow Rich

So much of your success as an entrepreneur depends on your personal mindset. One of the foundational books of success is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Despite being first published in 1937, it remains in print and still has many takeaways for the modern entrepreneur. If you can change your mindset, you can change where you are headed in business.

Jordan Conrad, Writing Explained Business Writing

15. The Startup Owner’s Manual

One book I’d highly recommend for entrepreneurs is The Startup Owner’s Manual, by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf. This is a solid study on everything you need for a startup, regardless of your background, industry, or what kind of funding you have. It’s full of helpful checklists and detailed guidelines on how to proceed every step of the way.

Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

16. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business

‘Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business’ by Gino Wickman is a great read for entrepreneurs and business leaders who want to understand and tackle the frustrations they’ll experience throughout their careers. This book covers everything from personal conflict to long-term scalability, which I think makes it essential for entrepreneurs across all industries.

John Turner, SeedProd LLC

17. The Hard Thing About Hard Things

I think everyone should sit down and read ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers.’ The author, Ben Horowitz, explains practical and essential advice on building/running a startup. What I enjoyed most is how his foundation is built on working hard and being persistent instead of promising people they can become an overnight success or get rich quick.

Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

18. Scaling People: Tactics for Management and Company Building

I highly recommend new entrepreneurs read ‘Scaling People: Tactics for Management and Company Building.’ If you want your company to be a success, you need to know how to scale yourself, your management, and your business to face the challenges that come with rapid growth. I found this book to be full of helpful resources that anyone can use to improve themselves and build a better brand.

Daman Jeet Singh, FunnelKit