19+ Best Books for Starting a Business of All Time

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Summer Updated: April 01, 2021

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Have you ever, at least once, dreamed about running your own business?

If the answer is yes, then what’s the thing that makes a business successful? Some could think of money, a good starting plan, or a dedicated mentor, etc.

They can be right. However, I believe the one and only key to opening your successful door is nothing more than knowledge. One famous billionaire listed in the Forbes that you must have heard about is Bill Gates. How many books do you guest that he has read?

50 books a year! That means approximately 4 books per month, or 1 book a week.

Reading is always the shortest way to gain knowledge from the best people. Especially if you want to be the CEO of your own business in the future, books are where you could find everything you need to know about taking your first step.

So I compiled a list of 19 most inspiring books covering every aspect of starting a business with new perspectives and getting you ready to make your dreams come true.

Table of contents

The collection of best 19 books about starting a business for you

Books about startup business ideas

Will It Fly?: How to Test Your Next Business Idea

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How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don't Waste Your Time and Money
*Will It Fly? by Pat Flynn rating: 4.8/5 (961 ratings)*

The first step is always considered the most difficult and takes a great deal of troubleshooting, especially for inexperienced employees. And failure is indispensable. But if it’s possible, no one will wish for that to happen.

So how to know your startup idea will take off or fall flat?

We couldn’t predict things in the future, but Will It Fly can. It is a book helping you avoid all the worst situations that could happen and choose your right path from the start.

Through 5 parts, Will It Fly teaches you ways to think critically, act deliberately, and dare greatly. An honest book with straightforward advice as you begin to test your idea and build a business that can take off and thrive.

So before taking a giant step toward and able to soar your business from the very first period of its development, make sure to ask yourself - Will it fly?

The Art of the Start

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The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything
The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki rating: 4.5 (445 ratings)

What will you do after identifying the successful rate of your startup ideas? If you already have a potential business idea, then The Art of the Start is the next book on your reading list.

Dive deep into The Art of the Start, and you could find the answers for everything you’ve ever wondered about kicking off a business. One mindset of Kawasaki that impresses me most is that “entrepreneur is a state of mind, not a job title.”

To become successful, you have to think and assess problems under an entrepreneur’s view, not an employee. Kawasaki shows you the exact mindset in his book.

Though this is not a new book, it is still full of informative and most primary elements of a new business should care about. Guy Kawasaki covers all stages of a startup process from idea development, investor persuasion to launching and even team building.

They all come with real-life examples and practical skills drawn from history and his own experience with startups.

Company of One

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Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business
Company of Oneb by Paul Jarvis rating: 4.6/5 (318 ratings)

Is scaling up and getting big are the real key to a fulfilling career?

Jarvis explains the hidden advantages of staying small to his readers and the benefits of working for yourself. His book brings back a refreshingly new approach to a business’s development dwell on becoming a highly profitable “company of one.”

Enter this book, and you can understand the reasons an entrepreneur should avoid scaling up and getting big. Jarvis confirms the thought of fast scaling is nonsense and even advises businesspeople to stay small and keep it simple for unexpected advantages.

Why and how to find the right path to follow this crazy idea? Try the Company of One.

Books about business branding

Crushing It!

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How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too
Crushing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk rating: 4.7/5 (2.159 ratings)

Whether being a recognizable and influential brand is the right path for startups to choose and make one stand out from the crowd?

Cruising It of Gary Vaynerchuck - a godfather of hustle will tell us what it takes to create a vibrant personal brand and why it’s essential to have a sustainable and growing business.

Like the book’s name: “How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business,” it is filled with short stories and interviews with many people who experienced branding and startups themselves.

The greatest thing about Crushing It is that this book gives readers a full picture of social media, trends, branding, and personal marketing. The difficulties and ways to deal with those challenges from the previous people’s stories.

However, I don’t think Crushing It is the right choice for savvy marketers or even newbies as it’s not a step-by-step guide of what to do but more like storytelling. Despite that, this book is still a great resource with valuable insight into branding and social media marketing.

This is not a T-shirt

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A Brand, a Culture, a Community – a Life in Streetwear
This is not a T-shirt by Bobby Hundreds rating: 4.9/5 (535 ratings)

This is another book of fascinating insights talking branding that you should not miss. If Crushing It is a collection of many businesses’ stories, Bobby Hundreds’ book only centers on one brand.

Bobby Hundreds is a fantastic storyteller. Readers have a chance to follow the journey of a clothes brand when it’s still a small business. If you think this again a boring autobiography of a clothes shop, then you’re wrong.

The book focuses on the thought of building a lasting brand. Brand building doesn’t stop at a cool design but making a strong community of like-minded supporters is what calls you out and fuels you to the end.

How to go from nothing to success and turn a passion into a brand and even culture? This book is something you won’t regret to take time for it.

Hooked

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How to Build Habit-Forming Products
Hooked by Nir Eyal rating: 4.6/5 (2.290 ratings)

Nir Eyal - the author of the book Hooked, surveyed the most popular products, ranging from iPhone to Pinterest, to find out why people are engaged and love those products.

What Nir Eyal found was explained clearly through the “Hooked Model” written in the book. It’s a four-step model a business should go through for creating habit-forming products. For easy understanding, that is how to create products that make people addicted.

Hooked presents a multi-faceted picture of product creation, market creation, and customer psychology with its implications for product design.

As a startup founder, those concepts are a good foundation for a business’s growth. Nir Eyal did an excellent job of explaining every idea of the book and then proving them via multiple practical examples.

Books about starting a business guide

Starting a Business QuickStart Guide

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The Simplified Beginner's Guide to Launching a Successful Small Business, Turning Your Vision into Reality, and Achieving Your Entrepreneurial Dream
Starting a Business QuickStart Guide by Ken Colwell rating: 4.5/5 (809 ratings)

Creating a business from nothing is a long process and involves several tasks: planning, making critical financial decisions to complete a series of legal documents, and many more.

Ken Colwell outlines a roadmap for bringing your business from idea to reality. It’s filled with numerous real examples of who has done it. An excellent reference to start kicking off your business now.

The author will lead you through every step of starting your own business in a highly competitive world. This book is one of the most comprehensive guides that you should not miss.

Side Hustle

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Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 days
Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau rating: 4.5/5 (741 ratings)

Have you ever thought of quitting your current job and becoming your own boss? But how many people are brave enough to exchange their steady life for an unseen future as startup owners.

If you think you are ready to deal with all the difficulties in your trait, then Side Hustle might be the right book for you. Based on detailed information from several case studies, the author illustrates the business’ building process with a step-by-step guide.

The whole book can be summarized in 2 parts. First, the author will come up with an idea, then execute it. Side Hustle conveys both stages in the most easily understandable way that even ones with no previous experience could put it into practice—a great way to start lean.

Books about business financial management

Profit First

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Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Marketing Machine
Profit First by Mike Michalowicz rating: 4.8/5 (3.020 ratings)

Financial management is considered one of the most essential concerns of any business. Most companies will at least once experience losses and negative cash flows, especially during their startup period.

Mike Michalowicz, with his book - Profit First, covers everything like how to run a business when your budget is tight, some investment tips for growth, and steps to do next with the money earned once it starts rolling in.

The author focuses on things that could increase a business’s profitability, just like the meaning of the book title: Profit First. He turns all the financial aspects into a simple formula so that even if you’re not an accountant, you can still understand how to manage your money when running a new business.

The $100 Startup

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Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Live, and Create a New Future
The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau rating: 4.5/5 (2.860 ratings)

Another inspiring book that can help you answer so many questions related to most startups’ most significant challenge: The cost.

When you intend to launch a startup, the cost is considered the most hardened barrier that prevents you from getting off the ground. In “the $100 Startup”, you will get through 50 case studies of entrepreneurs who successfully started a business with a very tight budget.

The author dissects each story to identify the most determinant factors that help the startup open the door to success.

If you’re still hesitant about whether to go after your dreams of owning a successful startup, this book is where you could find your courage and motivation.

Books about habit forming for successful entrepreneurs

Atomic Habits

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An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
Atomic Habits by James Clear rating: 4.8/5 (14.025 ratings)

If you think yourself are struggling with getting things done and moving forward in business, Atomic Habits is exactly what you need.

Jame Clear shows us how we could form habits and why having knowledge about this process matters for self-improvement.

This book builds out a practical 4 point framework for building habits and then provides some useful examples built around behavioral triggers that can help us reshape our lives. Small change is the starting point for significant change over time.

Though Atomic Hanit is ultimately more of a self-help book than one for business people, it can be the determinant key to your success by pushing you to rethink your daily routine and behavior patterns.

Digital Minimalism

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Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport rating: 4.6/5 (1.018 ratings)

Minimalism is the art of understanding how much is enough. You might wonder what minimalism is related to business operations.

Actually, some people fail to thrive in their businesses because they can not focus in a world filled with so many distractions, especially under the Internet’s impact. This even becomes a huge obstacle with lots of people.

And if you’re one of those, Digital Minimalism shows you the ways digital minimalists find the balance between the online and offline world. Besides, some useful tips in this book can help you control your habits for better working results.

Books about teamwork and leadership

Leaders Eat Last

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Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't
Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek rating: 4.7/5 (4.282 ratings)

If you decide to start your own business with a team or you have thought of building one at some point, it’s crucial to understand the qualities making for a great leader.

When you choose to scale your growth and hire employees, starting a business is no longer a one-person show. This mindset can be found in this book. It’s not a self-help guide but does give a pretty explicit picture of ways some leaders are more successful than others.

Leaders Eat Last focus on how a leader can instill trust among team members and why it’s necessary to drive motivation for better working performance.

Start with Why

ALT_TITLE
How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Start with Why by Simon Sinek rating: 4.6/5 (9.159 ratings)

Another famous book of Sinek that you could not miss is Start with Why. A book with a fascinating approach to how successful leaders view the world and their businesses.

Those who don’t know Sinek are a well-known leadership expert who analyzed the role of leadership for a startup success.

Like its title, Start with Why encourages leaders to ask why and develop a big picture of the market. Sinek’s thesis is around the necessity of a leader to take no for an answer.

In the book, you will see leaders who strive to understand everything that can benefit their businesses and don’t stop until they get the wanted answers. This turns them into ones with a deep understanding of the market and products than anyone else.

Books about business success stories

That Will Never Work

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The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea
That Will Never Work by Marc Randolph rating: 4.7/5 (677 ratings)

It’s great when we could learn from the previous entrepreneurs’ stories that ties in business and life lessons.

And That Will Never Work is that kind of book capturing the grind, challenges, and adventure of building something from nothing. His whole story is fascinating and inspirational for any new startup who are chasing their dreams.

Like its title, the book discusses Netflix’s birth and explains why it could be so successful. It is full of great startup advice from an early founder who made a significant impact in the early days.

Be Obsessed or Be Average

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Be Obsessed or Be Average
Be Obsessed or Be Average by Grant Cardone rating: 4.7/5 (1.160 ratings)

Be obsessed or Be average is the book that explains how Grant - a broken and drug-addict can build five successful companies and become a multimillionaire. I believe that your first thought might be unbelievable.

But it’s a real story of a person clawing his way from unknown to a successful business person. The book gives its readers massive amounts of knowledge and skills for anyone to use immediately while setting their own goals.

What I love the most about this book are 2 concepts and the relationships between them: Obsession and Purpose. The author lets you know about how to give yourself permission to become obsessed with success and turn it into the most effective motivation.

Maybe the author’s perspective in “Be obsessed or Be Average” won’t be for anyone, but the author’s attitude to his goals, life, and achievements can make you rethink how to face things in life.

Other books for Starting a Business

The Lean Startup

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How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful businesses
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries rating: 4.5/5 (5.841 ratings)

No doubt that advanced technology has a massive influence on how modern businesses operate and compete.

The Lean Startup provides its readers with a fundamental understanding of using the scientific method for starting a business via the Build-Measure-Learn loop (BML) and innovative metrics.

You can find useful advice and practical experience in The Lean Startup. However, the book tends to get repetitive throughout, which can make you somewhat bored, especially if you already have knowledge of the topic.

No matter what, with those who are new to this topic, The Lean Startup is genuinely engaging, and a must-read for startup enthusiasts.

Tax Savvy for Small Businesses

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A Complete Tax Strategy Guide For Businesses
Tax Savvy for Small Business by Frederick W.Daily Amazon rating: 4.7/5 (112 ratings)

Tax Savvy for Small Businesses is the book that I strongly recommend as a new business owner. And if you are not a tax-savvy but still want to have a thorough look at it, this book is for you.

Enter the book, Daily points out one crucial goal of a business owner is to maximize the profit via deduction optimization. And, the author did his fantastic job of conveying ideas around one of the most complicated factors in a business - tax.

The truth is taxation is a dry and less exciting topic, but the book is written at a high enough level for readers to go through almost every aspect of tax.

Because it’s a comprehensive book about taxation, some information won’t apply to you. However, with its well-structured table of contents, you can quickly skim across topics and dive into areas that do matter to you.

It explains the different business entities, going with essential tax advantages: a sole proprietorship, single and multi-member LLC, S Corp, etc. The Tax Savvy for Small Business is a definite tax reference to have on hand.

The Checklist Manifesto

ALT_TITLE
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande rating: 4.6/5 (3.158 ratings)

When you’re ready with your startup idea and budget is not your problem, it’s time to put your business into reality. However, starting a business involves lots of complicated tasks.

And The Checklist Manifesto gives its readers the most straightforward way to grasp business planning methods that anybody can use.

The author believes that intelligent people make avoidable mistakes as the amount and complexity of today’s knowledge for us to remember them correctly. For Gawande, errors and failures are indispensable, but we can reduce that via the checklist method.

It’s so powerful that it can solve countless problems as well as improve results in many domains. Read The Checklist Manifesto to know ways checklist help us overcome human errors and facilitate your startup process.

Successful people are readers!

The path from an unknown to a million-dollar business is normally filled with difficulties and challenges. It requires lots of work, and it’s not something that happens overnight. Whether that is an online or offline business, your first stage on the market is always a daunting task with a steep learning curve.

If you’re looking for some informed recommendations on which books on starting and running a business to consider, I hope this post can be a useful reference for you.

Thanks for reading!

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