The 20 Best Entrepreneurship Books to Start, Grow & Run a Successful Business

Best Books on Entrepreneurship Cover

Following your passion while making a profit – that is the dream. Every year, millions of people become entrepreneurs in hopes of getting paid to do what they love.

Unfortunately, around half of all newly minted business owners fail within the first five years. What’s more, at least one in four must fail before eventually succeeding, which takes at least three years on average. How can you make sure you make it the first time around?

Starting a business requires taking risk, staying grounded, and facing many challenges. It can be our biggest struggle, but seeing our products make the world a better place can also be our greatest reward.

At Four Minute Books, we’ve summarized over 1,000 books, hundreds of them about entrepreneurship. Along the way, we’ve learned a few lessons, and we’ve discovered which ones are most worth spending your precious time on.

Being an entrepreneur is not the easiest job in the world, but if you want to learn the secrets of being a great founder or successful self-employed freelancer, this list of the 20 best entrepreneurship books is a good start.

Each book in this list contains our favorite quote, three takeaways, and a one-sentence summary. Scroll down a bit more, and you’ll find our main argument for why and when you might want to read the book. Use the handy table of contents below to jump to any section or book that seems particularly interesting to you.

Let’s hop right into the secrets of entrepreneurship!


Best Books on Entrepreneurship Overall

1. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

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Favorite Quote

“The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.” — Eric Ries

The Book in One Sentence

The Lean Startup offers both entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs a semi-scientific, real-world approach to building a business by using validation, finding a profitable business model and creating a growth engine.

Why should you read it?

Are all start-ups prone to failure? Or are all the failures caused by some mistakes which can be easily prevented? According to Eric Ries, a startup deals with a wave of uncertainty, indeed, and business plans might not be the key to make things run smoothly. This book gives a scientific approach to the proper management of a startup, mostly by making use of innovation.

Key Takeaways

    1. Find a business model that works through validation.
    2. Use split-testing to tell value from waste.
    3. Never ever indulge in vanity metrics.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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2. Zero To One by Peter Thiel

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Favorite Quote

“Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius.” — Peter Thiel

The Book in One Sentence

Zero To One is an inside look at Peter Thiel’s philosophy and strategy for making your startup a success by looking at the lessons he learned from founding and selling PayPal, investing in Facebook and becoming a billionaire in the process.< /em>

Why should you read it?

You might think that we know everything by now and that there isn’t much to create at this point. That all the greatest inventions have appeared by now. And this is where you might be wrong: entrepreneur Peter Thiel confirms that there are still countless ways for us to create something new. And all this can be done by making use of your power and asking the right questions in order to come up with the next innovation.

Key Takeaways

  1. The biggest leaps in progress are vertical, not horizontal.
  2. Monopolies are good, for both business and society.
  3. Founders need a vision to take their business from zero to one.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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3. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

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Favorite Quote

“The only thing that prepares you to run a company is running a company” — Ben Horowitz

The Book in One Sentence

The Hard Thing About Hard Things is an inside look at the tough decisions and lonely times all CEOs face, before showing you what it takes to build a great organization and become a world-class leader.

Why should you read it?

It’s great to have your own business, indeed. Truth be told, though, it is rather hard to have a business and run it properly. Ben Horowitz provides us with key anecdotes in this book, derived from his success – which was not as easy to obtain, as people might think. Getting straight to the point, this book will answer all the questions you might have, no matter if you already have a business of your own or if you are thinking about starting one.

Key Takeaways

  1. The CEO should be the first one to shout when shit hits the fan.
  2. There are 2 types of CEOs.
  3. Great CEOs must learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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4. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

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Favorite Quote

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” — Chris Guillebeau

The Book in One Sentence

The $100 Startup shows you how to break free from the shackles of 9 to 5 by combining your passion and skills into your own microbusiness, which you can start for $100 or less, yet still turn into a full time income, thanks to the power of the internet.

Why should you read it?

It’s important nowadays to live a life full of meaning and purpose, but what is also important is to earn a good living. This book is filled with key principles that will help you figure out exactly what it is that you have to do to live your life the way you want. And the best part about it is that it doesn’t get lost in generalities which might not give you the insight you need.

Key Takeaways

  1. Passion is only 1/3 of the equation, you also need skills and customers.
  2. If you want your passion to be more than a hobby, focus on income and costs.
  3. Keep your plans simple, because action beats them every time.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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5. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber

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Favorite Quote

“If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business – you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic!” — Michael E. Gerber

The Book in One Sentence

The E-Myth Revisited explains why 80% of small businesses fail, and how to ensure yours isn’t among those by building a company that’s based on systems and not on the work of a single individual.

Why should you read it?

Do you want to know how to grow your business productively? Michael Gerber has the answer for you in this book and walks you through all the steps you need to take in a business. And it is all sharp insight from his own experience, which will help you deconstruct all the myths regarding the way one should work when it comes to business.

Key Takeaways

  1. Having great technical skills does not mean you know how to run a business.
  2. Imagine your business as a nationwide franchise from day one, then build the first store.
  3. The franchise approach makes sure you build a business based on systems, not people.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Entrepreneurship for Beginners

6. Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk

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Favorite Quote

“There no longer has to be a difference between who you are and what you do.” ― Gary Vaynerchuk

The Book in One Sentence

Crush It is the blueprint you need to turn your passion into your profession and will give you the tools to turn yourself into a brand, leverage social media, produce great content and reap the financial benefits of it.

Why should you read it?

What would you do if you could transform your dream or hobby into something that could earn you money? This book gives you valuable insight into how you can turn your interests into a successful business, just by making use of the power of the Internet. And all of this by taking it step by step, in a world where both the Internet and the technological aspects are a very important part of our lives.

Key Takeaways

  1. In order to profit from your passion, you have to turn yourself into a brand.
  2. Pick a medium that fits you to tell stories people want to hear.
  3. Always be authentic in your content.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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7. The Art Of The Start by Guy Kawasaki

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Favorite Quote

“Positioning should be about what you do for your customers – not about what you want to become.” — Guy Kawasaki

The Book in One Sentence

The Art Of The Start is your guide to beginning a company and explains everything from getting the right people on board to writing a winning business plan and building your brand.

Why should you read it?

Sometimes, it just takes an idea to put together something new – and that requires having enough will to keep going, against all odds. If you feel like your idea might be hard to be transformed into action, this book will provide you with all the advice you need to keep going, all of it coming from nearly two decades of the author’s experience.

Key Takeaways

  1. Your first goal as an entrepreneur must be to create meaning, not make money.
  2. Prepare your Milestones, Assumptions, and Tasks to have direction and purpose right from the start.
  3. Set yourself up for success by creating a business plan.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Entrepreneurship With Minimal Resources

8. The Power Of Broke by Daymond John

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Favorite Quote

“Being broke is temporary but poverty of mind is permanent.” — Daymond John

The Book in One Sentence

The Power Of Broke shows you how to leverage having no money into an advantage in business by compensating it with creativity, passion and authenticity.

Why should you read it?

If desperate minds mean desperate measures, then innovation should also be added – because this is exactly what Daymond John did. What started as being a simple idea, ended up becoming a global phenomenon, and all of this while he was broke. This book tells you that sometimes, you just need to have a little bit of hope and to do your best to achieve success – who knows when the perfect opportunity might come knocking.

Key Takeaways

  1. If you have no money, you’ll automatically find resources others don’t look for.
  2. The power of broke helps in all four stages of growing a business.
  3. Starting a business gets easier by the day, so start now.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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9. Rework by Jason Fried

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Favorite Quote

“When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.” — Jason Fried

The Book in One Sentence

Rework shows you that you need less than you think to start a business – way less – by explaining why plans are actually harmful, how productivity isn’t a result from working long hours and why hiring and seeking investors should be your absolute last resort.

Why should you read it?

Do you feel like all the old advice business books give you is not really what you need to kickstart your own business? What if there was an easier and better way to succeed in business, that didn’t involve writing down endless business plans, for example? This book makes use of an easy way to understand the approach and shows you the way towards not only productivity but also inspiration. Are you up for the challenge?

Key Takeaways

  1. Take a stand for something you believe in and then pick a fight with an incumbent.
  2. Screw big corporate marketing, stay honest, personal and nimble.
  3. Don’t let long hours and meetings prevail, they actually hurt productivity.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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10. Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk

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Favorite Quote

“If you’re not 100 percent happy with your life today, it is never a waste of time to try something that could get you there.” — Gary Vaynerchuk

The Book in One Sentence

Crushing It is Gary Vaynerchuk’s follow-up to his personal branding manifesto Crush It, in which he reiterates the importance of a personal brand and shows you the endless possibilities that come with building one today.

Why should you read it?

Your brand is important nowadays, and you have to make use of that to be successful. And you can do that by making use of social media – Gary introduces us to those secrets in this practical guide, where he put together several experiences of people who have followed their dream and got exactly where they wanted to be.

Key Takeaways

  1. You don’t need a product to monetize a personal brand.
  2. A solid social media presence is built on seven principles.
  3. Don’t overthink creating content, just document your journey.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Entrepreneurship Strategy

11. Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur

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Favorite Quote

“Companies should focus on one of three value disciplines: operational excellence, product leadership, or customer intimacy.” — by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur

The Book in One Sentence

Business Model Generation teaches you how to start your own company by explaining the details of matching your customer’s needs with your product’s capabilities, managing finances, and everything else involved in the planning stages of entrepreneurship.

Why should you read it?

How would you describe your thinking when it comes to how businesses should be handled? Are you more oriented towards the “traditional” way or are you seeking modern solutions? This book makes use of practical examples that will help anyone in terms of improving their business models, regardless of their approach.

Key Takeaways

  1. Market channels, value propositions, and customer groups are the basis for a good business model.
  2. You need to know your customer’s relationship with you, how money is coming in, and what physical things that you need to run your company.
  3. Plan for what you’ll do from day to day, who you’re going to work with, and what your cost structure will be.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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12. The Four Steps To The Epiphany by Steve Blank

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Favorite Quote

“All new companies and new products begin with an almost mythological vision – a hope of what could be, with a goal few others can see.” — Steve Blank

The Book in One Sentence

The Four Steps To The Epiphany shows startups how to plan for and achieve success by giving examples of companies that failed and outlining the path they need to take to flourish.

Why should you read it?

Do you want a book that gives you simple, yet concrete examples in regards to how businesses work? Not all startups become successful immediately – and this book proves it. This simple, step-by-step guide could become essential to you, as it gives you useful insight into how you should organize all parts of your business for your startup to succeed, rather than fail.

Key Takeaways

  1. Don’t fall into the trap of treating your startup like you would a big business.
  2. Find your market type first, then base your strategy around it.
  3. Early adopters are more important to consider when designing your product than the mainstream market.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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13. Built To Sell by John Warrillow

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Favorite Quote

“Don’t be afraid to say no to projects. Prove that you’re serious about specialization by turning down work that falls outside your area of expertise. The more people you say no to, the more referrals you’ll get to people who need your product or service.” — John Warrillow

The Book in One Sentence

Built To Sell shows you how to become a successful entrepreneur by explaining the steps necessary to grow a small service company and one day sell it.

Why should you read it?

Is there any mistake entrepreneurs make when they start their business? According to John Warrillow, there is one mistake that might cost them more than they could ever imagine, and he presents this mistake under the form of a fictional small business, which has to be sold. Are you curious to see what happens to the business? You should probably find the nearest library and check it out!

Key Takeaways

  1. You will be more successful in business if you specialize in one service.
  2. If you’d like to one day sell your company, you as a founder need to work to make sure that you’re replaceable.
  3. Don’t rely on one big client, it’s risky and makes your business less attractive to those that may buy it.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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14. Business Adventures by John Brooks

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Favorite Quote

“I don’t think money makes much difference, as long as you have enough.” — John Brooks

The Book in One Sentence

Business Adventures will teach you how to run a company, invest in the stock market, change jobs, and many other things by sharing some of the most interesting experiences that big companies and their leaders have had over the last century.

Why should you read it?

How do you run a company? If all businesses are different, why are some things so similar? Making use of stories about Wall Street, John Brooks has put together a reportage that looks at the history of some of the biggest disasters that have taken place on the American market. Is history bound to repeat itself, if people don’t learn from their mistakes?

Key Takeaways

  1. The three-day stock market crash and recovery of 1962 showed the world how irrational and unpredictable it is.
  2. If you want to know how not to launch a product, look to the example of the Ford Edsel.
  3. Having trade secrets doesn’t make it impossible for you to get a new job thanks to Donald Wohlgemuth.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Entrepreneurship Culture

15. EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey

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Favorite Quote

“If you as a leader allow people to halfway do their jobs and don’t demand excellence as a prerequisite to keeping their job, you will create a culture of mediocrity.” — Dave Ramsey

The Book in One Sentence

EntreLeadership provides you with a path to becoming a great leader in your company by identifying the necessary management and entrepreneurial skills.

Why should you read it?

We have all heard of a successful business that started in a garage or in a rather normal place. This informative guide gives you access to exactly that kind of story: from just a card table to a multimillion-dollar company. The advice in this book will get you even through the toughest of times, for both businesses and their leaders.

Key Takeaways

  1. The most successful heads of new companies combine the skills of an entrepreneur and a leader.
  2. To create a lucrative business, work on your marketing strategy.
  3. You get hardworking and loyal employees when you give generous salaries and bonuses.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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16. Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas

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Favorite Quote

“There is no denying that today’s elite may be among the more socially concerned elites in the history. But it is also, by the cold logic of numbers, among the more predatory in history.” — Anand Giridharadas

The Book in One Sentence

Winners Take All helps you see the ultra-rich in a more accurate light by identifying their shady strategies, including using the idea of “making the world a better place” as a front that only serves as a way to solidify their wealth and power.

Why should you read it?

What does social justice have to do with entrepreneurs? Anand Giridharadas surprises us with this challenging book, by putting into perspective how improvements are not accessible to everyone. Small businesses end up fighting against monopolies and have to deal with a system where it might just be easier to deny certain benefits. So, how do we make the world a better place, for businesses and people?

Key Takeaways

  1. The elite control social progress, which we think is happening for our benefit but really only benefits them.
  2. Inequality is rampant because the “win-win” attitude of the ultra-rich is actually a lie to cover up their plans to only look out for themselves.
  3. Powerful people often deny their influence, which ironically just cements their status even further.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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17. Founders At Work by Jessica Livingston

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Favorite Quote

“I’d say determination is the single most important quality in a startup founder. If the founders I spoke with were superhuman in any way, it was in their perseverance.” — Jessica Livingston

The Book in One Sentence

Founders At Work shows you how to start a successful business based on the principles of the founders of some of the world’s most famous and accomplished startups.

Why should you read it?

If you are looking for a book that is not necessarily a guide, then this book might just be what you are looking for. Containing a collection of interviews with people who are currently living their dream, this book answers all the questions one might have: how it all started and how it is all going. Are you curious to see what makes a startup successful?

Key Takeaways

  1. Starting with an idea is good, but having a talented team is best.
  2. Too much investor money can actually hurt a startup initiative.
  3. Creating something of real value to others requires listening to your customers.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Best Books on Entrepreneurship Motivation

18. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

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Favorite Quote

“The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.” — Napoleon Hill

The Book in One Sentence

Think and Grow Rich is a curation of the 13 most common habits of wealthy and successful people, distilled from studying over 500 individuals over the course of 20 years.

Why should you read it?

A worldwide bestseller, this book is not just about ways in which you can become rich, as the title would suggest. It is about learning that each day is a new opportunity and both success and abundance come from how you think. If you want to learn about the ropes of success, this might just be the book for you.

Key Takeaways

  1. Use autosuggestion to build an unshakable belief in yourself.
  2. Be stubborn and always stick to your decisions.
  3. Join a Mastermind group to cut the learning curve.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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19. Arise, Awake by Rashmi Bansal

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Favorite Quote

“In any line of business, there is a steep learning curve. Like a pilgrim, you must climb that mountain with faith and fortitude – there is no ‘helicopter’ service.” — Rashmi Bansal

The Book in One Sentence

Arise, Awake will inspire you to move forward with your entrepreneurial dreams by sharing the inspirational stories of six Indian entrepreneurs and the lessons they learned on the path to success.

Why should you read it?

What would you say is the perfect age to start your own business? Should you be older, or younger? If you are still not convinced about your answer, then this book might give you a little bit of clarity, by presenting you with the stories of six entrepreneurs who have gone against the odds and started something of their own.

Key Takeaways

  1. Pay attention to serendipitous experiences, they are great sources for your entrepreneurial desires to flourish.
  2. If your first business idea fails, don’t give up, your experience is vital to making your next venture succeed.
  3. Determination combined with thinking outside of the box will help you start your business even when it seems impossible to do.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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20. Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson

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Favorite Quote

“Most “necessary evils” are far more evil than necessary.” — Richard Branson

The Book in One Sentence

Losing My Virginity details Richard Branson’s meteoric rise to success and digs into what made him the adventurous, fun-loving, daring entrepreneur he is today and what lessons you can learn about business from him.

Why should you read it?

If you are interested in an autobiography, then Richard Branson has written the perfect book for you. A very unusual approach to business has brought Richard a success that many might have doubted: whenever someone said “don’t do it”, he would do it. Filled with major lessons, this book will keep you going, even when things seem impossible to deal with.

Key Takeaways

  1. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t been born and bred as an entrepreneur.
  2. Always look out for the next thing, but take it one adventure at a time.
  3. The number one skill you should practice is creativity.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

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Conclusion

We believe that these 20 titles are the best books about entrepreneurship. Start by reading the one most relevant to you, then go from there. 

Most of us dream about living a life in which we make our own rules. But are we ready to take responsibility for the things that will go wrong along the way? When you’re an entrepreneur, the buck stops with you. Ultimately, you’re the one in charge. You’ll need commitment and perseverance to make things happen, but even if the road will be rocky in the beginning, that doesn’t mean you should give up.

Do you have what it takes? Whatever you feel might be missing, discover it in one of the books on our list. Learn how to be an entrepreneur, and make your dreams come true!


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Last Updated on November 18, 2022