Becoming your own boss can be both frightening and exhilarating. But it’s also a worthwhile endeavor for those willing to learn the ins and outs. This article presents an overview of the 12 best books on starting a business to put you in the right mindset.
While there are some general guidelines for a successful startup, most entrepreneurs are mostly left to their own devices. These books will help you sharpen your entrepreneurial instincts and provide invaluable insight. In addition, you’ll read about the best business strategies straight from the horse’s mouth.
Best Books on Starting a Business
1. ‘The Art of the Start 2.0: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything,’ by Guy Kawasaki
Starting off our list is a book by one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, Guy Kawasaki. He is well-known for his accomplishments as a pioneer ‘Apple evangelist’ and venture capitalist.
‘The Art of the Start 2.0’ is a revised edition of his 2004 bestselling book with a similar title. Employing his vast experience, Kawasaki wrote a universal guide for starting a new business. However, the rise of social media and crowdfunding prompted him to revisit the book and include some fresh thoughts.
While the new material has made the book 64% longer, the 2.0 version fully encompasses what it means to be an entrepreneur in the digital age. ‘For anyone starting anything’ means these strategies can be applied for all types of business ventures.
2. ‘The Founder's Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup,’ by Noam Wasserman
Noam Wasserman’s book can be considered a historical overview of the world’s most successful business owners. By looking back on their starting points and career trajectories, he outlines the steps that lead to their success.
‘The Founder’s Dilemma’ provides an insight into the practical side of starting a company. Analyzing real-life stories, he pinpoints the most common mistakes you can make and how to avoid them.
The book contains an array of helpful information drawn from the authentic experiences of real people. It’s a good read for novice entrepreneurs who are looking for sound advice.
3. ‘Company of One’ by Paul Jarvis
It may sound counterproductive, but ‘Company of One’ by Paul Jarvis teaches you how to STOP your business from growing. To be more specific, the book explores how to have your cake and eat it too by running a small yet highly profitable business.
Jarvis came up with this unorthodox idea after suffering from burnout. He retreated to a small island near Vancouver and developed this strategy. In ‘Company of One,’ he points out that a big business isn’t necessarily a successful business.
If the pressures of the corporate world aren’t for you, this book offers an alternative. It proves that generating a steady income is possible without expansion. It also acts as a reminder to enjoy the little things in life.
4. ‘Digital Minimalism’ by Cal Newport
Any savvy entrepreneur knows the importance of technology in business. However, there is a downside to being exposed to it daily. In ‘Digital Minimalism,’ Cal Newport explains the benefits of limiting the use of technology to increase productivity.
Drawing from real-life examples, Newport demonstrates the advantages of practicing ‘digital Sabbaths’ and ‘digital de-cluttering.’ He recounts how cutting down on technology in the workplace can significantly reduce stress levels.
This made our ‘12 Best Books on Starting a Business list’ because it introduces a ground-breaking idea. By spending more time offline, you allow yourself to regroup. It may seem counter-intuitive to turn off your notifications, but it leads to a more focused performance.
5. ‘This is Not a T-Shirt’ by Bobby Hundreds
‘This is Not a T-Shirt’ is a collection of personal stories from the life of Bobby Kim, founder of The Hundreds. He recalls his path to success and explains what the popularization of streetwear meant for the fashion industry.
The book illustrates how his brand of hoodies, skate tees, and sneakers broke into the mainstream. After becoming a star designer, Hundreds has since collaborated with both luxury brands and independent creators
Bobby’s story will resonate with people who are launching a creative brand. The memoir also provides essential insights into the inner workings of the fashion industry.
6. ‘The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses’ by Eric Ries
Eric Ries is an American blogger and entrepreneur who provides mentorship and advice for startup companies. In his book, ‘The Lean Startup,’ he introduces a new strategy for a successful business launch.
Ries advocates the so-called ‘lean startup’ method when it comes to any entrepreneurial endeavor. Years of trial-and-error led him to develop this idea. As a result, he realized the importance of a clearly defined entrepreneurial vision. Too much time spent on vague business plans and focusing on ‘vanity metrics’ is detrimental, he says. Instead, Ries claims you should prioritize your client's needs and only take concrete results into account.
Apart from being one of the best books on starting a business, it’s also an interesting thesis. If the scientific approach appeals to you, you should give it a read. It contains valuable data derived from Rises’ practical experience as an entrepreneur.
7. ‘Will It Fly?’ by Patt Flynn
The catchy title derives from the most critical question you can ask yourself – does my business idea work? Patt Flynn challenges you to put your ideas to the test before making any life-changing decisions.
‘Will it Fly?’ is divided into five sections that work as a guide for coming up with a good business plan. Each part contains practical experiments and actual case studies that are interspersed with personal anecdotes. Flynn’s background in various online businesses prompted him to write this book.
It’s very easy to get ahead of yourself, especially during your first independent business venture. ‘Will It Fly?’ provides questions that quickly cut through self-delusion. Starting a new business is always risky, so learning to think critically is a must. This book teaches you how to sift through your ideas and invest in the one with the greatest potential.
8. ‘Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months: A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works’ by Melinda Emerson
Melinda Emerson’s month-by-month guide to starting a new business is kind of like a crash course. ‘Becoming Your Own Boss’ contains detailed instructions and financial advice that almost guarantee you’ll do just that in a matter of a year.
Emerson is considered an expert on business development, with more than 20 years of experience. Forbes magazine recognized her Twitter account (@SmallBizLady) as the most influential entrepreneur on the platform. Emerson is also a renowned lecturer and columnist.
Her diverse experience resulted in this step-by-step handbook for a successful, 12-month business launch. Emerson explains how to work out a budget, design an appealing logo, and develop a solid marketing plan. She also offers advice on tracking down venture capitalists and getting them to invest in your idea.
9. ‘Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits!’ by Greg Crabtree
‘Simple Numbers’ dives deeper into the financial side of starting a business. Greg Crabtree is an accountant who also works as a small business adviser. In this book, he explains how to avoid the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make that lead to financial ruin.
Crabtree recognizes the complexity of running a small business. By using step-by-step instructions, he successfully manages to demystify the world of financial reports. The book covers a wide range of topics, from human resources to tax policies.
‘Small Numbers’ showcases different ways to increase your annual revenue and get out of a sticky situation. Crabtree also explains how small businesses usually crash when the founder fails to ‘see beyond the numbers.’ According to him, the only way to truly measure your success is by looking at the amount of tax you pay.
If you are not used to handling finances, the book is quite reassuring. It contains real-world stories with concrete advice from other small business owners.
10. ‘Lucky or Smart? Fifty Pages for the First-Time Entrepreneur’ by Bo Peabody
‘Lucky or Smart? Fifty Pages for the First-Time Entrepreneur’ is another personal success story that also works as a guideline. Bo Peabody is an internet executive who became a multi-millionaire when he was just 27 years old. In this book, he questions what it really means to ‘get lucky’ when it comes to business.
The book provides concise and witty insights into the makings of a successful entrepreneur. Peabody highlights his personal mantra as the key to success. He believes positivity, innovation, and ethics should be the three defining qualities of all businesses.
The biggest take from ‘Lucky or Smart?’ is that it’s actually not an either/or situation. Throughout the entire book, Peabody reiterates ‘getting lucky’ requires a lot of initiative. He pinpoints the ways you can create your own success by inserting yourself in the right situations. In his words, luck will come to you if you’re being smart.
11. ‘The $100 Startup’ by Chris Guillebeau
Chris Guillebeau leans into the idea of starting a business from scratch with little to no resources. As the title suggests, ‘The $100 Startup’ explores the possibility of a successful business startup with an initial budget of $100.
In his book, Guillebeau goes over 50 case studies that prove that initial investments aren’t the deciding factor. After researching thousands of individuals, he concluded it’s possible to turn a $100 startup into a steady business. He then turned that data into lessons on becoming a successful entrepreneur.
According to Guillebeau, the key to making money is finding something you love to do. He claims turning your hobbies into services pays off in the long run. If you love what you do, you’ll always come up with new ways to profit from it.
‘$100 Startup’ invites you to explore the limits of your own abilities. Guillebeau believes that sometimes pursuing self-fulfillment can organically lead to financial gain. People who can transform their personal passions into cash can find a way to turn $100 into $1,000.
12. ‘Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days’ by Chris Guillebeau
Finally, we’re ending the list of best books on starting a business with another Guillebeau best seller. ‘Side Hustle’ is a handbook for the more impatient entrepreneurs.
A side hustle rarely provides a steady income. It’s more of an addition to your overall cash flow. Guillebeau himself claims to have had at least a dozen side jobs. This book demonstrates how abandoning your day job doesn’t have to lead to financial ruin.
The book explains how to master the ‘Tinder for Side Hustle’ strategy and use it to gain job security without full-time employment. Keeping an eye out for special deals and polishing your ‘people skills’ can transform any gig into a constant cash flow.
Minding Your Own Business
That’s a wrap on our ‘12 Best Books on Starting a Business’ list. As you can see, there’s more than one way to launch a successful business. Each of these books contains valuable lessons about being an entrepreneur.
Whether it’s a family-owned shop, a podcast, or a side hustle, a successful startup depends on the decisions you make. Learning from other people’s mistakes and educating yourself can make you more confident about making those decisions.
Have you read any of the books from the list? Do you have any advice for startup companies? Tell us your story in the comments below.