Running your own business is never easy. You may be too busy to read a book per week, but setting aside time to absorb the wisdom of successful entrepreneurs from previous generations is crucial for helping you grow in your own business and career. When your time is limited, the key is to choose the right books.
These ten books are staples of the business community and offer inspiring yet practical advice to entrepreneurs seeking to grow their company or personal brand.
1. How to Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
Carnegie’s classic teaches readers how to win people over, get them to like you and to help you out without resenting you for it. Carnegie believed that success is more about "the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership and to arouse enthusiasm among people” than professional knowledge. An essential for those in sales and business development, the book provides a foundation for effectively engaging people and building fruitful, productive relationships.
2. The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss
This book offers readers advice on how to work less while earning more, with practical tips for outsourcing work, negotiating more effectively with clients and vendors, and overhauling not only your workweek, but your whole approach to work.
3. The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything, by Guy Kawasaki
A tech veteran who helped launch Apple’s initial marketing campaign for Macintosh, Kawasaki teaches readers how to turn their visions into reality. His book provides expert advice on everything from funding, to hiring personnel, to sticking it out when the future—and the success of your business—is uncertain.
4. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don't, by Jim Collins
This fairly recent book provides well-researched accounts of the steps several companies took to improve and grow. The book gives a clear picture of what makes an effective leader and the type of culture a company should foster if it hopes to succeed.
5. The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, by Clayton Christensen
A professor at Harvard Business School, Christensen describes the effects of technology on business. The book makes a case for when businesses should pay attention to customers, when they should adopt new technology, and how to protect their market share.
6. Guerrilla Marketing, by Jay Conrad Levinson
Responsible for coining the term “guerrilla marketing,” Levinson teaches small business owners that they can garner attention without outsourcing to advertising or PR agencies. The book illustrates creative ways to attract new clients and create evangelists out of your current customers on a limited budget.
7. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey
Once named one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential Americans, Covey teaches readers how to become proactive and take responsibility for making big changes and decisions. He focuses on controlling what you can control and making that your priority.
8. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose, by Tony Hsieh
This recently published book authored by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh teaches business owners to focus on their company’s culture and to foster a sense of shared purpose. He argues that hiring the right people and empowering those people to make decisions is essential to the success of your business.
9. The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries
Serial entrepreneur Eric Ries teaches business owners how to set goals and achieve them without wasting a lot of time or money. The book advocates for continuously testing assumptions, making changes based on the results quickly and iterating the process. The book provides specific, practical tips for incorporating a lean startup approach into any business.
10. Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time, by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz
Consultant guru Keith Ferrazzi teaches readers how to increase the reach of their Rolodex and take networking to the next level. The book offers specific advice on how to go about building genuine, mutually beneficial relationships and leverage these relationships to help grow your business and career.