The Best Business Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read

Oct 17, 2020
7 minute read

If you’re an entrepreneur who’s looking for advice on how to start or grow your business—you’ve already taken a step in the right direction.

There are lots of resources that can help you improve your chances of success, and business books are the perfect place to start. The best business books offer an accessible way to take advantage of the expertise of successful people and industry-leading companies.

Here are some of the top business books you can read right now. We’re going to look at some classics that have become industry standards, as well as some recent books from new and upcoming authors. Whether you are looking for help with marketing, finances, personal development, or starting a new business on a budget, these books are worth checking out.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

By Stephen Covey

Originally published in 1989

This inspiring self-help book is well-known and well-regarded. It has become a very popular business book across all types of industries. It provides fundamental lessons that can help you achieve your goals and guide your business in the right direction.

The book teaches a series of habits such as being proactive, setting a plan to work towards, and prioritizing your efforts. Through these habits, the author guides readers through a progression from dependence (relying on others to get what you need), to independence (being free from external influence), and ultimately to interdependence (being able to co-operate and work as a team effectively).

The author has an MBA from Harvard and co-founded a global training firm. He is a respected expert on leadership and organizational consulting.

Best for: Self-improvement

Canadian Legal Guide for Small Business

By Nishan Swais

Originally published in 1999

This is a reputable business book that can teach you everything an entrepreneur should know about Canadian law. It covers topics including insurance, licenses, permits, contracts, intellectual property, privacy obligations, and resolving disputes. The author is legal counsel for a multinational corporation where he provides legal advice on a range of issues.

Compared to some of the other business books on this list, this one is a little denser. But that’s because it is packed with useful information on a wide variety of complex topics.

It explains legal concepts in plain language and provides advice on best practices. It’s one of those books that you can’t afford to not read because it could help you avoid legal issues down the road. Besides, it can help reduce your need to get legal advice from lawyers, which can save you a lot of money.

Best for: Legal advice and knowledge

Napkin Finance: Build Your Wealth in 30 Seconds or Less

By Tina Hay

Originally published in 2019

This business book was published last year and has quickly become a popular choice for learning the basics of personal finance.

It’s been praised for its simplicity, as the author takes on a variety of complex financial concepts and makes them easy to understand. Some of the topics covered include managing credit card debt, saving for retirement, and what you need to start a new business.

One way the book explains these concepts is by providing infographics and sketches that demonstrate the concepts in a visual way.

Tina Hay originally came up with the idea while she studied at Harvard Business School. Many of her classmates came from the banking world, and she struggled to keep up with them when learning numbers-heavy concepts. That led her to create a visual learning strategy.

Hay later started the company Napkin Finance, which breaks down complicated financial concepts into simple lessons. Its content is available through its website and several print publications. This book is a collection of their most important lessons.

The simple, visual lessons are perfect if you’re someone who has struggled with learning about accounting and finances using more traditional methods.

Best for: Financial advice for visual learners

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

By Chris Guillebeau

Originally published in 2012

This inspiring and entertaining business book will show you how to start a new business on a budget. When researching this book, the author found 1,500 people who had built successful businesses starting with a small investment (often less than $100).

He then focused on 50 of the most exciting examples and used them as case studies.

The book looks at precisely what these entrepreneurs did in the early stages to get their businesses up and running, as well as the lessons you can learn from their mistakes along the way.

It provides useful advice, examples, and checklists that can help guide your business strategies, and it does so in an engaging way. In addition to the direction, the book is sure to motivate you. It shows you how achieving success with your small business can be easier than you think.

Chris Guillebeau is also the author of other top business books, “Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do,” “The Art of Non-Conformity,” and “The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life.”

The author has also never held a “real job” as he’s made a good living by turning his ideas into income while travelling the world.

Best for: Starting a business on a budget, getting inspired

Will It Fly? How to Know if Your New Business Idea Has Wings … Before You Take the Leap

by Thomas K. McKnight

Originally published in 2003

This business book does just what the title says: help you figure out if a new business idea is likely to succeed or if it needs to be fine-tuned.

It does that by guiding you step-by-step through a scorecard that will evaluate 44 different aspects of your business plan. This includes things like products, competition, pricing, finance, and operations.

By helping to identify your new business’s strengths and weaknesses, the book can also help guide you on how to improve. It’s a practical resource for evaluating your business ideas. So it gets straight to the point and is most useful when you already have a business plan in mind. If you haven’t reached that point yet, check out this guide on how to create a business plan.

The scorecard is based on an evaluation system that was used in some renowned universities’ entrepreneurship courses. In those courses, students bring business ideas to the class and get help in launching them and the universities needed a way to evaluate and fine-tune those ideas quickly.

The system they developed became the basis for the scorecard in this book. The author has guided over 200 business launches and has experience as a CEO, chairman, and consultant.

Besides helping you tweak your plan before launching a business, this is one business book that can be useful to go back to again and again. For example, whenever you’re considering changing your business plan or expanding into new areas.

Best for: Starting a business

Hello, My Name Is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names That Stick

by Alexandra Watkins

Originally published in 2014

This is widely known as the best business book for naming a business or product. It explains, clearly and interestingly, what makes for a good business name and the best ways to go about choosing one.

While that focus may seem a little narrow, it is a vital topic. Your business name can be crucial in making good first impressions.

But that’s not all the book covers. The process recommends choosing a name that involves looking at many aspects of your business. That includes the business’s core characteristics, target audience, brand personality, and more. So this business book is a great first step when it comes to building a complete brand identity.

The book clearly explains the process and gives specific advice on how to choose a name. It also provides some entertaining stories about brands that were highly successful and some that failed terribly.

And the author definitely knows a lot about choosing the right brand name. Alexandra Watkins is a former advertising copywriter who founded Eat My Words, an industry-leading naming firm.

Best for: New business branding, rebranding, or launching a new product

How to Win Friends and Influence People

By Dale Carnegie

Originally published in 1936

This book is well-respected and still popular more than 80 years after it was first published. And if you pick it up, you’ll probably see why.

The book provides invaluable ideas for improving the way you deal with people. The tips are easy to understand and apply to your own life. It also uses interesting examples from throughout history ranging from Socrates to Abraham Lincoln and Al Capone.

Dale Carnegie was a writer and lecturer who developed a series of courses about business, self-improvement, salesmanship, and more. This book was originally based on his teachings from a 14-week course on human rel