*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through them, I may earn a commission which helps me continue to create this content (at no extra cost to you). Thank you so much for your support.
Well-written and experience-backed business books are incredible resources I turn to for advice and guidance. I’m very particular about who I take advice from. Which is why I want to share the best business books from the entrepreneurs and experts who have actually walked the walk. Who better to learn from than iconic founders and CEOs like Apple’s Steve Jobs, Nike’s Phil Knight, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Disney’s Robert Iger?
Whether it’s step-by-step tips to build a successful business, insights into the mindset and leadership skills required, or the mistakes you need to avoid for your business to stand the test of time, these books cover it all. Some are classics that have been in publication for decades. While others are newer that will become classics.
This list includes the best business books that I go back to again and again. These are my go-to recommendations and favorites of mine to gift to friends and family. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small business owner, content creator, seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out, this list has something for you.
Must Read Business Books for Entrepreneurs in 2022
Built to Last, the follow-up to Good to Great, is considered one of the most influential business books of the modern time.
Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras took eighteen exceptional and long-lasting companies of all sizes and across all industries, and studied each in direct comparison to one of its top competitors to see what differentiated them.
Built to Last is filled with numerous examples and covers practical concepts that can be implemented by managers and entrepreneurs at all levels. So you can build a great business that will stay successful over the long term.
Who better to learn business from than one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs? From a middle class upbringing to now billionaire, Ray Dalio is the founder and co-chairman of Bridgewater Associates. Which, over the last forty years, has become the largest and best-performing hedge fund in the world.
He started Bridgewater Associates from his two bedroom apartment in NYC. And over time developed and refined a set of unique principles that have led to Bridgewater’s exceptionally effective culture. Dalio credits these principles for his success, and his premise is that everything from life, management, economics, and investing can all be systemized into rules and understood like machines.
Principles is one of my favorite books to gift to entrepreneurs because it includes hundreds of practical lessons including the most effective ways for individuals and organizations to approach decision-making, tackle challenges, and build strong teams and meaningful relationships.
With over 40 million copies sold, if you don’t own The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it’s time to get it. It’s been called“The #1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century,” and has been a staple at the top of every business book list for decades.
Covey’s “7 habits” are just as relevant to management and leadership today as they were when the book was first released, and it’s beneficial whether you’re looking to solve personal or professional problems. Everyone can use the valuable lessons in this timeless and universal book.
Jack Canfield, co-creator of the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, wants you to achieve success in any area of your life you wish to improve upon. In The Success Principles, he outlines the timeless principles that will help you get from where you are to where you want to be.
This isn’t a typical “business book.”—instead, it teaches you necessary life skills. Including how to increase your confidence, tackle daily challenges, and live with passion and purpose. It’s filled with memorable and inspiring stories of CEOs, world-class athletes, celebrities, and everyday people. Canfield lays out the 64 timeless and proven strategies you can use in your own life to achieve your goals. Whether that’s making a billion dollars, or having more flexibility and free time to spend with your family.
Billionaire entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel wrote Zero to One based on lessons he learned as co-founder of Paypal and Palantir. And as an investor in hundreds of startups including Facebook and SpaceX.
This book stems from a course about startups that Thiel taught at Stanford, where his primary goal was to help students see beyond the tracks laid down by academic specialties to a broader future that is theirs to create.
At barely 200 pages long, it’s a straightforward read covering how to build companies that innovate. But it’s not a step-by-step instruction manual. Thiel believes there is no single formula for success. And that the most powerful pattern he’s seen is in finding value in unexpected places and thinking about business in terms of principles instead of formulas.
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. His Lean Startup methodology is broken down into three parts —vision, steer, and accelerate. It teaches entrepreneurs how to test and evaluate their vision quickly and continuously. And to adapt with agility and efficiency in order to speed up the product development cycle and avoid failure.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
While many glamourize and idealize entrepreneurship, the reality is that running a business is anything but easy.
Ben Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s veteran entrepreneurs and cofounder of venture capital fund Andreessen Horowitz, offers practical and essential advice that isn’t covered in business school.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things dives into what it takes to be a business owner, decision-maker, and leader. By offering practical wisdom for managing the issues and problems that entrepreneurs face daily. Horowitz shares the insights he’s gained while developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies.
This is one of my favorite business books to recommend to anyone who is currently an entrepreneur or interested in becoming one because it doesn’t shy away from the real (and sometimes unpleasant) realities like firing friends, poaching competitors, cultivating a CEO mentality, and knowing the right time to cash in.
What if you could design your life so you could spend more time living and less time working? The New York Times bestselling The 4-Hour Workweek really kicked off the popularity and acceptance of lifestyle design, remote work, and digital nomadism.
I’m a huge fan of Tim Ferriss’ practical and clear writing style. Tim lays out a step-by-step blueprint to design the life you want with plenty of supporting evidence and examples from his own life and a variety of case studies from readers. Whether you’re looking to increase your income, travel the world, change careers, or become more efficient and productive in your current role, The 4-Hour Workweek is a valuable read well worth your time, and one I’ve come back to over and over again.
Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of Basecamp, were way ahead of the game when it came to remote work. And running a successful business outside of a traditional workplace.
Written before work from home was the new normal, Remote is even more relevant today. Jason and David discuss the advantages of remote work for both the business and employees.
Given the advances in technology to co-work and communicate at a distance, businesses can increase their access to the talent pool, reduce turnover, lower overhead, see increased productivity, and improve their ability to conduct business across multiple time zones.
At the same time, it enables employees to work at the best job (not just one that is nearby), achieve a harmonious work-life balance. And have a sense of autonomy and flexibility.
Remote is a must-read for today’s world that covers the major excuses against working from home, how to hire, manage, and collaborate remotely. How to avoid common work-from-home pitfalls, and more.
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber
If you are a small business owner, or want to be, The E-Myth Revisited is a must-read. Most businesses fail: why? Enthusiasm for an idea and technical skills alone are not enough to keep a business going. Michael Gerber digs into the myths around starting your own business. And how these assumptions can get in the way of running it effectively. He covers practical tips and insights on operations, processes, entrepreneurial mindset, and more. So you can focus on the factors that truly matter to creating a successful business that stands the test of time.
With more and more distractions in today’s world, it’s incredibly important to be able to focus your attention where and when you need it most.
Cal Newport coined the term deep work, which is the ability to focus on a cognitively demanding task without distraction. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. And in Deep Work, he presents his four “rules” to transform your mind and habits to make sure you stay on task.
Solid habits are essential to long-term success in business. James Clear’s premise is that you do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems. In the #1 New York Times bestseller Atomic Habits, he shares his practical framework and strategies to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.
Atomic Habits is another book I consistently recommend as an essential read for both your personal and professional life.
If you have trouble hiring or delegating, this is a book you need to pick up. You shouldn’t have to worry that your business will collapse without you if you take a vacation. If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the daily grind and find yourself endlessly putting out fires, Clockwork offers strategies to make your business work for you and relieve the stress.
If you’re interested in creating an excellent customer service experience and cultivating a company culture that gets people excited to go to work, Delivering Happiness is a must-read.
Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, revolutionized leadership and management by concentrating on the happiness of those around him. Delivery Happiness is an accessible, well-written, and compelling read that shares the lessons he learned first-hand that you can apply in your own life and business.
About Shoe Dog, Bill Gates says it all: “A refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. It’s a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice. Here Knight opens up in a way few CEOs are willing to do. I don’t think Knight sets out to teach the reader anything. Instead, he accomplishes something better. He tells his story as honestly as he can. It’s an amazing tale.”
In his memoir, Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight details the risks, setbacks, and triumphs he experienced during the journey from the company’s humble early days to its place as one of the most iconic and instantly-recognizable brands in the world.
The Messy Middle: Finding Your Way Through the Hardest and Most Crucial Part of Any Bold Venture by Scott Belsky
When it comes to successful businesses, we often hear about their beginnings and ends. But rarely do we get an inside look at the middle of the journey, which might be the most important part.
Seasoned entrepreneur, investor, and advisor Scott Belsky has worked with companies like Airbnb, Pinterest, Uber, Sweetgreen, and Adobe. In The Messy Middle, he shares over a hundred lessons broken into three sections. And covers everything from enduring the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, improving your mindset for the long-game, meeting customer’s needs. And how to avoid the pitfalls many entrepreneurs encounter on the way to the finish line.
Steve Jobs is recognized as one of the most iconic business figures in the world. Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than 100 family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—bestselling author Walter Isaacson has written a captivating biography of the Apple cofounder.
This biography is truly insightful as Jobs was open with Isaacson. And didn’t exert control over its contents or editing. No topic was off-limits. Jobs encouraged the people he knew to speak candidly, whether it was friend, family, or foe.
Steve Jobs paints an incredible portrait of the icon’s approach to business and innovation. Including the strengths and flaws of his personality. As well as the lessons about character, leadership, and value that can be gained from his story.
What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-smart Executive by Mark H. McCormack
This is a must-read business book for everyone from executives and managers to entrepreneurs.
If you aren’t familiar with Mark H. McCormack, he is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in American business. And is widely credited as the founder of the modern-day sports marketing industry. While practicing law in Cleveland, he began International Management Group (IMG) on a handshake with Arnold Palmer in 1960. Which continues to be the most dominant agency in global sports today.
McCormack focuses on practical, street-smart advice to help entrepreneurs succeed in any setting. What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School covers principles of persuasion, sales, negotiation, reading others, time management, and more.
Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz
Entrepreneurs and leaders face big questions every day: Where is the most important place to focus your effort? How do you start? How do you find the right solution to a problem?
This New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, written by three partners at Google Ventures, lays out their unique five-day process for solving tough problems—what they call a “sprint”—that has been successfully implemented and proven at more than a hundred companies. This is a formula teams of any size can use for testing ideas. Whether you’re at a startup or a large organization, and can save countless hours and dollars.
You’ll want to incorporate this process in your next brainstorming session. If you’re interested in learning more about how to implement sprints in your own business, check out this Beyond Influential episode, How to Use Design Thinking to Reinvent Education, Reframe Failure & Increase Your Creativity with Dr. Sabba Quidwai.
The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger
Robert Iger is now recognized as one of the most successful and innovative CEOs of our time. He became CEO of The Walt Disney Company in 2005. When technology was changing rapidly and competition was becoming more intense. During his 15-year tenure, he oversaw the acquisitions of Lucasfilm, Pixar, Marvel, and 21st Century Fox. And grew Disney into the largest media company in the world.
In his memoir and #1 New York Times Bestseller, The Ride of a Lifetime, Robert Iger shares the ideals he embraced and the lessons in leadership he learned during his time as CEO of Disney. Including principles including optimism, courage, decisiveness, and fairness. This is well worth the read from one of the living legends in business.
If you think you need an MBA to build a successful business, you don’t. In The Personal MBA, Josh Kaufman shares a clear and comprehensive overview of the important business principles you need to know. Straightforward and full of valuable information. The Personal MBA lays out the essentials of sales, marketing, negotiation, strategy, and much more.
You don’t need to be an executive to benefit from this classic book. Peter F. Drucker’s The Effective Executive identifies five essential practices necessary to running a business effectively, including time-management, prioritization, decision-making, and more.
Start with Why asks and answers the questions: Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? According to Simon Sinek, it ultimately comes down to the fact that “people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
Identifying your “why” is one of the earliest and most important steps you need to take as an entrepreneur. People, including customers, employees, and investors, won’t truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the WHY behind it.
In Start with Why, Sinek provides a leadership framework, which he calls The Golden Circle, that can be used to build organizations, lead movements, and inspire people.
Business isn’t all about step-by-step strategies and tactics. If you want to be successful in business, you need to cultivate a leadership mindset in yourself and those you lead.
Through years of study and experience, Brené Brown has found that leaders in organizations ranging from small businesses to Fortune 50 companies were asking the same question: How do you cultivate braver, more daring leaders, and how do you embed the value of courage in your culture?
In Dare to Lead, Brown identifies the four skill sets that are required for daring leadership and uses research, stories, and examples to illustrate them.
Bill Campbell is a leader-whisperer, legendary coach, and business executives. He played a critical role in the growth of major companies including Google, Apple, and Intuit. He mentored some of the most successful modern entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt. The man fondly-known as Coach Bill left behind a legacy of success, respect, friendship, and love after his death in 2016.
Based on interviews with over eighty people he inspired and coached, Trillion Dollar Coach shares Campbell’s principles and codifies his wisdom into a blueprint that will continue to guide future generations of business leaders and managers.
Brad Stone takes us behind the scenes of how visionary founder and one of the world’s most recognizable business leaders, Jeff Bezos, took Amazon from an online bookseller to global retail phenomenon.
By offering an endless selection, low prices, and convenience to the customer, Amazon has disrupted shopping as we know it.
In writing The Everything Store, Brad Stone had unprecedented access to current and former Amazon employees and Bezos family members. He gives readers an in-depth, fly-on-the-wall account of life at Amazon and how Bezos was able to stand out and succeed in his relentless pursuit of new markets that changed our lives forever and laid the foundation for e-commerce as we know it.
And if you want to hear about Amazon directly from Jeff Bezos, you’ll want to pick up Walter Isaacson’s Invent and Wander. This book is a collection of Jeff Bezos’s writings, including his unique shareholder letters, plus a number of speeches and interviews that give direct insight into his mindset, core principles and philosophies, and the evolution of Amazon. It’s a masterclass in business from values to strategy to execution.