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11 Best Books for Starting a Business

Austin Chegini
8 Mar. 2021

It’s said that the average CEO reads one book per week. If you want to replicate their success, perhaps you should start reading more books. 

And as a new entrepreneur, why not read about starting a business? Even if you have some experience running a store or restaurant, maybe flipping through business books will help you learn something new. 

We’ve done some research to help you get started. Below are 11 of the best books for starting a business. 

1. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

Do you think you need to be a wealthy entrepreneur to make your dream a reality? Guess again. 

The $100 Startup shows how you can create a viable business with a lot less money than you think. Chris Guillebeau helps aspiring entrepreneurs see practical ways to grow a successful business by reviewing 50 real-life examples. With each case study, the author helps readers identify the key components that led to success. 

Some examples show how these entrepreneurs generated five-figure businesses with three-figure budgets! It’s safe to say that after reading The $100 Startup, you will feel motivated to put your talents to use and stop feeling paralyzed by limited capital.

2.  Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

If you have big aspirations and want to change the world, you’ll want to hear from someone who has achieved this mission. Peter Thiel is a billionaire investor who confounded PayPal and has been a critical investor behind major companies like Palantir and Facebook. 

Thiel has made a name for himself by identifying and capitalizing on new ideas and technologies. In Zero to One, he explains that people with novel ideas stand to benefit the most when creating a business. For example, nothing like PayPal existed when it was formed, so it had no natural competition. 

Even if you aren’t going to create the next social media giant, this book is still incredibly helpful in determining which niche to pursue. You will learn how to spin your idea into something unique and new, thereby blowing past your competitors and creating a market for yourself. 

3. Launch by Jeff Walker

No matter how good you are at selling in-person, driving online sales requires a completely different skillset. If you are looking to build an e-commerce website or introduce a new product to the market and want to build excitement online, Launch is the book for you.

Written by Jeff Walker, a successful internet entrepreneur, Launch walks you through the core steps of starting a business and getting it into the best shape possible. The book is an easy read and mixes vignettes from Jeff’s life with practical tips to garner attention and build a winning online business. 

If you struggle to build email lists or write sales letters, this is the book for you. Likewise, if you are an incredible salesperson but need help launching a product without missing a step, consider reading this book. 

4. The Lean Startup by Eric Reis

These days, it seems like startups are everywhere. Innovative people are looking to change the world with their fresh ideas and teams of developers and designers. The Lean Startup explores this phenomenon but is written for anyone thinking of starting a business. 

In the startup world, differentiating yourself from the competition and offering something that catches attention is crucial. Otherwise, entrepreneurs end up wasting their time and money trying to do something that has already been done. 

Using this concept, Eric Reis helps entrepreneurs capitalize on their creative solutions to effectively bring new ideas to life. Even if you want to start a food truck or small retail store, The Lean Startup will help you get in the right mindset to come up with a fluid, responsive business model and carve a niche in your market. 

5. The One Page Business Plan for the Creative Entrepreneur by Jim Horan

Ask anyone what you should do before starting a business, and they’ll tell you to write a business plan. These documents are crucial for setting goals, analyzing your market, and estimating your future financial position. The process of writing a business plan can be overwhelming, and many people skip steps that could be crucial for success.

Luckily, The One Page Business Plan for the Creative Entrepreneur clarifies this process and makes it much easier for a first-time business owner. Jim Horan outlines each step and includes brainstorming exercises to help readers gain practical knowledge. Most importantly, the author strips away the irrelevant parts to help you create a tailored, succinct business plan.

By the end of the book, you should understand the core aspects of a business plan and be able to write your plan with ease. If you need help, the last section of the book contains samples of plans! 

6. Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months: A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works by Melinda Emerso

If you are set on starting a business and want to get it started as quickly and effectively as possible, this book is for you. Melinda Emerson, the founder of Quintessence Multimedia and small business consultant, gives you a step-by-step plan to become a successful entrepreneur. 

Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months gives you specific instructions on tasks like marketing and funding to ensure you take a measured approach. The author also gives practical examples so you can apply what you learn. 

Despite its name, the book doesn’t require you to start a business in 12 months. In fact, some readers think that is not possible since it is difficult to have the cash savings recommended by the author. Likewise, other critics think the book is geared towards brick and mortar businesses, leaving them wanting something more.

Overall, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months is one of the best books for starting a business because it explains the process from start to finish. You get measurable steps and expert advice from someone who has been through the process. 

7. Will It Fly? How to Know if Your New Business Idea Has Wings … Before You Take the Leap by Thomas K. McKnight

If you have the perfect business idea and want to get it off the ground, you’re likely eager to launch it as soon as possible. However, have you spent enough time analyzing if your venture will be profitable? Have you imagined and prepared for the worst-case scenario?

Will It Fly? is here to help entrepreneurs maximize their potential for success. With decades of experience, Thomas K. McKnight has helped launch hundreds of businesses, including USA Today. Calling upon these past lessons, McKnights guides readers through the business planning process, including reviewing 44 important elements of success to ensure no stone is left unturned. 

If you want an honest introspective read, Will It Fly? is for you. By the end of this book, you will know if it is time to launch or time to return to the drawing board for a few months. 

8. Profit First: Transform Your Business From a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz

Maybe you have an awesome idea but aren’t the best with numbers. Or perhaps you’re an excellent chef but not the best at managing your restaurant’s books. In either case, Profit First is one of the best books for starting a business on solid financials. 

Mike Michalowicz gives you everything you need to understand business finance, including cash flow and common hazards. Using his own experience, the author shows you how to get your affairs in order, reduce expenses, and boost your growth potential. 

Some reviewers dislike the book’s strict prioritization of profit over everything, but that should not be a surprise given the name. While the author does take a somewhat simple approach to keep your numbers in check, the overall message is still worthwhile and will help you maintain a sharp business mindset.

9. Lucky or Smart? Fifty Pages for the First-Time Entrepreneur by Bo Peabody

Some people think starting a business requires a ton of connections and a good bit of luck.  Bo Peabody, a successful entrepreneur, breaks down his experiences to show what it takes to run a profitable business. If you want to get in the entrepreneurial mindset, Lucky or Smart? is an excellent read. 

While this is a short read, Peabody gives readers an insight into his experience as an internet entrepreneur. He analyzes his wins and losses to show how anyone can get lucky if they maximize their potential. 

10. The Barefoot Executive: The Ultimate Guide for Being Your Own Boss and Achieving Financial Freedom by Carrie Wilkerson

If you want a motivational read, look no further than The Barefoot Executive. Carrie Wilkerson, known for her international speaking engagements and business coaching, helps readers start a business doing things they love. 

The book is the perfect blend of practical advice and inspirational content. On one hand, Carrie helps you choose a path, form your pitch, and stay dedicated to the process. On the other, she shows how freeing this journey can be and motivates you to never give up on your dreams of entrepreneurship. 

11. Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence – and How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk

If you have ever spent time on LinkedIn or other business social networking sites, the name “Gary Vee” has probably popped up once or twice. Gary Vaynerchuk is an incredibly popular entrepreneur who grew a wine business, founded a restaurant technology company, and launched a media company. In Crushing It, Gary Vaynerchuk calls upon what he has learned over the years to show you how to build a brandable business and turn it into something great. 

Since Vaynerchuk gained much of his fame from social media, it should be no surprise that much of the content talks about online branding and building a platform. However, the book also includes interviews with entrepreneurs who talk about what they’ve done and learned over the years. 

By the end of the book, you should feel inspired to purpose something you love and build a business that you’re happy with. Whether you pursue a side hustle that generates a few thousand dollars per year or launch a seven-figure company, Gary Vee helps you capitalize on your calling.

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