The Top 25 Books for Entrepreneurs That Kick Serious Butt

top 25 books for entrepreneurs

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Reading is said to be the spark behind creative thinking, and is one of the most predominate traits of individuals said to pertain a level of “higher intelligence”. Is the thought of gaining intelligence through reading actually viable? I believe that it is not intelligence that is gained through reading; rather it’s the exposure to other people’s thoughts and perception of events and processes that generally will lead to you being better rounded thinker.


Reading other people’s thoughts and ideas are the key ingredients to being successful in life (beyond being very naturally intelligent). By reading through stories of people who were in similar situations to your own, and hearing their stories of success and how they perceived the difficulties along the way, you will be able to better separate yourself from your normal thought train and tackle a situation with more “proper” guidance.

I can’t tell how many times I’ve read a book by a successful entrepreneur or motivational speaker to immediately have a burning desire to apply some aspects of their success to my own life. Don’t believe me?   Ask my wife.  She’ll be first to tell you how after I read Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Work Week, I wouldn’t shut up about it.  Thanks to Tim, I hired my first VA (virtual assistant) and was able to free myself of several mundane details that I have from running this site.

Having diagnosed the process and benefits of reading, there are some books that have changed the way I have thought, as well as opened me up to some great ideas I, and the majority of the world, would initially have thrown out as hogwash. My favorite books that help characterize the process, and more important mental game of becoming an entrepreneur are all listed below with a small synopsis of their content.

Top Must Reads for Entrepreneurs

1The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris

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Tim’s book takes the prize for the best book I’ve ever read that revolves around business and entrepreneurship.  Ever.  I want my kids’ kids to read this book.  This book provides a non-standardized idea of how to approach daily situations, and how to think of them with new perspective. It also teaches you positive thinking to maximize your potential.

2Smarter, Faster, Cheaper by David Siteman Garland

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This book goes through some cheaper and less main stream ways to market your new personal business. The book focuses on the importance of blogging and an atypical approach. I had the pleasure of meeting David at one of his “Rise” Entrepreneurial lunches up in St. Louis and I’m here to say that HE IS LEGIT. I was so pumped to meet him, that I filmed my own thoughts on what it takes to become an entrepreneur…..while I was driving. Kids, don’t try that at home. This guy is a firecracker and he knows his stuff.  Also, beware of fluffy pink bunnies – no petting allowed!

3Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port

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This book goes through an in depth analysis of why it may be more important to market yourself opposed to marketing your actual business. It also gives guidelines for how to attain more clients and raise your business profile.

What’s funny about this book is that it’s been on my shelf for years.   I’m not even sure who recommended it, but it’s been a great addition to my reading library.  When I asked fellow entrepreneur Matt Sapaula what books he would recommend, this was tops on his list.   I knew I had good taste :)

4The Brand You Called You by Peter Montoya

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A great book that teaches you about how marketing your personal attributes can be more successful and important than marketing your business.  This book really helped put into perspective how to differentiate myself from all the competition…like this blog ;-)

I’ve been a huge fan of this book for years and recommend it to every new small business person that I encounter.   As you can imagine, I was blown away when Peter called me out of the blue to tell me how he liked my blog and I was doing a tremendous job marketing myself.   I’m pretty sure he felt good when I told him that his book inspired me to create it.

5UnMarketing by Scott Stratten

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Yes, this book might be more marketing related, but I couldn’t leave Scott out of this list.  This book goes through the approach of viral marketing techniques and social media becoming the predominant source of profitable businesses. What I like about Scott so much is that he’s just a real dude.   It’s hard not to respect that about him.   Plus he likes Pearl Jam.   What else is there to say?

6Creating Your Own Destiny by Patrick Snow

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I was pleasantly surprised when Patrick sent me a copy of his book completely unsolicited.  This book is an inspirational learner of how to fulfill your personal dreams and how to find true happiness in life.  Think it’s silly to have big dreams?   Think again.   Patrick’s dream is to have a NFL team in Hawaii and is raising money to try and make that dream happen.   Tell him that it’s stupid to dream big.  I dare you.

7The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

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This book is an in-depth look at the phenomenon of a small idea turning huge, and how the critical point is referred to as the “tipping point” by the author.  I was amazed on how the kids show Blues Clues was able to take the Sesame Street concept and blow it up.  If you’re looking to grow your business with the same magnitude as Paul Revere galloping on his horse through the U.S. country side, this book is an excellent read.

8Overwhelming Odds by Susan and Denny O’Leary

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This inspirational story of a man who is given overwhelming odds of failure, and the story of how he succeeded in life. I was so fortunate to meet Susan and Denny’s son John, and a small intimate gathering put on by the next author on the list.   John was involved in a horrible burning accident as a child that left him nearly for dead – the doctors telling his parents that he had a 1% chance to survive the night.

John did survive and used that tragedy to inspire others to be better people and also better business leaders.   If you need help in redefining your purpose in life, this is a must read.  Find out more about John and his professional speaking business at Rising Above.

9Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk

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How can you not love Gary V?   This guy is loud mouthed, full of energy and lives and breathes entrepreneurship.  His book gives a guide of how to think successful in life, opposed to the ordinary how to be successful type novel.   Favorite word of the book:  Passion.  <<<<YOU better have some passion if you’re going to Crush It!

10Delivering Happiness by Tony Hseish

Delivering Happiness

How do you top selling a business for $265 million at the age of 24?  How about selling another company for a mere $1.2 billion.  Even though I new the outcome of the book (see previous sentence where he sells company for $1.2 billion), I was on pins and needles seeing how Zappos.com almost didn’t make it.  Think Tony was worried?  Nah.   He decided to go ahead with a scheduled trip to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.  Now that is an entrepreneur that has brass balls.

11Fight The Good Fight by Ben Newman

Fight the Good Fight by Ben Newman

I didn’t know what to think when a buddy of mine recommended this book to me. I have to say, I’m thankful that he did. Fight  the Good Fight shares the story of a son who loses his mother at a young age. Later on in life, his grandmother delivers a gift to his son that will change his life.  Turns out his mother had kept a memoir of her life, so that her kids could see the courage and inspiration she had – despite her illness.

I can’t remember the last time a book moved me the way that this book did.  I’m thankful to have it as part of my reading library, and excited to share it to others.

12Industry Transformers by Dan Sullivan

You’ll hear more about Dan Sullivan here in a bit.   This was a book that I couldn’t pass on, especially when I found out I could get it on my iPad for $12.99.   What makes this book so good for entrepreneurs?  How about 10 interviews from 10 awesome entrepreneurs that have all developed their own Unique Process™ through the Strategic Coaching program (that I’m happily enrolled in).  If you ever wanted to know how an entrepreneur started from the ground up, how they learned from their mistakes and were able to fully capitalize on them then this is the read for you.

A few of my favorite interviews are with Phillip Tirone from 7 Steps to 720 Credit Score and Joe Polish from Pirahna Marketing.  Both were well respected in their industries and were able to develop their own unique product that launched them into the stratosphere.   I’ve been fortunate to speak to Phillip directly a few times and I’ve inspired by his continued drive as well as his love for his family.

For Financial Advisors

If you’re a financial advisor and looking to differentiate yourself from the crowd, another good book from Dan Sullivan is Unique Process Advisors.   I’m more than halfway through the book and my wheels are already spinning.

Unique Process Advisors by Dan Sullivan

13Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Many people feel that Kiyosaki is full of crap with his Real Estate riches and Cash Flow Quadrant.    While I have to admit that much of his advice lately (for me, at least) doesn’t hold a lot of water, his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad was the first book that really got my entrepreneurship juices flowing.  This book tells a tale of two separate people and their life choices. It analyzes these choices to come to some type of conclusion on the more appropriate way to think. Thanks to his book I always knew there was and always will be something more.

On the “Need to Read List”

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14Purple Cow by Seth Godin

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This book teaches you how to re-market your existing business to satisfy the evolving business needs in an ever changing world. Thanks to Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income for getting this book to me. Mike from Oblivious Investor also recommends this book in addition to The Dip and Tribes.

15Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

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I just recently was introduced to Guy Kawasaki in an interview that he did on The Rise to The Top.com.  I had heard of Guy but didn’t really know much about his story.   This “guy” just oozes success.  I immediately bought his new book Enchantment but also realized that I need to check out his other stuff, too.  Another highly recommended book of his is Art of the Start.

Want a little more insight into how Guy Kawasaki’s mind works?  Check out this witty quote of his:

“Don’t worry, be crappy. Revolutionary means you ship and then test… Lots of things made the first Mac in 1984 a piece of crap – but it was a revolutionary piece of crap.”

16Never Get a Real Job by Scott Gerber

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I ordered this book as an add on to one of the other books mentioned above.   Sometimes Amazon is good at suggest titles I might like.  Sometimes they suck.   How could I pass on this title though?  I’m itching to finally getting this puppy cracked open.

17Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

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This is Gary V’s anticipated second release.   To be honest, I didn’t even read what the book was about.  I bought because Gary put his name, heart, and soul on it; so I know it will be good.

18The Dan Sullivan Question by Dan Sullivan

I just joined the Strategic Coach program this year and I’m really excited to see what it can do for me.  Dan Sullivan the creator has written several books including this one.   I figured with a wildly successful coaching program, the guy has to know what he’s talking about; so this has been added to the “must read” list.

19ReWork by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

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I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book.  Heck, even Seth Godin says, “Ignore this book at your own peril”.  Plus, he’s like one of like 100 entrepreneurs and authors that vouch for this book.

What Do Friends Have to Say?

Knowing there had to other great entrepreneur books out there, I decided to ask some of my friends on Facebook, Twitter, and the blog to give me their top picks.  Here’s what they had to say.

20Who Moved My Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson

From Matt Bishop on Facebook saying, “Wonderful, short, very good.”

21The E-Myth by Michael Gerber

Matt Sapaula, Phil from PT Money and  Glenn from Free From Broke all recommended this book.  That’s a trifecta!

22Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields

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MD from Studenomics recommends this book.   Honestly, I don’t know how I left this one off the list.  I haven’t read his book, but I absolutely love his blog.   Jonathan is currently in the process of releasing his second book and I’ve signed up for his tribe newsletter that has been filling us in through the entire process.   A great resource for anyone looking to release a book.

23How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

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Glenn from Free From Broke and Mixergy CEO Andrew Warner both highly suggest this book.  Turns out I forgot I even had this book (though I loaned it and never got it returned – Whew!)

24Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

Baker from Man Vs. Debt says reading this book , “Fundamentally changed my life.  I read it while transitioning from poker into Real Estate and it shifted how I viewed myself and my life/business relationship. :-)

25The Go-Giver by @BobBurg

Recommended by Jeff Haywood, CPA via his Twitter account

All of the above listed books are great for anyone who would like to start their own business, or is just looking for a release from the conformist thought process of the majority of Americans. There are many differing viewpoints in the world today, and these books will give you some motivation as well as enlighten you on the thought process behind success.

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Comments | 24 Responses

  1. says

    Great list of books. I can also recommend ReWork. It’s a quick read and has lots of great, no-nonsense information.

    It’s great reading other people’s stories and seeing what it took to make it. One common theme is it’s often hard work and stickitivity that helps them make it.

  2. says

    Thanks for putting this list together Jeff. Allow me to add a few more to the list:

    Escape From Cubicle Nation.
    Art of Non-Conformity.
    Linchpin.

  3. Weston says

    I’ve read most of the books on your list. Don’t think that any of them hold a candle to the E-Myth.

  4. Tyson says

    What an awesome list of books. I have read some of these but now have a few more to add to my “must read list”.

    Thanks for sharing these…

  5. says

    Jeff,

    Great list! Now I have a ton more reading to do! I can also highly recommend Scott Strattens Book UnMarketing. Fantastic read! Don’t skip his footnotes!

  6. says

    Great List! I’m also a huge fan of Pat Croce (ex- President of the Philadelphia 76ers). “I feel great and you will too” is very inspiring.

  7. Anderson Guy says

    That’s a really great list. How to Win Friends and Influence People is such a classic and should be read by everyone. It really changed my ideas on interacting with people.

  8. Sunanda says

    great list! I have read a few but definitely need to check out the others. I would throw out
    1) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig
    2) The Ice Cream Maker: An Inspiring Tale About Making Quality The Key Ingredient in Everything You Do by Subir Chowdhury (haven’t read this one yet ,but someone I know recommended it)

  9. Paul Morrow says

    I would highly recommend the Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco. I’ve been active in the Fastlane Forum for a few years and have seen how this book has been a positive influence on its readers. The best part about the forum community is that the people there are sincere and are willing to share their experiences and insights (especially from those people who have been successful).

  10. says

    Awesome list of books! Some of these I’ve read, and some are on my reading list. There are so many great books out there, I feel I don’t have enough time to read them all. Great stuff!

    • Jeff Rose says

      @ Carrie My greatest discovery this year is audio books. I’m too busy with family and my own blog that I never have time to read. Enter audio books. A bit more expensive but there’s a site http://www.audible.com/ that a buddy told me about that allows you to download as many audio books as you want for like $10. I’ve tested it out yet, but will soon.

      Since I started listening to audio books, I can usually get through 2 a month… which is amazing!!! And I don’t have a far commute to my office, maybe 20 minutes round trip. Thus far I’m really digging it and excited to get to my next book.

  11. Chris says

    Um…not sure I enjoyed the list. Why? The title says: “The Top 25 Books for Entrepreneurs That Kick Serious Butt”. Fair enough. But it is a little difficult to give a lot of weight to your opinions when you haven’t even read some of the books!!!! If you are going to make a recommendation, don’t say, “Read this. I heard it was good.” That really doesn’t help much. Just my opinion.

    • says

      @ Chris Agree with you, but this post was originally written over a year and half ago. I have now read all those books and then some. And to be honest, I need to update to the 50 books that kick serious butt now.

  12. says

    Great list. I too have no doubt that The 4 Hour Work Week must be on the top of any entrepreneur book list and a must read for the new economy. The better news is that I have a lot of books to check out myself. I have read most of the books on the bottom of the list but the top half have given me reason to expand my library.

    Thanks for the list.

  13. says

    Reading “The Millionaire Next Door” updated edition ( http://amzn.to/PJMmiR on Amazon). Especially in a slow economy growing your wealth means more than just growing your income. The authors have been studying how wealthy people ($1 million+ net worth) got and grow their wealth even with a modest income, for more than twenty years. Read the original when it came out but the updated version has more data and a deeper insight on the how-to of growing wealth.

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