If you have any inkling of wanting to become an entrepreneur, then you should be doing one simple thing.
What's the simple thing? Reading.
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 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' 4 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. They have also opened me up to some great ideas that 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. (Note: If you're looking for a good list of finance books check out this post.)
Top Must Reads for Entrepreneurs
1The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris
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.
2E-Myth by Michael Gerber
This is a clear stand out for so many entrepreneurs.
According to Todd Tresidder of Financial Mentor, “this book will leave you absolutely clear on the difference between a real business and owning your own job. It will teach you the core principles that differentiate working ON your business vs. working IN your business. It will assure that when you climb the ladder to success it is actually leaning against the right wall. A simple story with a powerful message.”
3Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port
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 Called You by Peter Montoya
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
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?
6The Millionaire Messenger by Brendon Burchard
After surviving a devastating car accident, Brendon Burchard had a realization that he had both a purpose in life and a message to share with others.
This experience helped him realize that every single person has an important story and advice to share, and The Millionaire Messenger outlines what you have to do in order to achieve a sense of mastery over any subject and use your expertise to help others and attain financial and life success. Now the “guru’s guru,” Burchard outlines the steps you can take in order to join the information marketplace by becoming a motivation speaker, coach, author, blogger, and consultant.
7The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
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
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
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
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
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.