Skip to Main Content
Header image

10 must-read business books recommended by entrepreneurs

By Kobo • October 06, 2023Big Ideas in Books

Whether you’re running your own business, thinking about launching a new venture, or just spinning up a side-hustle, here are 10 must-read business books recommended by entrepreneurs.

"Being your own boss” sounds great in principle—but then principle meets practice and the whole load lands on you. Any entrepreneur, whether budding or seasoned, will tell you that running their own show comes with a unique set of difficulties (that is, assuming you can get any time on the calendars to ask). And yet, there are people who've figured out how to make it work.

Even if the details differ across every business (or even in the same business over time) most entrepreneurs are facing similar concerns:

“Are we selling a product people want to buy?”

“How do we attract and retain the best employees?”

“How can I make good decisions quickly and under stress?”

“How can we scale all of this—faster?”

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to any of them. So we asked entrepreneurs from various industries to recommend books that helped them—and might just help you too.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

This acclaimed New York Times bestseller draws on nearly four decades of insights about the psychology of persuasion from author Dr. Robert B. Cialdini. Backed by evidence-based, peer-reviewed scientific research, Influence outlines Cialdini’s six universal principles of persuasion and explains how to ethically apply them to business (and everyday) situations to help influence those around you.

“One of my favorite business books to teach the basics of persuasion—an essential skill for pitching, hiring, and building startups.” —Michele Romanow, President and co-founder, Clearbanc

View eBook

Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown

What distinguishes good leaders from bad leaders? And what can bad (or mediocre) leaders do to improve? In answering these questions, Multipliers provides readers with a framework for becoming the kind of boss that can nurture and amplify the natural capabilities of their team to produce better business results.

“Multipliers helped me understand what a leader who makes their team better looks like.” Tyler Handley, CEO and co-founder, Inkbox

View eBook    View Audiobook

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

We're awash in endless innovation... aren't we? PayPal co-founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel believes we actually live in an age of technological stagnation. Today, though few people are inventing anything truly novel in Thiel's view, he still believes truly original innovation is possible—and this is his advice to entrepreneurs who want to make truly monumental leaps.

“In an age when starting a company is ‘cool’, too many people start companies [that] are destined to fail. Thiel has a framework for building massive disruptors, though, and here he lays it out beautifully.” Yang Yu, CEO and Founder, KitchenMate

View eBook    View Audiobook

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight

Building an iconic multi-billion dollar brand doesn’t happen without some pitfalls along the way. In a frank and emotional memoir Phil Knight, founder of Nike, recalls the history of the company, from a $50 loan from his father i n1964 to start up an importing business for elite Japanese track shoes, through the highs and lows of multi-million dollar endorsement deals—to present world domination.

“It’s an incredibly well written memoir and a poignant reminder that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.” James Y. Lee, CEO and founder of Jubilee Media

View Audiobook    View eBook

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman—Including 10 More Years of Business Unusual by Yvon Chouinard

While building Patagonia Inc., founder Yvon Chouinard refused to sacrifice the company’s focus on environmental responsibility in exchange for a higher profit. This is Chouinard’s story of creating a sustainable business that does well financially while doing good for the world.

“In a world where we’re always striving to grow at all costs, this book made me believe that it’s possible to achieve great things as a business and make the world a better place.” Salima Visram, CEO and founder of SAMARA

View Audiobook    View eBook

Stress Less, Accomplish More: Meditation for Extraordinary Performance by Emily Fletcher

In search of an effective way to de-stress, many business owners and executives have turned to meditation. To make the practice more accessible Emily Fletcher, founder of Ziva Meditation, enlightens readers on the benefits of taking a mental break, offering a simple 15-minute meditation plan designed to help busy professionals recharge quickly.

“Emily's book helped me learn to meditate in a way that actually worked for my thousand-mile-an-hour founder brain.” Gareth Everard, co-founder, Rockwell Razors

View eBook    View Audiobook

Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... And Others Don't by Jim Collins

Why do some businesses achieve sustained success while others do not? This is a question that long puzzled Jim Collins so, over a period of five years, he and his research team carefully compared companies that achieved long term success versus those that did not. In doing so, they uncovered the key determinants of business greatness.

"[This book] is a nice reminder that great companies are built through long-term sustained force of will, rather than one or two 'game changing' moments." Matt Loszak, co-founder, Humi

View eBook    View Audiobook

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace

Creativity is an essential element of every successful business—something Ed Catmull knows from experience. In this book, the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios offers advice on how to foster creativity in yourself and your employees, plus insights from his own many failures and successes over the course of his storied career.

“This is an inspiring, feel-good book. Catmull is candid about the techniques his team used to turn Pixar into a widely beloved—and profitable—brand.” Latif Nanji, CEO and co-founder, Roadmunk

View eBook    View Audiobook

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown

Brené Brown believes that great leadership is something you can learn, and this is the book where she teaches it. Outlining four key skills that all the best leaders possess—based on research conducted with the leaders of startups, family-owned businesses, nonprofits, and Fortune 50 companies—Brown outlines paths for both learning them and putting them into practice.

“Brené Brown talks about the importance of psychological safety for teams and being vulnerable as a leader. I truly think this book is a must read for every entrepreneur.” Taran Ghatrora, CEO and co-founder, Blume

View Audiobook    View eBook

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

It may sound counterintuitive, but according to Mark Manson the secret to a happier, more productive life is simple: stop giving a f*ck. Based largely on the Stoic school of philosophy, Manson argues that we need to stop caring so much about life’s trivialities—they’re not important—and instead put our time and energy towards more meaningful things.

“This isn’t specifically a business book, but it provides a lot of insights that can definitely be useful in business situations—like how to achieve a clearer headspace” Willie Tsang, CEO and founder, Way of Will

View Audiobook    View eBook

If you would like to be the first to know about bookish blogs, please subscribe. We promise to provided only relevant articles.