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What Are Some Good Business Books to Read?

By Ryan Himmel Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What books would you recommend for a new entrepreneur to read? I'd welcome suggestions based on your personal favorites, the books that have helped form your approach to business.

It's always a smart idea to learn from the knowledge and experience of others. One way to do so is through books written by great leaders. Personally, I try to read as many business books written by as many different types of authors as possible. Before I reveal my favorites, I think it's important to note that while books are great to reference, nothing beats an in-person meeting with a successful entrepreneur.

Leadership Book: Sun Tzu, The Art of War
There are many fantastic leadership books written by outstanding entrepreneurs. However, this book is one of my favorites. While it’s based on military situations, it provides great inspiration and lessons for any entrepreneur to follow. I find the book to be especially helpful for businesses that are in the early stages of development. as it teaches them to prepare for the many different types of situations they may experience. As we all know, one of the biggest challenges as an early-stage company is to manage the element of the unknown. Strategy and preparation can in many ways guide a company and help mitigate future mistakes.

Sales Book: Jeffrey Gitomer, The Little Red Book of Selling
This is probably the most enjoyable and easiest book you’ll ever read as far as business goes. It’s especially helpful for those who don’t know squat about sales, or who are scared even to talk about the topic, or who think they know more than they actually do. It’s very educational in teaching readers how the sales process works within a company and how budgets are spent.

Management Book: Daniel H. Pink, Drive
You may be wondering why I’m choosing a motivational book for the management category. Managing by instructing your staff and tracking their performance is really an antiquated way of running a business. In every sense, this book captures the importance of understanding what motivates people and how a manager can use that information to foster growth. For some, this book may be earth-shattering.

Product Book: Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs
I typically don’t recommend business biographies as much of the information is personal and it’s easy for the reader’s mind to go off on tangents. However, the Steve Jobs book is an exception to the rule. Why? Walter Isaacson does an exceptional job of articulating Steve’s greatest attributes. For instance, Steve’s extraordinary ability to channel his imagination into innovative product design. Entrepreneurs obviously won’t be able to replicate this gift, but they can certainly learn from Steve’s approach to product design.

Business Ethics Book: Stephen M. R. Covey, The Speed of Trust
I included an ethics book on this list for the main reason that it’s often overlooked. I find the topic to be very important, as it helps entrepreneurs to remain even-keeled no matter whether their business is going well or whether it's a complete disaster. Furthermore, it’s critical to build and maintain trust with employees, customers, investors. This book trains entrepreneurs to be obsessive about building trust and fearful of ever losing it.

Ryan Himmel

Head of Financial Partnerships, Xero Americas

Ryan Himmel is a CPA and financial technology executive who has dedicated over a decade of his work toward providing solutions to help accountants and small-business owners better run their firms. Himmel currently leads financial partnerships in the Americas for Xero.

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