7 Must-Read Books for the Budding Entrepreneur

These books will do more than inspire -- they'll get you started with action plans.

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By Matthew Toren

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Reading is a great tool to change the way you think and open your mind up to new solutions. When you read you realize that people in this world have already faced the majority of the same problems that you face now. You can then adapt their experiences to yours. Reading will give you the perspective you want and the education you need.

Here is a list of seven must-read books for the budding entrepreneur:

1. The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth by James Altucher

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Altucher basically makes the argument to those still working in the corporate world that a life of employment as we've known it is obsolete. The only future for everyone will mainly lie in budding entrepreneurs taking the risk to invest in themselves, to choose themselves and to start doing the work that makes them solopreneurs.

This guide will walks you through many of Altucher's own failures, successes and ideas for wealth creation and is sure to challenge and change the way you think about your work.

Related: 9 Books Elon Musk Thinks Everyone Should Read

2. Ask by Ryan Levesque

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The extended title of the book pretty much sums it up: "The counterintuitive online formula to discover exactly what your customers want to buy ... create a mass of raving fans ... and take any business to the next level."

Levesque takes readers through the art of figuring out exactly what customers want and then further walks through his very scientific approach to selling it to them. Sales are your business. If you don't have revenue, you don't have a business. You'll garner powerful insights into how you grow your business with Levesque's bestseller.

3. Email Marketing Rules: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Best Practices That Power Email Marketing Success by Chad White

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Marketers today will tell you that your email list is your lifeline and the most important asset a company can have under their belt. You have to create a successful email list and subsequent email-marketing campaign or you simply won't be able to compete in today's business world.

White's book is a powerful learning tool that will act like a mentor, teaching you the tricks of the trade in an easily broken-down format so you can take action.

4. Zag by Marty Neumeier

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While Neumeier's book is several years old, it's powerful white-board-style approach takes you through the strategies of the most powerful brands in the world.

These brands have expertly learned how to differentiate from the competition. As the book title implies, when everyone zigs, these brands zag. Learn the effective strategies of the best global brands out there and how you can apply them to your brand.

Related: The Surprising 'Superpower' Billionaires Want That You May Already Have

5. Big Bang Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation by Larry Downes and Paul Nunes

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Authors Downes and Nunes walk through strategies for keeping your business at the forefront so it doesn't fall prey to innovative forces that could quickly derail it.

Think of how quickly companies such as Uber have disrupted taxi companies or smartphones have made GPS units virtually irrelevant. With plenty of examples and tips for how you can remain innovative, this book is a great one to keep handy to read now and again in the future as your business scales.

6. Rework by Jason Fried

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Mark Cuban said that he would hire someone who had read this book over a Harvard MBA graduate. That's how highly he esteems the content put together by Jason Fried.

This New York Times bestseller basically lays out that the typical ways of doing business are essentially time wasters or excuses holding you back. Fried argues against investors and pretty much all overhead such as offices, business plans and competitive analysis. He talks you through how to let go of the noise and control and just jump in to your business.

I talk a lot about these same concepts in the book I co-wrote with my brother, Small Business, Big Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right. Many of the incredibly successful entrepreneurs we interview in the book followed the rules of a lean startup and low overhead and they discuss their personal examples and advice.

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

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Catmull is one of the co-founders of Pixar Animation Studios, along with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter, and might well be one of the best-qualified individuals to write the book on building and maintaining a business that blends profits and creativity.

This is a book for any entrepreneur who wants insights into one of the most beloved brands and arguably creative companies in the world. Catmull dishes out lots of true stories, personal antidotes and helpful advice for aspiring creators.

What other books do you recommend to budding entrepreneurs? Share them in the comments section below.

Related: The Recipe for the Perfect Business Book

Matthew Toren

Serial Entrepreneur, Mentor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com

Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.

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