Ending Soon! Save 33% on All Access

The 25 Essential Books for Every Entrepreneur's Library Generations of authors have written wisely about how to solve the puzzle of motivating ourselves to overcome the obstacles to success.

By John Rampton Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


No matter what stage you're at in the entrepreneur journey, whether you just launched your first startup or have started several successful businesses, you can always use the advice of people who have "been there, done that.'' What better way to get advice then from the pages of a book?

I've been lucky enough to be successful in my life. But it didn't happen overnight and I didn't do it myself. I've had the great advice from many entrepreneurs before me who have had success. I like to refer to these nuggets of success as the habits of unicorn entrepreneurs. Within these top books for entrepreneurs I learned how to do a lot of what I do and the mentality behind what I do. This has shaped me and can shape you into who you can become.

While it was certainly no easy task, I've complied 25 books that should be read and used as a guide for an entrepreneur's success.

1. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don't by Jim Collins

Jim Collins wanted to answer one very important question, "Can a good company become a great company and if so, how?" After examining more than 1,400 companies, Collins and his researchers settled on 11 companies that include Wells Fargo, Gillette, and Walgreens. He then analyzed these companies to find out what makes them great.

Pick It Up: Amazon | eBooks.com | Barnes & Noble

2. The A.D.D. Entrepreneur by Matt Curry

Curry, a successful entrepreneur, takes a look at his own experiences with A.D.D. and turns the tables on the common misconceptions that this is a problem. Instead, Curry makes the argument that A.D.D.can be used by entrepreneurs as an opportunity through insights, strategies, and enthusiasm.

Pick It Up: Amazon | Indigo.ca | Barnes & Noble

3. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

This has become a must-read book for anyone wanting to get out of the daily 9-to-5 grind. Ferriss will guide you along into creating and automating your very own income generator is that you'll have the time to do the things that you're really passionate.

Pick It Up: Amazon | eBooks.com | Barnes & Noble

4. The Startup Playbook: Secrets of the Fastest-Growing Startups From Their Founding Entrepreneurs by David Kidder

Author David Kidder examines the lessons and experiences from 41 different startup founders. The result? Insights into what made them successful like finding their niche or leadership techniques.

Pick It Up: Amazon | eBooks.com | Barnes & Noble

5. The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change The Way You Do Business by Clayton M. Christensen

What happens if your company has played by the rules, found some success, and still doesn't last? Harvard professor and business founder Clayton M. Christensen argues that to find success, you should change your common perception of how to conduct business by not always listening to your customers and how to know when to pick a smaller market over a larger one.

Pick It Up: Amazon | BiggerBooks | Barnes & Noble

6. Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life by Shantideva

This translation of the 8th Century poem isn't just for Buddhists, but anyone hoping to find inner peace, practice patience, or learn how to concentrate on the profound subjects that matter most to us.

Pick It Up: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

7. Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won't Teach You at Business School by Richard Branson

Can a business book actually be entertaining? When it's written by Sir Richard Branson that feat can actually be accomplished. In this book, Branson uses anecdotes and case studies, Branson provides a roadmap for success through strategies like thinking big and building small, as well as having empathy for employees.

Pick It Up: Amazon | Indigo.ca | Barnes & Noble

Richard Branson via Getty Images / Bloomberg

Image credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg

8. As A Man Thinketh by James Allen

This collection of essays written by James Allen has become a timeless classic that is often read by anyone looking to unlock the secrets of success thanks to one simple philosophy; You are what you think.

Offer: Get this audiobook free with a 30-day free trial to Audiobooks.com

Pick It Up: Amazon | eBooks.com | Barnes & Noble

9. Endless Encores: Repeating Success through People, Products, and Profits by Ken Goldstein

If you're an entrepreneur or small business owner who has previously experienced success do you know how to replicate that success? Ken Goldstein introduces us to a successful businessman who runs into a successful CEO at the airport who shares her secret of success; consistent achievement.

Pick It Up: Amazon | Indigo.ca | Barnes & Noble

10. The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte

Looking for the motivation to get started on your next project? Look no further than this passionate and inspiring book from Danielle LaPorte, the creator of The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals With Soul. In it she describes the importance of doing what you love and why you should be generous.

Pick It Up: Amazon | eBooks.com | Barnes & Noble

Related: Need a Business Idea? Here are 55

11. True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership by Bill George and Peter Sims

If you need some assistance with discovering your own leadership style, this book will help you shape your own vision, values, and motivations through interviews with 125 of the top leaders in the world.

Pick It Up: Amazon | eBooks.com | Barnes & Noble

12. The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

Instead of spending your time creating an elaborate business plan or relying on a focus group, entrepreneurs need to continuously test their business ideas and be willing to adapt quickly in order to stay competitive. Erics' book was a driving factor behind me starting my current company Due.

Offer: Get this audiobook free with a 30-day free trial to Audiobooks.com

Pick It Up: Amazon | eBooks.com | Barnes & Noble

13. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

What makes some entrepreneurs more successful than others? It's likely that they have developed principle-centered solutions to business problems, such as being able to adapt.

Offer: Get this audiobook free with a 30-day free trial to Audiobooks.com

Pick It Up: Amazon | eBooks.com | Barnes & Noble

14. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This masterpiece is the essential read for anyone wanting work on their people skills, like the three fundamental techniques when handling people.

Offer: Get this audiobook free with a 30-day free trial to Audiobooks.com

Pick It Up: Amazon | eBooks.com | Barnes & Noble

15. Performance Breakthrough: The Four Secrets of Passionate Organizations by Mike Goldman

How do you get other people to get as passionate as you are about your organization? You can learn how thanks to Mike Goldman's four secrets that will help your create a passionate, productive, and profitable organization.

Pick It Up: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

16. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

You don't have to have a large amount of money to launch a business. You can actually do so by turning your passion or hobby into a successful business since you probably already know your market - which means you can cut-out conducting market research.

Offer: Get this audiobook free with a 30-day free trial to Audiobooks.com

Pick It Up: Amazon | eBooks.com | Barnes & Noble

17. The Startup of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman

Written by LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, this book describes how you can take control of your life and career so that you can make the most of it.

Pick It Up: Amazon | eBooks.com | Barnes & Noble

Guy Kawasaki at SXSW via Getty Images / Bloomberg

Image credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg

18. The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki

If you need inspiration and techniques to jumpstart your business, then this is a must-read from Guy Kawasaki, former marketing maven of Apple Computer. For example, Kawasaki demonstrates how to give a strong presentation with the 10-20-30 rule.

Pick It Up: Amazon | eBooks.com | Barnes & Noble

19. Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill

First published in 1937, this is another timeless success book that should on every entrepreneur's bookshelf. Inspired by an interview with Andrew Carnegie, Hill discovered that successful people embrace the Philosophy of Personal Achievement.

Offer: Get this audiobook free with a 30-day free trial to Audiobooks.com

Pick It Up: Amazon | eBooks.com | Barnes & Noble

20. Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works by Roger Martin and Sally Osberg

Entrepreneur's are striving to make the world a better place, whether through eliminating climate change or poverty. Besides making a difference in people's lives, entrepreneurs can also make a profit by doing the right thing. Martin and Osberg will help you discover how social entrepreneurs are discovering problems and transform the system.

Pick It Up: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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

This bestseller from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel examines how entrepreneurs can shape the future by having the right team in place, knowing whether or not your business will be in business 20 years from now, or if you offer something unique.

Pick It Up: Amazon | eBooks.com | Barnes & Noble

22. The Entrepreneurial Spirit Lives: 25 Tales to Help Entrepreneurs Start, Grow, and Succeed in Small Business by Cavanaugh L. Gray

Lifelong entrepreneur Cavanaugh L. Gray describes how small business owners can overcome common obstacles like management and marketing in a practical and comprehensive, but easy-to-understand, way through inspiring stories of successful businesses.

Pick It Up: Amazon

23. The Simplicity Cycle: A Field Guide to Making Things Better Without Making Them Worse by Dan Ward

What business owner wouldn't want to simplify their lives? Author Dan Ward outlines a number of tools and techniques that can help us identify and resolve the complexity problem.

Pick It Up: Amazon | eBooks.com | Barnes & Noble

24. Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod

Copywriter Hugh MacLeod argues in his first book that creativity should be used when starting and running a business. MacLeod makes the case, using his own cartoons as an example, that businesses shouldn't do what everyone one else and create their own business models.

Pick It Up: Amazon | Indigo.ca | Barnes & Noble

25. Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

Bestselling author, entrepreneur and philanthropist Tony Robbins details in this book how we can take control of the mental, physical, and emotional factors that are a part of decision-making so that we can plan and achieve personal and professional goals.

Pick It Up: Amazon | eBooks.com | Barnes & Noble

John Rampton

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Entrepreneur and Connector

John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor and startup enthusiast. He is the founder of the calendar productivity tool Calendar.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

Now that OpenAI's Superalignment Team Has Been Disbanded, Who's Preventing AI from Going Rogue?

We spoke to an AI expert who says safety and innovation are not separate things that must be balanced; they go hand in hand.


What Franchising Can Teach The NFL About The Impact of Private Equity

The NFL is smart to take a thoughtful approach before approving institutional capital's investment in teams.

Employee Experience & Recruiting

Beyond the Great Resignation — How to Attract Freelancers and Independent Talent Back to Traditional Work

Discussing the recent workplace exit of employees in search of more meaningful work and ways companies can attract that talent back.

Business News

Scarlett Johansson 'Shocked' That OpenAI Used a Voice 'So Eerily Similar' to Hers After Already Telling the Company 'No'

Johansson asked OpenAI how they created the AI voice that her "closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference."

Business Ideas

Struggling to Balance Your Business and Your Relationship? This Company Says It Has a Solution.

Jessica Holton, co-founder and CEO of Ours, says her company is on a mission to destigmatize couples therapy so that people can be proactive about relationship health.


Marketing Campaigns Must Do More than Drive Clicks — Here's How to Craft Landing Pages That Convert Clicks into Customers

Following fundamental design principles will ensure that your landing pages lead potential customers from clicking on an ad to completing a purchase.