Get All Access for $5/mo

The Entrepreneur's Ultimate List of 8 Must-Read Books Grab those specs and a cup of coffee, then dive beneath these covers.

By Neil Patel Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


You've probably heard all the worn-out expressions:

Readers are leaders.

You've got to be reading more!

Man, you really have to read this book.

Let me recommend a book to you.

You mean you haven't read this book yet?

Entrepreneurs and business leaders know that they need to be reading. And, yes, most of us probably should be reading more than we do. But here's the question that we need to answer: What books to do we read?

Related: The 6 Books Shark Tank's Daymond John Wants You to Read

Selecting and absorbing the right books is the first thing we have to do. As it turns out, that's not easy to do. Given the vast number of self-published books, there aren't any specific numbers on how many books are published each year, let alone business books intended for entrepreneurs. We can safely say, however, that every year there are hundreds of thousands of English language books published: Amazon's "entrepreneurship" bookstore provides a list of 37,976 books, which would require a few lifetimes to read them all.

My shortlist is a bit briefer. Here are eight of the very best books on entrepreneurship I've read. Any book's status as very best is, admittedly, an individualistic judgment call. But I know that these have helped me -- and thousands of other entrepreneurs. So, from one developing entrepreneur to another, here they are:

1. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What To Do About It by Michael Gerber

The "E-myth" of the title, or "entrepreneurial myth," goes like this: Someone who starts a business is probably qualified to manage and grow that business. In reality, most people who start a business don't have a clue what they're doing. They become frustrated. They fail.

Gerber points out that most entrepreneurs are actually technicians -- people who know how to make stuff or fix stuff. But when it comes to building a business, the "entrepreneur" part fails. And so does the small business. The E-Myth Revisited uses the structure of a story to set forth powerful business-building information -- how to work in your business, not on it, how to hire the right people and how to build a strong foundation for a business that will ultimately thrive.

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

Peter Thiel is eminently qualified to write a book on startups. He co-founded PayPal, Palantir, Mithril Capital Management and Valar Ventures. Zero to One explains that breakthrough businesses can and should be built. A true breakthrough business doesn't just add more of the same, but builds something truly new; that's the "zero to one" that an entrepreneur should pursue.

Thiel explains how it's done.

3. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland and J.J. Sutherland

Every business needs a methodology for getting stuff done, for successful collaboration and scalable management techniques. Scrum is the answer; it describes a simple methodology for breaking down problems into manageable chunks, getting those chunks completed in a timely way and reviewing the work that has been completed.

Scrum is offered as a "how-to" book, but there's a lot of great data and tantalizing storytelling here which makes it the perfect business book.

Related: 6 Business Books That Will Revolutionize Your Business and Change Your Life

4. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington

If there's one thing that entrepreneurs need more of, it's sleep. Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post Media Group, explains that sleep is part of the third metric of success, which includes: total well-being, wisdom, intuition, wonder and compassion.

Too often, entrepreneurs are focused on acquiring money or building power. Thrive is a call to focus on the things that really matter. This book will help any entrepreneur develop a balanced view of building a business, and ensure that she doesn't burn out along the way.

5. The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller

The One Thing explains how entrepreneurs can dial back the busy clutter in their lives in order to focus on their business. Creating a laser-like focus on a business goal doesn't mean denying yourself family, friends or a full life. Instead, it means articulating your vision for success and your method of attaining it. Keller draws on his own success and experience to explain exactly how to do this.

6. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy

Entrepreneurs aren't beyond being helped by motivational shticks. Eat That Frog! is certainly motivational, but it's also extremely tactical -- providing a numbered list of actual methods for getting stuff done. It's settled fact that you'll emerge from reading this book with a renewed sense of passion and vigor for your business, and the ability to absolutely nail it.

7. The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone

It behooves every entrepreneur to accomplish enormous amounts of stuff. The vast majority of people don't accomplish enormous amounts of stuff. Why not? Lack of action. Cardone's premise is that the only successful level of action is 10x -- massive action.

This book explains how you can throw more energy, focus, determination, willpower and resolve into your calling and, ultimately, your success.

8. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Many entrepreneurs succumb to the myth that they can somehow do everything. Unfortunately, this is neither realistic nor healthy. Furthermore, it's not the way to build a successful business.

McKeown's point is this: "Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it's about how to get the right things done. It doesn't mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential."

Essentialism will enable the entrepreneur to peel back those life activities and demands which are unnecessary, unwise and unproductive.


In the maelstrom of startup life, entrepreneurs should take time to read. Whether that means audiobooks on the commute to work, or the morning luxury of a book in one hand, coffee in the other, it pays to make time to enrich your mind.

Not every book is worth your time, but this select list of books will become part of your toolkit, and enable you to build a business that is worth the cost.

Related: 5 Tips to Read 100 Books a Year

Neil Patel

Co-founder of NP Digital

Neil Patel is the co-founder of NP Digital. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.

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

Editor's Pick

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

Some Car Dealerships Are Selling Cars the Old Fashioned Way Following Massive Cyberattack

CDK software services an estimated 15,000 dealerships in the U.S.

Business News

50 Cent Once Sued Taco Bell for $4 Million. Here's How the Fast-Food Giant Got on the Rapper's Bad Side.

The brand suggested that 50 Cent change his name to match its "Why Pay More?" value menu promotion prices. The rapper was not amused.

Business News

Jack Dorsey Says It Will Soon Be 'Impossible to Tell' if Deepfakes Are Real: 'Like You're in a Simulation'

Dorsey said we will "not know what is real and what is fake" in the next five to 10 years.

Business News

Apple Is Working on Making Its $3,499 Vision Pro More Affordable — and Mainstream. Here's How.

Apple's product is at least three times more expensive than Meta's version.

Business News

Mark Cuban's Google Account Was Hacked By 'Sophisticated' Bad Actors

The "Shark Tank" star said someone "called and said I had an intruder and spoofed [Google's] recovery methods."