There are many variables influencing the potential success of the business you’re just starting, with some of them entirely or partially out of your control. That’s precisely why you should do everything within your power to excel wherever you can. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 20% of new businesses fail within the first year. You don’t want to share their fate, right?
Of course, the key to success is the right business idea. However, even the best concept for a company can fail if you approach it improperly. Starting a business shouldn’t be rushed. Always make sure you’re 100% prepared for what’s coming. Do your research about a given industry and your competitors. If you feel like, for example, accounting is too much for you, ensure you have someone knowledgeable to work with in that aspect. And so on.
While nothing beats practical knowledge and experience, it’s not something you can gain before you actually start a business. Therefore, you need at least to know some theory.
Depending on your industry and current skills, the type of education that you’ll need will vary. To offer some help, we have prepared a list of best books for starting a business, covering a variety of topics and various aspects to make sure you find the one you need – or maybe you could use the help of all of them.
Books to Read Before Starting a Business
Must Read for Verifying Your Business Idea: Will It Fly? by Pat Flynn
This is an absolute must-read for anyone who has already come up with an excellent idea for a new business. You might be excited and eager to bring it to life, but make sure your concept really is as great as you think. Pat Flynn knows what he’s talking about – he’s considered a thought leader when it comes to the life of a business owner.
Will It Fly? offers practical knowledge and useful advice. You will learn how to test your fantastic idea to make sure it won’t cost you a fortune or a lifetime of worries and that it will be a smashing success.
The author leads you through a 5-steps process of analyzing business ideas:
- aligning the concept with your goals,
- getting the proper perspective to explore all the necessary aspects,
- assessing the market and how your idea fits it,
- testing your concept,
- deciding whether to start a business or wait a little longer for a better idea.
To Become a Good Leader: Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
Unless you’re planning to be a freelancer, sooner or later, you will need to start building your team, either before or after you launch (depending on the nature of your business). In this case, you won’t go far if you don’t understand what makes a good leader; only then can you go far as an entrepreneur.
In his Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek, the famous author of Start With Why, focuses on how trust towards a leader is vital to a success of a company. Then, he continues with useful advice on instilling trust in your employees and the actual benefits of such a work environment. According to him, an employee who works for someone they trust tends to be more motivated and productive. It’s an essential ingredient for building an efficient team.
Sinek writes in a very casual, approachable way; most of his books are simply enjoyable to read, and if there’s a chance they can inspire you to become a better entrepreneur, why shouldn’t you try to hone your leadership skills?
To Avoid Common Pitfalls: The Founder’s Dilemmas by Noam Wasserman
If you want your business to succeed, books can be useful not only as positive guides and sources of advice – it’d also be beneficial to read about what you should avoid and how to do it. In The Founder’s Dilemmas, Wasserman provides actual examples, including well-known brands such as Twitter, which he studied during his research at Princeton. He analyzes their paths from the very start, identifying the roots of their prosperity but also determining what could have hurt it.
Focusing on the founders and their environment, this book provides an incredible source of inspiration for all current and future business owners. It will help you avoid some of the most common mistakes made by beginning entrepreneurs that can harm even a perfectly-planned business model. You will understand what it means to be a good manager, what it takes to run a successful business, and how you can achieve it as smoothly as possible.
For Managing Finances: Profit First by Mike Michalowicz
A great idea is not all you need to start making money. When you start even a small business, you need to be prepared financially for the venture. Furthermore, you will have to know how to manage your finances for your business to bring profits. It can get really challenging, especially if you have never had to deal with money before.
Mike Michalowicz writes about the general mechanics of managing finances as an entrepreneur – how to invest for your company to grow, how to keep it running, and what to do to earn a bit more than one’s daily bread. You will learn about profitability and cash flow to make sure you avoid unnecessary struggles in the future.
A considerable advantage of Michalowicz’s book is that it’s written for everyone – the language is simple, and everything is easily explained. Even if you plan to hire an accountant, ensure you know your way around money.
For Startups: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
Eric Ries is an entrepreneur, blogger, and author whose methodology has gained huge popularity since the book was published in 2011. His almost scientific approach to the topic will guide you through the whole process, including managing cash flow and its importance, planning a budget, making space for innovation, and enjoying the freedom that comes with it.
All that is essential for your startup to thrive and grow – and make profits. Using a variety of examples and case studies, Ries shows you how your life will change and how you can deal with it smoothly and effectively. You will learn about rapid prototyping (and why it’s worth doing), maintaining efficiency, and lean manufacturing.
This is the perfect book for anyone aiming to start a business in technology who needs to know more about managing business processes.
For Starting a Small Business: The Art of the Start 2.0 by Guy Kawasaki
Guy Takeo Kawasaki is a venture capitalist and marketing expert who used to work in Apple’s marketing department back in the 1980s. In his The Art of the Start 2.0, he offers an updated version of his lessons for new entrepreneurs and self-starters.
By sharing his own experiences, Kawasaki translates them into practical advice and creates a precise approach to running businesses. According to him, in order to become a successful entrepreneur, you need to change your way of thinking, as it goes way beyond your job title and 9-5 responsibilities.
This book will help you see how the most successful business leaders think – and how their way is different from that of employees. It is one of the must-read titles for future entrepreneurs of small businesses and startups.
Brand-Building Guide: Crushing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk
To many people, brand-building sounds like something you should worry about later. However, if you really want to think it through thoroughly and create the best possible strategy for your business, it is worth starting to work on it before you launch. After all, once you’re in business, you want to connect with your audience and start making money right away.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a viral name in the entrepreneurial world when it comes to developing strong branding. This book will show you why it’s vital to define your brand and stay consistent. Then, you will be able to learn what good branding actually is and how you can achieve this – through building brand awareness, profit from the use of social media, and so on.
It’s essential to stay authentic, as only then will people believe in your company and trust you enough to buy your products or services.
To Improve Organization and Time Management: Atomic Habits by James Clear
We all have developed our share of bad habits, and they aren’t that easy to get rid of. While they certainly can be frustrating in your daily life, they can become an even greater problem once you start running a business.
Atomic Habits can help you deal with your struggles, especially in terms of organizational skills and time management, which are both crucial for the success of your new business. In his book, James Clear writes about how habits are formed; according to him, once you understand the process, you can take control over it, thus eliminating bad habits and creating new and more advantageous ones. The author focuses on the step-by-step approach, which involves introducing small changes gradually.
It’s a fascinating read, and you can profit from it in both your professional and personal lives. With the ability to control your habits, you will be able to lead a more productive and possibly healthier life.
To Learn From the Best: Behind the Cloud by Marc Benioff
Positive examples are beneficial when it comes to preparing your own business model. Of course, you never should just copy anything without considering whether it’s a good idea, but you can easily find lots of inspiration in the world and adjust it to your needs and situation. Behind the Cloud focuses on the story of Salesforce.com – Marc Benioff and his team – and how they changed the industry by their innovation to create, resulting in great success and massive profits. No wonder they are still one of the innovation leaders.
In this book, you have an opportunity to peek behind the scenes, analyze the journey to success and determine how you can use their advice in your own business. It can be an incredibly advantageous read for large and small business owners, those that have been running a business for some time now, and newcomers. According to Benioff, there’s always something you can improve, and you should never stop looking for ways to do it by analyzing your weaknesses as well as strengths.
Benioff is actually an entrepreneur who recommends reading business books and using others’ success to your own advantage.
For Creating a Conscious and Inclusive Work Environment: It’s About Damn Time by Arlan Hamilton
Arlan Hamilton is an incredibly inspiring black, gay woman who constantly proves that nothing is impossible if you’re persistent enough and play by certain rules. She is the founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital, now also an investor who supports underrepresented groups. In her first book, It’s About Damn Time, Hamilton talks about her own journey to success; she focuses on the importance of authenticity and ethics and how you should never compromise who you are for superficial success. She certainly is an important figure to know if you want to celebrate black and underestimated voices.
If you genuinely aim at dismantling racism and white privilege at your business from the very start, you can educate your team with the help of such books as So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo or The Color of Money by Mehrsa Baradaran.
To Know How to Identify Luck and Use It to Your Advantage: Lucky or Smart? by Bo Peabody
Bo Peabody is an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and the co-founder of one of the earliest dot-coms, who became an Internet multi-millionaire while still in his twenties. How did he achieve this? By co-founding five different companies, all in different industries.
Lucky or smart? The title of this book comes from a question that many people asked at that time. But Peabody doesn’t deny that he indeed got lucky – he goes on to tell that luck is almost always necessary for the success of any business plan. That’s why you need to understand how it works – to be able to identify and use it.
According to Peabody, you need to be smart enough when you get lucky to convert it into actual prosperity. In this book, he teaches his readers this perspective and attitude towards life and business.
More on Business Startups – and the Future: Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters
Peter Thiel is a venture capitalist and billionaire who knows a fair deal about startups and businesses, as he founded or co-founded several of them, including PayPal. What’s more, he certainly knows his way around the business world, being the first outside Facebook investor.
In Zero to One, he focuses on the importance and actual power of original ideas. He supports continuous innovation, claiming that the best way to start a business and actually make money is to create new technologies. If you follow his business plans, you’ll be the one making something unique, so there even won’t be a place for a competition.
Many business leaders and business newcomers tend not to agree with Thiel, but his book undoubtedly is thought-provoking and 100% worth reading.
For Staying Small: Company of One by Paul Jarvis
In a world where the big corporation mindset seems to be thriving, Paul Jarvis advocates for staying small. In his book, Company of One, he presents the most significant benefits of running a small business or even working as a freelancer. He highlights the freedom of a small company or a self-employed individual.
The author doesn’t recommend getting big – or at least too big. It’s the perfect book for anyone who truly values freedom and independence. Jarvis offers some practical advice on how to stay small but keep making profits.
For Starting a Business on a Budget: The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
The majority of entrepreneurs and business books will tell you that you need a big capital to launch a company. While it’s mostly true, and money will certainly give you some security and stability, it’s not entirely impossible to found businesses without it.
In The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau provides specific examples and case studies of successful companies that started with little capital. Even if you have no savings, you can quit your day job and start your dream business – you only need to know the ways. This is precisely what this book offers – some hope, inspiration, and advice.
To Create the Perfect Business Plan: The One Page Business Plan for the Creative Entrepreneur by Jim Horan
Beginnings are hard, especially if you have no experience whatsoever in starting and managing businesses. If that’s the case, Horan’s book is a must-read.
He points out why it’s beneficial to create a detailed and well-thought-out plan for your business. Furthermore, he offers specific advice and even exercises to help you get your head around your business idea and your goals to find the best approach – and put it on paper.
According to Horan, it’s especially vital if you’re not going into business alone.
Starting a Business Can Be Easier and Less Stressful
Starting a business means a massive change in your whole life. As such, you’d probably like everything to go as smoothly as possible and all your efforts to end with a smashing success.
While you can’t control everything (e.g., the weather, socio-economic situation in your area, and the doings of your competition), you certainly can do everything within your power to ensure you’re 100% prepared to launch a business and make money. With the help of good self-development and business books, you will be able to create a proper business plan, plan a budget, design efficient strategies, or hire the right people to do it.
If you have a choice, try not to rush into becoming an entrepreneur – at least not just yet. Do thorough research, consider some books to read, ask around, and make sure you know the market and the general situation in your location. The business world is harsh, so don’t enter it unprepared.