business books

31 Best Books for Business Owners and Startup Founders

Cover Image - 31 Best Books for Business Owners and Startup Founders

To give you a better idea of which books to read, I have pulled together this list of best books for entrepreneurs and startups. The article includes the entrepreneurship best books on influence, customer experience, personal growth and many more topics.

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or you’re still working on your first idea, these books will be valuable. The list has the best books every startup founder should read. These best startup business books cover a range of topics from business strategy and marketing to the psychology of persuasion and making sales.

Table of Contents

Good to Great, by Jim Collins

Good to Great, by Jim Collins is probably the best book for business owners that highlights the key principles and practices successful companies have in common. It’s the best book for startup founders and business owners offering practical strategies to improve their companies. The book provides a roadmap for success that helps identify what to do to take an organization to the next level.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great.

When what you are deeply passionate about, what you can be best in the world at, and what drives your economic engine come together, not only does your work move toward greatness, but so does your life.

The purpose of bureaucracy is to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline.

Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.

Great vision without great people is irrelevant.

Contagious, by Jonah Berger

Contagious is the best book about business marketing to understand how content impacts people. Jonah has discussed the power of word of mouth in the digital age, and how it can help companies connect with their audiences. The book explains what word of mouth is, how it works and the different ways to use it. It is among the top business book for entrepreneurs and marketers.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

People don't think in terms of information. They think in terms of narratives. But while people focus on the story itself, information comes along for the ride.

Making things more observable makes them easier to imitate, which makes them more likely to become popular.

Virality isn’t born, it’s made.

Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 percent to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.

People don't need to be paid to be motivated.

Also Read: 14 Best Books for Young Entrepreneurs

Influence, by Robert Cialdini

Influence is for business owners, marketers and startups. In this book, Robert has defined persuasion and the psychology behind it. He has talked about how to influence people and how to motivate others to get their work done. It’s one of the best books on business to understand tactics that can help you to persuade your customers to do things you want. It’s definitely among the best books for persuasion, too.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

When we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.”

Embarrassment is a villain to be crushed.

We all fool ourselves from time to time in order to keep our thoughts and beliefs consistent with what we have already done or decided.

There is a natural human tendency to dislike a person who brings us unpleasant information, even when that person did not cause the bad news.

Often, we don’t realize that our attitude toward something has been influenced by the number of times we have been exposed to it in the past.

Also Read: 21 Best Books for Marketers and Salespeople

Crossing the Chasm, by Geoffrey Moore

Crossing the Chasm is a book for business owners, entrepreneurs, marketers and people in sales. Geoffrey has shown how companies can cross the “chasm” between early adopters and mainstream consumers. It’s among the best books to learn about business strategy. It provides examples of successful strategies and offers advice on the best way to go about achieving marketing and sales objectives.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

The number-one corporate objective, when crossing the chasm, is to secure a distribution channel into the mainstream market, one with which the pragmatist customer will be comfortable.

Pragmatists are more interested in the market’s response to a product than in the product itself.

There is something fundamentally different between a sale to an early adopter and a sale to the early majority.

Chasm crossing is not the end, but rather the beginning, of mainstream market development.

When pragmatists buy, they care about the company they are buying from, the quality of the product they are buying, the infrastructure of supporting products and system interfaces, and the reliability of the service they are going to get.

Start with Why, by Simon Sinek

Start with Why is a book for business owners, startups and anyone who wants to grow their businesses. In this book, Simon Sinek discusses how we define ourselves, why we do what we do and what are the traits of people who start big things. Through examples, he explains how an organisation can become the best version of itself and why it should care. It’s among the best books to start business and grow it.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.

There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.

Great companies don't hire skilled people and motivate them. They hire already motivated people and inspire them.

You don’t hire for skills; you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.

The role of a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas. The role of a leader is to create an environment in which great ideas can happen.

Also Read: 7 Best Books for Growth Mindset

The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup is a must-read for everyone involved in the startup ecosystem. It’s another of the best books for starting a business. It offers strategies to help startups grow fast. It’s one of the best books for startup founders. The book offers a practical view of running a startup, with tips for testing and getting feedback. Eric has discussed the concepts of business models, marketplaces, revenue models and even customer acquisition strategies. It’s the best book on startups for sure.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.

We must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want.

Reading is good, action is better.

If you cannot fail, you cannot learn.

As you consider building your own minimum viable product, let this simple rule suffice: remove any feature, process, or effort that does not contribute directly to the learning you seek.

The Personal MBA, by Josh Kaufman

The Personal MBA is a management book that helps you with business growth and financial success. The book touches on various business fundamentals, including finance, marketing and operations. From the basics of products and marketing to the nuances of teamwork and systems, it distils everything you need to know about a business. It provides a comprehensive overview of business principles and practices.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

Business schools don't create successful people. They simply accept them, then take credit for their success.

Every successful business a) creates or provides something of value that b) other people want or need c) at a price they're willing to pay, in a way that d) satisfies the purchaser's needs and expectations and e) provides the business sufficient revenue to make it worthwhile for the owners to continue operation.

You can't make positive discoveries that make your life better if you never try anything new.

Whoever best describes the problem is the one most likely to solve it.

Every time your customers purchase from you, they’re deciding that they value what you have to offer more than they value anything else their money could buy at that moment.

Also Read: 9 Best Books for Finance

Understanding Cash Flow, by Franklin J. Plewa Jr.

Understanding Cash Flow book is to explain the importance of cash flow in business. It covers all the processes, terminology and factors associated with cash flow. And it provides practical guidance on how to monitor and manage cash flow on a regular basis. It also covers other important topics like forecasting cash flow, identifying cash flow issues and preventing frauds.

Also Read: 5 Best Books about Cash Flow Management

Small Business Taxes Made Easy, by Eva Rosenberg

Small Business Taxes Made Easy, as suggested by the made, is designed for small business initiatives. It provides a comprehensive overview of tax planning for small businesses. It covers many topics such as tax deductions, record-keeping and audits. And it will help you reduce errors, handle expenses properly, and boost your profits. You'll be able to better navigate the complex tax maze, save money on unwanted taxes and build a profitable business.

Also Read: 5 Best Books to Read on Taxes

Made to Stick, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Made to Stick is a book about persuasion and communication. It’s the best book on business about human behaviour and psychology. And it’s among the best books for founders to understand the various factors that make ideas stick in the market. It also talks about how to use that knowledge to make sure your messages stick with your audiences. It might be the best book for new business owners.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

The most basic way to get someone's attention is this: Break a pattern.

Anger prepares us to fight and fear prepares us to flee.

To make our communications more effective, we need to shift our thinking from "What information do I need to convey?" to "What questions do I want my audience to ask?”

The first problem of communication is getting people's attention.”

The Curse of Knowledge: when we are given knowledge, it is impossible to imagine what it's like to LACK that knowledge.

Challenging Conversations, by Jason Jimenez

Challenging Conversations is a book for all businesses. Whether you’re a business owner or a startup founder, you will gain insights in customer conversations by reading this book. In this book, Jason clarifies misconceptions and misunderstandings about a subject, and equips you to build rapport. It’s one of the top books for business owners to learn how to handle difficult conversations in a respectful manner.

Also Read: 14 Best Books for Communication Skills

The Challenger Customer, by Brent Adamson

The Challenger Customer is for all startup business owners who are interested in knowing what their customers think. It one of the best books for startups that contains a wealth of insights for understanding customers and their needs better. The book dives into the buying habits of complex customers and provides strategies for selling to them. Brent has shown how to engage with customers and get valuable feedback.

Top Lesson from the book:

Excessive collaboration adds time (but not value) to the process.

The Challenger Sale, by Matthew Dixon

The Challenger Sale is an essential book for salespeople and those working with them. In this book, Matthew has shared practical tools and methods for creating value for buyers. The book goes into the changing nature of B2B sales and provides a framework for success in the new selling environment. It’s also among the best business books for small business owners that teaches you to close more deals and generate higher revenues.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

What sets the best suppliers apart is not the quality of their products, but the value of their insight—new ideas to help customers either make money or save money in ways they didn’t even know were possible.

53 percent of B2B customer loyalty is a product of how you sell, not what you sell.

Just as you can’t be an effective teacher if you’re not going to push your students, you can’t be an effective Challenger if you’re not going to push your customers.

“What’s currently costing our customers more money than they realize, that only we can help them fix?” The answer to that question is the heart and soul of your Commercial Teaching pitch.

What if customers truly don’t know what they need? What if customers’ single greatest need – ironically – is to figure out exactly what they need?

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a self-help book that will teach you how to become a more effective person. The book examines the habits of successful people and provides a framework for personal effectiveness. Stephen explains the habits in detail, and encourages readers to live them out to achieve their goals.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

Until a person can say deeply and honestly, "I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday," that person cannot say, "I choose otherwise.”

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.

Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.

Start with the end in mind.

To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.

Also Read: 6 Best Books for Leadership

Drop the Ball, by Tiffany Dufu

Drop the Ball focuses on the concept of letting go of certain tasks to achieve a better work-life balance. Business owners and startup founders can benefit from this book by learning how to delegate and prioritize tasks. Tiffany explains how to re-evaluate expectations, shrink to-do list, and meaningfully engage other’s assistance. It can be a good resource to help you achieve a better work-life balance and greater harmony in life.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

What you do is less important than the difference you make.

Just because you’re better at doing something doesn’t mean you doing it is the most productive use of your time.

Drop the Ball: to release unrealistic expectations of doing it all and engage others to achieve what matters most to us, deepening our relationships and enriching our lives.

Trying to meet impossible expectations will only continue to harm our physical and psychological well-being.

Women should stop apologizing, not because we do everything right, but because we need to understand that it is okay to do some things wrong.

Also Read: 5 Best Books for Time Management

The Art of SEO, by Eric Enge

The Art of SEO is for business owners, marketers and startup founders. In the book, Eric has discussed various techniques like content creation, on-site optimization, link building and off-site optimization. He has shared valuable information and best practices, while emphasizing on the need to be patient in developing your online reputation. It’s among the best marketing books for startups to improve website traffic.

Top 3 Lessons from the book:

Users tend to use shorter search phrases, but these are gradually getting longer, especially for non-navigational queries.

Having a business’s website content appear prominently in the search engines when people are looking for the service, product, or resource that business provides is critical to its survival.

Good marketers are empathetic.

The Sales Bible, by Jeffrey Gitomer

The Sales Bible gives you actionable tools to close the deals. The book highlights the core techniques in sales and offers tips to put them into action. It’s a comprehensive guide to sales, covering everything from prospecting to closing deals. Whether you sell a product or service, this book is an all-round guide for successful selling.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

Rules are in every company for everyone to follow. Eh, except salespeople.

The referral is the easiest prospect in the world to sell. Ask any professional who hates selling – they'll tell you that 100% of their new business comes from referrals.

Questions are to sales as breath is to life. If you fail to ask them, you will die. If you ask them incorrectly, your death won't be immediate, but it's inevitable.

On a cold call: Be brief. You must generate interest in about 30 seconds or less, or forget it.

Sales solutions are easy once you identify the prospect's problems, concerns, and needs...with questions.

The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael Gerber

The E-Myth Revisited is a book about small business management and entrepreneurship. It’s about common entrepreneurial myths about starting a business and provides a practical framework for success. Gerber outlines the key principles of effective business management, emphasizing the importance of working on the business, not just in it.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

The difference between great people and everyone else is that great people create their lives actively, while everyone else is created by their lives, passively waiting to see where life takes them next.

The people who are exceptionally good in business aren't so because of what they know but because of their insatiable need to know more.

If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business – you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic!”

The work we do is a reflection of who we are.

The difference between a warrior and an ordinary man is that a warrior sees everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man sees everything as either a blessing or a curse.

Predictable Revenue, by Aaron Ross

Predictable Revenue is a startup business book on sales and business marketing strategies. Aaron shares his experiences at, where he helped the company grow from a startup to a multi-billion-dollar enterprise. The book focuses on the idea of creating a scalable and predictable revenue stream through a systematic approach to sales and marketing.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

You are allowed to send “unsolicited” emails to businesses. Here are the three core guidelines: The subject and header must not be misleading. You must have a valid physical address in your email. You must include a way to opt-out from future communications.

One-time revenue spikes that aren’t repeatable won’t help you achieve consistent year-after-year growth.

If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people.

Happy employees develop happy customers.

The graveyards are full of indispensable men.

Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim

Blue Ocean Strategy is a book for entrepreneurs, executives and business students who want to create new markets and achieve strategic success. It’s among the best business books for startups to help identify and create new markets, which involves consumer behaviour and competition. The book also covers how to manage the challenges of moving into new markets.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

While good strategy content is based on a compelling value proposition for buyers with a robust profit proposition for the organization, sustainable strategy execution is based largely on a motivating-people proposition.

Value innovation requires companies to orient the whole system toward achieving a leap in value for both buyers and themselves.

When a company’s value curve looks like a bowl of spaghetti – a zigzag with no rhyme or reason – the company doesn’t have a coherent strategy.

Focus on innovating at value, not positioning against competitors.

There is no substitute for meeting and listening to dissatisfied customers directly.

Also Read: 14 Best Books for Young Entrepreneurs

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the most recommended books in the self-help category. It’s among the best books to help build relationships and get people to see things your way. Dale has tried to address the principles of human psychology. Through various lessons and anecdotes, he teaches you how to be influential and win people over.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.

Don't be afraid of enemies who attack you. Be afraid of the friends who flatter you.

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.

Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.

When dealing with people, remember you are dealing with creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.

Traction, by Gino Wickman

Traction is a book about business management and growth. In the book, Gino provides tools and techniques for gaining control of your business and achieving long-term success. It’s a helpful guide for business owners and leaders who want to clarify their vision and goals, and create a more cohesive and productive team.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

Vision without traction is merely hallucination.

Clarify your vision and you will make better decisions about people, processes, finances, strategies, and customers.

Most people are sitting on their own diamond mines. Find your core focus, stick to it, and devote your time and resources to excelling at it.

If you’re truly going to commit to building a great company, a strong leadership team and getting the right people in the right seats, you must prepare for change in your leadership.

There are three stages in documenting your way: a) Identify your core processes, b) Break down what happens in each one and document it, and c) Compile the information into a single package for everyone in your company.

The Lean Entrepreneur, by Brant Cooper

The Lean Entrepreneur is a guide for entrepreneurs and business leaders to apply lean principles and create new products and businesses. It covers the Lean Startup framework, which includes the build-measure-learn loop, customer discovery, and validated learning. It’s one of the best books to read for startup founders and learn about creating minimum viable products and growing a business.

Top 3 Lessons from the book:

Don’t follow your passions; follow your effort. It will lead you to your passions and to success.

Love and hate come from the same place: expectations.

Markets change all the time and our job is to change with them.

Likeable Social Media, by Dave Kerpen

Likeable Social Media is a book for small business owners and marketers who want to use social media to build their brand, reach new customers, and grow their businesses. It’s a startup marketing book that presents a step-by-step guide to creating a successful social media strategy, content plan, and various methods to engage with followers. It teaches you to create a loyal and engaged community.

Top 3 Lessons from the book:

People like to share with and feel connected to each other, brands, organizations, and even governments they like and trust.

If you want to grow a social presence, you have to take the time and energy to attract the low-hanging fruit: your current customers and other people who know you.

Sure, not everyone who posts on your Facebook wall or tweets about you has as much sway as some celebrities, but they certainly can spread the word on your behalf.

The Innovator's Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen

The Innovator's Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen, is a seminal work in the field of innovation examination. It explores why some companies are able to innovate while others struggle. It’s one of the must-read books for startup CEOs. Clayton provides succinct insights into how companies can keep innovating by balancing their existing businesses with investments in new growth opportunities.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

Disruptive technologies typically enable new markets to emerge.

To succeed consistently, good managers need to be skilled not just in choosing, training, and motivating the right people for the right job, but in choosing, building, and preparing the right organization for the job as well.

Three classes of factors affect what an organization can and cannot do: its resources, its processes, and its values.

The techniques that worked so extraordinarily well when applied to sustaining technologies, however, clearly failed badly when applied to markets or applications that did not yet exist.

Sound managerial decisions are at the very root of their impending fall from industry leadership.

Also Read: 9 Best Books for Positive Thinking

Growth Hacker Marketing, by Ryan Holiday

Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday is a guidebook for modern marketing techniques and strategies aimed at rapidly growing startups and businesses. It’s among the top startup marketing books for founders. In the book, Ryan discusses the use of creativity, analytics and technology to efficiently identify and scale marketing tactics that drive growth. The book provides a unique perspective on marketing.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

How do you get, maintain, and multiply attention in a scalable and efficient way?

The end goal of every growth hacker is to build a self-perpetuating marketing machine that reaches millions by itself.

A growth hacker is someone who has thrown out the playbook of traditional marketing and replaced it with only what is testable, trackable, and scalable.

People thinking about things other than making the best product, never make the best product.

Coding and technical chops are now an essential part of being a great marketer.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR, by David Meerman Scott

The New Rules of Marketing and PR provides a comprehensive guide to modern marketing and PR strategies for businesses. It’s another of the popular and best business startup books to read. Business owners and startup founders will find actionable insights and strategies for reaching customers, building relationships and driving growth. The book provides a clear understanding of the shifting landscape of marketing and PR fields.

Top 2 Lessons from the book:

When people come to you online, they are not looking for TV commercials. They are looking for information to help them make a decision.

In PR, it's not about clip books. It's about reaching our buyers.

The Ultimate Sales Machine, by Chet Holmes

The Ultimate Sales Machine is a guide to sales strategy and execution for business owners and startup founders. The book outlines a holistic approach to sales, to help focus on a small number of key areas and integrate them into a cohesive system. Chet provides practical tips and strategies for increasing sales productivity and automating sales processes.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

Use market data, not product data.

The one who gives the market the most and best information will always slaughter the one who just wants to sell products or services.

You will attract way more buyers if you are offering to teach them something of value to them than you will ever attract by simply trying to sell them your product or service.

Figure out what the impact areas are in your business.

If you are a one-person army or a very small company, you personally must spend at least 2.5 hours per day growing your company.

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit is a book for business owners and startup founders to harness the power of habit. In the book, Charles has explained the basics of how we form habits and change them. His book explains how habits work and how they can be used better for personal and organizational change. And he advises us to start slowly and progress gradually. It’s one of the best startup books for founders to adapt to a habit of growth.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

Change might not be fast and it isn't always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.

The Golden Rule of Habit Change: You can't extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it.

Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.

Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.

To change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.

Also Read: 7 Best Books for Mindfulness

Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and Slow is another among the best books for startup entrepreneurs who want to want to be better decision makers and grow as leaders. In this book, Daniel presents the basic research on human perception, cognition and decision making. He explains the mental processes behind choices, and helps readers understand why people make the decisions they do. It’s one of the best books to understand human psychology.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.

Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it.

Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.

If you care about being thought credible and intelligent, do not use complex language where simpler language will do.

Intelligence is not only the ability to reason; it is also the ability to find relevant material in memory and to deploy attention when needed.

Mastering the Complex Sale, by Jeff Thull

Mastering the Complex Sale is a must-read for everyone in sales and business. If you want to understand sales, you need to read this book. It’s among the best entrepreneurship books to understand selling complex solutions in a highly competitive market. Jeff has provided insight into the sales process, and he has shared some real-life cases to illustrate how to overcome the complexities of sales.

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