The Best 13+1 Books for Entrepreneurs

The books have enabled continuous growth in my business.

Most entrepreneurs are ‘forced entrepreneurs’ and they struggle to make a living. Always have a clear plan for progress.

The profitability of a business relies on simple cause-and-effect relationships, and this knowledge is immensely helpful even when starting the first venture.

These 14 books provide comprehensive knowledge on:

1. Adrian Slywotzky: The Art of Profitability

For most people, the word “profit” often conveys the idea of “what the evil capitalist business ripped off from me.”

For me, profit is the well-deserved reward for excellent work. When a business creates value and operates efficiently, it becomes profitable.

This book presents 25 different “profit models” that either help create more value or make a business more efficient.

Throughout the book, the “profit paradox” keeps resurfacing, questioning why companies don’t pay enough attention to profitability.

Most of these profit models would be straightforward steps and could lead to a significant leap in a company’s success (much more than a new marketing tool), yet hardly anyone seems to be paying attention to them.

This book is particularly important in a world where the success of many companies is declining drastically with the growth of their revenues, and where a significant number of businesses rely heavily on venture capital or other sources to finance their ventures.

I believe that those who already own existing businesses can benefit the most from this book, as understanding most of the profit models requires real-life examples. However, since the book is written in a highly readable dialogue format between a mentor and a student, it can also be used by beginners.

In the latter case, there is a risk that some readers might feel overwhelmed with the abundance of information and struggle to differentiate which profit model is best suited for their specific situations. Nonetheless, the book provides valuable insights for both experienced entrepreneurs and beginners alike.

In the 20th century, profit belonged to the businesses with the largest market share. However, in the 21st century, profit belongs to businesses with the most profitable business models.

Profit models are crucial. Without them, it would be impossible to build a single proprietorship with a net revenue of 100 million and an 80% profit margin.

Yes, a few changes can make such a significant difference.

And the best part? All of this became possible because these principles enable the creation of a better-functioning business that focuses entirely on solving customer problems and providing a superior offering.

Long-term, sustainable profit comes from efficient operations.

2. Seth Godin: Permission Marketing

The main idea of the book revolves around the difference between “interruption-based marketing” and “permission-based marketing.” Nowadays, we all see that advertisements that say, “Hey, don’t pay attention to what you’re looking at, look at THIS instead!” are simply ignored by everyone.

On the other hand, if you build an audience who knows how you work, accepts your advice, and willingly engages with your work, then you obtain permission from them to send premium (paid) offers. In fact, it is exponentially more likely that they will take advantage of those offers.

Everyone benefits from this approach. The entrepreneur is motivated to create valuable free content, listen to market needs, while customers receive a lot of value for free and can make better decisions.

Well-executed influencer marketing and modern content marketing are both built on this principle.

This book is recommended for beginners to advanced levels.

If you read it before starting your venture, you’ll already be aware that offering free value creation MUST be part of your business model from the very beginning.

For those who already have an existing business but haven’t explored its potential, this represents the greatest growth opportunity for you.

Permission-based marketing puts a micro-business at an advantage over a mammoth corporation.

Despite their massive budgets, the audience will discover from your marketing that you genuinely care about their needs and are working to provide solutions.

I have created free content that brought in additional revenues because my audience saw that I had answers to their questions, making it easy for them to avail themselves of my services.

Permission-based marketing is an investment: it demands time and energy, but the return on investment far outweighs that of real estate or stocks lurking in the bushes.

3. Peter Thiel: Zero to One

Every successful business earns a monopoly by solving a unique problem. Every failed business fails because it tries to escape competition.”

This book primarily targets the future successful startups, analyzing how the current most successful tech companies have evolved.

In essence, they have built a monopoly by offering a solution that is 10x better than anyone else’s for a specific problem.

And while the examples mostly operate in different business models than yours, you can still leverage the ideas to:

  1. Define your own market.
  2. Provide a solution that is 10x better than anyone else’s in that market.

This is an advanced book, and despite its easy readability, it could be confusing for beginners.

As a novice, it’s not worth contemplating how to build a monopoly in your market; instead, you should focus on figuring out how to generate your first orders.

This book primarily addresses a later stage when a business is already up and running, but it hasn’t yet established itself enough to be the first choice for customers in the market.

Successful businesses are often built on some kind of secret. There are two types of secrets:

  1. Natural secrets – undiscovered truths about the world around us (e.g., a new cosmetic ingredient, a new type of battery).

  2. Human secrets – things that people don’t know about themselves or keep hidden.

Those businesses that operate in a completely transparent and obvious manner to everyone won’t achieve outstanding success.

Sometimes, tapping into a secret requires significant investment (e.g., Amazon – they operated without profit for decades, but eventually, the secret was revealed that people love buying everything online).

4. Al Ries, Jack Trout: The ​22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

This is a very concise, easily understandable, and highly useful book on the basics. Its compactness is a significant advantage, ensuring that you won’t forget the principles by the end of the book, and there are no lengthy examples or descriptions.

Many entrepreneurs dismiss marketing as a “dirty trick,” but by doing so, they miss the opportunity to understand how CUSTOMERS perceive their product or service and their own needs.

After reading this book, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of what you should do as a micro or small business: clearly explain to a specific segment of the market why your solution is better than what big companies offer.

The products of large companies are typically good for everyone but not perfect for anyone. The role of small businesses is to cater to those willing to pay for the perfect product tailored to their needs, and for this, marketing is essential.

This is a beginner’s book, but no one can go wrong with it.

I believe that many books have a weakness in that they “run out of steam”; they repeat themselves after a certain number of pages or unnecessarily prolong the content.

This book, however, remains fresh, new, interesting, and useful throughout. It’s highly likely that you’ll come up with some important changes to your business based on a few fundamental principles mentioned in the book. So, it’s definitely worth investing the approximately 2 hours it takes to go through it.

Perhaps one of the most important laws that most businesses violate, but can bring the most results, is the second law – the Law of Category. Its essence is that if you cannot be the first or the best player in a particular market, then “create a new category” within that market.

Being a marketer for an accounting firm is completely different from being a marketer for customer acquisition.

Most businesses fail to narrow their focus, so when it comes to acquiring their first customers, they don’t know where to start. Since each client comes from a different place, they can’t perfect their customer acquisition methods (because it always works differently).

The same author duo wrote another book called “Positioning” with a similar format, and I highly recommend it as well.

5. Ashlee Vance: Elon Musk

Biographies offer a tremendous opportunity to intensely observe decades of experience and the consequences of long-term decisions unfolding. This helps in approaching entrepreneurship with the right expectations. This book entertainingly portrays the journey and challenges of one of the most renowned entrepreneurs of our time.

Many don’t realize it, but Tesla was founded in 2003, and SpaceX in 2002, only gaining widespread recognition in recent years.

Of course, this isn’t a book that teaches you how to build businesses like Elon Musk’s. However, I found it extremely valuable for managing expectations and developing a proper attitude towards challenges.

This book is a “concluding” piece on the list, not intended for learning purposes, but worth reading for everyone.

Too many people jump into entrepreneurship with the sole aim of quickly replacing their job, and this haste often leads to poor results.

While fast outcomes are possible, it’s the long-term planning and excellent execution that brings early successes.

It may also be crucial for entrepreneurs who are already successful but haven’t “solidified” their achievements yet.

I agree, Elon Musk may not be a role model for everyone due to his unique personality and work ethic, but he is undeniably inspiring as he works on some of humanity’s greatest advancements and succeeds in achieving them.

In today’s world, we all have the opportunity to create value in some form, to build something better than what was previously available, and to be rewarded for it.

It doesn’t have to be something grand, but it allows us to experience the joy of creation while also accumulating wealth.

6. Michel Masterson: Ready, Fire, Aim

If you only read one book about entrepreneurship, make it this one.

The main theme of the book is that every “traditional” (meaning not a tech startup but more like a small to medium-sized business) goes through four phases on its journey from $0 to $100 million in revenue, and each phase requires different focus and faces different challenges.

This is crucial because while many people want to automate and outsource right from the start, the reality is that in the first phase, you need to focus on sales (not branding, not raising capital, not scalability).

The book explains the challenges and priorities in later phases as well, so you always know where to concentrate.

The best part is that based on my own business, I can absolutely confirm that the growth process described in the book is entirely realistic and worth paying attention to.

This is a book that can be beneficial for everyone, although the last (fourth) phase is somewhat rushed, and the last 100 pages are remarkably dense.

However, the descriptions of the first and second phases (what to do at the start and what to do after the first profitable years) are immensely helpful in organizing your thoughts and setting the right priorities.

It always astonishes me when someone starts a business by investing millions of dollars and THEN tries to figure out how to make it work.

This book makes it clear that it CANNOT be done that way, but it provides tested and proven steps because many successful businesses have operated throughout history, allowing us to draw valuable conclusions from their experiences.

Whenever I read books like this, I wonder why there are so many online businesses constantly searching for new marketing tricks.

The solution lies in developing the business model, which is essentially the “rulebook” for running a business.

The most crucial pillar of this rulebook is what Masterson calls “OSS,” which stands for “Optimum Selling Strategy.”

The OSS is the sales process that allows you to bring in customers predictably and profitably.

In my case, my OSS involves attracting potential customers (entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs) with high-quality free content through advertisements. I then invite them to more interactive and engaging content, followed by the opportunity to join my premium training.

Of course, the process is much more intricate, but this way, I have a clear understanding of the elements that make up the process and how I can create the most value while ensuring that the customers receive the best.

Once the OSS is in place, and you KNOW that you can acquire customers effectively, numerous opportunities arise for experimenting, introducing additional products, and scaling the business.

7. Gino Wickman: Traction

I originally came across this book because I felt that my microbusiness was highly profitable but needed significant transformation to grow into a small to medium-sized enterprise.

That’s when I discovered Gino Wickman’s Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) and the book “Traction.” The book covers six key components that a growing business needs to focus on: vision, people, data, processes, issues, and traction.

In fact, it aligns quite well with Michael Masterson’s model (from the previous book) on what needs to be done in the third phase of a business.

This is a very technical book that requires considerable work. It may not be perfectly written (lacking examples and mainly focusing on large corporations), but it openly admits that this is a complex topic. For those who don’t want to spend a fortune on professional consultants, it offers excellent questions to answer, which can lead to highly profitable outcomes.

This is an advanced book. Absolutely!

It is recommended only for those who already have AT LEAST 6-7 employees and want to build systems and synchronize their work.

Starting with Gino Wickman’s book “Get a Grip,” which tells the method through a story (although less practically), might be a good idea. It allows you to grasp the concepts in a simpler context before diving into this more complex book.

In both business and life, progress is based on cause and effect relationships.

There are certain problems to solve and specific results to achieve, but once these are accomplished, you can elevate yourself to a much better position.

This book aims to organize the millions of questions that arise in connection with businesses into 6 well-defined areas.

For a long time, I didn’t document the processes that drove my business because I did everything myself. When I started documenting them, new opportunities for growth immediately emerged.

Many entrepreneurs reach out to me, frustrated that they have been stuck at the same level for years – and this stagnation is clearly evident from the outside.

The key takeaway from this book is that others have faced the same challenges as you, and there are solutions for every situation.

8. Tim Ferris: The 4-Hour Workweek

This is the book that sparked the entire “digital nomad” revolution and laid the groundwork for many entrepreneurs’ futures.

It’s not a workbook for starting your business. If you look at many reviews, you’ll see that many consider most solutions outdated (which I agree with) and limited in usability (which I also agree with, but don’t see as a problem).

The main purpose of this book is to gradually make you realize that “there’s a different way.” My suggestion is to disregard the business advice but pay attention to the “rules” and mindset of this lifestyle.

For many, the word “entrepreneurship” implies “registering a company with the necessary capital, hiring employees, leasing office space,” etc., while it doesn’t have to be that way (and it’s not even effective if you’re interested in the lifestyle of an entrepreneur, not just building a company).

This is an excellent book for beginners to see that it can be done.

The world is changing, new opportunities have emerged, and it’s better than what everyone else is doing.

The book does a great job of introducing many important concepts and includes numerous examples, but obviously, not everything can fit, so more advanced topics didn’t get much space.

Therefore, it won’t offer much to advanced entrepreneurs, unfortunately.

If you manage your time freely, you can get by with much less money.

Moreover, due to the difference in tax burdens between employees and small business owners, it’s easier to earn that money as a freelancer.

It’s worth realizing that despite the perceived security of being an employee, in reality:

  • A significant portion of your salary is deducted as taxes,
  • If you become temporarily unemployed, 100% of your income disappears,
  • And promotions often bring more responsibility and LESS freedom.

Once you reach the point of earning your bread as an entrepreneur, a world of opportunities opens up that cannot be achieved with any salary as an employee.

Tim Ferriss’s book shows that achieving all of this is not as difficult as it may seem.

9. MJ DeMarco: Millionaire Fastlane

MJ DeMarco’s book is part self-improvement, part business book, and it provides something unique that others don’t, in my opinion.

This book takes an informal approach, where a loud (but smart) entrepreneur tells you how things should be done.

You need to be mindful of such advice because it may NOT NECESSARILY FIT your specific situation. However, it is still worth contemplating. If it aligns with your situation (or if you are young and starting with a clean slate), then it’s like finding gold.

For me, I made my final decision to start a business based on the self-improvement aspects of the book. Then, when I carefully considered the business part of the book, my venture transformed from a non-scalable business model to one that has been tripling in size every year for the past four years.

I recommend this book primarily for beginners to intermediate level entrepreneurs, but advanced entrepreneurs should take a look at the chapters on decision-making and scalable businesses.

One thing that I find as a flaw in the book is that some might interpret the author’s message as advocating that everyone should only think about businesses that can be scaled infinitely and sold for tens of millions of dollars (e.g., software, online marketplaces, etc.).

Based on, it is clear that this is not the case, but it can be misleading. As a starting entrepreneur, be aware that passive income and scalability are important, but these topics may only become relevant to you several years down the road.

Becoming successful is difficult, and for most people, the “program” wired into their minds by society makes achieving a happy life even harder.

It’s important to realize that very few reach prosperity by simply “doing their job and saving 10%”; this is not a strategy to achieve your ideal situation.

However, you don’t need to fear that success will be taken away from you if you work hard.

Even in America, most people see themselves as victims, believing that opportunities were taken away from them, while making every decision as consumers.

No matter where you were born, if you can take responsibility for your situation and break free from “social programming,” you’ll be fine.

10. Jay Abraham: The Sticking Point Solution

“We have known bread and meat for thousands of years, yet it wasn’t until the 18th century that someone put them together to create a sandwich.”

Jay Abraham is virtually unknown here, as understanding his principles requires a lot of patience. But he is undeniably one of the greatest business thinkers, teaching at Tony Robbins’ highest-level seminars.

He is not just a marketing guru; he is much more of a business strategist. Running Google Ads campaigns is not a business strategy.

A business strategy is creating a referral program that is worthwhile and easy for your clients to recommend your business.

This book presents numerous opportunities related to business strategies, and Jay generously provides examples of how clients faced challenges and the ideas he came up with.

This is another advanced book that I would recommend only if you already know what works for YOU in your specific market.

Without that knowledge, it would be challenging to navigate through the myriad of possibilities. I can clearly envision someone starting out as a beginner and heading in the wrong direction by overthinking certain factors that only become crucial later in a business’s life.

If your business is already receiving orders steadily and is operating predictably and profitably, then these thoughts and insights can help you take the next steps in your entrepreneurial journey.

Jay Abraham is associated with what he calls the “Strategy of Preeminence.”

This is especially beneficial for consultants and service providers who can tailor a knowledge-based product entirely to their clients’ needs, serving them at the highest level.

A client is not the same as a customer. A client is someone who is “under your protection,” meaning you are essentially responsible for their success.

When someone builds their business by doing everything possible for their clients’ success, word gets around, and they can charge premium prices, making it a lucrative strategy (in contrast to short-term “predatory” consultants).

Many people are hesitant about this approach because they fear that exceptionally served clients may take the attention for granted and not appreciate it.

However, when I started out, I considered how grateful I would be if someone went the extra mile to provide better answers to my questions or problems compared to others. That’s why I was sure that clients would appreciate it.

I believe that as a consultant, there is an obligation to view customers as clients and, by doing so, create an environment for mutual growth.

11. Donald Miller: Building a StoryBrand

One easily preventable reason why most businesses fail is that they struggle to capture and retain the attention of potential customers.

Their offerings may be too complicated, requiring too much time for customers to understand. It may not be clear how their product or service differs from others in the market, and customers may not see the benefits.

The solution is to create a short and compelling story that clearly summarizes the value of the business. In this story, the customer becomes the hero, not the business.

For example, the story of a premium coffee brand is not just about the fantastic coffee beans; it focuses on the customer who appreciates quality. Similarly, the story of a charitable brand is not just about the donations; it highlights the customer (the hero) who supports the less fortunate.

By crafting a story that resonates with customers and places them as the central figure, businesses can effectively communicate their value and keep the customers engaged.

Understanding this principle is essential for every entrepreneur.

If someone starts building a dozen businesses from the beginning, they won’t reach the critical mass needed to make it worthwhile.

If someone has already started but hasn’t developed their story, they will be forever struggling for survival because acquiring and retaining customers will be expensive, and they’ll have to compete solely on price.

And if someone is already running their business, having a well-crafted story makes a massive difference.

This reflects in the effectiveness of their advertisements, how much customers are willing to pay for their products, and whether they will recommend their business to others (if it’s easily explainable and interesting, it becomes a great conversation topic).

This book doesn’t contain many new, revolutionary ideas that haven’t been mentioned before, but it provides a 7-step framework on how to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” from customers.

It’s simply astonishing how many entrepreneurs fail to realize that they are talking past their customers, explaining their activities poorly, and it’s this one thing that holds them back.

As the old marketing saying goes: “Nobody wants a drill; they want a hole in the wall” (meaning everyone is interested in the benefit they gain, not how fantastic your product is).

It’s crucial not to forget this and to develop your own story about why having a hole in the wall can be beneficial, what difficulties people might encounter when drilling, and why you can provide them with a better hole in the wall.

12. Elaine Pofeldt: The Million Dollar One Person Business

Your first business (ideally) should be a sole proprietorship. It can be launched quickly, offers the most flexibility, is well-supported by the tax system, and allows you to replace your 9-to-5 job.

Elaine Pofeldt began tracking those one-person, employee-less businesses in the USA that generated annual revenues of one million dollars or more.

In 2016, there were nearly 40,000 such businesses, and this number has significantly increased since then. Additionally, close to 300,000 (!) companies had revenues exceeding $500,000. Keep in mind that this is revenue, but the profit of a sole proprietorship is significantly better than that of a large corporation.

I recommend this book to help you realize that a small business is capable of generating substantial profits. In certain areas, you can even expect more success this way, so it’s worth exploring what works best.

I recommend this book to beginners. When you start, it’s essential to begin in an area with the best opportunities.

Too many people start a business based on “what they love to do” (which is why the personal trainer and yoga instructor markets are oversaturated) or “what they can afford.”

Launching a business is 99% not about money. Even if you have more money, starting without the right knowledge in the wrong market will only lead to more losses.

Your focus should be on selecting the best opportunity.

If you haven’t started yet, this book will help you find the right direction, and if you have recently started, it will help clarify your vision.

Over 300,000 people earn over half a million dollars annually, in the USA alone.

I believe this is excellent evidence that entrepreneurship is now accessible to many more people than ever before.

This book may not be a masterpiece, but it made it to the list to show you that these individuals are not geniuses kissed by some muse; they are ordinary people who wanted a change.

With a solo business, you don’t need to be a market leader to live well, and there is plenty of room for many competitors in the market (there are numerous bookkeepers, marketers, and mobile phone stores, for example).

13. Drew Eric Whitman: Cashvertising

This book is about how to sell anything you want.

Hopefully, you won’t use it in a manipulative way, but there are good and bad methods for communicating the value of a product.

It’s crucial to learn how to capture your audience’s attention, understand what messages resonate with them, and pre-answer their questions because even the best product won’t sell itself. Every entrepreneur needs to master these skills.

This is especially important for services or intellectual products, where there is no tangible item for people to buy. It’s challenging for them to envision exactly what they are spending their money on. If you can’t explain it to them, they will forever remain in the “interesting, I might try it someday” phase, which means zero revenue for you.

Absolutely every entrepreneur, who possesses even a hint of ethical sense, should consider these principles.

We live in an era where vague yet promising offers can easily make money, and these principles can work even in such cases.

However, businesses built on deception never truly thrive because word spreads quickly about scams.

These principles are most valuable when you use them to sell your outstanding product, into which you’ve already invested significant time, energy, and money. You KNOW you can sell it for a good price because you’ve worked hard to create something truly valuable.

The book’s most significant concept is the “Life Force 8,” which refers to the 8 fundamental needs that are important to everyone and can be crucial factors in decision-making during a purchase.

These are as follows:

  1. Survival, prolonging life, enjoying life
  2. Enjoyment of food and drink
  3. Freedom from fear, pain, and danger
  4. Sexual companionship
  5. Comfortable living conditions
  6. Social status, superiority over others
  7. Protection and well-being of loved ones
  8. Social acceptance

It is worth considering how your offer can be linked to at least one of these 8 basic human needs. Personally, I would NEVER start a business that is not somehow related to these needs.

+1 Ayn Rand: Atlas Shrugged

The only novel in the series, and not by chance made it to the list. Ayn Rand’s masterpiece showcases what happens when the results achieved by the world’s movers and shakers are gradually taken away through various socialist means.

Throughout the novel, over a long period, it unfolds how the looters make it impossible for the primary movers through legislation, even appealing to moral superiority.

Eventually, the creative individuals “go on strike,” giving up all their wealth and leaving the world, which subsequently collapses rapidly without them.

Ayn Rand used this novel to present her philosophy, which, of course, received controversial reactions.

However, in a world where many idealize mediocrity, confuse comfort with happiness, and scorn successful people, understanding this story can provide tremendous motivation.

“So, do you believe that money is the root of all evil? Money serves as a medium of exchange, which cannot exist without the produced goods and the people who produce them.

Money is the material representation of the principle that people who wish to do business with each other must do so through trade, exchanging value for value.

Money is not the tool of beggars who seek to claim the product of another’s tears, nor of looters who take by force.

Money is made possible only by those who produce. Do you consider this to be evil?

When you accept money in exchange for your efforts, you do so only from the conviction that you are exchanging the product of your own efforts for the products of others.”