10 Books to Read Before Starting a Business

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It’s normal to find the idea of starting a business intimidating. There are many things you should carefully consider. Luckily, there are countless books available to help.

A question still lingers, however: Which are the best books to read before starting a business? For that question, we have helped you compile 10 books that everyone should read before starting a business.

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

Eric Ries tackles the questions: why do most startups fail, and what can you do to make sure yours is a success? This guide is all about understanding the basics of success and failure in new businesses.

But this does not mean making an elaborate business plan. Instead, it means learning solid principles to guide and measure your business’s success. These tips are perfect for anyone dipping their toes into the world of business ownership.

Ries is an entrepreneur and inventor of the Lean Startup method, which he details in his book. His philosophy is that startups of any size can succeed using the same principles. This applies whether they have two employees or 100.

It is all about finding ways to use capital while finding new and creative solutions. Ries uses a theory called validated learning, taken from his days in manufacturing.

2. The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls that Can Sink a Startup by Noam Wasserman

Some of the trickiest decisions business owners make are the ones at the very beginning. But these are the very ones that could spell success or failure for their business. Some of the first decisions are about choosing members of your business team.

Often, business owners start their companies with the help of friends or family. Not only does this affect the business, but it can also alter these relationships, often for the worse.

In this book, Wasserman discusses the initial decisions that can either build or stunt a business. Many of these are common pitfalls, ultimately reducing the chances of success. Wasserman offers lessons on building a founders’ team, splitting equity, and recognizing signs that it is time to end a partnership.

The book offers stories from countless startups. It details the missteps they made, the successes they had, and what they could have done differently.
The bottom line: one of the most common reasons that startups fail is the people. Wasserman, the dean of Sy Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University, offers tips for choosing the right ones.

3. Will It Fly? How to Know if Your New Business Idea Has Wings … Before You Take the Leap by Thomas K. McKnight

In this book, McKnight lays out ways to know if a business idea has potential before you even get started. McKnight’s data comes from more than 200 startups. He has evaluated their business plans, investment strategies, and more.

Additionally, he lays out 44 rules of business success to help you understand how to move forward.

McKnight aims to help business owners tweak their initial ideas into viable startups. He also provides them with knowledge of how to make wise business decisions right from the beginning.

With better knowledge at the outset, you have a higher chance of success. This knowledge can also help protect your investors.

One key part of McKnight’s self-assessment for business owners is asking yourself questions such as:

  • Do you have enough capital laid by for this to be viable?
  • Is your competition easy to take down?
  • Do you have an established customer base?

Business owners rate themselves on each of these criteria and many more. This helps them put together a solid plan for a business that is sure to succeed — long before they put in the time or the money.

4. Million Dollar Consulting by Alan Weiss

In this guide, Alan Weiss lays out everything you need to know to run a successful business in the 21st century. This ranges from daily business operations to marketing tips and more. It is an excellent all-in-one guide for what you need to know for the practical side of business.

Weiss claims that these tips are ways to grow your company into a $1 million-a-year profit.

This book tells how to raise capital, establish a solid client base, and make a marketing plan. Weiss also provides everything business owners need to know to succeed against the competition. This is one of the reasons that small businesses often fail.

Other tips in the book include:

  • The importance of social networking and how to make a great social networking plan
  • How to delegate labor
  • How to get ahead of a depressed market
  • How to keep customers
  • The ins and outs of digital marketing

Alan Weiss is a highly-experienced business consultant. He has worked with prominent companies around the world. These include Merck, Hewlett-Packard, GE, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and the New York Times Corporation. His advice has helped more than 500 companies improve their work plan and increase profits.

5. The $100 Startup: Reinvent The Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, And Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau has never had a real job. But what he does have is a knack for helping ideas become profitable. Now, he’s convinced that anyone can start their own business and spend their life doing what they love. This even applies to those who start without much money.

Guillebeau studied 1,500 people who established profitable companies from a small investment. Many of them started with less than $100. They turned these investments into journeys of self-discovery and found new personal passions.
Guillebeau’s book focuses on 50 of these, distilling their stories into a simple guide. His ultimate philosophy? That anyone can start a great business. It depends on finding the intersection between their passion and consumer demand.

He goes a step further and says that you don’t need a business degree or even a business plan. But he believes that his method is the perfect way to spend your life doing what you love and making money from it.

Of course, he doesn’t just talk about all this in general terms. He provides step-by-step instructions for how to find your passion while avoiding common pitfalls.

6. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work And What to Do About It by Michael Gerber

What is the E-myth? As Gerber lays out, this is the false idea that most of those who start businesses are entrepreneurs.
Why is this important? It can spell disaster for small businesses.
Many people who establish companies might understand the concepts of business ownership. But they don’t understand the practicalities of running a successful business.

Gerber lays it all out: what mistakes business owners make, preconceived assumptions they have, and what they need to succeed.

No business book would be complete without a step-by-step plan for how to launch your company. Gerber’s book doesn’t skimp on these details. He provides tips on how to guide your business growth from conception to fruition.

He also provides advice on how to use the principles of franchising, regardless of whether you have a franchise. This helps business owners provide skillful, guided growth for their company, no matter what industry they are in.

Michael Gerber has been providing business consultation services since 1977. His more than 40 years of experience have helped small businesses in dozens of industries.

7. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

In his book, Timothy Ferriss seeks to dispel common attitudes about business ownership. Ferriss offers tips and advice for people who want to escape the endless grind of constant work and find a more fulfilling life plan.

Ferriss was once working 80 hours a week and earning $40,000. He radically changed his life with what he describes as a “lifestyle design.”

Ferriss says he now works four hours a week and earns 12 times as much. He did this through a combination of outsourcing tasks and eliminating unneeded work.

Essentially, this guide is all about leaving behind old conceptions of how work “should” be. That relates to productivity, workload, and even retirement. Ferriss also provides tips on:

  • Outsourcing work
  • How to work while doing other tasks that you love — even traveling
  • How to cut out 50 percent of your workload
  • How to combine work bursts with regular vacations
  • Negotiating with clients
  • Automating work tasks
  • Designing a luxury lifestyle even during economic downturns
  • Reinventing your lifestyle and career plan

8. Profit First by Mike Michalowicz

Almost anyone who knows about business has heard: Sales – Expenses = Profit. Entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz challenges this formula. He aims to help business owners change the way they think about their finances and help them profit.

Michalowicz’s changed formula is simple but effective. His version is Sales – Profit = Expenses. In this way, he challenges business owners to cut their expenses by putting profit first.

He likens it to portion control for weight loss. Business owners, he says, should think like they are using smaller plates for their expenses. In other words, profit shouldn’t be leftovers.

Michalowicz says that this simple change can help companies stop hemorrhaging money and put their profits on the upswing. His Profit First method offers some simple tips to:

  • Simplify business finances
  • Increase profits
  • Achieve sustainability
  • Make plans for long-term expansion

9. Atomic Habits by James Clear

James Clear’s Atomic Habits isn’t just for business owners. His philosophy applies to habits in every aspect of life. But they can also help business owners change the way they approach their work.

Clear’s philosophy is simple: if you have a hard time keeping habits, the problem isn’t that you’re just bad at them. Instead, you might just need a new system.

Clear offers the best ways to change your habits permanently by finding practical solutions that work for you. You also will have the chance to pinpoint problem areas that you might not have recognized on your own.

The author’s philosophy takes human psychology and biology into account. He aims to help you create the best plan for improving your habits in the long term. This guide is in simple language, not jargon. It is easy for anyone to understand and put in place in their daily lives.

Readers will learn how to beat a lack of motivation and correct course when they falter. They will even learn to change their workspace for ultimate productivity. All this is ideal for anyone who already has a busy life and needs to focus on small changes.

Ultimately, this book is about changing your mindset in terms of how you perceive productivity and progress.

10. Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits! by Greg Crabtree

In the simplest possible language, Greg Crabtree lays out the principles of what makes a business profitable. You do not have to have a degree in business to understand these principles. Instead, Crabtree presents it in simple, easy-to-follow language without jargon.

The whole point? Any business owner should know how to make their business profitable without needing an advanced degree to get it right. But it’s also essential for them to know how to make a profit and balance the costs of running their business for long-term profitability.

In other words, this book is an accounting course for any business owner with simple steps that anyone can follow.

Business owners will also learn about common money mistakes that small businesses make and how to avoid them. Crabtree also explains the whys and hows of hidden costs. He shows how these aren’t always what they seem, as well as things you should know about paying business taxes.

The bottom line: productivity is the number-one way to grow your business. This book will help you monitor the real-time success of your company and make smart accounting decisions.