17 of the best books for entrepreneurs to transform the way you work

Hannah Brice Written by
Hannah Brice

The business book industry is huge with guidance available on every topic imaginable. For example, did you know you can buy books on how to organise calls and take contact information? Or on how to create a vision board? It’s all there on Amazon. Fortunately, there are some books that do provide truly exceptional value and can literally change people’s lives.  Here’s a list of my best books for entrepreneurs as well as some recommendations from other business leaders.

The 7 day startup

The 7 day startup by Dan Norris taught me to make decisions more quickly. As someone who had been dreaming about running a business for several years, I assumed it was too complicated and that I wouldn’t be able to do it without lots of investment, time and support. The book teaches you that it’s better to make a poor decision than no decision at all because as a startup nothing is permanent. You can literally start a business with nothing but your brain – you just need a good idea and some enthusiasm.

Each day, you focus on a new element of the business – the name, the website, the marketing etc. He teaches you that it’s all simple and straightforward provided you’re able to go with your gut and make decisions.

If you’ve been putting off taking something further for a while, this book is for you. Even if your business is already set up, his approach should help you let go of worries and push yourself further.

24 Assets

In my opinion, Daniel Priestley writes the best books for entrepreneurs. His business, Dent Global, is a business incubator and he’s helped entrepreneurs all over the world to find success. My favourite one of this books is 24 Assets which shows you how to add incredible value to your business in the eyes of new employees, customers and investors. One such asset is the brand and that’s why I place so much importance on giving clients a strong brand to hang every other form of communication on.

Blue Ocean Strategy

Colleen Wong, Founder of TechSixtyFour and My Gator Watch, the wearable mobile phone and tracker made just for kids, loved Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim.

She said, “The key takeaway is not to focus on how to beat your competition as there is always limited pie to go around. I build my brand by focusing on value innovation in hopes of creating a demand that didn’t even exist. I work to keep costs low and pass it on to my customer while keeping product quality high. I incorporate flexible working into every area of the business in order to create a culture that every stakeholder buys into. I change the game that everyone is playing. I want to create the first ever tech start up run only by flexible working staff. Imagine a tech start up run mainly by mums of toddlers that takes on world.”

Thinking Fast and Slow

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is highly recommended by Lovethesales.com founder Stuart McClure. His company collates all of the UK’s retail sales onto one website. Here is what he said about the book:

“Thinking Fast and Slow is a brilliant read by a brilliant author. It is an analysis on the dichotomy of thought – one way your brain works is fast and instinctive, the other is slow and deliberate. On the face of it, it sounds unrelated to business. However, the more you read, the more fascinating the analysis becomes, allowing you to understand how these processes go on in the minds of your customers, your employees,  yourself even. Reading the book will literally change the way you think, as well as helping you understand when to use each of those ways of thinking. It is without doubt the most useful book I have read for business.”

She Who Dares

Jo Maloney, Founder of PR agency Chocolate PR, recommends She Who Dares: A Collection Of Powerful Stories Written By The Female Founders Graduating From Female Success Network Class Of 2018. 

Commenting on why she enjoyed the book so much, she said, “She Who Dares is a powerful movement to encourage & inspire aspiring female entrepreneurs. A variety of exceptional women describe how they embraced their entrepreneurial spirit, overcame adversity & broke boundaries to achieve their version of success.”

Black Box Thinking

Caroline Pegden of TempaGoGo, an online temporary recruitment marketplace, recommends Matthew Syed’s Black Box Thinking.

She said the book “really helped us frame our company culture. What inspires us most about the book are the following concepts:

– keep experimenting and embrace failure as a positive – there’s no better way to learn and improve (as demonstrated by the airline industry)
– micro optimisations can lead to massive wins (as illustrated by the UK cycling team)
– practice, practice, practice: there’s no such thing as overnight success or luck – you can’t get to the top unless you keep trying (as shown by football champions like David Beckham!)”

Zero to One

Ritam Gandhi, director and founder of Studio Graphene, a London-based digital agency that works with up-and-coming entrepreneurs as well as established businesses to build amazing blank canvas tech products, loves Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to build the Future by Peter Thiel.
He said, “Peter Thiels’ ‘Zero to One’ doesn’t waste any pages – it’s short and to the point, offering a clear message to help startups understand how to strategically position themselves from day one. After all, when starting a new venture it’s easy to get lost amidst the huge amount of time, money and effort that must be investment in growing the business; but this book by the co-founder of PayPal demonstrates how to establish the value and purpose of the company at inception.”

Business for Punks

Chris Stimson, founder of ethical LED lighting specialist Well-Lit, recommends Business For PunksBreak All the Rules–the BrewDog Way by BrewDog founder James Watt.

He commented, “The most non nonsense, no BS, real world advice I’ve ever read. How not to conform, how to be different, how to excel when power organisations are trying to stop you and using it against them ! Utterly brilliant”

The Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry

Charlotte Moore is the founder of Smoothie PR, an agency that teaches food start-ups how to do their own responsive PR in 10mins a day. She recommends The Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry by John Warrilow.
Describing why the book had such an impact on her, she said “It’s is an easy read with lots of actionable tips. Subscriptions are a great way to create a sustainable income!”

Shoe Dog

Anx Patel, CEO and founder of GoKart, an app that saves independent restaurants in London time and money when it comes to ordering ingredients, chose Shoe Dog by Phil Knight.
He loves it because “This book tells the story of Nike, the global sportswear powerhouse. What makes Shoe Dog so valuable, interesting and useful, though, is the fact that it really delves into the early years of the company – its growth from Phil Knight in his basement with 20 pairs of shoes, to the huge brand we all know today. Most of all, this ‘warts and all’ story delivers an important lesson about how growing a company is messy, complicated and mistake-ridden; a rollercoaster from despair to euphoria. It’s both massively entertaining and illuminating at the same time.”

The Big Leap

Sarah Agar-Brennan, Founder of Love Bomb Cushions, a manufacturer of licensed novelty cushions, found Gay Hendricks’ The Big Leap a huge inspiration.
She said, “I was a part of the E Spark programme in Leeds for the first year of the business and we regularly shared book ideas with each other. The programme I was on was all about accelerating your company and making the leap yet so often we are held back by our own limitations. This book helped me uncover what my limitations were and to recognise them so I could move through them. It was definitely instrumental in my appearance on Dragons Den and I still refer back to the book now.”

She Means Business

Cruelty-free bag brand Katherena founder, Katie Sykes loved She Means Business by Carrie Green.

Speaking about why it had such an impact on her, Katie said, “She Means Business was a lesson on mindset really. It made me think about how important it is to believe in myself and chase my dreams. I went on to join the She Means Business Facebook group and still watch training webinars from Carrie Green every now and then.”

Good to Great

Nila Holden, who helps food and drink entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses, chose Good to Great by Jim Collins.

She said, “It gave me the inspiration and insight to take the long term view and build a great brand, rather than chasing quick money.”

Measure What Matters

Rob Hartley, Co-founder at Get Dinghy, the ethical insurance provider for freelancers, cites Measure what Matters by John Doerr as his favourite book, saying “It is the best book on Objectives and Key Result (OKRs) and why this practice of goal setting matters to any stage business. Containing real life examples it helps you see how effective OKRs are and how they can be implemented successfully.”

Building a Storybrand

Michaela Hardt, founder of Nutmad, food company offering activated nuts, was inspired by Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller.
She said, “It’s great for businesses in early stages. It teaches you how to clarify your message, make it simple but powerful, and how to create an exciting story around your product/service, which helps you to connect with your audience.”

The 10x Rule: The only difference between success and failure

Alex McCann of social media management and training company Altrincham HQ said, “The most inspiring book for myself is Grant Cardone’s The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure. It makes you really assess your goals, your outlook in life and ultimately why you should aim for absolutely massive goals. As business owners we often aim too low.”

The 4 hour work week

And to finish off with one more of my favourites….. Timothy Ferris had international success with The Four Hour Work Week because he introduced new ideas to help you achieve more in less time. Who doesn’t want that?

From skim reading to checking emails only once a day, he introduces you to a ton of clever hacks suitable for the self-employed and those working for other companies.

I think the main takeaway for me was to assign a financial value to my time. If I determine that an hour of my time is worth £X and I could get a task done by someone else for half that time, enabling me to spend my time much more wisely, then that’s a good business decision. From outsourcing to cheaper experts to trying virtual assistants in India to tackle all your admin for a few pounds per hour, you’ll learn how to make much better use of your time but still get everything you need to do, done.

So if you’re reading this blog post now and you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by your workload, give The 4 Hour Work Week a read. It’ll change your life.