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Five must-read books for entrepreneurs

Updated: Nov 24, 2021

You don’t need an MBA to start a business but you should at least love reading. Or at least be willing to read. There are a ton of books out there talking about starting a business along with how-to guides. For those of you in the thought stages of starting a new venture, I recommend these five books to get you headed in the right direction. They’re easy reads and have certainly helped me. 

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho

This classic is all about following your dreams and desires. A shepherd boy named Santiago travels from his home in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids. People help point him in the right direction yet no one, including Santiago, knows what the treasure is. Along the way, He encounters various obstacles that make him question turning back and giving up. On a quest to find physical treasure, Santiago finds a greater treasure within.

This story emphasizes the power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts, both of which are critical to being a successful entrepreneur. If you ask many CEOs what helped them with success they will tell you it was persistence and intuition.

On Writing Well by Bill Zinsser 

Another classic but a bit dry. After all, it’s a book about grammar so it can’t be that exciting. Yet the book is packed full of practical grammar usage and tips, written in a conversational and no-nonsense tone. 

As a business owner, you will be writing a lot. One minute, you’re filling out legal forms, writing business plans, sending tons of emails, making presentations, content writing, and even requests for capital. 

So if you need a refresh on writing, this book is for you. I’ve underlined countless nuggets that I refer to all the time. 

The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau 

As the title suggests, yes you can start a business for $100. In fact, I technically started my business for about $100 and in one hour. This is a fun read that is chock full of information about startups, from idea to inception. It’s filled with numerous lessons learned from entrepreneurs who started with $100 and became successful with their business.

I read this book a month after I started my business and I had a lot of “aha” and “oh sh*t” moments. If you’re on the fence about starting a side-hustle or quitting your day job, I encourage you to read this book first. You won’t regret it.  

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries 

When we get excited about how fancy our business plan is and how large we think of growing our business, this book helps us think a bit differently. Big dreams are important, but for your startup, you need to think lean and nimble. The first question this book poses is why startups fail?

Conventional MBA wisdom tells us that successful businesses rely on a solid business plan, a solid strategy, and market research. For a company with an established and long operational history, this is true. But when you first start you’re not going to 100% know who your customer is or what your product should be. Startups are riddled with uncertainty. But the answer is also not flying by the seat of your pants. 

The Lean Startup explains that the key to startup success and growth is keeping overhead down and being able to pivot. You will learn how to test a product or service to see if it makes sense to your market. This book changed the way I test my services out and adapt them into something that more and more people will buy. 

Profit First by Mike Michalowicz 

I’ll admit my weakness, I have not been the best with personal finances. When I started my business I wanted to make sure that I didn’t lose all of my investment in the first year. My hopes are to at least break even. 

The MBA world tells you that profit = revenue – expenses. While this is true, entrepreneurs tend to break even or worse end up losing money. This book flips the equation: sales – profit = expenses. When you start paying yourself first, you start thinking about cutting unnecessary expenses in your business. Profit first isn’t exciting to read, but important if you’re like me and tend to spend as much as you bring in.

Do you recommend a book? Drop me a reply below. 

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