While I certainly picked up a lot of my best business lessons through both personal experience and my coursework at the Argyros School of Business, I’ve always gotten so much out of books that are written by seasoned entrepreneurs.
These books are a glimpse inside the minds of the people who’ve been through it all and persevered. They went on to accomplish exactly what I wanted to do after graduating from college. For that reason, these books can massively enhance your learning curve while making progress towards becoming an entrepreneur.
Today, I put together my picks for the seven top business books every college entrepreneur needs to read before starting up. You can also check out my more than seventy other recommendations for the best business books right here.
Here are my picks for the 41 must-read business books for every college entrepreneur.
41Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built by Duncan Clark
This book is a biography of Jack Ma who started as a school teacher, and how he came to build one of the most valuable companies in the world rivaling Amazon and Walmart and forever reshaping the global economy.Jack Ma founded and built Alibaba,an e-commerce empire which hundreds of millions of Chinese people depend on. Jack is an icon for China’s flourishing private sector and the gatekeeper to millions, if not hundreds of millions of middle-class consumers.
This book,and one of the best business books for beginners is written by Duncan Clark who first met Jack in 1999 in the apartment where Jack Ma founded Alibaba. Granted access to exclusive interviews and a wealth of other new materials, Clark draws on his own experience as an early advisor to Alibaba to create a compelling authoritative narrative account of Alibaba’s rise.
40Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business by Rana Foroohar
This book by Rana Foroohar best showcases destructive impact on the global economy due to the rise of the financial industry. For over 15 years she covered the financial industry for Time and Newsweek. She also has been the global economic analyst at CNN for the past three years.
Foroohar is not only opinionated and passionate about her field of work, but also she’s a compelling and lucid spokesperson for change in finance and also in the purpose-driving business, and the social compact that binds us as citizens in a global economy.
39Raising an Entrepreneur: 10 Rules for Nurturing Risk Takers, Problem Solvers, and Change Makers by Margot Machol Bisnow
In this book, Margot Machol Bisnow who is a mother of two entrepreneurs interviews moms of over fifty of today’s most successful innovators and then compiles ten rules that can guide people on raising self-made, confident and fearless, individuals whose drive and ideas are capable of changing the world.
Your child may be passionate about something be it building, music, sports, writing, or theater. All parents want their children to succeed, but how can you help them grow their talent and vision for a fulfilling and financially successful life? Entrepreneurs are the new rock stars and they are the ones who will turn their passions into magnificent projects because they are willing to risk failure to in order to make their dreams come true.
38Chaos Monkeys: Inside the Silicon Valley Money Machine by ANTONI MARTINEZ
In Chaos Monkeys, Antonio García Martínez attempts a tell-all about a technology industry that inspires both fear and awe across the globe.The book gets its title from a software tool that is used to randomly test the resilience of the computer systems.He draws a parallel with technology entrepreneurs: they are the society’s chaos monkeys, pulling the plug on traditional industries.
The book’s subtitle,“Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley” — reinforces the idea that this chaos-making may not always justifiable.He unravels the chaotic evolution of online marketing and social media and reveals how it’s coming into our lives and reshaping our future.
37Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy by Robert H. Frank
Is there any role that luck plays in economic success? As many observe, people who get great fortunes are almost always hard-working and talented. In recent years, social scientists have discovered that luck plays a big role in the life outcomes than most people imagine. In this book, Robert Frank explores why the rich underestimate the importance of luck in success–and why it hurts everyone, even the wealthy.
Frank showcases how chance opportunities and trivial initial advantages often translate into much larger ones and enormous income differences over time; false beliefs about luck, despite strong evidence against them; and how myths about personal success and luck shape political and individual choices in many harmful ways.Due to the indepth information and advice by Robert Frank,this is one of the best business books for beginners.
36The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan by Sebastian Mallaby
This book brilliantly shows the complexity and subtlety of Alan Greenspan’s legacy. Alan Greenspan was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to be the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, a post which he held for eighteen years. He presided over a period of low inflation and stability, adored by investors, was revered by economists and widely consulted by leaders from Frankfurt to Beijing.
Full of beautifully rendered hard-hitting dialogues, political infighting, and stories, this book by Sebastian Mallaby is enormously gripping, superbly researched, and the story of the making of modern finance.
The book clearly showcases why personal branding is very important in this digital age and shows in detail the 26 most vital aspects of building a personal brand. The benefits of each idea are explained in very simple terms and followed with an actionable advice.
This advice displayed in this book can help you whether you are an aspiring professional, entrepreneur, marketer, business leader, or second careerist.
This book by Neil Patel is a step by step guide to breaking the monotony of your 9-5 lifestyle and make your dreams a reality. Hustle lays best shows tools that you need to realize the work you most enjoy and gain the motivation and confidence to be in charge of your adventures.
You will learn how to discover a more imaginative way of living and get ahead in your life, in a world where loyalty does not translate to success and that is why it is one of the best business books for beginners.
33The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage by Daymond John, Daniel Paisner
Here, the star of ABC’s Shark Tank and FUBU founder Daymond John shows that, apart from being a liability, being broke can be your biggest competitive advantage as an entrepreneur.This is because starting off from broke will force you to think more creatively and forces you to utilize the resources you have more efficiently.
It makes you connect with the customers more authentically, and showcase your ideas in an imaginative manner. It makes you be true to yourself, stay focused on your goals, and come up with innovative solutions.He draws inspiration from his own experiences as a branding consultant and as an entrepreneur and also from views of other successful entrepreneurs.
32Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
In the list of the best business books for beginners is this book by Adam Grant .It addresses the main challenges of changing the world from the perspectives of being original: championing novel values and ideas that move against the grain, buck outdated traditions, and battle conformity.
Using surprising stories and studies spanning entertainment, business, politics, and sports, the author explores how to notice a good idea, speak up without being silenced, build allies, choosing the best time to act, and managing doubt and fear ; how teachers and parents can be able to nurture originality in their children.
In this book, Kevin D. Johnson, the president of Johnson Media Inc. and a strong entrepreneur shares the characteristics, essential beliefs, and habits of the best entrepreneurs. Through his own personal experiences and the powerful stories of business tycoons, Johnson transforms a complex topic into an accessible one.
In this life changing book written for all entrepreneurs, the author is able to identify 100 key lessons that every single entrepreneur must learn in 7 areas: Finance, Strategy, Education, People, Sales and Marketing, Motivation and Leadership. The lessons are: how to think big, who are the best business partners, where to avoid opening a business bank account, what best captivates investors, when not to use a certain business idea, and why too much formal education may hinder your growth in entrepreneurship.
This book by Vishen Lakhiani promises to expose readers to the faulty logic of “brules” (bullshit rules) in what the author calls the culturescape—the world of relative ideas and truths that people should believe.Lakhiani uses personal experiences and those of his famous and successful friends to show how creating new models of reality and liberating oneself from brules can lead to an extraordinary mind, greater happiness, and purpose.
The reason why this book is one of the best business books for beginners is because the author displays positive practices which are necessary for business growth.These practices include positive visualization, forgiveness, gratitude, self-love, and the ability to see difficult times and failure as opportunities for growth.
29Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg
Option B explores how a wide range of people have been able to overcome hardships including sexual assault, illness, job loss, the violence of war and natural disasters. Their stories best reveal how the capacity of the human spirit can persevere and rediscover joy.Resilience comes from deep within us and from our outside support.
Even after the hard events, growth is possible by gaining a greater appreciation and finding deeper meaning in our lives. This book illustrates how to help others in problems, raise strong children, develop compassion for ourselves, and grow resilient workplaces, families, and communities.
28Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
MacArthur Fellow Duckworth writes that what makes big achievers successful, is grit—a “combination of perseverance and passion”—coupled with raw talent. She acknowledges that talent is very and when multiplied by grit is what can build skill, and skill together with grit equals a great achievement In 3 sections, she defines grit, and then shows how it develops “from the inside out” and “from the outside in.”
She mixes her own experiences with success stories, discoveries in psychology, to create a highly notable guide to achievement. She also includes advice from Warren Buffet on identifying personal goals, a self-assessment quiz and a chapter that showcases the ideal parenting style.This is an inspiring and informative contribution to success.
27Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons
Faced two young children and with few opportunities in traditional media, Daniel Lyons takes a position as just “marketing fellow.” He finds himself completely out of place at a company that is plagued by horrible jargon. And there’s plenty of toxic internal politics in this overly zealous corporate culture—with an emphasis on cult.
His tone is not necessarily bitter, but he holds a few grudges about the way that his bosses and former colleagues treated him.For the most part, he is humble and self-reflective. This book serves as a social commentary on the way that more senior employees are viewed and valued in a hyper-aggressive start-up culture.
The author, Ben Horowitz draws on his own story of the founding, running, buying, selling, investing in and managing technology companies to offer practical and essential wisdom for going through the toughest challenges that schools of business do not cover.Being rap fan, the author intensifies lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs and tells everything from poaching competitors to firing friends, from sustaining and cultivating a CEO mentality to knowing the best time to cash in.
Ben Horowitz bases the book on his own experiences from co-founding Loudcloud to building the successful Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm.He analyzes questions with no easy answers through his trials, including employing people from your friend’s company, firing your friends, managing your own psychology, how to sell your company among other vital things.It well captivates the attention of the reader making it one of the best business books for beginners.
25The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (Signed Edition) by Michael Lewis
This book by Michael L. Lewis is about the captivating collaboration between two men Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman.These two men wrote a series of original studies and undoing how we perceive and assume decision-making process. Through their papers, they showed ways in which the human mind erred, systematically, when forced to make a judgment about uncertain situations.
They had important careers in the Israeli military and their research was linked deeply to their life experiences. In the process, they may have changed, for good, our view of our own mind.A lot of thinking has gone into this book and thus boosting your thinking that will raise doubts on how you perceive reality.
I’ve read this entire 650 page long beast that dives into everything Tim Ferriss, the multi-New York Times Bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, has learned—tactics, routines and habits—from interviewing more than 200 of the world’s most recognizable figures in business, sports, academia, the military and just about every other imaginable industry on The Tim Ferriss Show, which now has 100 million+ downloads.
Tools of Titans wins my #1 pick because it so naturally captures the best business advice, productivity tips, life lessons and so much more from all the guests of Tim’s podcast ranging from Tony Robbins, to Derek Sivers, Daymond John and many more. Reading this business book is one of the most affordable investments you can make in your future as an entrepreneur.
Anthony Robbins in his book clearly shows you the most effective techniques and strategies for mastering your body, your emotions, your relationships, your life and your finances.This renowned professional in the psychology of change gives a step by step teaching program that shows lessons of self-mastery that can enable you to take control of your life, harness the forces that shape your destiny and discover your true purpose.
One of the main reasons why this book is one of the best business books for beginners is because it teaches you that you cannot get rich by counting your neighbor’s wealth. At the end, all we will have are the memories of the risks we took to go beyond our limitations and achieve the impossible that we desired. We don’t need the outside world to do this for us. The motivational giant we require exists within us.
Launch by Jeff Walker is like a treasure map into the secret world of digital entrepreneurs who create cash-on-demand paydays with their business launches and product launches.Whether you are a veteran entrepreneur, or you want to develop your own products so you can leverage your time and your impact, you can make it happen in the planning stage, this is how you start fast. This is how you can engineer great success.
Launch is one of the best books that will help your business take off successfully. Many business books cover practices that assume your business is already up and running, but only a few cover what to do before all that; thankfully Launch does.
In this book, M.J. DeMarco offers advice those who do not want a lifetime subscription of “settling for less,” and a slight chance of elderly riches.He says that there is an expressway to great wealth that can lead to financial independence faster than any other road out there.
You can demand the Fastlane, which is an alternative road to wealth that ignites your dreams and creates young millionaires, not old. Hit the Fastlane and live rich for a lifetime by cracking the codes to massive wealth.
20Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth by T. Harv Eker
T. Harv Eker in his book shows the missing link between desiring success and achieving it.Why do some people get rich easily, while others struggle financially? Is the difference found in work habits, contacts, education, intelligence, skills, timing, luck, businesses, or investments?
By reading this book,you will be able to learn how childhood can influence your financial destiny. You also learn how to identify your own money blueprint, “revise” it to not only create success but also to keep and grow it.
19The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
The title alone sold me on this book, but it’s been recommended to me by several friends. This New York Times Bestseller is built around the core argument, backed by academic research, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn “lemons into lemonade,” but on learning to stomach the lemons better.
It’s about setting realistic expectations for ourselves. Embracing our fears, faults and uncertainties to begin finding the courage, honesty, responsibility we seek. I can’t wait to dive into this one.
One of the things I like most about this book is how the author, Mark Manson‘s personal w
riting style truly reflects the title of the book. What reads as 2 parts deep life advice and 1 part comedy, keeps you engaged and anxiously anticipating what comes next.
18Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box by The Arbinger Institute
There are some leaders who deceive themselves and this undermines their own performance.This book by Arbinger Institute explains how leaders can discover their self-deceptions and also learn how to avoid and escape destructive patterns.
This is considered to be one of the best business books for beginners because it best demonstrates that breaking out destructive patterns can lead to communication, improved teamwork ,motivation,commitment, trust and leadership.
The book shows how you can turn small ideas into a great income and helps people find more meaning and satisfaction in work and their hobbies. Chris Guillebeau says this book is about the pursuit of freedom along with wealth and independence. The writing style is packed with lots of useful checklists, tables, and sidebars
Many of the people in his book are �accidental entrepreneurs’ – those who lost their job and followed the path of self-employment and entrepreneurship out of necessity. Many of which had no special business or technology skills, but an activity or hobby they were passionate about.
16The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber
Michael Gerber displays the myths that surround starting your own business and dispels how assumptions may get in way of managing and running a business.The author clearly shows stages in the life of a business from infancy, to adolescent growing pains, to the mature perspective, the light of all businesses that succeed.
Michael Gerber then shows you how to apply lessons of franchising to any business and draws the vital distinction between working in your business and working on your business.
15Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
A Wall Street Journal Bestseller, this book argues that one of the most valuable skills in the world is quickly becoming rare—the ability to focus without distraction on a demanding task. Author Cal Newport explains that by mastering this skill, you’ll be able to more effectively process complicated information and deliver better results in less time as a result.
This is one of those books I picked up and started reading because I needed to reaffirm my commitment to not allowing myself to get distracted by chasing the wrong opportunities and spending time in other ways that don’t help me achieve my most meaningful goals.
Many of the principles covered in this book helped me refine my opportunity management system for being more productive while wearing the many different hats it takes to be a content marketer, blogger and course creator on a daily basis. So, if you’re spreading yourself too thin, want to learn how to eliminate (and stay away from) distractions and get back to doing only what you do best—Deep Work is guaranteed to help you accomplish that.
Eric Ries in his book defines a startup as an organization that is dedicated to building something new under extreme uncertainty. This may be true for one person or a group of seasoned professionals. What they all have in common is the mission to penetrate that uncertainty and discover a path to a great business.
The approach in this book fosters companies that leverage human creativity more effectively and are more capital efficient.This book relies on rapid scientific experimentation, “validated learning,” and also a number practices that can shorten product development cycles, measuring the actual progress and learning what consumers really want. It enables a company to change directions with agility and alter plans inch by inch.
13Choose Yourself! by James Altucher
With dozens of interviews, examples, and case studies,–including the author, James Altucher’s own inspiring and heartbreaking story–this book illustrates your personal path that can guide you to build a bright, new world out of the old.
There is no longer someone coming to hire you, to invest in your organization, to pick you or to sign you. It’s all on you to make the most crucial decisions in your life: Choose Yourself!This book teaches young business people to invest in themselves,making it one of the best business books for beginners.
What if you woke up tomorrow and any or every area of your life was starting to transform? Is there anything you would change?There is literally no obvious secret that can be used to transform your life or every aspect of your life.
However, this book by Hal Elrod finally brings to life the simplest approaches to creating the life you have always wanted.You deserve an extraordinary life.It’s time to wake up and realize your full potential.
11Trump: The Art of the Deal by Donald J. Trump
This book by Donald J. Trump offers a look at the minds of brilliant entrepreneurs and the unprecedented education in the practice of deal-making.This the ultimate read for someone interested in achieving success and money, and knowing the man behind the spotlight.
This book tells more about Donald Trump’s childhood in Jamaica Estates, Queens.Then it describes his early works in Brooklyn before to moving to Manhattan, where he engaged in building The Trump Organization.Then this book describes his thoughts and actions used to develop the Trump Tower and the Grand Hyatt Hotel, in renovating Wollman Rink, and regarding various other projects.
This book also contains an 11-step formula for business success which are:Think big, Maximize your options, Protect the downside and the upside will take care of itself, Use your leverage, Know your market, Enhance your location, Get the word out, Fight back, Deliver the goods, Contain the costs and Have fun
10Go Pro: 7 Steps to Becoming a Network Marketing Professional by Eric Worre
In his book, Eric Worre shares a guide that will develop your passion and help you make the decision to Go Pro and build a life of your dreams. In this guidebook, you learn to: -Find clients -Invite them to your product, present them with your product ,follow up on your clients ,guide them on how to become distributors or customers and so much more.
In this concise and comprehensive guide, Worre provides that his work is one of the best marketing books in this niche. His practical, experience-driven advice is passed in a way that ignites Worre’s passion for network marketing in the reader, giving them the motivation and tools they need to apply those lessons to real-life situations and thus this book makes it to the list of the best business books for beginners.
9Be Obsessed or Be Average by Grant Cardone
If you want real success, you have to know how to harness your obsession to rocket to the top. This book will give you the inspiration and tools to break out of your cocoon of mediocrity and achieve your craziest dreams. Grant Cardone will teach you how to:set crazy goals and reach them,feed the beast (when you value money and spend it on the right things, you get more of it) and shut down the doubters and use your haters as fuel.
Whether you are a sales person, small business owner, or 9-to-5 working stiff, your path to happiness runs through your obsessions.It’s just a simple choice: be obsessed or be average.
In the original book Napoleon Hill interviewed more than five hundred of the most affluent men and women of his time and uncovered the secret to great wealth, based on the notion that if we can learn to think like the rich, we can discover wealth and success. He developed a thirteen-step formula to help you to: identify your goals; master the secret of true and lasting success; obtain whatever you want in life; and join the ranks of the super-successful.
In this updated version, the author Arthur R. Pell, Ph.D., a consultant and a lecturer in human resource management and an expert in applying the original author Napoleon Hill’s thought, shows the experiences of how billionaires such as Bill Gates, Sir John Templeton and Dave Thomas achieved their wealth.Examples in this book are faithfully refreshed to alleviate any stumbling blocks to the new generation of readers.
I’m a huge fan of great stories about how entrepreneurs have risen from humble beginning to start a business from scratch and rise to fame. Shark Tank star and Fubu Founder, Daymond John embodies this in true form through his origin story within The Power of Broke. In this book, he discusses how to get scrappy and how to leverage the tools, relationships and resources at your disposal to build a successful business on a small budget.
He emphasizes how starting a business when you’re broke forces you to think creatively and use your limited resources efficiently. It forces you to be innovative. Even more importantly, he explains how he’s intentionally placed resources constraints on himself over the years & how that’s helped him make the most of what he’s had. The Power of Broke is just as applicable to first-time entrepreneurs as it is seasons veterans.
6Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
This is a book that aims to explore the science of productivity, and why, managing how you think, rather than what you think can transform your life in today’s world.In this book, Duhigg melds deep reporting, cutting-edge science, and wide-ranging stories to give us a more human way of thinking about how productivity actually happens.
At the core of this book are 8 key concepts, ranging from goal setting and motivation to decision making and focus —that explains why some companies and some people get so much done and thus making it one of the best business books for beginners in business and entrepreneurship.
5Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett
In this book, Dave Evans and Bill Burnett show us how design thinking can help people create a life that is both fulfilling and meaningful, regardless of who they are, what they do or what they have done in their lives, or how old or young they are.
The same thinking responsible for amazing products, technology, and spaces can also be used to build and design your life and your career, a life of joy and fulfillment, constantly productive and creative, one that always holds the possibility of surprise.
4Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters
This book takes a close look at the power of innovation. PayPal founder and first Facebook investor, Peter Thiel shows how we can still go about creating new things. Which I completely agree with—we haven’t invented everything yet. In Thiel’s opinion, we are actually living in an age of technological stagnation because everybody is blinded by shiny objects and new gadgets. There’s more to innovation and progress than what computers and Silicon Valley have to offer—and many of the best business ideas are still out there waiting to be built.
The key to progress, according to Thiel, is learning to think for yourself. When you do something new, you are moving from 0 to 1 (hence, the title). His thesis in the book is that the next generation of successful entrepreneurs will make completely new things—not just updates of our existing products. In this business book, Zero to One, he lays out how to train yourself to be an innovator.
Leaders and entrepreneurs are faced with big questions every day: Which is the most vital place to focus your effort, and how can you start? How does your idea look like in real life? How many discussions and meetings will it take for you to have the right solution?
Sprint by Braden Kowitz, Jake Knapp, and John Zeratsky offers a transformative formula to test ideas that work whether you are a startup or a large company. Within just five days, you will move from idea to prototype to decision, saving yourself and your team countless money and countless hours. This is surely one of the best business books for beginners and a must read for entrepreneurs of all stripes.
Start with Why grew out of a TED talk delivered by the author, Simon Sinek, which has become the third most popular TED Talk ever. It’s built around the question, “Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential and more profitable than others?” This book’s basic premise is that the leaders who have had the greatest influence, act and communicate in the same way—which is the opposite of how most people function.
Sinek calls this idea, “The Golden Circle,” and it all begin with the question, “Why?” Interestingly, the reviews for this business book are very polarizing. Readers either love it or hate it. Personally, I love it. I think the harshest reactions and reviews come from readers who have difficulty viewing themselves objectively, taking in critical feedback and translating it into positive changes in leadership. It’s much easier to blindly continue on down the same path… What do you think?
In this book, author and entrepreneur Eric Ries takes us through the lean startup approach, which has changed the way that many startup founders seek to build companies and launch new products—largely based around the principle of rapid idea validation before investing heavily into an idea. His definition of a startup is broad, any business from a solopreneur, blogger or freelancer operating out of their garage to a venture-backed project within a Fortune 500 company, as long as you’re determined to discover a successful path to building a sustainable business.
The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs a way to validate business ideas, test their visions continuously, to adapt and modify before any real damage is done. This business book provides a new approach to successfully managing a startup and also talks through some of the innovative online business tools that can help you accelerate your path towards validation along the way.