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10 of the Best Books for Starting a Business

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Addison Rizer


Addison Rizer is a writer and reader of anything that can be described as weird, sad, or scary. She has an MA in Professional Writing and a BA in English. She writes for Book Riot and Publishers Weekly and is always looking for more ways to gush about the books she loves. Find her published work or contact her on her website or at addisonrizer at gmaildotcom.

Looking for the best books for starting a business this year? A study in 2016 revealed 25 million Americans were starting or already running their own business and the number has only gone up since then. Easily accessible marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon are saturated by people with the know-how selling their products and content alike. You can search for practically anything and find someone selling exactly that.

A personalized wax seal for your pen pal? Check. Bookish-themed tarot cards? Check. A set of cooking-themed bookends? Check! It’s endless!

Add social media into the mix, and a small business can go viral overnight. One TikTok or Instagram post can change an entrepreneur’s life. The Silk Labs, a silk scrunchie business, jumped on the “small business check” TikTok trend and got over 600,000 likes resulting in 200 orders, all from a minute-long video! 

Especially now with the pandemic and the turn toward at-home working and the mass re-evaluation of what people want from their workplaces, many are turning to run their own businesses. Many business owners cite wanting to be their own boss as the reason they started theirs.

So, to get you a bit more prepared before launching that passion project, here are a few of the best books for starting a business to make sure you’ve got a solid plan in place.

The Path Made Clear by Ophrah Winfrey Cover

The Path Made Clear by Oprah Winfrey

If you’re not quite sure what your path in life is, The Path Made Clear is a great place to start. Oprah guides readers through discovering what you’re most passionate about while simultaneously sharing stories from her own life. In the ten chapters, she pulls advice from other public figures, life lessons, and interviews to drive home each section. You’ll leave this book with a much clearer understanding of yourself and what you want out of life.

Running Lean by Ash Maurya Cover

Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works by Ash Maurya

One of the main reasons a business fails is a lack of market need. Running Lean walks you through tools and case studies to vet your product before you run out of money and time. You’ll learn how to best identify your product and its market, develop a plan, and test your plan with experiments to make sure it’s the right one. Pick this up before clicking launch to make sure your plan is the one that works.

Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh Cover

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

When it comes to business, I think we all have a hard time finding where happiness fits. Hsieh, though, argues happiness should be at the forefront of your entrepreneurial endeavors. Through stories of his path to Zappos, and his failures along the way, Hsieh makes a case to following what makes you happy. You can follow along with a four-part framework to best identify what would make you happiest, and a successful business is sure to follow.

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne Cover

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

If you’re starting a business, you probably think you have to be cutthroat. You have to crush your competition ruthlessly. But Blue Ocean Strategy argues otherwise. Based on studies into successful businesses, those who create “blue oceans,” or untapped market space, are the ones who last the longest. This book will give you the tools to identify your own blue ocean so your competition becomes irrelevant.

Secret to Start Up Failure by Sonia Lin Cover

Secret to Startup Failure: Fail Fast. Fail Cheap. Fail Happy. by Sonia Lin

It’s no secret starting a new business is hard. Failure is inevitable, whether that be a lackluster launch day or a snafu with production down the line. Lin prepares you for failures like this so you don’t throw in the towel at the first sign of trouble. You’ll learn to laugh at some of these snags, have a better work-life balance, and be all around better able to bounce back after failure.

Grit by Angela Duckworth Cover

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

“Why do some people succeed and others fail?” asks Duckworth’s cover copy. Her answer? Grit. Pulling from her own journey through teaching, consulting, and even neuroscience, Duckworth demonstrates the value of sticking with it. Maybe you feel like a fraud, just starting out. Maybe you’ve hit a few roadblocks. Pick up Grit to convince yourself to keep going.

Radical Outcomes by Juliana Stancampiano Cover

Radical Outcomes: How to Create Extraordinary Teams That Get Tangible Results by Juliana Stancampiano

If you’ve got a team behind you, Radical Outcomes is a must-read. Age-old advice on how to train your staff, and how to get teams to work together, is just that: old. Stancampiano presents a new way of working and training to reduce things like organizational drag. Through examples from her own team at Oxygen, Stancampiano provides tools for business owners and bosses alike to strengthen their teams.

Body and Soul by Anita Roddick Cover

Body and Soul: Profits with Principles by Anita Roddick

Do you want to change the world for the better with your business? Then Body and Soul is for you. Businesswoman Anita Roddick shares examples from her own life both personally and professionally to teach future business-owners how to maintain their personal values while still competing in the marketplace. You can care about doing good and also doing well at the same time.

Get Over your Damn Self by Romi Neustadt Cover

Get Over Your Damn Self: The No-BS Blueprint to Building A Life-Changing Business by Romi Neustadt

Business ownership means communicating with many different types of people. And not just communicating but communicating well. Neustadt teaches you how to confidently connect with anyone, even strangers, about your business in a “no BS” way. She tells it to you straight, no sugarcoating. That way, you’ll be prepared with a true view of what you need to do to make your business thrive.

The Founder's Dilema by Noam Wasserman Cover

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

Running your own business comes with a lot of decisions to make. A lot. Do you venture off on your own or pull in business partners? Do you pick this logo or that? Through examples from other startups, both successful and failures, Wasserman illustrates the main mistakes that send a business crashing. Pick this up before you begin so you know what to look out for and how to avoid it.

I hope these ten best books for starting a business have you better prepared to click launch. If you’re still wanting to prepare, try these top management books to make you a better leader or these best productivity books for when you’re mentally exhausted. Best of luck in all your business endeavors!