The best books on starting a business need to help you in the following areas; generating business ideas, testing if a product will be successful, launching your business, and finding customers. Kickstart your new business now.

Starting a business is tough for most people because many individuals do not understand entrepreneurship.

Therefore, the more knowledge about business and entrepreneurship you have, the more prepared for success you will be. The easiest and cheapest way for ordinary people to accumulate that knowledge is by reading books.

Reading as many great books on business as you can give the knowledge you need to succeed in business. Here is a list of books that can serve as an excellent place to start your research on entrepreneurship.

The 20 Best Books For Starting A Small Business

The Art of the Start 2.0 by Guy Kawasaki

The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything. (2015)

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Buy the Book On Amazon

Venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki updated his classic by adding some valuable new lessons for business owners. Kawasaki offers both practical advice and unique experiences.

The best lesson Kawasaki offers is that an “entrepreneur is a state of mind, not a job title.” This book is a great place to start your search for business knowledge because you will need to change your thinking for business success.

Most would-be entrepreneurs fail because they still think like an employee. These people fail because they lack the attributes of an entrepreneur. The best way to develop those attributes is to learn how entrepreneurs think. Kawasaki’s book is a good place to start.

If you read one book when you begin the startup process, The Art of the Start 2.0 is a great choice. In its pages, Kawasaki shows you some skills you will need.

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The Founder’s Dilemmas by Noam Wasserman 

Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup (2013)

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Buy the Book On Amazon

Knowing what not to do can be as important as knowing what to do when you are starting a business. Yet few business books tell you what not to do.

This book outlines some common pitfalls business founders face. In particular, it examines business relationships such as partners, hires, and investors.

Understanding what can go wrong is the first step in building a strong business. The Founder’s Dilemmas can help you understand the mistakes you can make.

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Company of One by Paul Jarvis

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Buy the Book On Amazon

Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business (2019)

Jarvis explains the benefits of staying small to businesses and the advantages of remaining freelance to individuals. He notes that small business owners and freelancers have far more freedom than employees.

Jarvis also makes a good case for avoiding scaling up and getting big. Instead, he recommends that businesspeople keep it simple by staying small.

Company of One is an interesting read that offers a fascinating contrarian view of entrepreneurship. If you value your independence, Company of One is a must-read.

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Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World (2019)

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Buy the Book On Amazon

One of the successful entrepreneur’s most important attributes is the ability to focus. Many startups fail because their founders cannot focus in today’s distraction-filled world.

Newport examines people who focus and translates their skills into a plan. He offers a philosophy for technology that can help entrepreneurs focus and get work done.

Newport, the author of the acclaimed Deep Work, interviewed a wide variety of focusing experts to develop a philosophy for dealing with technological distractions. If you need to get control of habits such as social media, Digital Minimalism is for you.

Audiobook Version Available from:

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This Is Not a T-Shirt by Bobby Hundreds

A Brand, a Culture, a Community – a Life in Streetwear (2019)

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Buy the Book On Amazon

Fashion innovator Hundreds asks, and tries to answer, the fascinating question: “how do you turn a line of products into a brand.” Hundreds explains branding in a crowded and competitive industry.

If you want to create a brand, this book is a fascinating read.

Audiobook Version Available from:

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The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses (2011)

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Buy the Book On Amazon

Ries takes a different approach to the study of startups. Instead of recounting business anecdotes, Ries tries to create a science of startups.

The Lean Startup offers a guide to the Startup process. This book is a good place to start your study of Startups because it offers a comprehensive view of the process. Ries explains modern entrepreneurship philosophies and principles for the layperson.

Audiobook Version Available from:

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Will It Fly? by Patt Flynn

How to Test Your Next Business Idea, so You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money (2016)

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Buy the Book On Amazon

How can you tell if your business idea is just a pipe dream or the next big thing?

Will It Fly (2016) is a guide to testing your business ideas and achieving the smoothest possible flight to success. This books/audiobook will help you critically examine the validity of your ideas, research your market, and get to know your future customers.

Flynn has launched many successful online businesses, and this book hit the New York Times Best Seller list.

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The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster by Darren Hardy

Why Now Is the Time to #JoinTheRide (2015)

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Buy the Book On Amazon

Hardy starts with the simple; and often-overlooked insight, that entrepreneurship, and the business environment are often insane. Many businesses fail because their founders cannot cope with the madness.

Hardy offers a simple formula for coping with the madness. The formula is concentrating on four basic aspects of a business. Those aspects are sales, recruiting, leadership, and productivity.

Those aspects are also skills that every successful founder needs to develop. Founders who concentrate on the basics of sales, recruiting, leadership, and productivity can survive and prosper on the insane roller coaster known as a startup business.

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The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte

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Buy the Book On Amazon

Another good examination of the startup process by a successful website promoter.

LaPorte examines popular business and work philosophies and their impact on real life. She examines the conflict between ethics and philosophy and day-to-day business activities.

If you want to see self-help philosophies dissected and explained, The Fire Starter Sessions is the book for you. Understanding the difference between self-help and real-life could help you avoid some pratfalls that lead to business failure.

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The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

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Buy the Book On Amazon

If you are considering starting a business but have no money, this is the book for you.

Guillebeau offers case studies of successful entrepreneurs with little money who built profitable businesses. If you need inspiration and hope, The $100 Startup can offer it.

Guillebeau wrote the $100 Startup for ordinary people with limited resources who want to become solo entrepreneurs. This is the startup book for those with minimal finances who want to escape the cubicles and live independently.

Audiobook Version Available from:

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The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber

Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It (2004)

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Buy the Book On Amazon

Gerber’s book is refreshing because he starts with the assumption that most startups will fail and asks why.

Gerber, a business consultant, identifies one of the most destructive assumptions first-time entrepreneurs hold. The assumption is “that an individual who understands the technical work of a business can successfully run a business.”

First-time businesses fail because the technical skills are the beginning of what a business owner needs to know. A good software writer, or website developer, could know nothing of accounting, for instance.

In The E-Myth Revisited, Gerber shows how technical knowledge impedes business success. Gerber also explains the importance of franchising and lessons any entrepreneur can learn from successful franchises.

If you know nothing about business and entrepreneurship, The E-Myth Revisited is a must-read. Learning the limits of technical knowledge can be the difference between failure and success.

Audiobook Version Available from:

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Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future (2014)

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Buy the Book On Amazon

Peter Thiel knows a great deal about startups because he helped found several successful businesses.

Companies Thiel helped found include the controversial $20 billion privately held big data firm Palantir and PayPal. Additionally, Thiel was the first big investor in Facebook. Other companies Thiel has invested in include Spotify.

In Zero to One, Thiel argues that you make the biggest money from original ideas. Interestingly, Thiel claims the best way to build a fortune is to create new technology.

Thiel also argues you can make the most money by avoiding competition. Instead of ruthless competition, Thiel recommends that entrepreneurs create something new or different.

If you are seeking new ideas on entrepreneurship from a proven business creator, Zero to One is a good read. Even if you disagree with him, Thiel offers thought-provoking ideas and a unique perspective on business and technology.

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Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore

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Buy the Book On Amazon

: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers (2006)

Moore asks the “question how do you take a niche product, or a new product, into the mainstream market?” Then tries to answer that question from the perspective of technology companies.

Crossing the Chasm offers interesting insights into the art of marketing new technologies. Moore offers a good overview of modern marketing, and the impact technology has on marketing.

Moore also examines the impact of the marketing of technology. Crossing the Chasm is a great resource for tech entrepreneurs who are trying to learn and understand marketing. Moore’s work is a good place to start your study of marketing.

Audiobook Version Available from:

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Start with Why by Simon Sinek

How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2011)

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Buy the Book On Amazon

Sinek, a well-known leadership expert, analyzes the role leadership plays in startup success.

Start with Why Sinek asks how successful startup leaders view the world and their businesses. Sinek’s thesis is that successful leaders strive to understand an idea, a service, a product, or a movement.

Those leaders develop that understanding by asking why and demanding answers. Steve Jobs, for instance, asked why people buy technology products.

Such leaders keep demanding answers until they get them. By not taking no for an answer, those leaders get a full picture of the situation. Those leaders have an advantage because they have more knowledge of the market and product than competitors.

Sinek encourages leaders to ask why and develop a big picture of the market. If you are seeking a comprehensive philosophy of startup leadership based on real-life experience, Start with Why offers one.

Audiobook Version Available from:

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Hooked by Nir Eyal

How to Build Habit-Forming Products (2014)

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Buy the Book On Amazon

Eyal has examined popular products ranging from the iPhone to Pinterest to learn why people love those goods.

Eyal identifies the process that makes products addictive and offers advice on replicating that process. The process is the “Hooked Model;” a four-step model for creating user habits that stick and actionable steps for building products customers will love.

Hooked is a great introduction to the processes of product creation and market creation, two aspects of any business that many entrepreneurs and inventors do not comprehend.

Plus, Hooked is a good introduction to the concept of customer psychology and its implications for product design. Eyal based Hooked on years of market research, consulting, and experience as a startup founder.

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The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

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Buy the Book On Amazon

Gawande offers a simple and easy to grasp method for business planning that anybody can take advantage of.

The method is the humble checklist. Gawande shows how successful organizations use checklists to increase efficiency and quality. The World Health Organization (WHO), for example, made surgeries safer and more successful with a checklist for surgeons and nurses.

Writing a checklist forces you to think about what resources, skills, and people you will need. A checklist can show you what steps you need to take and what problems you could face.

Gawande offers a business strategy that anybody can use and understand. You need no business education or special technology to create a checklist.

Yet, a checklist can form the basis of a successful business plan. Learning how to write good checklists can teach you business planning.

Audiobook Version Available from:

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Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston

Stories of Startups’ Early Days (2009)

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Buy the Book On Amazon

If you want to see the mistakes and successes of famous founders in their early days, this book is a must-read.

Livingston offers war stories from such founders as Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL), Steve Wozniak, and PayPal’s (NASDAQ: PYPL) Max Levchin. The founders offer advice about investment, organizing a company, business planning.

Learning from the mistakes and successes of others is one of the best ways to understand a process. Livingston offers stories about the mistakes and successes of the founders of some of the biggest and best-known companies in Silicon Valley.

Founders at Work is a treasure trove of real-world experience all entrepreneurs can learn from.

Audiobook Version Available from:

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The Startup Owner’s Manual by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company (2012)

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Buy the Book On Amazon


Professors at Stanford, Columbia, the University of California at Berkeley, and other top business schools reportedly use The Startup Owner’s Manual as a textbook.

The professors use The Startup Owner’s Manual because it offers a comprehensive guide to creating a new business. Valuable resources in The Startup Owner’s Manual features over 100 charts and graphics, and 77 checklists that offer a step-by-step guide to the startup process.

If you are seeking a comprehensive technical guide to launching a business. The Startup Owner’s Manual is the book for you. Few books offer more information about starting a business.

Audiobook Version Available from:

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Lucky or Smart? (2008) by Bo Peabody

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Buy the Book On Amazon

Unlike most business book writers, Bo Peabody has founded many successful companies that make money. Peabody founded five companies and built a multi-dollar fortune.

Peabody examines the difference between luck and deliberate success and notes that anybody can get lucky. If you want to examine a successful entrepreneur’s honest philosophy of success, Lucky or Smart, is a fascinating read.

Learning the difference between success and luck is one of the most important lessons for businesspeople. Peabody can help you tell the difference between success and luck.

How to Raise a Founder with Heart by Jim Marggraff

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Buy the Book On Amazon

A Guide for Parents to Develop Your Child’s Problem-Solving Abilities (2018)

All successful entrepreneurs are problem solvers, but many founders have little experience with problem-solving.

Marggraff tries to dissect the problem-solving process by examining how children learn to solve problems. Although Marggraff examines problem-solving from a parents’ point of view, there are many lessons for founders here.

If you want to learn how to become a problem solver, this book offers valuable insights. Those who want to learn and think like a successful entrepreneur could benefit from Maggraff’s insights.

Plus, parents will learn valuable skills they need to teach their children, and leaders can learn how to teach problem-solving to employees. Additionally, you could learn how to spot employees with problem-solving skills by studying how kids learn to solve problems.

Top 20 Business Start-up Books Summary

None of these books; contains the magic formula for startup success. Instead, these works contain great information, interesting strategies, and insights into the business process.

These books will get you thinking about the startup process and introduce you to important ideas such as consumer behavior. Plus, the books introduce you to leadership, strategy, marketing, and other basic concepts.

A comprehensive library of startup books can offer a guide to starting and running a business. This guide does not guarantee success, but it can show you how to succeed.

Barry's 25 years of experience with Silicon Valley Corporations such as IBM, Compaq, Hewlett Packard, Hewlett Packard Enterprise & DXC Technology enables him to share his knowledge of succeeding in today's professional corporate environments and develop a great work life for yourself.

One Response

  1. John RNelson January 22, 2020

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