The entrepreneur is a big thinker, a risk taker, a goal driven businessperson.
When building a business, or developing a new idea there can be challenges and obstacles that can make the journey to success seem all too difficult.
So it is helpful to know others have been through the same thing and that there are useful resources out there to inspire, motivate, mediate and counsel.
Business Insider asked a handful of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs for their recommendations of books that every budding entrepreneur needs to read.
The suggestions ranged from straightforward business books with common-sense startup advice to works of fiction and other of a philosophical nature. Here they are.
, Co-Founder and CEO of Vinomofo:
The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman.
“Because you’ve probably given more thought to your product than your business model. Totally worth it, awesome book.”
CEO of CareerOne, Karen Lawson:
Good to Great by Tim Collins.
“It shows how some companies given the same opportunities and market conditions remain average but others become market leaders with a dominance lasting over 10 years. These businesses are led by ‘Level 5’ leaders who share key qualities. It made me aspire to be that kind of leader! Simply being good is not good enough, we need to be the best in the world and we are doing it!”
Founder of Girlpower Goddess, Natascha Moy:
Screw It Lets Do It by Richard Branson.
“Being an entrepreneur is different from launching a single business idea that you plan to work in for an extended time.
To my mind an entrepreneur is involved in many ideas and many business opportunities. They are thrilled by the idea of launching and creating businesses and in order to do this they need to have an attitude of Just Do It! If you spend too much time wondering about the perfect time to launch, what the competition is doing and focus on your own lack of experience you will never get to the launch pad and this is what stops you begin great!”
Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Bigcommerce, Eddie Machaalani:
Behind the Cloud by Marc Beniof.
“One of the best books relevant to startups and fast growing companies. Marc breaks down building a business into ‘Plays’. Each ‘Play’ is incredibly insightful.”
Co-Founder and Director of Catch Group, Gabby Leibovich:
Start Up Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer.
“The book explains how Israel, a tiny nation of seven million and smaller in size than Tasmania, is commonly acknowledged as the second Silicon Valley of the world. It has more companies on the NASDAQ than the whole of Europe, China and India combined. It’s a great book for entrepreneurs, CEOs and for those in the government making (or not making) the right decisions to steer our country in the right direction.”
Cofounder and Director of b2cloud, Luke Smorgon:
One Red Paperclip by Kyle MacDonald.
“If you’re looking for motivation a little out of left field, One Red Paperclip by Kyle MacDonald is a great read. Kyle shares his determination to take a little red paperclip and trade up with people until he obtained a house. In just 14 trades in less than a year, he got his wish. The parallels for an entrepreneur ring true – define your end-goal with a grand vision of success, and pragmatically work at each small step along the way to improve your value and get closer to your end goal.”
Chief Growth Hacker of BlueChilli, Alan Jones:
Making It Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.
“As an entrepreneur, it’s not enough to convince the person you’re speaking to — you need them to pass on a version of your pitch to everyone they know too. This is the best book I’ve read on how to craft memorable and viral stories for brands, products and people.”
Founder of GP2U, Dr. James Freeman:
How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie
“The classic that started the whole business guru genre of books.”
Co-Founder and CEO of Milan Direct, Dean Ramler:
The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump
“Entrepreneurs need to be able to think big whilst paying attention to the details and this is a key lesson I first learnt from reading Donald’s Trump 1987 ‘The Art of the Deal’. Trump has been my role model since I was a teenager and I have enjoyed all his books but this one the most. ‘The Art of the Deal’ gives you a good insight into how Trump lives his life, his management philosophies and breaks business down really well.
Today people see Trump and think what he is doing is just in another world. But in ‘The Art of the Deal’ Trump emphasises the importance of not only paying attention to the bigger picture, but to also focus on the finest of details. There is nothing wrong with being a perfectionist if you wish to succeed!”
Founder and CEO of OneShift, Gen George:
The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
“Tim Ferriss teaches readers to be open to new opportunities from work and from life. He really connects with entrepreneurs and soon-to-be entrepreneurs to make the reader think about how to work to live, rather than live to work.”
COO of Nitro, Gina O’Reilly:
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
“A big fan of Ben Horowitz’s blog for many years, I would highly recommend his new book ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’ to anyone trying to build, manage, or lead a business. Written in true, no bulls*t Horowitz style, this isn’t just another theoretical how-to management book, but rather a raw honest account of Horowitz’s own experiences as an employee, manager, founder, CEO, and VC. Building a business is hard and is often one long roller coaster of ups and downs. Horowitz addresses this hardship via real problems that many of us can relate to, including his own missteps, without sugar-coating any of it and the honesty is really refreshing. A very enjoyable, relatable read all round.”
Co-founder of Thankyou Group, Daniel Flynn:
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.
“This book taught me to change the way I think about business. I read it when I was a teenager but so many of the principles still stick with me today.”
Founder and Executive Chairman of NORA, Paul Greenberg:
The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Friedman.
“It analyses globalisation and highlights the fact that we are all on a level playing field in terms of commerce.”
Co-Founder and Publisher of The Big Smoke, Alexandra Tselios:
Built to last: Successful habits of visionary companies by Jim Collins & Jerry Poras.
“The authors analyse established companies and conglomerates while exploring how the companies created a huge mark on a global scale. Following a six-year study on visionary companies, they take a look at the discrepancies in the arguments between leadership and strategy and how a company can realise far reaching impact. This is a must-read for all budding entrepreneurs, as it contains structured inspiration of how sustainable a company can become when executed effectively.”
Founder and CEO of Health.com.au, Andy Sheats:
Rework by Jason Fried.
“It’s the best redefinition of work and business planning and business process in many years. The essence of running lean, without the hype and IT-centric view of Lean Startup.”
Founder of Prestige Inhome Care, Nick McDonald:
The E-Myth by Michael Gerber.
“It is a bit ‘old school’ but the lessons are profound and I think about them on a daily basis. Understanding the differences between an entrepreneur, technician and a manager are paramount to structuring an organisation for growth and ensuring the resources are appropriate to facilitate that growth and success. It also provides a framework for leading and managing people.”
Founder of Shiny Things, Mat Peterson:
Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger by Peter Bevelin.
“Seeking Wisdom covers the mental models used by some of histories brightest minds in science, economics and business to rationally and swiftly deal with nearly all the problems that you can face in day-to-day life.”
Co-Founder and CEO of Influx.com, Mikey De Wildt:
Slicing Pie by Mike Moyer.
“A dynamic equity split in the early days of a startup builds a solid foundation of trust between you, your co-founders and other partners. Using it as a reference takes money and equity out of the equation allowing you and your founding team to focus on building a successful business.”
Managing Director of Brennan IT, Dave Stevens:
The Cukoo’s Egg by Clifford Stoll.
“An awesome book that shows the importance of detail, hard work and persistence.”
Founder of Rozibaby, Rosh Ghadamian:
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.
“It’s basically a bible for anyone trying to do business from scratch, particularly when there are no previous examples to work from. When you’ve noticed a gap in a market, the idea is completely new, so you can’t look to other businesses for advice — like for instance running a fish and chip shop.
Conventional business theory is all about long track records, predicable demand and cash flows which don’t exist in a startup. By definition is “a startup is an organisation formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.”
Founding Chairman of The Faculty, The Source and Procurious, Tania Seary:
Good to Great by James C. Collins.
“A classic, and now somewhat outdated… but nonetheless, this has some powerful lessons. The two that I have always reflected on is the Hedgehog Concept – what is it that we can be the best in the world at? (I think this is becoming increasingly important – I keep on saying ‘the future belongs to the nano-niche players!’) and Authentic Leadership – rather than blaming business conditions, employees or other external factors, a leader should always look in the mirror at themselves to find the cause of their business challenges.”
Co-Founder and Executive Director of Assetline, Nick Raphaely:
Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss
“This should be compulsory for every entrepreneur. I read it to my son each night. He doesn’t realise I’m reading it to myself and he’s just listening.
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
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