21 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read

beach reading book

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Summer is here, and even dire workaholics should take a few hours to relax. Read one of the following books and you’ll become a better entrepreneur while you’re at it.We asked small business leaders and VCs to name books that anyone starting a business or even thinking about it should read.

Over the past two years, these were some of the best recommendations we heard.

Click here to see the reading list >
What books have influenced your career? Add them in the comments below.

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[slide
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title=””The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand”
content=”Charlie O’Donnell: ‘I don’t know any book that sums up the entrepreneurial passion and spirit better than The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand: ‘The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”

Charlie is a principal at First Round Capital.
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permalink=”out-of-the-crisis-by-w-edwards-deming-2″
title=””Out of the Crisis” by W. Edwards Deming”
content=”Roger Ehrenberg: ‘Big or small, this book focuses the entrepreneur/manager on respecting employees, focusing on process, and insisting on the collection and analysis of data. The development of metrics to manage the business is critical for the start-up founder.’

Roger is Managing Partner of IA Capital Partners, LLC.
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title=””Extreme Programming Explained” by Kent Beck”
content=”Babak Nivi: ‘Revelatory. Develop your product like this book tells you to, unless you know better (e.g. you have experience building operating systems, space shuttles, Googles.) Buy the first edition.’

Nivi is a founder of Venture Hacks.
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permalink=”the-four-steps-to-the-epiphany-by-steven-gary-blank-4″
title=””The Four Steps to the Epiphany” by Steven Gary Blank”
content=”Babak Nivi: ‘The closest thing to a manual for building a startup. Marc Andreessen calls it ‘a roadmap for how to get to Product/Market Fit.””
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title=””Reality Check” by Guy Kawasaki”
content=”Penelope Trunk: ‘I love flipping through the chapters. Each one is like a blog post, so you learn something on every page. And each chapter reminds me to be a little bit better at something I’m doing already.’

Penelope is a founder of Brazen Careerist.

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permalink=”peak-by-chip-conley-6″
title=””Peak” by Chip Conley”
content=”Fred Destin: ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs adapted to the business world. Not that well written (sorry Chip) but sound advice on achieving ‘sustainable outperformance’ and leveraging crises for the better.’

Fred is a Partner in the technology group at Atlas Venture.
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permalink=”the-happiness-hypothesis-by-jonathan-haidt-7″
title=””The Happiness Hypothesis” by Jonathan Haidt”
content=”Fred Destin: ‘Not a business book, but if you assume self-awareness and knowing what you are really good at are key to success in business (and life in general), this is the best attempt I have read at deriving ‘meaning’ from the joyous mess of life.'”
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permalink=”against-the-odds-by-james-dyson-8″
title=””Against The Odds” by James Dyson”
content=”Jason Fried: ‘One of the best books about design, business, invention, and entrepreneurship I’ve ever read. Highly recommended. It’s really inspirational. His persistence is otherworldly. You won’t believe what he went through to get this product to market.’

Jason is co-founder and President of 37signals.
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permalink=”how-to-get-rich-by-felix-dennis-9″
title=””How To Get Rich” by Felix Dennis”
content=”Greg Galant: ‘The self-made billionaire founder of Maxim Magazine and The Week titles this book as though it’s a snake oil self-help book. It’s really a great entrepreneurial memoir with British wit at its finest.’

Greg is a founder of Sawhorse Media, as well as the creator and host of Venture Voice, a podcast for and about entrepreneurs.
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permalink=”transparency-how-leaders-create-a-culture-of-candor-by-warren-bennis-daniel-goleman-and-james-otoole-10″
title=””Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor” by Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman, and James O’Toole”
content=”Nilofer Merchant: ‘The future is invented not in the easy conversations but in the hard ones. We’ve got to know how to have and manage those conversations that lend light and transparency to WHY we are doing what we are doing. This book emphasises how leaders create a culture of candor that can allow them to grow beyond the first idea.’

Nilofer is CEO and Chief Strategist of Rubicon Consulting.
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permalink=”the-future-arrived-yesterday-by-michael-s-malone-11″
title=””The Future Arrived Yesterday” by Michael S. Malone”
content=”Nilofer Merchant: ‘The next type of company is going to have to grow in a very different way than companies in even in the last 10 years. Mike Malone who wrote about virtual corporations 25 years ago has now written about “the protean corporation” which is a way to say organisations will organise to be more fluid, nimble, and shape shifters. He’s onto the new model and entrepreneurs should know about it so they are not surprised by the growth stages needed. ‘”
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permalink=”switch-how-to-change-things-when-change-is-hard-by-chip-heath-and-dan-heath-12″
title=””Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath”
content=”Sean Ellis: ‘[The book’s] key message is to double down on things that are working.’

Sean is founder and principal at 12in6 Inc., a firm that helps startups transition to high growth companies.
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permalink=”the-entrepreneurs-guide-to-business-law-by-constance-bagley-and-craig-dauchy-13″
title=””The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Law” by Constance Bagley and Craig Dauchy”
content=”Chris Dixon: ‘[This one might be a] bit painful if you aren’t into legal details (I’m not), but perhaps the most useful business book you can ever read.’

Chris Dixon is Co-founder of Hunch.
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permalink=”crossing-the-chasm-by-geoffrey-a-moore-14″
title=””Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey A. Moore”
content=”Chris Dixon: ‘Although a bit too enterprise- (vs. consumer-) focused for my taste, this is an extremely intelligent and useful book.You’ve probably heard about the central thesis (lots of startups get stuck in the ‘chasm’, in between early adopter and mainstream customers) but there are tons of other interesting anecdotes and ideas in the book. I’ve reread this one a couple of times.'”
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permalink=”boyd-the-fighter-pilot-who-changed-the-art-of-war-by-robert-coram-15″
title=””Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War” by Robert Coram”
content=”Steve Blank: ‘Observe, Orient, Decide and Act – The cornerstone of Customer Development and the Lean Startup was first invented by a fighter pilot. Read his story.’

Steve is a former serial entrepreneur who now teaches at U.C. Berkeley, Stanford University and the Columbia University/Berkeley Joint Executive MBA program. He is the author of Four Steps to the Epiphany.
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permalink=”the-innovators-dilemma-and-the-innovators-solution-by-clayton-christensen-16″
title=””The Innovator’s Dilemma” and “The Innovator’s Solution” by Clayton Christensen”
content=”Steve Blank: ‘Why do large companies seem and act like dinosaurs? Christensen finally was able to diagnose why and propose solutions. Entrepreneurs should read these books as ‘how to books’ to beat large companies in their own markets.’

Also recommended by Chris Dixon: ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma popularised the (often misused) phrase ‘disruptive technology’; But there’s a lot more than that one big idea. Great insights into the ‘dynamics’ (changes over time) of markets.'”
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[slide
permalink=”influence-the-psychology-of-persuasion-by-robert-b-cialdini-17″
title=””Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert B. Cialdini”
content=”David Heinemeier Hansson: ‘Influence teaches you how to sell and deal with customers by treating them as humans. Great stuff.’

David is a partner in 37signals.
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permalink=”maverick-the-success-story-behind-the-worlds-most-unusual-workplace-by-ricardo-semler-18″
title=””Maverick!: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace” by Ricardo Semler”
content=”David Heinemeier Hansson: ‘Maverick tells the story about how you can make radical change [even at] a very old-world company of 8,000 people producing industrial pumps.'”
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permalink=”blink-by-malcolm-gladwell-19″
title=””Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell”
content=”Paul Jozefak: ‘Some great advice on how decisions are made.’

Paul is a Managing Partner at Neuhaus Partners.
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[slide
permalink=”lucky-or-smart-secrets-to-an-entrepreneurial-life-by-bo-peabody-20″
title=””Lucky or Smart? Secrets to an Entrepreneurial Life”, by Bo Peabody”
content=”Mark Peter Davis: ‘Insight into some of the unique trials entrepreneurs face.’

Mark is a co-founder are CEO of Kohort, who previously worked as a VC at DFJ Gotham Ventures.
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title=””
content=”Brad Feld: ‘Anyone who is creating anything should read this book, slowly, and savour it.’

Brad Feld has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur for over 20 years and is the co-founder of Foundry Group.

Also recommended by Fred Wilson: ‘There is way more insight to be gained from stories than from business books. And these are some amazing stories.’

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[slide
permalink=”you-can-also-learn-from-experience-22″
title=”You can also learn from experience”
content=”8 Management Lessons I Learned Working At Apple >
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