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We go through dozens of books each year here at Business Insider’s War Room. Many aren’t worth a second glance, but there are some every business owner should read. So, we’ve put together a list of the best books for entrepreneurs — either from our own recommendations or touted by big-time VCs, CEOs and startup founders.
Are there any other important books you think should’ve made the cut? Let us know in the comments.
Ariely's book looks deep into human behaviour and consumer habits, and it's focused around the revelation that humans are wired to be irrational. Ariely goes deeper by using plenty of first-hand experiments to show that the world is fuzzier than traditional economists would like it to be.
Read more about Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational
Blank's book prompted the whole 'Lean Startup' movement, which says that you need to get traction in the market as quickly as possible, instead of developing a final version of a product before releasing it.
Read more about Steve Blank's The Four Steps To The Epiphany
Bornstein profiles a variety of 'social' entrepreneurs in his book. The case studies serve to show that you can succeed if you have a hunger to actively change the world, and that idealism can be an infinitely strong motivator.
Read more about David Bornstein's How to Change the World
Bower offers a comprehensive guide to how organisations work. Drawing on decades of research from the top business schools, he explains how to develop an effective corporate strategy, and how to prevent breakdowns in the system. Clay Christensen recommended it to us as 'a classic book about how the world works.'
Read more about Joseph Bower's From Resource Allocation To Strategy
One of the world's most iconic billionaires shares how he built his Virgin empire with the philosophy 'Oh, screw it, let's do it.' Branson's autobiography shows how having the confidence to fail is one of the surest ways to success.
Read more about Richard Branson's Losing My Virginity
This is a class self-help book, but don't let that scare you away. It's essential to understanding the fundamentals of how to get people to like you, make good conversation, and win people over to your way of thinking -- in other words, what you need to succeed in business.
Read more about Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends And Influence People
Christiansen's book tells you to ignore all the voices that tell you to charge full steam ahead toward your goals. Instead, his perspective is that you have to zigzag around obstacles, but still maintain your course so that you reach your destination.
Read more about Rich Christiansen's The Zigzag Principle
Steve Jobs was 'deeply influenced' by Clay Christensen's classic, according to his biographer. The HBS professor introduced Corporate America to the concept of disruptive innovation--or the idea of how new, low-end products can eventually completely take over a market. It proved to be extremely prescient--just look at companies like Netflix.
Read more about Clay Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma
Collins followed up his acclaimed 'Built to Last' with this book. It identifies top-performing companies and the traits of the CEOs that lead them. For instance, Level 5 leaders have personal humility and an unwavering resolve to accomplish the tasks at hand. They also create a culture of honesty.
Read more about Jim Collins' Good to Great
Draper dives deep into the history of venture capital and the culture in Silicon Valley. The book addresses how VCs evaluate both ideas and the entrepreneurs who thought of them.
Read more about Bill Draper's The Startup Game
Drucker was one of the top management thinkers of his generation, and his insights about innovation in this book are invaluable. He breaks down the key elements involved in innovation and uses real world examples to show how they were executed. Though first published back in the 1980s, Drucker's ideas are still quite relevant today.
Read more about Peter Drucker's Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Another essential macro-economic guide to understanding globalization. The New York Times columnist illustrates how companies and individuals need to react to the increasingly flat world and new ways of doing business. It's also one of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon's favourite books.
Read more about Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat
Gerber provides an approach for small businesses to survive where so many others fail. It's about turning a business into a well-tuned system that doesn't require you to work yourself into the ground every week.
Read more about Michael E. Gerber's The E-Myth Revisited
Gladwell's third bestseller explains how hard work and luck equally play into success. The titans of Silicon Valley, for example, were all born within a few years of one another, in very specific circumstances, which allowed them to create disruptive technologies. But luck isn't anything without hard work: Gladwell also popularised the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to create a genius.
Read more about Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers
Godin believes that the key to marketing is telling a story, and this book has become his manifesto on the subject. When marketers tell a good story, consumers will repeat the story, and they eventually they will accept that story as a reality. But without being authentic, you'll never get to that point.
Read more about Seth Godin's All Marketers Are Liars
Greene wrote the book while navigating the highly political Hollywood film industry. He told us in a recent interview that he was disturbed by the psychological gamesmanship he encountered, so he read up on the history of power--especially Machiavelli--and created this comprehensive guide to understanding the dark side to human nature.
Read more about Robert Greene's 48 Laws Of Power
Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, created a rabid consumer base for his brand by moulding his company's corporate culture. His book is all about Zappos, but there are plenty of applicable ideas that can help any business looking to breed loyal customers.
Read more about Tony Hsieh's Delivering Happiness
Kleon isn't a prototypical business guru--he's an artist who has some fantastic insights about creativity. The book is a short, easy, very personal read that's packed with practical tips to help kickstart creativity.
Read more about Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist
Livingston provides a look into the early days of software startups. It's down-to-earth and goes into the grainy details of what it was like to be in the trenches of the early '80s tech boom to the Web 2.0 days. Plus, the book picks the brains of some very experienced entrepreneurs for advice.
Read more about Jessica Livingston's Founders at Work
Successful people are not necessarily smarter than the rest--they just know how to think differently. Leadership guru Maxwell outlines the keys to innovative and disciplined thinking, for example, by offering tips on how to use the 80/20 rule to allocate your energy.
Read more about John Maxwell's How Successful People Think
The classic is filled with complex philosophical discussions, but at its heart it's about problem-solving and the metaphysics of quality. It's a guide to self-reliance and reasoning that every entrepreneur should take the time to read.
Read more about Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Ries' book provides an approach to dealing with uncertainty, which is integral to the success of a new company. It's often touted by VCs and entrepreneurs as a must-read roadmap for innovation.
Read more about Eric Ries' The Lean Startup
Sinek's book revolves around one simple idea: figuring out what your company's long-term vision is. Why does your organisation exist, and why should customers care about it? By doing this, all your other organizational decisions will become much easier.
Read more about Simon Sinek's Start with Why
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