17 Best Books on Starting a Business | Must Read in 2023

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Businesses that succeed do not appear out of anywhere. Success leaves a trail of clues, which smart entrepreneurs follow. Magnates, business school instructors, and thought leaders aren’t afraid to share their secrets of success. Almost every one of them has left a trail of breadcrumbs in the shape of books and memoirs chronicling their or others’ achievement, often in granular, step-by-step detail that may be transformed into a to-do list. Let’s get started with the list of the best books on starting a business.

The great business books left behind by seasoned professionals and industry titans may assist even successful or up-and-coming companies. To stay on top of their game, Fortune 500 CEOs read one or more books every month. Here are the top business books to read in 2023, ranging from classics to cutting-edge exposes of the inner workings of today’s most successful firms.

I’ve compiled this ultimate list of the most relevant, greatest business books for aspiring entrepreneurs, creatives, and professionals to read in 2023.

Table of Contents

17 Best Books on Starting a Business.

1. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

Good to Great is a timeless classic and one of the greatest management-related business books I’ve ever read. While this book was first published in 2001 by Jim C. Collins, a world-renowned author, Stanford researcher, and consultant, his extremely practical advice and engaging case studies have stood the test of time.

Collins outlines how organizations transcend from being simply good to truly great firms that change whole sectors for the better in Good to Great, as well as the reasons why most companies fail to accomplish that leap. This business book is a mega-bestseller, with over four million copies sold (so far), and it delves into the qualities that are similar to the world’s few organizations that have been able to sustain outstanding success for a long time. It is one of the best books on starting a business.

2. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Even while the practice has subsequently been proved to be simply a component of what it takes to become an expert in your field, Outliers is credited with popularising the research that led to the formulation of the 10,000 Hour Rule for achieving mastery in any topic via purposeful practice. What’s most appealing about Outliers, though, is that it attempts to answer a basic question: “What distinguishes outstanding achievers?” We give too little attention to successful people’s culture, family, generation, and unusual upbringings, according to Gladwell.

He contends that success is inextricably linked to opportunities and the amount of time spent honing one’s profession. He makes a persuasive case that the reason there aren’t more specialists is that mastering a talent takes so many hours that most individuals simply don’t have the patience to dedicate that much time to it. Furthermore, Gladwell discusses the components required for finding (or creating) meaningful employment, which inspired my first guest blog post—on the Buffer blog—and led me down the path of learning how to make money blogging and turning this site into a genuine company.

3. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters

Peter Theil, the co-founder of PayPal, Palantir Technologies, and Founders Fund, is a millionaire entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Zero to One is based on a collection of articles culled from Theil’s notes from a 2012 lecture about startups.

Zero to One is an introduction to innovation that explains how entrepreneurs come up with new ideas by learning to think outside the box, making it an excellent resource for entrepreneurs trying to carve out a profitable niche. Derek Thompson, an Atlantic writer, said Zero to One is “perhaps the finest business book he’s ever read.” it is one of the best books on starting a business.

4. The Ten-Day MBA: A Step-by-Step Guide to Mastering the Skills Taught In America’s Top Business Schools by Steven A. Silbiger

MBA and marketing director Steven A. Silbiger gives readers a crash course in everything he’s learned in his years of teaching business, covering theoretical concepts as well as practical skills like accounting, finance, marketing strategy, quantitative analysis, operations, economics, organizational behavior, and ethics in his book The Ten-Day MBA.

Based on the notes of MBA students at Harvard, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago, Northwestern, and the University of Virginia, Silbiger’s globally regarded comprehensive handbook gathers teachings from business schools throughout the world.

5. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber

Michael E. Gerber is the founder of Michael E. Gerber Companies, a California-based business skills training firm. In The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber examines why 80 percent of small businesses fail and gives advice on how to avoid becoming one of them.

People incorrectly expect that technical expertise will transfer into economic success, which isn’t always the case, according to Gerber’s argument. Gerber teaches readers how to break free from this attitude and build a firm that is based on “systems” rather than human abilities.

The E-Myth Revisited is a must-read for digital entrepreneurs, as it examines how organizations with unique products may self-sabotage themselves by failing to evaluate how that innovation translates into financial success. It is one of the best books on starting a business.

6. Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Jason Fried, the CEO of Basecamp, and David Heinemeier Hansson, the programmer who created the Ruby on Rails web development platform, collaborated on Rework.

Fried and Hanson are both tech entrepreneurs that provide excellent guidance to any business owner who is an expert in their industry but new to the world of entrepreneurship. Rework foregoes traditional corporate jargon in favor of practical, plain guidance.

Fried and Hanson present their readers with a variety of low-cost ways to grow their business in this New York Times bestseller, including lessons on increasing productivity, not getting bogged down by too much planning, and ways to get your business noticed without spending a lot of money in the beginning.

7. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

Eric Reiss is a successful entrepreneur who specializes in information architecture, usability, and service design. Ries’ book The Lean Startup examines why most businesses fail and offers advice on how to prevent failure in the early stages of your company.

Ries discusses how the most successful firms harness human creativity while keeping expenses low, focusing on quick experimentation, efficiently assessing success by removing unnecessary vanity metrics, and adjusting to client demands.

Reis’ book explains how to employ inventive approaches to adapt to change and provides a mechanism for businesses to test their vision on a regular basis. Anyone who wants to avoid the traps of unsuccessful companies should read The Lean Startup.

8. The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth by Clayton Christensen and Michael E. Raynor

Clayton Christensen, a business consultant, and scholar is most known for coining the term “disruptive innovation,” which refers to a product that generates a whole new market while replacing existing goods.

He and business expert Michael E. Raynor build on the concept of disruptive innovation in The Innovator’s Solution, suggesting that organizations may and should disrupt their own sectors, especially in today’s hyper-accelerated digital environment.

Christensen and Raynor examine firms that have effectively (and unsuccessfully) disrupted their sectors, and give a methodology for generating the proper circumstances and determining the perfect timing for disruption, using real-world examples. It is one of the best books on starting a business.

9. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

James Clear, an author, entrepreneur, and photographer provides his own personal technique for quick self-improvement in Atomic Habits to anybody wishing to break harmful habits. Clear’s comprehensive examination of habit development peels back the layers to reveal why harmful behaviors persist and provide a strategy for breaking them.

He claims that harmful behaviors are the product of a poor approach to altering them, rather than a lack of motivation to change. Atomic Behaviours provides a framework for understanding why we have terrible habits and implementing effective, practical techniques to break them.

Clear’s book includes motivational anecdotes from people who have utilized his methods to develop positive habits, such as Olympic gold medalists, business executives, and stand-up comedians. Atomic Habits is a book that gives entrepreneurs both inspiration and practical advice on how to break poor habits.

10. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller (with Jay Papasan)

Gary Keller, a real estate entrepreneur, and the popular author describes his successful method of reducing his workload to focus on more critical activities while avoiding being bogged down by less important ones in his book The ONE Thing.

Keller claims that, while we prefer to give everything equal weight, not everything is equally important. Keller’s method for gaining success is restricting your focus to the most important item. He claims that multitasking causes a drop in the quality of work done on each activity and that the concept of multitasking is fiction.

Keller’s advice is useful for everybody, but it’s especially useful for entrepreneurs who want to analyze their top priorities and manage their time effectively.

11. The End of Procrastination: How to Stop Postponing and Live a Fulfilled Life by Petr Ludwig and Adela Schicker

We live in a high-tech society where there are never-ending distractions: overflowing inboxes, never-ending app notifications, and never-ending social media feeds. It’s never been simpler to be caught up in the procrastination trap.

Petr Ludwig and Adela Schicker, co-founders of Procrastination.com, present a practical plan for eliminating undesirable procrastination at The End of Procrastination, arguing that procrastination is not just a waste of time, but also a hindrance to living a happy and fulfilling life.

Ludwig and Schicker investigate how the brain responds to drive and self-discipline, laying forth eight simple techniques for anyone struggling with procrastination.

12. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie was a writer and educator who established training courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, public speaking, and other interpersonal skills throughout the course of his lengthy career.

How to Win Friends and Influence People, written in 1936, is a self-help classic and one of the best-selling books of all time, with over 30 million copies sold. Carnegie’s book was created using the expertise he gathered from teaching business education classes for decades.

In it, Carnegie discusses how to relate to people in both professional and personal situations. He offers guidance on how to make people like you, how to persuade others to your point of view, and how to achieve respect as a leader without inciting animosity. It is one of the best books on starting a business.

13. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Robert B. Cialdini is an Arizona State University psychology and marketing professor. In Influence, he delves into the psychology of persuasion and provides a framework for influencing individuals in the business and marketing worlds.

Cialdini claims that in a world full of distractions, individuals make judgments based on generalizations and assumptions rather than depending just on evidence. Cialdini bases his arguments on actual research from the domains of psychology, marketing, economics, anthropology, and social science.

The book Influence analyses six principles that drive human decision-making and provides real-world examples of how these principles may help you convince people. Cialdini’s book is one of the most practical marketing books available, especially for prospective entrepreneurs with little or no business experience.

14. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel Laureate in Economics and a psychologist who specializes in the psychology of judgment and decision-making. He analyses how two systems—intuition and slow thinking—work together to influence our judgment and assist us in making decisions in Thinking, Fast and Slow.

Expert in the subject of behavioral economics, Kahneman utilizes his knowledge to explain how stress may alter decision-making and to investigate how confirmation bias might cause us to leap to conclusions.

Kahneman’s research is useful not just for merchants who want to enhance their decision-making abilities, but also for marketers who want to understand how customers make decisions.

15. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

In Blink, journalist and renowned author Malcolm Gladwell explores how humans think without thinking by drawing on his expertise in biology and psychology. Decisions made in the blink of an eye aren’t always as straightforward as they appear.

Despite the fact that decisions may be made fast, they are based on sophisticated cognitive processes. Gladwell meets a variety of decision-making specialists in Blink, ranging from a tennis coach who can foresee an error before a player’s racquet strikes the ball to antique experts who can recognize a “fake” in a fraction of a second.

Gladwell claims that the finest decision-makers are those who have perfected the skill of “thin-slicing,” a process in which the few aspects that matter are immediately sorted out of an overwhelming number of variables. It is one of the best books on starting a business.

16. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz

Ben Horowitz is the co-founder of the venture capital company Andreessen Horowitz and an entrepreneur, investor, and author. He draws on his personal experience founding a business to provide guidance to anybody interested in becoming a successful entrepreneur in The Hard Thing About Hard Things.

Horowitz isn’t afraid to discuss issues that few business writers are willing to discuss. He delves into the difficult aspects of operating a business, such as coping with failure, employee disputes, layoffs, persisting through difficult times, and making major, difficult decisions that affect the livelihoods of stakeholders.

Horowitz’s book contains critical guidance and practical recommendations for entrepreneurs who want to take action in the face of difficult decisions and lead a successful firm into the contemporary age.

17. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

In Start with Why, author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek looks at the lives of famous leaders, from Martin Luther King to Steve Jobs, and tries to find a common thread in their success, despite their vastly diverse aims and ambitions.

His conclusion is that the greatest leaders are the ones who question why. Customers buy from particular brands for a variety of reasons. Why are certain individuals loyal to certain leaders while others are not? Why do businesses fail? Great leaders desire to know why things happen and will do everything they can to figure out the reason.

Sinek weaves together a clear image of what it takes to lead and inspire people by drawing on a variety of real-life situations. Anyone interested in learning what it takes to lead with confidence should read his book.

Always Remember

Reading a book as part of your work journey might be difficult to envision, perhaps since it is also a leisure activity. A leisurely hobby like reading may appear to be a waste of time in today’s fast-paced, digital environment, but this is simply not the case. You can read all of the best books on starting a business to gain more knowledge.

Reading is a form of mental workout. We’d never think of running or lifting weights as a “waste of time” for an athlete, and entrepreneurs shouldn’t think of reading as such.

Reading is a form of learning that helps us de-stress while also cultivating communication, problem-solving, and creative thinking abilities that are critical to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

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