The 29 best business books to read in 2023, ranked by Goodreads members

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  • Entrepreneurs can learn business concepts, tactics, and advice from books. 
  • The best business reads include self-help, leadership, and psychology books.
  • We turned to Goodreads to rank the best business books to read in 2023.

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Whether you're a small business owner , entrepreneur, or just someone seeking useful career advice, there are many great books to turn to. Business books can provide psychological concepts for better negotiation skills , personal anecdotes to avoid repeating mistakes, or self-help tips to improve productivity. 

To find the best ones, we turned to Goodreads, the world's largest platform to rate and review books. Among the highest ranking are classics like " How to Win Friends and Influence People " as well as newer memoirs like " Shoe Dog ." From fascinating leadership reads to analytical management books, here are the best business books to read in 2023.

29. "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" by David Allen

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.29

This productivity book is a necessary business read as it teaches readers how to transform the way we work by de-stressing and organizing. Believing that a relaxed mind is most effective, David Allen presents realistic productivity systems and the ways in which we can implement them.

28. "The Intelligent Investor" by Benjamin Graham

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.29

Originally published in 1949 by the "father of value investing," "The Intelligent Investor" by Benjamin Graham delivers realistic financial advice for individuals and businesses looking to grow their wealth. Far from principles that guarantee you'll become a millionaire, this book encourages readers to create practical goals and find success in any size a victory.

27. "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" by Sheryl Sandberg

best books for business planning

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $12.60

"Lean In" sparked global conversation after its publication in 2013 because of its honesty about the experiences of women in business. This book encourages women to be voracious, courageous, and strong-willed at work in order to not only help themselves but improve the future for upcoming businesswomen.

26. "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.94

With over one million ratings on Goodreads, this book is a biography of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple. Walter Isaacson conducted more than forty interviews with Steve Jobs and 100 interviews with family, friends, and colleagues to create an all-encompassing portrait of a man who revolutionized technology with his inventiveness.

25. "The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business" by Josh Kaufman

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Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.99

Written for those who cannot or don't intend to go to business school, "The Personal MBA" outlines the fundamental principles of business for people at any stage of their business career. With lessons on sales, marketing, negotiation, and strategy, this self-help read offers an overview of many business school topics to help readers master the MBA basics. 

24. "Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration" by Ed Catmull

best books for business planning

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $13.69

Drawing on his experiences as a co-founder and president of Pixar Animation, Ed Catmull unveils some deeply ingrained processes and beliefs that have made Pixar so successful. His teams' philosophies can be applied to any business, creatively driven or otherwise.

23. "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable" by Patrick Lencioni

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15

In this leadership fable, a CEO attempts to unite a team under high stakes discovering along the way why even the greatest teams struggle. If this style of business book interests you, Patrick Lencioni also wrote "The Five Temptations of a CEO" and "Death by Meeting" in the same form.

22. "Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die" by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.99

Brothers Chip and Dan Heath use different business theories in this book to analyze the "stickiness" of an idea, or what makes some ideas work so well. They draw from successful and unsuccessful business ventures to help readers discover the principles within great ideas and therefore how to make their own ideas stick.

21. "Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant" by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

best books for business planning

Available at Bookshop , from $18.59

In this business book, authors Kim and Mauborgne assert that lasting success does not come from fighting direct competition in a small pool but rather from creating "blue oceans" or untapped market spaces where new growth can bloom. They outline strategic principles and tools that readers can translate to nearly any market and master their niche. 

20. "Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies" by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.49

Over a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, authors Collins and Porras studied the habits of 18 successful and long-lasting companies in direct comparison to their competitors. "Built to Last" lays out the tactics, habits, and ideas from these successful businesses that managers and entrepreneurs can apply to their own and inspire new success. 

19. "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert B. Cialdini

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $16.99

"Influence" is a psychology book about persuasion, dubbed a business read by Goodreads reviewers for its usefulness in management, marketing, and communications. This book teaches the readers six principles of persuasion, how to apply them, and how to know when they're being used against you.

18. "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business" by Charles Duhigg

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.99

"The Power of Habit" argues that habits are the key to success in business, communities, and our personal lives. Through an analysis of human nature and examples from successful business people, athletes, and leaders, this book demonstrates how mastering powerful habits can change our entire lives. 

17. "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything" by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $6.99

"Freakonomics" is a fascinating read that questions the ways we've conventionally understood the world functions and offers a way to question what we've assumed is conventional wisdom. Loved for its thought-provoking nature, this economics and business read separates morality from economics and asserts such as a system of incentives to get people what they want or need. 

16. "Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike" by Phil Knight

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.08

"Shoe Dog" might be a memoir, but Goodreads users love Phil Knight's focus on his success in business as he grew his company from $50 into the Nike empire. Knight's story brings readers into the details of the company's growth, the challenges he faced as a leader, and the breakthroughs he experienced.

15. "The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail" by Clayton M. Christensen

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.71

Malcolm Gladwell is a bestselling author best known for his nonfiction writing on psychology and sociology. In this psychology read, Gladwell analyses the "outliers" of the world — the best, the highest-achieving, the most famous people — to find what made them different and, thus, so successful. If you enjoy Gladwell's clear writing style and fascinating perspectives, you can check out his other popular books here . 

14. "Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It" by Chris Voss

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.97

Written by a former international hostage negotiator for the FBI, this business book transforms the psychology of interrogation into civilian-applicable negotiation tactics, such as skills you might need while discussing a raise or navigating interpersonal conflict . Using emotional and behavioral sciences, this book is about gaining trust, discovering motives, and understanding those around us. Voss also teaches a MasterClass on the same subject .

13. "Outliers: The Story of Success" by Malcolm Gladwell

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $12.99

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

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15.29

The "e-myth" is the entrepreneurial idea that people who start small businesses are entrepreneurs and anyone with technical business understanding can start one. In this book, Michael E. Gerber analyzes assumptions, expectations, and misconceptions around starting a small business in the hope that readers can succeed on their own.

11. "Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don't" by James C. Collins

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.49

In this business book, James C. Collins analyzes what makes a company "great" and how good companies can achieve enduring success. He used a team of 21 researchers to develop his theories and back each principle with grounded statistics.

10. "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" by Malcolm Gladwell

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $11.99

With over 735,000 ratings, "The Tipping Point" is a business favorite of Goodreads members, helping readers understand when a good idea crosses the threshold to becoming a business or a product. Beloved for Malcolm Gladwell's concise and digestible writing style, this book uses sociology to analyze the personality types of business leaders, indicators that past trends would become massive, and interviews with great business people to find the traits of the next great idea.

9. "Rework" by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

best books for business planning

"Rework" strives to be different from any other business book on the market by taking traditional business advice and analyzing how to work smarter for faster results. It approaches standard business principles from a new angle, highlighting the typical challenges and helping readers stay one step ahead.

8. "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Robert T. Kiyoskai

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $6.82

Robert T. Kiyosaki is a millionaire businessman who grew up with two dads — his own, and his best friend's father (the "rich dad"). In this business and finance book, Kiyosaki explains how his two dads shaped his view of money and investing and gives the readers advice on how to invest and grow their money.

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

best books for business planning

Filled with personal anecdotes and advice "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" analyzes some of the most challenging issues entrepreneurs may face while building a business such as firing a friend, managing bad employees, deciding whether or not to sell your company, and managing your own mind as a leader. Readers love this book for Horowitz's brutal honesty and his perspective as he writes to current and future CEOs as a CEO himself. 

6. "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change" by Stephen R. Covey

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $12.26

"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" is a self-help book that uses seven principles to help readers streamline their personal and professional lives toward success. Inspirational and practical, these habits use psychological reasoning to determine our goals, focus on reaching them, and maintain positive thinking throughout the process.

5. "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" by Simon Sinek

best books for business planning

Simon Sinek is an inspirational speaker whose book encourages leaders to articulate why their business exists, their idea is great, and their movement is necessary. When people lead with "why," it is easier to lead and inspire.

4. "The 4-Hour Workweek" by Timothy Ferriss

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.99

Based on a series of lectures given at Princeton University on entrepreneurship, Timothy Ferriss' business book is essentially about how to life-hack your business and when it is the appropriate time to make these moves, from outsourcing certain tasks to implementing new management principles. He also encourages entrepreneurs to break out of the 9-5 mold in order to become more well-rounded business people.

3. "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie

best books for business planning

Available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.60

This 1936 psychology book has become a business staple, necessary in understanding how to lead or manage a team. With principles on how to get people to like you, win people to your way of thinking, and change people without making them hate you, this popular book has sold over 15 million copies. 

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

best books for business planning

Written to help more budding entrepreneurs create successful start-ups, "The Lean Startup" introduces a clear and dynamic approach for businesses to test, analyze, and continually adapt their vision and goals rather than fail by sticking to an original business plan. Both inspirational and validating for readers, this business book demonstrates first why conventional business plans can cause start-ups to fail and then offers advice and wisdom that can be applied to nearly any new business.  

1. "Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future" by Peter Thiel

best books for business planning

Peter Thiel is a billionaire investor and entrepreneur, a co-founder of PayPal and Founders Fund. In "Zero to One," he aims to help readers find unique opportunities for progress in an already advanced business space, incorporating his optimistic view of future entrepreneurs' ideas.

best books for business planning

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Here are our top 40 bestselling books that are sure to spark your interest, strengthen your management skills, and help you get the results you need in business and beyond. These books offer the best ideas in business and have strongly resonated with our readers. Each offers valuable insights to help you succeed in your career.

The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster

In this updated and expanded version of the international bestseller The First 90 Days, Michael Watkins offers proven strategies for conquering the challenges of transitions--no matter where you are in your career. Whether you're starting a new job, being promoted from within, embarking on an overseas assignment, or being tapped as CEO, how you manage your transition will determine whether you succeed or fail. Use this book as your trusted guide.

HBR's 10 Must Reads on Mental Toughness (Paperback + Ebook)

If you read nothing else on mental toughness, read these ten articles by experts in the field. We've combed through hundreds of articles in the Harvard Business Review archive and selected the most important ones to help you build your emotional strength and resilience--and to achieve high performance.

HBR's 10 Must Reads on Managing Yourself (Paperback + Ebook)

The path to your own professional success starts with a critical look in the mirror. What you see there--your greatest strengths and deepest values--are the foundations you must build on. We've combed through hundreds of Harvard Business Review articles on managing yourself and selected the most important ones to help you stay engaged and productive throughout your working life.

Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant

In this perennial bestseller, globally preeminent management thinkers W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne challenge everything you thought you knew about the requirements for strategic success. Based on a study of 150 strategic moves (spanning more than 100 years across 30 industries), the authors argue that lasting success comes not from battling competitors but from creating"blue oceans"--untapped new market spaces ripe for growth.

Leading Change

Millions worldwide have read and embraced John Kotter's ideas on change management and leadership. Needed more today than at any time in the past, this immensely relevant book serves as both a visionary guide and a practical toolkit on how to approach the difficult yet crucial work of leading change in any type of organization.

HBR's 10 Must Reads on Emotional Intelligence (Paperback + Ebook)

In his defining work on emotional intelligence, bestselling author Daniel Goleman found that it is twice as important as other competencies in determining outstanding leadership. If you read nothing else on emotional intelligence, read these 10 articles by experts in the field.

HBR's 10 Must Reads on Leadership (Paperback + Ebook)

How can you transform yourself from a good manager into an extraordinary leader? We've combed through hundreds of Harvard Business Review articles on leadership and selected the most important ones to help you maximize your own and your organization's performance.

The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

A Wall Street Journal and Businessweek bestseller. Innovation expert Clayton Christensen shows how even the most outstanding companies can do everything right--yet still lose market leadership. Christensen explains why most companies miss out on new waves of innovation. The Innovator's Dilemma gives you a set of rules for capitalizing on the phenomenon of disruptive innovation.

Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader's Guide to the Real World

As strengths guru and bestselling author Marcus Buckingham and Cisco Leadership and Team Intelligence head Ashley Goodall show in this provocative, inspiring book, there are some big lies--distortions, faulty assumptions, wrong thinking--that we encounter every time we show up for work. Nine lies, to be exact.

Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works

Playing to Win, a noted Wall Street Journal and Washington Post bestseller. This is A.G. Lafley's guidebook. Shouldn't it be yours as well? It outlines the strategic approach Lafley, in close partnership with strategic adviser Roger Martin, used to double P&G's sales, quadruple its profits, and increase its market value by more than $100 billion when Lafley was first CEO (he led the company from 2000 to 2009).

HBR's 10 Must Reads on Strategy (Paperback + Ebook)

Is your company spending enormous time and energy on strategy development, with little to show for your efforts? We've combed through hundreds of Harvard Business Review articles on strategy and selected the most important ones to help galvanize your organization's strategy development and execution.

The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success

It's time to redefine the CEO success story. Meet eight iconoclastic leaders who helmed firms where returns on average outperformed the S&P 500 by over 20 times. Drawing on extensive research, author Will Thorndike tells many of these leaders' stories for the first time--and extracts lessons for those of you hoping to lead your company to exceptional returns today.

Dealing with Difficult People

At the heart of dealing with difficult people is handling their--and your own--emotions. How do you stay calm in a tough conversation? How do you know if you're difficult to work with? This book explains the research behind our emotional response to challenging colleagues and shows how to build the empathy and resilience to make those relationships more productive.

Managing Oneself

It's up to you to carve out your place in the world and know when to change course. And it's up to you to keep yourself engaged and productive during a career that may span some 50 years. In Managing Oneself, one of the world's leading thinkers on the practice and study of management, Peter Drucker, identifies the probing questions you need to ask to gain the insights essential for taking charge of your career.

The Mind of a Leader: How to Lead Yourself, Your People, and Your Organization for Extraordinary Results

Based on extensive research, including assessments of more than 35,000 leaders and interviews with 250 C-level executives, The Mind of the Leader concludes that organizations and leaders aren't meeting employees' basic human needs of finding meaning, purpose, connection, and genuine happiness in their work. To solve the leadership crisis, organizations need to put people at the center of their strategy.

Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence

Written by three eminent economists, Prediction Machines recasts the rise of AI as a drop in the cost of prediction and lifts the curtain on the AI-is-magic hype to show how different industries can benefit from it. The impact of AI will be profound, but as this book shows, the economic framework for understanding it is surprisingly simple.

Financial Intelligence: A Manager's Guide to Knowing What the Numbers Really Mean

Inc. magazine calls it one of"the best, clearest guides to the numbers" on the market. Readers agree, saying it's exactly"what I need to know" and calling it a"must-read" for decision makers without expertise in finance. Accessible, jargon-free, and filled with entertaining stories of real companies, Financial Intelligence gives nonfinancial managers the confidence to understand the nuance beyond the numbers--to help bring everyday work to a new level.

The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism

Hubert Joly, former CEO of Best Buy and orchestrator of the retailer's spectacular turnaround, unveils his personal playbook for achieving extraordinary outcomes by putting people and purpose at the heart of business.

Human + Machine: Reimaging Work in the Age of AI

AI is changing all the rules of how companies operate. Based on the authors' experience, Accenture leaders Paul Daugherty and Jim Wilson, and research with 1,500 organizations, this book reveals how companies are using the new rules of AI to leap ahead on innovation and profitability, as well as what you can do to achieve similar results.

The Founders Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth

Why is profitable growth so hard to achieve and sustain? When Bain & Company's Chris Zook and James Allen, authors of the bestselling Profit from the Core, researched this question, they found that when companies fail to achieve their growth targets, 90 percent of the time the root causes are internal, not external. Through rich analysis and inspiring examples, this book shows how any leader--not only a founder--can instill and leverage a founder's mentality throughout their organization and find lasting, profitable growth.

HBR Guide to Better Business Writing

When you are fumbling for words and pressed for time, you might be tempted to dismiss good business writing as a luxury. But it is a skill you must cultivate to succeed. The HBR Guide to Better Business Writing, by writing expert Bryan Garner, gives you the tools you need to express your ideas clearly and persuasively so clients, colleagues, stakeholders, and partners will get behind them.

HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations

Terrified of speaking in front of a group? Or simply looking to polish your skills? No matter where you are on the spectrum, this guide, written by presentation expert Nancy Duarte, will give you the confidence and the tools you need to get the results you desire.

Harvard Business Review Manager's Handbook: The 17 Skills Leaders Need to Stand Out

The one primer you need to develop your managerial and leadership skills. Whether you're a new manager or looking to have more influence in your current management role, the challenges you face come in all shapes and sizes--a direct report's anxious questions, your boss's last-minute assignment of an important presentation, or a blank business case staring you in the face.

HBR's 10 Must Reads on Managing People (Paperback + Ebook)

Managing people is fraught with challenges: What really motivates people? How do you deal with problem employees? How can you build an effective team? The answers to these questions can be elusive--even to a seasoned manager. We've combed through hundreds of Harvard Business Review articles on managing people to help you deal with these--and many other--management challenges.

StandOut 2.0: Assess Your Strengths, Find Your Edge, Win at Work

From the recognized leader of the strengths movement, Marcus Buckingham, StandOut 2.0 is a revolutionary book and tool that enables you to identify your strengths, and those of your team, and act on them. It also includes the assessment and a robust report on your most dominant strengths. The report is easily exported so you can use it to present the very best of yourself to your team and your company.

Good Charts: The HBR Guide to Making Smarter, More Persuasive Data Visualizations

A good visualization can communicate the nature and potential impact of ideas more powerfully than any other form of communication. In Good Charts, dataviz maven Scott Berinato provides an essential guide to how visualization works and how to use this new language to impress and persuade. This book will help you turn uninspiring charts that merely present information into smart, effective visualizations that powerfully convey ideas.


The benefits of mindfulness include better performance, heightened creativity, deeper self-awareness, and increased charisma--not to mention greater peace of mind. This book gives you practical steps for building a sense of presence into your daily work routine.

The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World

The Practice of Adaptive Leadership is a hands-on, practical guide containing stories, tools, diagrams, cases, and worksheets to help you develop your skills as an adaptive leader, able to take people outside their comfort zones and assess and address the toughest challenges. The authors', Ron Heifetz, Marty Linsky, and Alexander Grashow, have decades of experience helping people and organizations create cultures of adaptive leadership.

Influence and Persuasion

Changing hearts is an important part of changing minds. Research shows that appealing to human emotion can help you make your case and build your authority as a leader. This book highlights that research and shows you how to act on it, presenting both comprehensive frameworks for developing influence and small, simple tactics you can use to convince others every day.

Talent Wins: The New Playbook for Putting People First

Most executives today recognize the competitive advantage of human capital, and yet the talent practices their organizations use are stuck in the twentieth century. Turning conventional views on their heads, talent and leadership experts Ram Charan, Dominic Barton, and Dennis Carey provide leaders with a new and different playbook for acquiring, managing, and deploying talent--for today's agile, digital, analytical, technologically driven strategic environment--and for creating the HR function that business needs.

How Finance Works: The HBR Guide to Thinking Smart about the Numbers

Through entertaining case studies, interactive exercises, full-color visuals, and a conversational style that belies the topic, Harvard Business School Professor Mihir Desai tackles a broad range of topics that will give you the knowledge and skills you need to finally understand how finance works.

Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

This is the book that established"emotional intelligence" in the business lexicon--and made it a necessary skill for leaders. Managers and professionals across the globe have embraced Primal Leadership, affirming the importance of emotionally intelligent leadership. The book and its ideas are now used routinely in universities, business and medical schools, professional training programs, and by a growing legion of professional coaches.

Competing in the Age of AI

AI-centric organizations exhibit a new operating architecture, redefining how they create, capture, share, and deliver value. Authors Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani show how reinventing the firm around data, analytics, and AI removes traditional constraints on scale, scope, and learning that have restricted business growth for hundreds of years.

Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take

In this seminal book, former Unilever CEO Paul Polman and sustainable business guru Andrew Winston argue that to thrive today and tomorrow, companies must become “net positive” — giving more to the world than they take. With bold vision and compelling stories, Net Positive sets out the principles and practices that will deliver the scale of change and transformation the world so desperately needs.

Getting Along: How to Deal with Anyone (Even Difficult People)

Work relationships can be hard. The stress of dealing with difficult people dampens our creativity and productivity and can cause us to disengage. In Getting Along, workplace expert Amy Gallo identifies eight familiar types of difficult coworkers—the insecure boss, the passive-aggressive peer, the know-it-all, and others—and provides strategies for dealing constructively with each one.

Love and Work: How to Find What You Love, Love What You Do, and Do It for the Rest of Your Life

In his new book, world-renowned researcher and New York Times bestselling author Marcus Buckingham helps us discover where we're at our best — both at work and in life. In understanding our unique strengths and loves, we can choose the right role on a team, mold our existing roles so it calls on our very best, and as leaders, make lasting change for our teams and organizations.

Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader's Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You

Bestselling authors Frances Frei and Anne Morriss argue that the most important thing you can do to be a great leader is to build others up. Showing how the boldest, most effective leaders use a special combination of trust, love, and inclusion to create a space in which other people can excel, Frei and Morriss provide practical tools — along with interviews and stories from their own personal experience — to make these ideas come alive.

Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Change

It's exciting to think of leadership as all inspiration, decisive action, and rich rewards, but leading requires taking risks that can jeopardize your career. In this classic, renowned leadership experts Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky show how it's possible to make a difference in your organization without getting “taken out” or pushed aside. Through vivid stories from all walks of life, the authors present straightforward strategies for navigating the perilous straits of leadership.

HBR's 10 Must Reads for New Managers (Paperback + Ebook)

Develop the mindset and presence to successfully manage others for the first time. If you read nothing else on becoming a new manager, read these 10 articles. We've combed through hundreds of Harvard Business Review articles and selected the most important ones to help you transition from being an outstanding individual contributor to becoming a great manager.

Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them

In a world of unprecedented challenges, we need organizations that are resilient and daring. In Humanocracy, Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini make a passionate, data-driven argument for excising bureaucracy and replacing it with something better.

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Best Books for Starting a Business 

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If you’ve recently started a business, or you’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, you may feel overwhelmed by your long checklist. You need an HR structure, a marketing plan, a plan for employee morale, and, of course, a strategy to win despite your competitors.

Whether you’re a serial entrepreneur or a fresh business owner, there is much to learn from subject matter experts. Consider reading these books for starting a business and invigorating it.

1. From GED To Harvard Then Inc. 500

From GED to Harvard Then Inc. 500

In this read, Jane Wolfe & Scott Wolfe detail their journey from earning their GEDs and building the fastest growing business in New Orleans. At the young age of 17 and 19, Jane and Scott began their business dreams and bought a run-down market.

Throughout the years, and the destruction from hurricane Katrina, the Wolf’s reemerged to support their community and build Melba’s PoBoys. The Wolfe’s have founded multiple companies in their careers, generating millions of dollars in revenue.

Why Read It: If you’re looking to learn about persevering through difficulty and creating unlikely opportunities in business, is From GED To Harvard Then Inc. 500 is for you.

2. The Authority Advantage

The Authority Advantage

In The Authority Advantage , you’ll discover how you can use your personal branding to gain authority-status and earn more followers. Adam Witty and Rusty Shelton have decades of experience working with entrepreneurs to grow their brand and business by sharing their business and media insights.

In this read, you’ll learn how to create a following, engage with your audience base, and grow your business and name recognition. With practical steps on leveraging owned, earned, and rented media, you will emerge empowered with next steps to help you and your business shine in a competitive marketplace.

Why Read It: The Authority Advantage will help business leaders expand their following and increase their brand recognition. Read Witty and Shelton’s book to attract influential clients, customers, and followers to your side.

3. The Power of Remote

The Power of Remote

Cynthia Watson, Executive Chair, and Shane Spraggs, CEO, share their experience in building and managing remote teams at Virtira. Create a successful remote work environment with their comprehensive roadmap.

The Power of Remote can help you lower costs and boost productivity in your business.

Why Read It: This book is ideal for you if you’re considering a “remote-first” business model, or if you’re looking for guidance on transitioning to remote.

4. Beyond the Superhero

Beyond the Superhero

Jason Randall reveals how to free yourself from unrealistic expectations and pressure as an executive leader. If you’re spearheading your business, you need a handbook to help you find an alternate path to success — where both you and your business can thrive.

In Beyond the Superhero, you’ll find both a memoir and a roadmap to support your business initiatives and become the leader you want to be.

Why Read It: Whether you have decades or experience, or it’s your first time in leadership, there’s always room to improve as a leader. If you’re looking to relieve the pressure of leadership while gain practical insights, Beyond the Superhero is worth a read.

5. How Teams Triumph

How Teams Triumph

A business is much more than offering a product or service for a profit. Your team, workflow, and employee communication all affect how successful your business will be — and whether you retain your employees. Team dynamics can become stumbling blocks for your company as silos grow and dysfunction creeps in.

Clinton M. Padgett offers a proven framework to ensure your team works together to achieve goals. Padgett creates positive work environments to motivate employees by improving team dynamics.

Why Read It: If you’re looking for advice on how to structure your teams and create a positive company culture that breeds success, you’ll benefit from How Teams Triumph .

6. Competing With Giants

Competing with Giants

As a small startup, you may wonder if you can ever compete with industry giants. Phuong Tran shares the story of her family-owned business that her parents built up to become the forefront beverage company in Vietnam. Phuong Tran shares how a family-owned business built itself into a coveted industry giant. After walking away from a $2.5 billion offer from Coca – Cola, Phuong Tran wrote Competing With Giants to help others follow suit.

Why Read It: Find the insight and encouragement you need in this underdog story of success. If you want a pick-me-up with practical application, give Competing With Giants a read.

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Lissie Kidd

Sr. marketing copywriter.

Lissie Kidd is a Sr. Copywriter with several hundred articles in her portfolio and even more edited and published under her supervision. Lissie holds a MA in Communications from Grand…

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7 Top Business Plan Books for New-age Entrepreneurs

Ultimate Guide On Writing A Business Plan

Free Ultimate Guide On Writing A Business Plan

  • October 18, 2023

12 Min Read

7 Best Business Plan Books for new-age Entrepreneurs

Business Plan books are the first thing to go for once you have decided on the idea you want to pursue as an entrepreneur.

Starting up as an entrepreneur is not as simple as it seems. Transforming your idea into a business that creates value for the world is a long process.

The process is full of uncertainties, hurdles, and burnout. To make consistent efforts without giving up, you need a plan you can rely upon.

The ultimate guide to starting a business

A plan that helps you in making wise decisions in your entrepreneurial journey is known as a business plan.

It also helps in refining processes and keeps you in line with your business goals.

Now, how would you create a business plan?

Well, you can anyhow get to know what it contains. However, to easily create a business plan that covers all aspects of your business, you must read these books.

In this article, we are going to discuss the 7 top business plan books written for ambitious entrepreneurs like you!

Best Business Plan Books

  • Art of the Start 2.0
  • The Successful Business Plan: Secrets and Strategies
  • The Founder’s Dilemma
  • The One-Page Business Plan for the Creative Entrepreneur
  • The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan
  • Anatomy of a Business Plan
  • The Complete Book of Business Plans

1. Art of the Start 2.0

Art of the start 2.0

Goodreads rating: 3.87/5

The author of this book is American millionaire Guy Kawasaki. Though his name is enough for anyone to stand up from their seats let me tell you a few things about him.

  • He worked with Apple in 1984 as a part of the marketing team for Macintosh computers.
  • He is the author of 12 books including The Art of Social Media, and Enchantment.
  • He is currently working as the chief evangelist of Canva which is a graphic designing software.

Now coming to what this book holds for you, it’s one of those books that focus on transforming your business idea into a full-fledged organization.

Guy Kawasaki explains why it is important to have a vision and how you, as an entrepreneur, can feed your team with the same vision.

If your team does not adhere to the same vision, there will always be chaos in the workspace.

You must also share stories about your product and your journey. Everyone loves stories. You don’t have to write a 300-page book but a few social media posts, and videos that resonate well with your target audience.

The book also guides entrepreneurs while hiring. It tells you to hire people who are new in the industry. They are most likely to innovate new products as they consistently ask questions.

Key Highlight:

This book will help you in writing a business plan along with guiding you in various steps of entrepreneurship. This book holds something for every aspect of entrepreneurship.

It also stresses how you can use the internet and cloud tools to make the processes more accessible and more efficient. In the modern era, businesses are equipped with tools that are affordable and accessible to everyone.

Moreover, the book also throws light on socializing and partnering with the right people for leadership roles or to get funding.

By reading this book, you will feel more powerful as an entrepreneur and will be ready to take on challenges that come along with entrepreneurship.

This book doesn’t sound like rhetoric and probably that’s why this book received appreciation from all across the world.

Book Link- Art of the Start 2.0

A reader’s review:

The focus is on tech entrepreneurs. While much of the advice is applicable to other industries, the book will hit the bullseye specifically with those starting technology businesses.

Anita Campbell (via Goodreads)

2. The Successful Business Plan: Secrets and Strategies

The successful Business Plan Secrets and Strategies

The author of the book is Rhonda Abrams who has written more than 12 books on entrepreneurship. Being an entrepreneur herself, the knowledge she shares is absolute gold and trustworthy.

She also writes one of the most popular columns in the US known as Small Business Strategies.

Let us now discuss what Rhonda Abrams has taught in her book.

The Successful Business Plan: Secrets and Strategies is a complete guide for anyone stuck in writing. It is one of those books that give you a push to start working on your idea.

This book contains various worksheets and charts which makes it consumable as well as practical.

You will get enough examples of various parts of a business plan , giving you an in-depth idea of what it looks like and how it is written.

This book not only teaches you to write a business plan that reminds you about your vision but also this plan can help you get investors on board.

It also equips you with strategies to get funds at the best possible rates and also to minimize the costs involved in running a business.

It gives you an in-depth understanding of positioning your brand in the market to gain the attention of your target audience and thus derive maximum profit.

Moreover, you can also use it for competitions related to showcasing plans for their businesses. The book is used by many entrepreneurs and is recommended to every small business.

Book Link- The Successful Business Plan

There’s enough information here to help you get almost any business started. This is a proven source, for it’s been through several re-prints since 1991.

Jeffrey Brown (via Goodreads)

3. The Founder’s Dilemma

The Founder’s Dilemma

Goodreads rating: 4.01/5

The book, The Founder’s dilemma, is one of the best business plan books by Noam Wasserman. Apart from this, he has written another bestseller known as Life is a startup.

Noam Wasserman served as a professor at Harvard Business school for 13 years and is currently working at the University of Southern California as a founding Director at the Founder Central Initiative.

The book he wrote is an absolute beauty. Not because he has told some hidden secrets but because he has addressed a problem that many entrepreneurs often ignore.

And that problem is the company’s leadership. You might have a billion-dollar business idea and even have cracked the tech for it, but you might still fail because of listening to the wrong advice.

If you want your business to not suffer due to wrong decisions made by top leadership, you must read this book.

This book will help you in deciding whom you want to work with, and how to share the equity among co-founders and employees without being emotional.

However, this book might not be useful for small businesses but is a gem for someone planning to launch a high-growth business.

Book Link – The Founder’s Dilemma

I’ve never seen a book before that was particularly helpful – to a founder – about the wide range of issues a founder will face.

Brad Feld (via Goodreads)

4. The One-Page Business Plan for the Creative Entrepreneur

The One Page Business Plan for the Creative Entrepreneur

Goodreads rating: 3.86/5

The author of this mind-blowing book is none other than Jim Horan.

Known for his expertise in solving complex business problems , Jim has helped many entrepreneurs in turning their businesses into profit-making machines.

Jim Horan has also been a Fortune 500 executive and has written six books in the One Page Business Plan for Creative Entrepreneur series.

This book is quite different from other books as it is written for entrepreneurs who do not understand a lot about business figures but want to get started soon.

There’s a saying that if you cannot write your business plan on a single page, you are probably doing it wrong.

The book enables you to write it in a couple of hours which includes your mission, objectives, and plans.

It will be crisp and easy to understand for your investors as well as the team. In this fast-moving world, it becomes really uncomfortable to give a week preparing a business plan.

You have the idea and with the help of this book, you can turn the idea into a business in no time.

Having said that, this book is not recommended to someone who is building a high-growth company or a business with many manufacturing units.

This book is specially designed for small businesses to increase their profits and improve their vision.

Book Link – The One-Page Business Plan

One of my favorites! I have used these templates many times. It really forces you to be concise and focus on your vision. Highly recommend!

Teri Temme (via Goodreads)

5. The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan

The Secrets to writing a successful Business Plan

Goodreads rating: 3.70/5

The author of this book Hal Shelton is an extremely experienced executive who has worked with many corporations, non-profits, and investment companies.

Hal Shelton completed his BS from Carnegie Mellon University and then pursued an MBA from the University of Chicago.

The secrets to writing a successful Business Plan focus on each section of the plan to help you create one that stands out in front of the investors.

The book also informs you about the common errors entrepreneurs make while writing. These errors sometimes cost very high as they might create confusion for investors as well as for the team.

You will also learn to do the market analysis and write the same in your plan. You will be able to answer questions like how big is the market and whether it is sufficient to run a successful business or not.

Investors receive a lot of business plans and going through each one of them is not feasible. Therefore writing an executive summary becomes extremely important.

The executive summary is an easy way to grab investors’ attention and help them understand your business without going through lengthy documents.

If you are launching a non-profit organization, this book can help you in many ways as a section of the book is dedicated to non-profits.

Moreover, the book also consists of secret strategies for writing a business plan and getting bank loans or funding from investors.

Book Link – The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan

This book provides a very solid foundation to write your plan. The author also provides excellent examples and instructions as to what to and not to do in writing your business plan

Kirk G. Meyer (via Goodreads)

6. Anatomy of a Business Plan

Anatomy of a business plan

The author of this book, Linda Pinson, has worked very closely with the U.S. small business administration to write the government business plan publication.

She has also been honored as Education Advocate of the year and SBA regional women in Business advocate of the year.

Apart from this book, she has written many books on entrepreneurship such as Keeping the books and steps to start a small business startup.

This is one of the best business books for people who do not know anything about business plans.

This book provides you with an in-depth understanding of different business plans and will enable you to choose your ideal kind.

After reading the book, you will learn to update your plan according to the needs of your business and the position of your brand in the market.

The author also highlights the importance of mentioning the table of contents and executive summary in navigating smoothly through the book.

Apart from this, it also throws light on how you can efficiently market your business. You will also learn how to mention the financials of your company which is an important thing to do.

The Anatomy of a Business Plan also contains five real-life business plans which give you an understanding of how successful businesses can be explained in a few pages.

You also get a few worksheets which makes the overall experience of reading the book delightful.

Book Link – Anatomy of a Business Plan

This book is like “a mentor for your business plan”. Really informative and helpful.

Marvin Musfiq (via Goodreads)

7. The Complete Book of Business Plans

The complete book of business plans

Goodreads rating: 3.47/5

The authors of this book are Brian Hazelgran and Joseph A. Covello. Both of them have a great understanding of how businesses operate in this book. They have told us that one size doesn’t fit all.

That means business plans for different businesses cannot be written in the same way.

This book contains 12+ plans that give you an idea of how you write one for yourself.

This book also focuses on how you should bring people into your business and what vision you should have to run the business for decades.

Moreover, when you read the book you will have to ask a lot of questions to yourself. The book will compel you to ask questions yourself that are immensely important before writing it.

Once you give satisfactory answers to the questions asked, you will feel more motivated to start a business , and writing a business will look like a cakewalk.

The above quote shows how important it is to plan your business and create a visionary plan for your business.

Book Link – The Complete Book of Business Plans

Great book encompassing everything about writing business plans.

Denny Troncoso (via Goodreads)

Bottom Line

All the Business plan books that we discussed above are going to help you in some way or the other.

But don’t worry you don’t need to read all of them. Just figure out where you stand and where you would want to go and select a book accordingly.

Innovative tools present in the industry like Upmetrics have helped many entrepreneurs in business and financial planning. If you need more help writing a perfect business plan, check out Upmetrics NOW and grow 2X faster.

Build your Business Plan Faster

with step-by-step Guidance & AI Assistance.


Related Articles On Business Plan Writing

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  • Formulating a Detailed Business Plan Outline
  • Get Your Business Plan Written by Expert Writers
  • Determining the Ideal Length of a Business Plan
  • Understand the Operations Plan Section in a Business Plan
  • How to Design a Compelling Business Plan Cover Page
  • Guidelines for Formulating a Business Plan Table of Contents
  • Understanding the Importance of a Confidentiality Statement in a Business Plan

About the Author

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Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more

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best books for business planning

The 8 Best Business Plan Books in 2022

best business plan books in 2022

You are finally ready to start that business you’ve been sitting on for a while, but you have no idea how to begin. There is a lot of planning to do and so much advice in the pipelines. So, how do you begin? Start with the best business plan books in 2022. The curated list below includes books from year past but they represent the best options to launch your business today.

business plan workbook download

This business plan book comes in PDF format takes an innovative approach to writing a business plan that is not only effective, but fun.Download this business plan workbook PDF now and walk through:

  • Setting tangible goals and milestones
  • Creating a powerful elevator speech
  • Precisely defining your target customer base
  • Intelligently understanding your competition
  • Articulately structuring the core of your business plan
  • And much more!

Write the business plan of your dreams! This business plan workbook goes beyond the cold numbers to help any entrepreneur plan a business with his or her life ambitions in mind. You’ll be able to crystallize your vision.

Table of Contents

Best Business Plan Books in 2022

It is often said that every prosperous owner is an avid reader of self-help books, so let’s begin from there. Get some real-world guidance from the best industry leaders and business owners in these eight books we have picked. Master how to position yourself properly, create personal connections, and build your dream team.

Yes, you have to separate the fluff from the real counsel. Learn how to lay the proper foundation for your startup with these best business plan books in 2022.

1. “Hurdle: The Book on Business Planning” by Tim Berry

This trusty gem has made it on many lists and stays atop of our best business plan books in 2022. Tim is the founder of Palo Alto Software, makers of Business Plan Pro and Live Plan, and was one of’s partners when we started the site many years ago.

If you want a book that would break down the steps to constructing a solid business plan, then “Hurdle” is an amazing option. Written by Tim Berry, the book teaches the reader the basics of business planning, daily organizational management, and how best to implement what you’ve learned in real-life situations.

That is not all; you also get multiple examples on profit monitoring and calculation, cash flow tracking , plus a 53-page workbook to master drafting a working business plan. So it’s two for the price of one. With this book, you get to practice your business plan while you read.

2. “Anatomy of A Business Plan” by Linda Pinson

If you read this book, you will discover that the writer, Linda Pinson nailed her goals, as the name of the book suggests. With this title, you can draft a tailor-made business plan that considers your business case and specifics.

From organizational structure, financial documentation, marketing systems, marketing, and planning, this title holds your hand through it all. Get extensive reviews, valuable hints and ideas, workbooks, plus five real-world sample business plans to get you started.

Josh Radnore, a businessman, books critic and a writer for PapersOwl underlines the key principle of a business plan: “The right business plan should take your long-term goals into consideration. Ask yourself what you want to achieve and set realistic and achievable goals”. He carries on by adding: “When you do this, you can know what you need to do to get where you want to go”.

3. “The One Page Business Plan for the Creative Entrepreneur” by Jim Horan

Are you trying to draft a concise one sheet business plan to meet up urgently with an investor? Jin Horan and Tom Peter came up with a quick but detailed guide that focuses on the exact details you need to write that plan. You get a book that can guarantee your success without taking too much of your time.

There is no need to read this overnight; you can figure out clear ways to outline your business systems, objectives, road map, action plan, and the vision and mission statements in a few hours.

4. “The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan” by Hal Shelton

Read this concise and well-written guide to get a glimpse into the secrets Hal Shelton has to share. Just by reading this step-by-step title and implementing the teachings, you can set your organization up for success.

Learning from your mistakes is so last year; this book will teach you the common errors business owners make when planning. You would also grasp how to develop your unique style to help you attract investors and loans, help – when, where and how to get it – and how to stand out.

5. “The Art of The Start 2.0” by Guy Kawasaki

It’s not just about drafting a business plan; there are other necessary things that can affect your small business when you are starting. To help you plan and achieve your goals more easily, Guy Kawasaki, who you might know from the Canva design platform, has prepared the “essential guide for anyone starting anything”.

Get access to real-world counsel on how to perfect your pitch, crowdfunding, bootstrapping, the role of social media and other digital innovations in drafting the ideal business plan.

6. “The Complete Book of Business Plans” by Joseph A Covello and Brian J Hazelgren

This title made it to our best business plan books in 2022 because of the examples it provides. Get ahead with the dozens of business plan templates this title offers. Do you need motivation or counsel on attracting the right investors? Only by answering these questions in detail can you create a successful business plan to help you begin a profitable company.

You’ve got all you require in detail here, including the right steps to statistical analysis. You can even grasp how to pick the right business partners and plan for success and business longevity.

It does not matter if you are a first-timer or starting your fifth organization. With this book, you would be forced to ask yourself every difficult question that needs to be answered.

7. “The Founder’s Dilemmas” by Noam Wasserman

Business planning goes beyond market research, drafting a pitch and attracting investors with a business plan template . Along the line in this never-ending journey, you would need to think about leadership and how it can affect your new company. The staffing and leadership roles and whom you employ can say a lot.

The author, Noam Wasserman, helps you look at these factors before they can become issues. Take a break from the “how” and “why” of the ideal business plan and focus on the “who” in this interesting read.

8. “Successful Business Plan: Secrets and Strategies” by Rhonda Abrams

Not every business plan will work, and this title would help you determine whether the one you have in mind is a winner. Authored by an expert in all business matters, Rhonda Abrams, you can learn about positioning, organizational costs, proven strategies for funding, and the competition.

With graphics, exercises, and worksheets to make reading fun, this is one of the best business plan books in 2022 and you will discover a thing or two, especially if you take some guidance given by other experts.

The guidance you get and the information you consume when starting any business are crucial to its success. Don’t start one of those companies that fold up early on because of poor organizational design and systems. To plan properly, you need to master tips and tricks from the best of the best, and you can get this by reading the best business plan books in 2022.

So, pick one of the titles in this carefully curated list and download’s sample business plans today and you’ll be well on your way to planning a successful business that promises longevity.

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The 18 Best Business Books for Entrepreneurs (2024)

Looking for the best business books of all time? Here’s my curated list for everything business—from starting a business, strategy, management, and more!

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I did NOT go to business school. However, my entrepreneurial spirit eventually led me to starting my own business. And I had to learn a lot along the way.

And let me tell you…

My entire business education came from online courses and books.

Here are the books that really helped me in my business and that I use practically every day. Starting with…

My 6 All-Time Best Business Books For Entrepreneurs

#1: smartcuts: the breakthrough power of lateral thinking by shane snow.

Best business books for entrepreneurs Smartcuts

Goodreads score: 3.92

I absolutely LOVE this book (plus, I got a chance to meet and become friends with Shane Snow! He is a gem of a human being). What I love about it is that it’s smartcuts … not shortcuts.

As an entrepreneur, you often wear many hats. You’re doing:

  • content creation

Oh my! Thank goodness we have a team now, but in the very beginning, I was doing everything.

Smartcuts helped me think more strategically about my time. It allowed me to think about what kinds of smartcuts I can take that other business owners have used, too. It’s all about working smarter, not harder.

Want more Shane? Head over to my article with Shane Snow here .

Shane Snow Quote

Key Takeaways:

  • It’s critical to find a mentor to guide you—business research shows that 70% of entrepreneurs who have a mentor raise more capital than those who don’t.
  • Feedback is useful, especially negative feedback. Negative feedback points out weaknesses and helps you improve… as long as you don’t take it personally.
  • Success may come fast and unexpectedly. It’s your job to capitalize on it and keep the momentum going.

#2: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Vanessa van Edwards holding the book  Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Goodreads score: 4.20

Influence is one of the best psychology books ever written, period. First published in 1984, it has since sold 3 million+ copies and has been translated into 30 languages. The book contains various psychological strategies that great persuaders use, and Robert even takes up jobs as a car salesman and waiter to demonstrate these strategies in person.

If you’re an entrepreneur, salesperson, marketer, or want to influence people in any way, I highly recommend giving this book a read.

  • People feel obligated to reciprocate “favors.” A good strategy is to give something before asking for something in return.
  • In negotiations, ask a very high amount, then retreat back to what you really want.
  • When something is hard to get, we want it even more.
  • We value something more if it is harder to achieve.

#3: Your Brain and Business: The Neuroscience of Great Leaders by Srinivasan S. Pillay

Best business books for entrepreneurs Your Brain and Business

Goodreads score: 3.56

Srinivasan S. Pillay Quote

Srinivasan is an incredible neuroscientist and filled Your Brain and Business with SO much research it blew my mind. I highlighted almost every single line of the book. It is chock-full of science and so incredibly helpful.

And the best part of this book?

None of it is guesswork. No phoney baloney, no hearsay. All of it is based on hard, scientific facts. If you want to know what’s happening in our brains and how to use your brain to become a better leader, this book is for you.

  • Positive thinking is critical to your success. What you think becomes your reality, so it’s important to think happy things about yourself and avoid negativity.
  • Your “thinking brain” has the capacity to store tons of information. It quietly works in the background as you go about your everyday life, so it’s important to stock it with knowledge so you can reap the passive benefits.
  • Split up change into smaller pieces to avoid overburdening your brain with big change. Clearly set smaller goals before diving deep. 

#4: Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

Best business books for entrepreneurs Hooked

Goodreads score: 4.09

If I had to summarize Hooked in one word, I’d say it’s like the modern-day version of Influence . Hooked helps you build habit-forming products, as well as loyal fans and avid customers.

I also am good friends with Nir Eyal, and we did SO many interesting, helpful podcasts. I highly recommend these for the golden nuggets you’ll find in them. Check out my interviews with Nir on how to raise indistractible kids and how to be indistractible yourself .

  • Habits are easy to break and hard to form. To successfully form a habit, do it often. Make it easy to perform your habit, and over time, your brain will think less of doing it and automatically do it more.
  • Habit-forming products are hard to ditch since they are built upon habits. They also are very competitive in markets because replacing habit-based products is so hard that there needs to be a major improvement to the product for people to change.
  • Follow the trigger-action-reward-investment model to get users hooked on your product. Over time, as the customer uses your product more, they will like it more.

#5: Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Best business books for entrepreneurs  Made to Stick

Goodreads score: 3.94

Chip Heath quote

In the very beginning of my business, I was struggling with vitamins and painkillers. What I mean by that is:

  • When you take a vitamin, it’s good for you. You should take them and they’ll help.
  • On the other hand, if you need a painkiller… you need it NOW. People will do anything to get a painkiller.

Made to Stick made me realize for the first time that I need to make my content “stickier” to make it helpful. So if you’re thinking about pitching an idea or changing behavior, this one is for you.

  • Stories stick because they are memorable, and people want to spread the message. Simple messages work the best.
  • To get people off autopilot, your message must be unexpected. Something needs to stick out of the ordinary.
  • Use curiosity to your advantage. Curiosity gaps are plot holes or “who did it?” type moments where your audience is eager to find out what happens next. Keep the curiosity, and their interests will be heightened.

#6: Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us - business book

Goodreads score: 3.82

Now, I love everything Seth has ever written.

But for entrepreneurs, I love Tribes specifically. This book is about building tribes, or building your community. It’s a tiny little book and an easy read, but it keys you in on how to find your people so you can build an authentic following.

  • Modern tribes need to be exclusive, personal, and have a strong story. Forget appealing to the masses, because if you try to win everyone, you won’t win anyone.
  • You need about 1,000 people to truly keep up a movement. This is the number of believers you need to create change and lead.
  • When starting out, don’t focus on the numbers. Focus on bringing people together, closer, and tightening the bonds. You can do this by forming “insiders” vs. “outsiders” and excluding some people.

The 3 Best Business Books of All Time

These are the books that made the bestseller lists. If you haven’t read them yet, you’ve probably heard of them—and for good reason, too. Here are the 3 books that have changed businesses all across the globe, starting with…

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

Atomic Habits business book

Goodreads score: 4.35

If a business is a house, James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits , is the foundation underneath. This book is a game changer in the way you should go about changing your habits. It’s an all-time bestseller. James Clear even has a blog on how to form good habits.

Great businesses start with great habits, and I love this book because it’s not only theory—it inspires you to take life-changing action.

James Clear quote

  • Build habits by making them easy. Play more guitar by putting it in the center of the room, or leave healthy snacks closer to you than unhealthy ones.
  • Link a habit you want to form with a temptation. This means forming a habit by doing it while rewarding yourself and giving hits of dopamine. You’ll more likely continue the habit this way.
  • Develop a habit tracker, calendar, or diary to track your habits and stay accountable.

#2: Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown

Best business books for entrepreneurs Dare to Lead

Goodreads score: 4.15

What makes a great business leader? Brené’s book on leadership teaches you how to be courageous and gain respect. You’ll need both of these traits to succeed as a leader. In fact, I still employ many of the techniques I learned in Dare to Lead on my attitudes as a boss!

  • Vulnerability should be cherished. Showing we are vulnerable and prone to failure shows that we are still strong in face of it. Societies that shun failure, on the other hand, are prone to produce weaker ideas, due to fear.
  • Great leaders should spend time getting to know their team’s fears and emotions.
  • Perfectionism stems from the feeling of trying to win approval. It is the enemy to greatness because it is associated with addiction, depression, and anxiety.

#3: Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People by Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards and her book Captivate

Goodreads Score: 4.16

I might be a little biased, but I wrote Captivate to help you sharpen your people skills. And in business, people skills are everything .

This book is the accumulation of the business soft skills I’ve learned. And it took me years of writing and researching. When it hit the bestseller list and got translated into 16 different languages, I was blown away. This is the modern guide to How to Win Friends and Influence People .

In Captivate , I give you a science-backed framework to master ANY business interaction you find yourself in:

  • build trust and confidence with your boss or coworkers
  • know what a person is really feeling during a business meeting, without having to ask
  • how to network and build your business connections

Whether you’re a social pro or a natural introvert, this book is for you if you want to take your business soft skills to the next level. For a limited time, get the first chapter for free:

  • Make an amazing first impression by using nonverbal “hacks.”
  • Learn to spot personality traits to accurately assess others.
  • Master the 3 types of storytelling to connect with others.
  • Decode people’s feelings by identifying the 7 universal facial expressions .
  • … and more!

The 3 Best Business Books For Beginners

Don’t know where to start? I got you covered! Learn the ins and outs of business, what businesses are, and what successful businesses look like with these 3 books.

#1: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

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

Goodreads score: 4.08

I love reading books by Simon Sinek. From Leaders Eat Last to The Infinite Game , Simon always has great entrepreneurial ideas. But Start with Why holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the first books to really make me dive deep into WHY I started my business in the first place.

This book is perfect for beginners who are starting a company or thinking about it. If you love books with lots of useful stories, case studies, and real-life examples from companies that changed the world, this is the book for you.

Simon Sinek quote

  • Instead of trying to sell your product with features, sell your product with values. Explain why your company exists and what it’s trying to achieve. People buy the why more than the what.
  • If you want to succeed, you’ve got to activate the limbic brain (i.e., the feeling part of our brain). Emotions sell harder than facts.
  • In every society, there are innovators and early adopters of wildly successful products. These are the die-hard fans who accept new trends. Afterward follow the mainstream and laggards who arrive late to the party.

#2: The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman

The Personal MBA business book

Looking to pack down an entire business degree into one small book? The Personal MBA aims to do just that. Now, this book probably won’t replace an entire business degree, but it does contain lots of essential information for business beginners.

If you have no idea where to start or what a business even is, this book is great to help you understand basic business principles.

  • When this was published, an MBA degree student had an average debt of $41,687, yet there is no correlation between long-term career success and having an MBA.
  • Follow your dreams or follow the money? The answer is both. You’re more likely to stay with a passionate project, but you also need to focus on a business that can be profitable.
  • Past performance is the best predictor of future performance. So, check a new applicant’s employment history, and don’t assume they will change in the future.

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

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

Goodreads score: 4.24

Do you really want to be the CEO of a company? You might be imagining sipping coconuts on the beach à la 4-Hour Workweek. Think again. In The Hard Thing , Ben Horowitz pulls you back down to reality by explaining how the job of CEO isn’t all glitz and glam—and how it is one of the toughest and loneliest jobs in the world.

  • The life of a CEO is hard. They face The Struggle. To make it easier, try to get as many people involved as possible so you don’t face it alone. You also need to have focus and see the solutions, while avoiding the hazards and potential failures.
  • Don’t try to hide bad news. Discussing news with your team and being honest helps fix the problem sooner.
  • Hire people for their strengths, not their weaknesses. Place your people where they will excel and show their skills.

The 3 Best Books For Female Entrepreneurs

Calling all female entrepreneurs , aspiring businesswomen, and future female leaders! Did you know that there are only 33 women CEOs in the Fortune 500? Now, I know that number is rising, but it’s far off from being equal. As a woman entrepreneur, I know how hard it is to swim in an ocean of male sharks. Here are the books that can inspire you to take your business beyond greatness:

#1: Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

Goodreads score: 3.64

What makes a great business leader? Talent? Performance? Vision? Those may play a role, but the ultimate trait, according to Linda and Robin in Grit to Great , is grit. Grit is what makes you work at 2 a.m. while everyone else in the house is fast asleep. And grit is what makes dreams become reality.

Linda Kaplan Thaler quote

  • Hard work will get you far, but simply daydreaming will not. That’s why hard work beats out talent most of the time.
  • At some point, it’s better to just go in and start doing instead of waiting around.
  • To be successful, you must face failure and learn from your experience.

#2: Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis

Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis

Goodreads score: 3.90

This book takes you on a wild ride chock-full of motivation, humor, and a firm but warm wake-up call if you’re slacking in business. Girl, Stop Apologizing is filled with empowerment and sets you in the right direction. It’s not strictly business, but a good overall approach to life and the mindset you need to achieve business success.

  • Women often neglect their dreams because we are raised to be a good wife or mother.
  • “Mommy guilt” is the expectation women feel to forgo their own passions to instead raise a family or care for others.
  • Learn to plan, have confidence, be persistent, and be effective to achieve your goals.

#3: #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

Goodreads score: 3.67

Sophia Amoruso isn’t just a girl boss… she’s one helluva badass. As a high school dropout who used to shoplift to a now-CEO of a multimillion-dollar business, in #GIRLBOSS , Sophia recounts her life lessons and how she paved the road to her entrepreneurial success. This is truly a zero-to-hero story and one I’ve read a couple times already!

  • People are different. Whether you’re introverted or extroverted , you’ve got to leverage your skills to find the career path for you.
  • Don’t be afraid of being a wanderer. Try different jobs to take advantage of new opportunities, and revel in being an unconventional woman.
  • Creative people aren’t just creative. They can be business oriented, too. Learn to balance your creativity and business to flourish.

The 3 Best Books for Starting a Business

Haven’t started your business yet? Looking to find the best way to do it? Look no further. These are the books that helped me rev my business to life. Without them, I would have spent a LOT of time with trial and error. Here are the books that will give you a blueprint to success:

#1: Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis

Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis

Goodreads score: 3.97

I read this book recently, and WOW has it changed my opinion on business. This book is for all the small business owners out there. The reality is: you don’t need a big business to succeed. You don’t need to be Google, or Apple, or Tesla.

The real winners are those business owners that can define their own success—and if you’ve got a small team like me, that’s great! You’ll find tons of value in Company of One .

Paul Jarvis quote

  • Companies of one should always question growth. They should leverage productivity and find innovative ways to scale without hiring more employees. After all, you are the only person who cares the most about your company.
  • Resilience is a key trait that leads to success. Resilient people accept reality and don’t engage in wishful thinking. They have a sense of purpose, motivated by more than just money. And they are adaptable. They change if their environment changes.
  • 74% of businesses failed because they scaled too quickly. Extra people simply turns into more meetings and less productivity.

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

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

Goodreads score: 4.03

If you’re on the cusp of starting a business, The E-Myth Revisited is a great read to help you avoid some of the pitfalls you might face. And after reading this book, I realized there are a LOT of pitfalls that most business owners don’t think about, including me! The dollars I spent on this book were SO well worth it—I probably saved thousands from what I learned were absolute killers in the business world.

Here’s what you should know…

  • One million small businesses are founded in America each year, but 80% of them fail in the first 5 years.
  • A big mistake is letting quality slip as the business grows. During this adolescent stage, many businesses’ quality goes down as free time diminishes. Successful businesses plan out what the future would be like if the owner weren’t there.
  • Try operating in a franchise business model—with a franchise, everything works perfectly without the owner’s presence. Imagine you build a business so simple it can be operated by virtually anyone.

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

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

Goodreads score: 4.17

Zero to One is a supermotivating book that promotes the idea that ANYONE can make a startup. However, to help you make a startup that actually succeeds, Peter outlines tips and tricks from startups that worked.

Oh yeah, and Peter’s also a co-founder of Paypal. So he’s got a little credibility, too.

  • Thinking outside the box is a critical skill. Instead of thinking how you can produce lots of phones and distribute them worldwide, think of how you can build a new, future-forward phone from the existing model. This kind of thinking is unconventional yet needed.
  • Monopolies are good—they actually show that companies are doing something right. If your product is the best, it might have a monopoly on all other products.
  • Keep innovating. Find the secrets that make your product a winner, and keep chasing those secrets. As soon as you stop, your competitors will find those secrets, instead.

The 3 Best Business Management Books

#1: good to great: why some companies make the leap…and others don’t by jim collins.

 Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't by Jim Collins

If you’re looking for hard examples of companies that made it, look no further than Good to Great . I love this book because it showed me what it takes to transform an average company into a great one. What are the key factors that make a successful company? Read on…

Jim Collins Quote

  • To become a great company, find what your company can be the best in the world at, what you can be passionate about, and the key economic indicator to focus on.
  • Leverage technology only if it helps you push toward your goals. Don’t pursue technology as a goal itself.
  • The right people are key to a great company. Hiring the wrong people will make your company suffer.

#2: EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches by Dave Ramsey

EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches by Dave Ramsey

Goodreads score: 4.21

Are you a small business owner, or plan to be one? If you’re limited on time, I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s book. EntreLeadership takes you on a journey of how Dave sets up his managerial systems and designs the exact type of company he wants. He literally took a business from nothing and built it to over 600 people.

It’s superuseful if you’re planning to be a leader or manager in business!

  • Great EntreLeaders have specific, clear goals and small steps to take along the way to achieve them.
  • Create a daily to-do list to control your time, and prioritize it to concentrate on the items that will make a difference.
  • If your marketing isn’t working, try changing it. A good strategy is an ongoing process, so if something doesn’t work once, tweak it until it does.

#3: High Output Management by Andrew S. Grove

Best business books for entrepreneurs High Output Management by Andrew S. Grove

Goodreads score: 4.33

An oldie but goodie, High Output Management is perfect for managers. It’s also written by the former CEO of Intel, which speaks volumes about the tips you’re about to read. If you want to dive into the responsibilities of managers and how to motivate your team to work at their peak performance, you owe yourself the favor of reading this book.

  • You may hate meetings, but they are essential. There are 3 kinds of meetings, and each meeting has a sole purpose depending on the situation.
  • When making a decision, always consult your team first. Make sure to create a supportive environment where people feel free to talk and may share information they otherwise wouldn’t give.
  • Motivating and training employees is a big responsibility for the boss. Training should be an ongoing process; people constantly need training to sharpen their skills.

Can Reading Make You Rich?

Thomas C. Corley, author of Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals , conducted a 5-year-long study, researching the daily habits of 177 self-made millionaires.

And yes, millionaires definitely read.

88% of rich people “devote thirty minutes or more each day to self-education or self-improvement reading.” Also, most millionaires don’t read to be entertained (sorry, Harry Potter fans!).

“The rich read to acquire or maintain knowledge,” Thomas said.

This means reading relevant books that will build your skill repertoire or further you in your specific industry. Thomas also found that millionaires tended to read 3 types of books:

  • biographies of successful people
  • self-help or personal development books
  • history books

Luckily, business books fall into the second category.

Without reading, I wouldn’t have made it to where I am today. And without reading, these successful people likely wouldn’t have made it, either:

  • Warren Buffett, who devotes 80% of his daily time to reading
  • Mark Cuban, who reads 3 hours a day
  • Bill Gates, who reads 50 books a year

And remember, while reading the right books can make you rich, what’s more important is action.

Vanessa van Edwards quote on business books

So, what are you reading to help your success? And do you have a favorite business book? Let me know where you are in your reading journey in the comments below!

Popular Guides

4 thoughts on “the 18 best business books for entrepreneurs (2024)”.

best books for business planning

Hi Vanessa! I can see how much that “Influence” book is loved and read and read over and over from the look of the cover! I love all the suggestions in the video. I have a few book recs for you! “Dig the well before you’re thirsty” by Harvey Mackay – it’s about networking. “10% Happier” by Dan Harris,

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The 10 Best Books for Writing a Business Plan

  • Ivaylo Durmonski
  • Reading Lists

There are a lot of insightful thoughts around the concept of planning. In a sense, planning helps you forecast the “weather” of your business. Prepares you for what might happen. And distance you, hopefully, further away from your business going to dust. Most importantly, it allows you to think about the type of tasks you should focus on doing today. Do we know how to plan our business if we’re not business owners , though?

There is nothing wrong with having a regular job.

A lot of people are doing it.

Theoretically, since we’re born. We enter a sophisticated system of government-operated institutions that aim to spit us out after approximately 20 years, ready to help someone else grow his dream business.

You’re thought -sort of – how to plan your career. But you’re never thought how to plan your business.

Regardless of your current situation. The idea of starting a business or learning basic business skills will surely reach your mind at some point.

If you’re still not sure whether or not this is something you can achieve on your own. The business books mentioned below are specifically selected to boost your planning skills.

These books, of course, primarily serve business owners or people that are dreaming of becoming such.

Yet, these reads will definitely expand your horizon even if you don’t plan on starting your own thing right now. They will give you a perspective that will force you to think long term – the best way of thinking.

The 10 Best Books for Writing a Business Plan:

1. the goal by eliyahu goldratt, 2. the one page business plan for the creative entrepreneur by jim horan, 3. mind your business by ilana griffo, 4. business plan template and example by alex genadinik, 5. the best-laid business plans by paul barrow, 6. smart business by ming zeng, 7. measure what matters by john e. doerr, 8. your next five moves by patrick bet-david, 9. business model generation by alexander osterwalder, 10. playing to win by a.g. lafley.

The Goal by Elliot Goldratt cover

What’s the book about?

The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt is a novel. A fascinating story that describes the life of a business owner who is facing a series of obstacles that, if not handled well, will lead to a catastrophic ending of the company he is running. Mr. Goldratt presents this fictional business environment to teach us an important lesson: That the speed of a convoy is determined by the slowest ship.

Who is it for?

Especially interesting for people who already own businesses but are struggling to grow. For people who can’t adequately articulate what is wrong with what they are doing. Eliyahu Goldratt teaches us that we should observe a business as a series of systems . The faster the systems operate. The faster you’ll grow. To speed up this process, first, you need to identify the weakest link and improve upon the process.

Thought-Provoking Quote:

“Since the strength of the chain is determined by the weakest link, then the first step to improve an organization must be to identify the weakest link.” Eliyahu M. Goldratt

Get the book | Read my summary

The One Page Business Plan for the Creative Entrepreneur by Jim Horan book cover

In this book, Jim Horan compiles his years of experience as a Fortune 500 executive and business consultant. The pages will help you quickly form a simple business plan based on the most successful companies in the world. The book goes through the 5 stages every organization hoping to make a profit from their products and/or services needs: Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies, Action.

This resource is great for people just starting their online or offline venture. Folks who are considering the idea of starting a business but are not quite sure what to do first. The One Page Business Plan For Creative Entrepreneur will show you the exact steps you need to begin your entrepreneurial journey.

Get the book

Mind Your Business by Ilana Griffo book cover

This long-winded title is here to show you how to start a business from scratch. Ilana Griffo, the author, shares her journey on how she started her side hustle which eventually become a six-figure design studio. A lot of readers describe this title as everything you need to learn about being your own boss. Of course, it all starts with planning.

Great book for anyone dreaming about starting a creative project both online and/or offline. The honest tips and the real-world insights will show you exactly what you need to do. How to start and how to plan your day. The book is the perfect companion that will be your guide in your money-making journey.

Business Plan Template And Example by Alex Genadinik book cover

Simply put, this title will help you create a professional business plan. The author even boasts that you will do the planning in minutes. Not that you should rush. But the included exercises and the questions Alex Genadinik is asking in the book will help you think critically about your overall structure and the products you will be creating – or refining if you already have existing goods.

The program presented in this title is used by a number of universities to teach students how to plan better. As stated in the description, the book… “will help you identify the most effective business strategies for your situation.” You will start by writing a short 3-sentence business plan which will focus you on what’s truly important.

“Product: What is the product or service? What benefit does it provide and to whom? Can you make it inexpensively and of high quality? What form will it take? Website? App? Brick and mortar business? Marketing: Identify a few of the most effective marketing strategies to promote your business Finances: What are the major sources of revenue? How will this happen profitably? When will you achieve financial sustainability? Do you need to raise money for this? How much?” Alex Genadinik

The Best-Laid Business Plans by Paul Barrow book cover

The first book I read on business planning. Foreword by Richard Branson. This title is dated, but still adequate even though everything is happening online these days. The text will teach you the most important ideas around planning a business. It’s full of case studies about different projects and ideas. The author carefully explains how to present your business plan to others in a way that everyone will get.

This book will explain in a simple way why it’s essential and how you should approach the subject of planning in general. The ideas inside are great for people who are looking to raise money or get approval from seniors for their proposed course of action. Also, if you’re still not convinced that you need planning, this book will surely change your perspective.

Smart Business by Ming Zeng book cover

Written by Ming Zeng, the former Chief of Staff and strategy adviser to Alibaba Group’s founder Jack Ma. This book presents a framework that will help business owners create a winning future strategy for their companies. The titles reveal some of the revolutionary practices Alibaba developed to rapidly increase efficiency.

We commonly read about what Google is doing or about what other Silicon Valley unicorns are working on. It’s a good idea to take a fresh eastern perspective on how to operate your business. Smart Business will show you how to use cutting-edge technologies to plan and scale your business.

Measure What Matters by John E. Doerr book cover

Measure What Matter will teach you how to use Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) as an approach to make decisions in business. The legendary John Doerr has helped some of the best companies in the world to scale and exceed their yearly goals by using this simple method.

With time, every owner begins to collect all kinds of data to measure whether or not his project is succeeding. Sadly, many entrepreneurs end up being fixated on the wrong things. This book will explain what you need to measure and why. Helping you focus on the right things so you can reach explosive growth.

“We must realize—and act on the realization—that if we try to focus on everything, we focus on nothing.” John Doerr

Your Next Five Moves by Patrick Bet-David book cover

In short, this book is about figuring out what you should do next. Taking a holistic view of your business is always a good way to think about where you plan to go. Occasionally, though, you also need to think and plan about what you should do right now – planning your next few moves. The steps inside this title will help you gain clarity on what you really want, who you want to be, and what to do to get these things.

For those who are not only working on businesses, but in business as well. Patrick Bet-David explains how to not let emotions cloud your judgment. How to switch from a broad view of your business to a narrower view. Essentially, the lessons inside will help you identify your true self. Understand who you want to be and where you want to go, both in your life and in your business.

“Your vision must align with who you want to be. Your choices must align with your vision. Your effort must align with the size of your vision. Your behavior must align with your values and principles.” Patrick Bet-David

Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder book cover

Full of visual elements, Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers will help you soak up the knowledge and figure out your own business model. This is not your regular book where you’ll be presented with a wall of text. The title is full of infographics and design elements that will prompt you to actively work on defining your business plan and your strategy.

I’d say that this book is for people who are kind of tired of the traditional corporate-heavy jargon that is usually part of business literature. This title combines useful information and presents it in an easily digestible matter that will surely increase your comprehension and your participation when using the material.

“People are moved more by stories than by logic. Ease listeners into the new or unknown by building the logic of your model into a compelling narrative.” Alexander Osterwalder

Playing to Win by A.G. Lafley book cover

Written by a long-standing Procter & Gamble Chairman and CEO, this book might seem a bit dry for your taste. Well, it surely is. Rarely anyone below CEO will relate to the mentioned examples. Yet, this read will change the way you think about your business. You’ll become more strategic with your daily decisions. You will become better at identifying what to do and what not to do.

Great companies do not become great by accident. They become great thanks to the strategic choices they make. Even if you don’t end up getting the book, simply consider the title for a moment: “Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works”. Now, ask yourself, are you playing to win, or are you simply playing? This question alone will disturb your current processes and assist you in finding the best course of action for your business.

“The heart of strategy is the answer to two fundamental questions: where will you play, and how will you win there?” A.G. Lafley

Some Closing Thoughts

Business planning is important for various reasons.

Not only you’ll get clarity on where you’ll want to go. But you will also set a to-do list that will portray how to get to where you want.

More specifically, conducting a business plan will force you to think about what type of business you want to create. Understand your core motivators. Help you find your unique proposition and how you are different from the rest of the businesses out there.

I’ve hand-picked the selection of business books above so you can plan better. Of course, you don’t need to read all of the titles. Usually one or two from the list is enough to get you moving in the right direction.

If you’re looking for more reads on the topic. Make sure to check my must-read business books list. Or, the selection of books on how to start a business (plus my business book summaries ).

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The 10 Best Books I Read in 2020

  • The 20 Best Entrepreneurship Books to Start, Grow & Run a Successful Business

Best Books on Entrepreneurship Cover

Following your passion while making a profit – that is the dream. Every year, millions of people become entrepreneurs in hopes of getting paid to do what they love.

Unfortunately, around half of all newly minted business owners fail within the first five years . What’s more, at least one in four must fail before eventually succeeding, which takes at least three years on average . How can you make sure you make it the first time around?

Starting a business  requires taking risk, staying grounded, and facing many challenges. It can be our biggest struggle, but seeing our products make the world a better place can also be our greatest reward.

At Four Minute Books, we’ve summarized over 1,000 books , hundreds of them about entrepreneurship. Along the way, we’ve learned a few lessons, and we’ve discovered which ones are most worth spending your precious time on.

Want a list of just the 5 very best entrepreneurship books ever to not waste time and learn only from the greatest? Download our free PDF, print it, and start your entrepreneurial journey right away. Or save it for later and read it whenever you want!

Being an entrepreneur is not the easiest job in the world, but if you want to learn the secrets of being a great founder or successful self-employed freelancer, this list of the 20 best entrepreneurship books is a good start.

Each book in this list contains our favorite quote, three takeaways, and a one-sentence summary. Scroll down a bit more, and you’ll find our main argument for why and when you might want to read the book. Use the handy table of contents below to jump to any section or book that seems particularly interesting to you.

Let’s hop right into the secrets of entrepreneurship!

Table of Contents

1. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

2. zero to one by peter thiel, 3. the hard thing about hard things by ben horowitz, 4. the $100 startup by chris guillebeau, 5. the e-myth revisited by michael e. gerber, 6. crush it by gary vaynerchuk, 7. the art of the start by guy kawasaki, 8. the power of broke by daymond john, 9. rework by jason fried, 10. crushing it by gary vaynerchuk, 11. business model generation by alexander osterwalder, yves pigneur, 12. the four steps to the epiphany by steve blank, 13. built to sell by john warrillow, 14. business adventures by john brooks, 15. entreleadership by dave ramsey, 16. winners take all by anand giridharadas, 17. founders at work by jessica livingston, 18. think and grow rich by napoleon hill, 19. arise, awake by rashmi bansal, 20. losing my virginity by richard branson, other book lists by topic, other book lists by author, best books on entrepreneurship overall, favorite quote.

“The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.” — Eric Ries

The Book in One Sentence

The Lean Startup offers both entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs a semi-scientific, real-world approach to building a business by using validation, finding a profitable business model and creating a growth engine.

Why should you read it?

Are all start-ups prone to failure? Or are all the failures caused by some mistakes which can be easily prevented? According to Eric Ries, a startup deals with a wave of uncertainty, indeed, and business plans might not be the key to make things run smoothly. This book gives a scientific approach to the proper management of a startup, mostly by making use of innovation.

Key Takeaways

  • Find a business model that works through validation.
  • Use split-testing to tell value from waste.
  • Never ever indulge in vanity metrics.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.

“Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius.” — Peter Thiel

Zero To One is an inside look at Peter Thiel’s philosophy and strategy for making your startup a success by looking at the lessons he learned from founding and selling PayPal, investing in Facebook and becoming a billionaire in the process.< /em>

You might think that we know everything by now and that there isn’t much to create at this point. That all the greatest inventions have appeared by now. And this is where you might be wrong: entrepreneur Peter Thiel confirms that there are still countless ways for us to create something new. And all this can be done by making use of your power and asking the right questions in order to come up with the next innovation.

  • The biggest leaps in progress are vertical, not horizontal.
  • Monopolies are good, for both business and society.
  • Founders need a vision to take their business from zero to one.
“The only thing that prepares you to run a company is running a company” — Ben Horowitz

The Hard Thing About Hard Things is an inside look at the tough decisions and lonely times all CEOs face, before showing you what it takes to build a great organization and become a world-class leader.

It’s great to have your own business, indeed. Truth be told, though, it is rather hard to have a business and run it properly. Ben Horowitz provides us with key anecdotes in this book, derived from his success – which was not as easy to obtain, as people might think. Getting straight to the point, this book will answer all the questions you might have, no matter if you already have a business of your own or if you are thinking about starting one.

  • The CEO should be the first one to shout when shit hits the fan.
  • There are 2 types of CEOs.
  • Great CEOs must learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” — Chris Guillebeau

The $100 Startup shows you how to break free from the shackles of 9 to 5 by combining your passion and skills into your own microbusiness, which you can start for $100 or less, yet still turn into a full time income, thanks to the power of the internet.

It’s important nowadays to live a life full of meaning and purpose, but what is also important is to earn a good living. This book is filled with key principles that will help you figure out exactly what it is that you have to do to live your life the way you want. And the best part about it is that it doesn’t get lost in generalities which might not give you the insight you need.

  • Passion is only 1/3 of the equation, you also need skills and customers.
  • If you want your passion to be more than a hobby, focus on income and costs.
  • Keep your plans simple, because action beats them every time.
“If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business – you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic!” — Michael E. Gerber

The E-Myth Revisited explains why 80% of small businesses fail, and how to ensure yours isn’t among those by building a company that’s based on systems and not on the work of a single individual.

Do you want to know how to grow your business productively? Michael Gerber has the answer for you in this book and walks you through all the steps you need to take in a business. And it is all sharp insight from his own experience, which will help you deconstruct all the myths regarding the way one should work when it comes to business.

  • Having great technical skills does not mean you know how to run a business.
  • Imagine your business as a nationwide franchise from day one, then build the first store.
  • The franchise approach makes sure you build a business based on systems, not people.

Best Books on Entrepreneurship for Beginners

“There no longer has to be a difference between who you are and what you do.” ― Gary Vaynerchuk

Crush It is the blueprint you need to turn your passion into your profession and will give you the tools to turn yourself into a brand, leverage social media, produce great content and reap the financial benefits of it.

What would you do if you could transform your dream or hobby into something that could earn you money? This book gives you valuable insight into how you can turn your interests into a successful business, just by making use of the power of the Internet. And all of this by taking it step by step, in a world where both the Internet and the technological aspects are a very important part of our lives.

  • In order to profit from your passion, you have to turn yourself into a brand.
  • Pick a medium that fits you to tell stories people want to hear.
  • Always be authentic in your content.
“Positioning should be about what you do for your customers – not about what you want to become.” — Guy Kawasaki

The Art Of The Start is your guide to beginning a company and explains everything from getting the right people on board to writing a winning business plan and building your brand.

Sometimes, it just takes an idea to put together something new – and that requires having enough will to keep going, against all odds. If you feel like your idea might be hard to be transformed into action, this book will provide you with all the advice you need to keep going, all of it coming from nearly two decades of the author’s experience.

  • Your first goal as an entrepreneur must be to create meaning, not make money.
  • Prepare your Milestones, Assumptions, and Tasks to have direction and purpose right from the start.
  • Set yourself up for success by creating a business plan.

Best Books on Entrepreneurship With Minimal Resources

“Being broke is temporary but poverty of mind is permanent.” — Daymond John

The Power Of Broke shows you how to leverage having no money into an advantage in business by compensating it with creativity, passion and authenticity.

If desperate minds mean desperate measures, then innovation should also be added – because this is exactly what Daymond John did. What started as being a simple idea, ended up becoming a global phenomenon, and all of this while he was broke. This book tells you that sometimes, you just need to have a little bit of hope and to do your best to achieve success – who knows when the perfect opportunity might come knocking.

  • If you have no money, you’ll automatically find resources others don’t look for.
  • The power of broke helps in all four stages of growing a business.
  • Starting a business gets easier by the day, so start now.
“When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.” — Jason Fried

Rework shows you that you need less than you think to start a business – way less – by explaining why plans are actually harmful, how productivity isn’t a result from working long hours and why hiring and seeking investors should be your absolute last resort.

Do you feel like all the old advice business books give you is not really what you need to kickstart your own business? What if there was an easier and better way to succeed in business, that didn’t involve writing down endless business plans, for example? This book makes use of an easy way to understand the approach and shows you the way towards not only productivity but also inspiration. Are you up for the challenge?

  • Take a stand for something you believe in and then pick a fight with an incumbent.
  • Screw big corporate marketing, stay honest, personal and nimble.
  • Don’t let long hours and meetings prevail, they actually hurt productivity.
“If you’re not 100 percent happy with your life today, it is never a waste of time to try something that could get you there.” — Gary Vaynerchuk

Crushing It is Gary Vaynerchuk’s follow-up to his personal branding manifesto Crush It, in which he reiterates the importance of a personal brand and shows you the endless possibilities that come with building one today.

Your brand is important nowadays, and you have to make use of that to be successful. And you can do that by making use of social media – Gary introduces us to those secrets in this practical guide, where he put together several experiences of people who have followed their dream and got exactly where they wanted to be.

  • You don’t need a product to monetize a personal brand.
  • A solid social media presence is built on seven principles.
  • Don’t overthink creating content, just document your journey.

Best Books on Entrepreneurship Strategy

Best Entrepreneurship Books 19

“Companies should focus on one of three value disciplines: operational excellence, product leadership, or customer intimacy.” — by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur

Business Model Generation teaches you how to start your own company by explaining the details of matching your customer’s needs with your product’s capabilities, managing finances, and everything else involved in the planning stages of entrepreneurship.

How would you describe your thinking when it comes to how businesses should be handled? Are you more oriented towards the “traditional” way or are you seeking modern solutions? This book makes use of practical examples that will help anyone in terms of improving their business models, regardless of their approach.

  • Market channels, value propositions, and customer groups are the basis for a good business model.
  • You need to know your customer’s relationship with you, how money is coming in, and what physical things that you need to run your company.
  • Plan for what you’ll do from day to day, who you’re going to work with, and what your cost structure will be.
“All new companies and new products begin with an almost mythological vision – a hope of what could be, with a goal few others can see.” — Steve Blank

The Four Steps To The Epiphany shows startups how to plan for and achieve success by giving examples of companies that failed and outlining the path they need to take to flourish.

Do you want a book that gives you simple, yet concrete examples in regards to how businesses work? Not all startups become successful immediately – and this book proves it. This simple, step-by-step guide could become essential to you, as it gives you useful insight into how you should organize all parts of your business for your startup to succeed, rather than fail.

  • Don’t fall into the trap of treating your startup like you would a big business.
  • Find your market type first, then base your strategy around it.
  • Early adopters are more important to consider when designing your product than the mainstream market.

Best Entrepreneurship Books 17

“Don’t be afraid to say no to projects. Prove that you’re serious about specialization by turning down work that falls outside your area of expertise. The more people you say no to, the more referrals you’ll get to people who need your product or service.” — John Warrillow

Built To Sell shows you how to become a successful entrepreneur by explaining the steps necessary to grow a small service company and one day sell it.

Is there any mistake entrepreneurs make when they start their business? According to John Warrillow, there is one mistake that might cost them more than they could ever imagine, and he presents this mistake under the form of a fictional small business, which has to be sold. Are you curious to see what happens to the business? You should probably find the nearest library and check it out!

  • You will be more successful in business if you specialize in one service.
  • If you’d like to one day sell your company, you as a founder need to work to make sure that you’re replaceable.
  • Don’t rely on one big client, it’s risky and makes your business less attractive to those that may buy it.

Best Entrepreneurship Books 20

“I don’t think money makes much difference, as long as you have enough.” — John Brooks

Business Adventures will teach you how to run a company, invest in the stock market, change jobs, and many other things by sharing some of the most interesting experiences that big companies and their leaders have had over the last century.

How do you run a company? If all businesses are different, why are some things so similar? Making use of stories about Wall Street, John Brooks has put together a reportage that looks at the history of some of the biggest disasters that have taken place on the American market. Is history bound to repeat itself, if people don’t learn from their mistakes?

  • The three-day stock market crash and recovery of 1962 showed the world how irrational and unpredictable it is.
  • If you want to know how not to launch a product, look to the example of the Ford Edsel.
  • Having trade secrets doesn’t make it impossible for you to get a new job thanks to Donald Wohlgemuth.

Best Books on Entrepreneurship Culture

Best Entrepreneurship Books 15

“If you as a leader allow people to halfway do their jobs and don’t demand excellence as a prerequisite to keeping their job, you will create a culture of mediocrity.” — Dave Ramsey

EntreLeadership provides you with a path to becoming a great leader in your company by identifying the necessary management and entrepreneurial skills.

We have all heard of a successful business that started in a garage or in a rather normal place. This informative guide gives you access to exactly that kind of story: from just a card table to a multimillion-dollar company. The advice in this book will get you even through the toughest of times, for both businesses and their leaders.

  • The most successful heads of new companies combine the skills of an entrepreneur and a leader.
  • To create a lucrative business, work on your marketing strategy.
  • You get hardworking and loyal employees when you give generous salaries and bonuses.

Best Entrepreneurship Books 16

“There is no denying that today’s elite may be among the more socially concerned elites in the history. But it is also, by the cold logic of numbers, among the more predatory in history.” — Anand Giridharadas

Winners Take All helps you see the ultra-rich in a more accurate light by identifying their shady strategies, including using the idea of “making the world a better place” as a front that only serves as a way to solidify their wealth and power.

What does social justice have to do with entrepreneurs? Anand Giridharadas surprises us with this challenging book, by putting into perspective how improvements are not accessible to everyone. Small businesses end up fighting against monopolies and have to deal with a system where it might just be easier to deny certain benefits. So, how do we make the world a better place, for businesses and people?

  • The elite control social progress, which we think is happening for our benefit but really only benefits them.
  • Inequality is rampant because the “win-win” attitude of the ultra-rich is actually a lie to cover up their plans to only look out for themselves.
  • Powerful people often deny their influence, which ironically just cements their status even further.
“I’d say determination is the single most important quality in a startup founder. If the founders I spoke with were superhuman in any way, it was in their perseverance.” — Jessica Livingston

Founders At Work shows you how to start a successful business based on the principles of the founders of some of the world’s most famous and accomplished startups.

If you are looking for a book that is not necessarily a guide, then this book might just be what you are looking for. Containing a collection of interviews with people who are currently living their dream, this book answers all the questions one might have: how it all started and how it is all going. Are you curious to see what makes a startup successful?

  • Starting with an idea is good, but having a talented team is best.
  • Too much investor money can actually hurt a startup initiative.
  • Creating something of real value to others requires listening to your customers.

Best Books on Entrepreneurship Motivation

“The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.” — Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich is a curation of the 13 most common habits of wealthy and successful people, distilled from studying over 500 individuals over the course of 20 years.

A worldwide bestseller, this book is not just about ways in which you can become rich, as the title would suggest. It is about learning that each day is a new opportunity and both success and abundance come from how you think. If you want to learn about the ropes of success, this might just be the book for you.

  • Use autosuggestion to build an unshakable belief in yourself.
  • Be stubborn and always stick to your decisions.
  • Join a Mastermind group to cut the learning curve.

Best Entrepreneurship Books 18

“In any line of business, there is a steep learning curve. Like a pilgrim, you must climb that mountain with faith and fortitude – there is no ‘helicopter’ service.” — Rashmi Bansal

Arise, Awake will inspire you to move forward with your entrepreneurial dreams by sharing the inspirational stories of six Indian entrepreneurs and the lessons they learned on the path to success.

What would you say is the perfect age to start your own business? Should you be older, or younger? If you are still not convinced about your answer, then this book might give you a little bit of clarity, by presenting you with the stories of six entrepreneurs who have gone against the odds and started something of their own.

  • Pay attention to serendipitous experiences, they are great sources for your entrepreneurial desires to flourish.
  • If your first business idea fails, don’t give up, your experience is vital to making your next venture succeed.
  • Determination combined with thinking outside of the box will help you start your business even when it seems impossible to do.
“Most “necessary evils” are far more evil than necessary.” — Richard Branson

Losing My Virginity details Richard Branson’s meteoric rise to success and digs into what made him the adventurous, fun-loving, daring entrepreneur he is today and what lessons you can learn about business from him.

If you are interested in an autobiography, then Richard Branson has written the perfect book for you. A very unusual approach to business has brought Richard a success that many might have doubted: whenever someone said “don’t do it”, he would do it. Filled with major lessons, this book will keep you going, even when things seem impossible to deal with.

  • Don’t feel bad if you haven’t been born and bred as an entrepreneur.
  • Always look out for the next thing, but take it one adventure at a time.
  • The number one skill you should practice is creativity.

We believe that these 20 titles are the best books about entrepreneurship. Start by reading the one most relevant to you, then go from there. 

Most of us dream about living a life in which we make our own rules. But are we ready to take responsibility for the things that will go wrong along the way? When you’re an entrepreneur, the buck stops with you. Ultimately, you’re the one in charge. You’ll need commitment and perseverance to make things happen, but even if the road will be rocky in the beginning, that doesn’t mean you should give up.

Do you have what it takes? Whatever you feel might be missing, discover it in one of the books on our list. Learn how to be an entrepreneur, and make your dreams come true!

Looking for more of the best books on various topics? Here are all the book lists we’ve made for you so far:

  • The 60 Best Business Books of All Time (Will Forever Change How You Think About Organizations)
  • The 14 Best Finance Books of All Time
  • The 21 Best Habit Books of All Time to Change Any Behavior
  • The 33 Best Happiness Books of All Time That Everyone Should Read
  • The 60 Best History Books of All Time (to Read at Any Age)
  • The 7 Best Inspirational Books That Will Light Your Inner Fire
  • The 40 Best Leadership Books of All Time to Help You Become a Truly Inspiring Person
  • The 31 Best Motivational Books Ever Written
  • The 12 Best Nonfiction Books Most People Have Never Heard Of
  • The 35 Best Philosophy Books to Live Better and Become a Great Thinker
  • The 34 Best Psychology Books That Will Make You Smarter and Happier
  • The 25 Best Sales Books of All Time to Help You Close Any Deal
  • The 33 Best Self-Help Books of All Time to Read at Any Age
  • The 22 Best Books About Sex & Sexuality to Improve Your Love Life & Relationships
  • The 30 Most Life-Changing Books That Will Shift Your Perspective & Stay With You Forever

Looking for more books by the world’s most celebrated authors? Here are all of the book lists by the author we’ve curated for you:

  • All Brené Brown Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)
  • Jordan Peterson Books: All Titles in Order of Publication + The 5 Top Books He Recommends
  • All Malcolm Gladwell Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)
  • All Michael Pollan Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)
  • Peter Thiel Books: A Comprehensive List of Books By, About & Recommended by Peter Thiel
  • All Rachel Hollis Books: The Full List of Non-Fiction, Fiction & Cookbooks, Sorted by Popularity & the Best Reading Order
  • All Ray Dalio Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)
  • All Robert Greene Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)
  • All Ryan Holiday Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)
  • All Simon Sinek Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)
  • All Tim Ferriss Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)
  • All Walter Isaacson Books, Sorted Chronologically (and by Popularity)

Last Updated on September 3, 2023

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The 33 Best Business Books for Entrepreneurs in 2024

Books can cheer us up when we’re feeling sad, motivate us to make improvements, and teach us new skills. If you’re looking to put together an entrepreneurial reading list, here are the best business books to include.

best business books in 2023 hero art with green books

Reading regularly in adulthood helps you develop analytical skills, makes you a better communicator, stimulates the creative center of your brain, and strengthens your ability to recall information. Books can cheer you up when you’re feeling sad, motivate you to make improvements, and teach you new skills.

Skills like these can benefit just about everyone, but for entrepreneurs , the ability to analyze a situation, apply lessons learned, and come up with innovative solutions⁠ is crucial.

If you’re looking to put together an essential reading list for yourself, here are the best business books to include: 

33 of the best business books

  • Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
  • Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Chillpreneur: The New Rules for Creating Success, Freedom, and Abundance on Your Terms by Denise Duffield-Thomas
  • Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis
  • Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
  • How to Be an Overnight Success: Making It in Business by Maria Hatzistefanis
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
  • Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
  • Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
  • Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
  • Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss
  • Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
  • The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss
  • The Art of Learning by Joshua Waitzkin
  • The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
  • The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber
  • The End of Procrastination: How to Stop Postponing and Live a Fulfilled Life by Petr Ludwig and Adela Schicker
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
  • The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth by Clayton Christensen and Michael E. Raynor
  • The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
  • The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
  • The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller (with Jay Papasan)
  • The Ten-Day MBA: A Step-by-Step Guide to Mastering the Skills Taught in America’s Top Business Schools by Steven A. Silbiger
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss
  • Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters
  • Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard Rumelt
  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
  • The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

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

Goodreads rating: 4.4

In Atomic Habits , author, entrepreneur, and photographer James Clear offers his personal strategy for rapid self-improvement to anyone looking to change their habits . Clear’s expert analysis of habit formation lifts the veil on why bad habits persist, and offers a plan of action for stopping them. 

Atomic Habits business book cover and two reader reviews

He argues bad habits aren’t the result of an unwillingness to change but of a poor strategy for changing them. Atomic Habits offers a framework for understanding why our bad habits exist, and executing effective, practical strategies for changing them.

Clear’s guide covers inspiring stories along the way, from people who’ve used his strategies to build good habits, including Olympic gold medalists, business leaders, and stand-up comedians. Atomic Habits provides entrepreneurs with great inspiration, as well as practical guides to overcoming their bad habits.

Top quote: "Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity."

2. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinkingby Malcolm Gladwell

Goodreads rating: 3.9

In Blink , journalist and bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell draws on his knowledge in the fields of neuroscience and psychology to explore how we think without thinking . Decisions that are made in the blink of an eye aren’t as simple as they seem. 

Though decisions can be made quickly, they’re driven by complex cognitive processes. In Blink , Gladwell interviews a host of unique experts in decision-making⁠—from a tennis coach who’s able to predict a fault before a player’s racket hits the ball to antique experts able to spot a “fake” within a second.

Gladwell argues the best decision makers aren’t the people who give the most consideration to the decision, but those who have mastered the art of “thin-slicing”: a process where the few factors that matter are filtered out from an overwhelming number of variables instantly.

Top quote: "In life, most of us are highly skilled at suppressing action. All the improvisation teacher has to do is to reverse this skill and he creates very ‘gifted’ improvisers. Bad improvisers block action, often with a high degree of skill. Good improvisers develop action."

3. Chillpreneur: The New Rules for Creating Success, Freedom, and Abundance on Your Terms by Denise Duffield-Thomas

Goodreads rating: 4.3

Chillpreneur documents money mindset coach Denis Duffield-Thomas’s approach to business and finances. It guides you through identifying business models that work for your personality, how to get comfortable with marketing and self-promotion, and ideas for pricing and dealing with other uncomfortable money matters.

For entrepreneurs seeking a book to help them get on top of their cash flow while avoiding burnout, this is a great book to pick up. It’s full of practical and approachable advice with a friendly sense of humor.

Top quote: "Don’t reinvent the wheel! This is such a classic money block—the feeling that we have to work so hard that we have to reinvent the wheel every time."

4. Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis

Paul Jarvis is a successful solopreneur who shares his approach to business in Company of One . According to him, you don’t need to grow an empire and hire employees to have a thriving business. In fact, smaller businesses are often more fulfilling than big ones.

Jarvis talks about how one of the biggest advantages to being a business owner is you get to create a life of balance. And not only that, the lack of hierarchy and business politics makes you more efficient. Smart entrepreneurship isn’t necessarily big business—it’s better business.

Top quote: "There’s nothing wrong with finding the right size and then focusing on being better. Small can be a long-term plan, not just a stepping-stone."

5. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Goodreads rating: 4.1

Distraction is an issue so many people struggle with. In Deep Work , professor of computer science Cal Newport shares his insight on how to focus deeply on cognitively demanding tasks in a world filled with distractions.

Cover of best business book, Deep Work

Newport argues the ability to focus without distraction isn’t something people are born with⁠—it’s a skill that must be learned, practiced, and mastered. 

Deep Work offers readers Newport’s personal training regimen, which consists of four rules for practicing deep focus and building good habits. By reframing distraction as an opportunity rather than a burden, Newport offers critical advice to anyone looking for motivation.

Top quote: "To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction. Put another way, the type of work that optimizes your performance is deep work."

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

In  Good to Great , business management consultant Jim Collins describes how good companies make the transition into great ones, using case studies (both good and bad) of businesses that have succeeded in and failed to make the transition. 

Collins’ book is perfect for entrepreneurs looking to understand what gives successful businesses an inside edge. The insight offered by  Good to Great  has been praised by a number of CEOs, with several members of  The Wall Street Journal ’s CEO Council citing it as  the best management book they’ve read .

Top quote: "Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life."

7. How to Be an Overnight Success: Making It in Business by Maria Hatzistefanis

Goodreads rating: 3.7

In How to Be an Overnight Success , Maria Hatzistefanis shares her journey founding skin care brand Rodial . She talks about starting the company in her bedroom, growing it all on her own. She focused on developing her personal brand to build buzz and awareness, and then turned her audience onto her skin care products—eventually embarking on influencer marketing and celebrity collaborations with big names like Kyle Jenner and Jade Jagger.

Best book, How to Be an Overnight Success book cover

This isn’t just a business book about Maria’s story. She shares important lessons along the way, proving that anybody can replicate similar success on their own.

Top quote: "Success is about the relentless pursuit of what you want and hard work is an essential ingredient."

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

Goodreads rating: 4.2

Dale Carnegie was a writer and educator who, over the course of his long career, developed training courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, public speaking tips , and other interpersonal skills. 

Written in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People is considered a classic of the self-help genre and, with over 30 million copies sold, is one of the bestselling books of all time . Carnegie’s book was compiled with knowledge he’d gained in the decades he spent teaching business education courses. 

In it, Carnegie explores practical tips for relating to people, both in professional and personal life. He gives advice on making people like you, provides tips on persuading people to your way of thinking, and discusses how to gain respect as a leader without arousing resentment.

Top quote: "It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it."

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

Robert B. Cialdini is a professor of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University. In Influence , he explores the psychology behind persuasion and offers a practical framework for influencing people in the world of business and marketing. 

The cover of best business book, Influence

Cialdini argues that in a world filled with distractions, people rely on generalizations and assumptions to make decisions, rather than relying purely on evidence. Cialdini uses empirical studies conducted in the fields of psychology, marketing, economics, anthropology, and social science to make his arguments. 

Influence identifies six principles that guide human decision making , and gives real-world examples of how these principles can guide your decision making when trying to persuade others . The practical tools provided in Cialdini’s book make it one of the most useful marketing books , especially for aspiring entrepreneurs without a lot of business experience.

Top quote: "The truly gifted negotiator, then, is one whose initial position is exaggerated enough to allow for a series of concessions that will yield a desirable final offer from the opponent, yet is not so outlandish as to be seen as illegitimate from the start."

10. Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg penned Lean In as a book to empower women entrepreneurs and leaders in business. In the book , she talks about how women often hold themselves back and don’t allow themselves to pursue business and leadership opportunities. Backed by research and sprinkled with relatable narratives and stories, Lean In also includes actionable tips for women who want to excel in business.

Cover of business book, Lean In by Sheryl Sanberg

The book isn’t just for women, though. Sheryl also provides insight and advice for men looking to support women in business and leadership. It’s a must-read no matter your gender.

Top quote: "In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders."

11. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

Goodreads rating: 3.8

Seth Godin is a former business executive and a bestselling author who has been cited by Business Insider as one of the most influential thinkers in business . 

In Linchpin , Godin explores the concept of “linchpin” employees : innovative thinkers who are willing to break the rules and re-invent ways of getting things done. Godin argues linchpins are indispensable, and vital to any company that hopes to grow and thrive. 

Whether you’re a creator looking to understand what makes you a valuable asset or a business owner trying to figure out how to find valuable new hires, Linchpin offers crucial insight into understanding this phenomenon.

Top quote: "An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally."

12. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

Carol S. Dweck’s Mindset is packed with research exploring the psychology behind success not only in business but across all areas of life. She concludes people behave in a way that reflects the way they view their abilities. She offers two points of view, a “fixed mindset”—believing your abilities are fixed, or set in stone—and a “growth mindset”—believing your abilities can be developed and improved.

The book also dives into the idea of a false growth mindset. In other words, you might think you demonstrate a growth mindset, but the reality is you’re not developing skills like you think. Those who have a true growth mindset can not only achieve personal success more easily, but can also lead and inspire others to do the same.

Top quote: "No matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment."

13. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss

Chris Voss is a business professor, CEO of  Black Swan Group , and a former FBI hostage negotiator⁠—widely considered to be an expert in the psychology of persuasion .

Cover of best business book, Never Split the Difference

In Never Split the Difference , Voss reveals the strategies he’s used in his own career for approaching high-stakes negotiation. Voss explores how to build trust, overcome emotional obstacles, use empathy as a tool rather than a hindrance, and the language to use to communicate clearly. 

First-time entrepreneurs will need to enter into negotiations with their business partners , investors, employees, contractors, and all sorts of other stakeholders. Never Split the Difference offers tools and techniques for juggling all of the factors of negotiation.

Top quote: "If you approach a negotiation thinking the other guy thinks like you, you are wrong. That’s not empathy, that’s a projection."

14. Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Rework comes from Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp, and David Heinemeier Hansson, the programmer who invented the Ruby on Rails web development framework. 

Cover of business book, Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier

Fried and Hanson are both entrepreneurs with tech backgrounds who offer great advice for any business owner who might be an expert in their field but a beginner to the world of entrepreneurship. Rework tosses aside conventional business jargon and instead offers advice that’s concrete and straightforward. 

In this New York Times bestseller, Fried and Hanson present their readers with a variety of low-cost ways to grow their business, with lessons on increasing productivity , not getting bogged down by too much planning , and ways of getting exposure for your business without spending too much startup cash .

Top quote: "When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious."

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

In Start with Why , author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek examines the lives of great leaders, from Martin Luther King to Steve Jobs, and attempts to develop a common thread in the reason for their success, despite having very different goals and aspirations. 

Cover of best business book, Start with Why

His conclusion: the greatest leaders ask why . Why do customers buy from certain brands? Why are people loyal to some leaders and not others? Why do companies fail? Great leaders want to understand why things happen and do everything in their power to find the answer. 

Sinek draws on a range of real-life experiences, weaving together a clear vision of what it takes to lead and inspire others. His book is a great read for anyone looking to understand what it means to lead with confidence.

Top quotes: "Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them."

16. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss is an acclaimed entrepreneur, investor, author, podcaster, and lifestyle guru. His book The 4-Hour Workweek (the first in a series of 4-Hour books) spent more than four years on the New York Times Best Seller list and is considered one of the best books ever written on productivity. 

Cover of best-selling business book, The 4-Hour Workweek

In The 4-Hour Workweek , Ferris argues that the idea that success comes from hours and hours of grueling hard work without rest is flawed. Instead, he instructs readers on how to redesign their lifestyle and focus on freeing up time through a number of strategies, like prioritizing important things, learning how to automate income streams, and dropping unproductive tasks. 

Top quotes: "What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do."

17. The Art of Learning by Joshua Waitzkin

Goodreads rating: 4.5

Cover of best business book, The Art of Learning

In The Art of Learning , Waitzkin gives insight into how he’s cultivated an entrepreneurial mindset and shares his strategy for always learning and adapting. To Waitzkin, failure is an opportunity for more growth. In his book, he teaches readers how to accept failure, learn from it, and use it to grow and understand where your weaknesses are so you can improve.

Top quote: "Growth comes at the point of resistance. We learn by pushing ourselves and finding what really lies at the outer reaches of our abilities."

18. The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

Don Norman is a researcher, professor and business consultant, renowned as one of the foremost experts in the field of usability engineering . In The Design of Everyday Things , he offers advice on how to design a good product, based on what he’s learned in his long career. 

Norman starts by exploring some of the most timeless product designs⁠—such as doorknobs, light switches, and oven burners⁠—asking us to consider why the most timeless designs tend to be the simplest. 

The answer has to do with how human brains process information. So many designers make the mistake of ignoring human cognitive psychology in an effort to create a product that does everything, rather than a product that does one thing very well. 

Norman’s book is the perfect primer for anyone in the process of designing a new product.

Top quote: "Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good designs fit our needs so well that the design is invisible."

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

Goodreads rating: 4

Michael E. Gerber is the founder of Michael E. Gerber Companies , a business skills training company based in California. In The E-Myth Revisited , Gerber explores why 80% of small businesses fail, and offers insight into how to make sure your business isn’t among them. 

Cover of business book, The E-Myth Revisited

Gerber’s thesis is that people mistakenly believe that technical knowledge will translate into business success, which isn’t usually the case. Gerber instructs readers on how to break out of this mindset and set-up a business that relies on “systems” rather than the skills of individuals. 

The E-Myth Revisited is a must-read for tech entrepreneurs, exploring how companies with an innovative product can self-sabotage by not considering how that innovation translates into business success.

Top quote: "Contrary to popular belief, my experience has shown me that the people who are exceptionally good in business aren’t so because of what they know but because of their insatiable need to know more."

20. 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 world with endless distractions: overflowing inboxes, endless app notifications, and never-ending social media feeds. It’s never been easier to fall into the trap of procrastination. 

In The End of Procrastination , co-founders of Petr Ludwig and Adela Schicker put forth a practical strategy for overcoming unwanted procrastination and argue that procrastination is not just a waste of time, but detrimental to leading a happy and fulfilled life. 

Cover of business book, The End of Procrastination

Ludwig and Schicker explore how the brain responds to motivation and self-discipline, outlining eight easy-to-use tools for anyone looking to overcome their procrastination tendencies .

Top quote: "The amount of opportunities that today’s world offers is staggering. Imagine the extent of these opportunities as if it was the space in between an open pair of scissors. The more opportunities you have, the wider this imaginary pair of scissors— the scissors of potential —opens. Today, they are open wider than they have ever been in history."

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

Ben Horowitz is an entrepreneur, investor, author, and co-founder of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. In The Hard Thing About Hard Things , he draws on his own experience starting a business to offer advice to anyone looking to become a successful entrepreneur. 

Horowitz doesn’t shy away from talking about challenges that few business writers want to talk about. He explores the hard things about running a business: dealing with failure, conflicts among employees, layoffs, persevering through tough times, and making big, tough decisions that impact the livelihoods of stakeholders in the business.

The essential advice and practical tips that Horowitz offers in his book provide entrepreneurs with crucial advice for taking action in the face of tough choices and leading a successful business into the modern world.

Top quote: "Whenever I meet a successful CEO, I ask them how they did it. Mediocre CEOs point to their brilliant strategic moves or their intuitive business sense or a variety of other self-congratulatory explanations. The great CEOs tend to be remarkably consistent in their answers. They all say, ‘I didn’t quit.’"

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

Business consultant and academic Clayton Christensen is world-renowned for developing the theory of “ disruptive innovation ,” which is an innovation that creates an entirely new market, displacing established products. 

In The Innovator’s Solution , he and business consultant Michael E. Raynor expand on the idea of disruptive innovation, arguing that companies can and should become disruptive to their own industries, especially in the modern, hyper-accelerated digital world. 

Cover of business book, The Innovator’s Solution

Touching on real-world examples, Christensen and Raynor explore companies that have successfully (and unsuccessfully) disrupted their industries, and provide a framework for creating the right conditions and identifying the right time for disruption.

Top quote: "Research suggests that in over 90 percent of all successful new businesses, historically, the strategy that the founders had deliberately decided to pursue was not the strategy that ultimately led to the business’s success."

Learn more : How This Direct to Consumer Brand Disrupted the Cookware Industry

23. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham

Benjamin Graham is an economist, professor, and investor⁠, widely known in the business world as the " father of value investing .” 

Written in 1949, The Intelligent Investor offers advice on investing in the stock market that’s still relevant today. Graham focuses on investments that minimize economic risks and instructs the reader on how to find longer-term, risk-averse investments based on research rather than speculation. 

The Intelligent Investor is a must-read for anyone looking for more guidance on personal finance and wanting to learn how to make sound, financial decisions.

Top quote: "The intelligent investor is a realist who sells to optimists and buys from pessimists."

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

Goodreads rating:   4.1

Pages:  299

Eric Reiss is an entrepreneur known for his work in the field of information architecture, usability, and service design. In The Lean Startup , Ries explores why most startups fail and gives insight into how to avoid failure in the early days of your business. 

Ries touches on how the most successful startups leverage human creativity while keeping costs low , with a focus on rapid experimentation, effectively measuring success by eliminating superfluous vanity metrics, and adapting to customer needs.

Reis’s book offers a way for companies to test their vision continuously, and describes how to use innovative techniques to adapt to change. The Lean Startup is a must-read for anyone looking to avoid the pitfalls of startups that failed.

Top quote: "We must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want."

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

In The ONE Thing , real estate entrepreneur and bestselling author Gary Keller discusses his strategy for success by narrowing his workload to focus on more important tasks without getting bogged down by less important ones. 

Keller argues that while we tend to apply importance to everything, not everything matters equally. Keller’s approach to achieving success involves narrowing your focus to the one thing that matters most. He says that multi-tasking tends to lead to a breakdown in the quality of work performed on each task, and labels the idea of multitasking a lie. 

Keller’s wisdom can be used by anyone, but it’s especially important for entrepreneurs looking for an effective way to evaluate their biggest priorities and effectively manage their time.

Top quote: "Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls—family, health, friends, integrity—are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered."

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

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

Silbiger’s internationally acclaimed comprehensive guide compiles lessons from business schools across the world, based on the notes of MBA students attending programs at Harvard, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago, Northwestern, and the University of Virginia.

Top quote: "Marketing is a special blend of art and science. There is a great deal to be learned in marketing classes, but no amount of schooling can teach you the experience, the intuition, and the creativity to be a truly gifted marketer. That’s why those with the gift are so highly paid."

27. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Goodreads rating:  4.1

Pages:  233

Originally published in 1937 during the Great Depression, Think and Grow Rich is a classic of the self-help and personal development genre. In writing it, Napoleon Hill researched the lives of more than 40 millionaires to discover what common thread ran through them.

He concluded that the starting point of achievement is the desire for something better, and that failure, even when it’s frequent, is a necessary obstacle to achieving success. 

Hill offers practical knowledge about tackling goals by focusing on a single, defined one—arguing that the biggest successes often follow the biggest failures.

Top quote:  "The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat."

Read more:   101 Entrepreneur Quotes from the Most Successful Business Owners

28. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman is a psychologist and Nobel Prize–winning economist renowned for his expertise in the psychology of judgment and decision making. In Thinking, Fast and Slow , he explores how two systems⁠— intuition and slow thinking ⁠—work together to shape our judgment and help us make decisions. 

An expert in the field of behavioral economics, Kahneman uses his insight to offer readers an explanation for how decision making can be affected by stress and explores how confirmation bias can make us jump to conclusions. 

Kahneman’s insight is great not only for merchants looking to improve their own decision-making skills, but also for marketers looking for insight into how consumers make decisions.

Top quote: "Intelligence is not only the ability to reason; it is also the ability to find relevant material in memory and to deploy attention when needed."

29. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss

On his acclaimed business podcast , The Tim Ferriss Show , Ferris interviews all kinds of guests, including famous actors, legendary athletes, accomplished scientists, artists, and business leaders. In Tools of Titans , he summarizes and distills the habits, tactics, and routines of the wide-range of guests he’s had on his program. 

Ferriss skips over vague platitudes about effort and attitude and instead focuses on real-world actionable techniques that he’s come across from guests on his show. In Tools of Titans , Ferriss paints a vivid picture of how the lifestyles habits of the most-successful people have contributed to their success. 

Tools of Titans is inspirational, but it also offers practical solutions to readers, and a behind-the-scenes look at how the most successful people have grown to operate.

Top quote: "Creativity is an infinite resource. The more you spend, the more you have."

Read more:  The 32 Best Entrepreneur Books of All Time

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

Peter Theil is a billionaire entrepreneur and venture capitalist, and co-founder of PayPal, Palantir Technologies, and Founders Fund. Zero to One is based on a series of essays taken from notes of a lecture Theil gave on startups in 2012. 

Zero to One is a primer on innovation that explores how entrepreneurs develop new ideas by learning to think outside the box, making it a great book for business people looking to carve out a profitable niche . Atlantic writer Derek Thompson cited Zero to One as maybe the best business book he’s ever read .

Top quote: "The founding moment of a company, however, really does happen just once: only at the very start do you have the opportunity to set the rules that will align people toward the creation of value in the future."

31. Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard Rumelt

Goodreads rating: 4.1 Pages: 320 Richard Rumelt is a professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a renowned consultant on corporate strategy. With a background in engineering and management, Rumelt has been a leading voice in strategic thinking for several decades, known for his clear and insightful analysis of business and competitive strategy. Good Strategy, Bad Strategy  offers a critical look at the often misunderstood and misapplied concept of strategy in business. Rumelt emphasizes that good strategy is about making clear, coherent decisions and setting priorities, while bad strategy is characterized by fluff, failure to face challenges, and a lack of focus. Rumelt delves into the hallmarks of effective strategy and the common pitfalls that lead to poor strategic decisions. He uses real-world examples to illustrate how good strategy involves identifying the key issues and developing a coherent action plan to address them. The book is both a critique of the current state of strategic thinking and a guide for creating better strategies. Top quote: "The most basic idea of strategy is the application of strength against weakness."

32. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

Goodreads rating:  3.95 Pages:  242

Daniel H. Pink is an acclaimed author and former speechwriter for The White House. With a background in law and business, Pink has written several bestselling books on the changing world of work, motivation, and behavior. His work often draws on social science research to challenge conventional wisdom and provide fresh insights. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us challenges traditional notions of motivation that rely on rewards and punishments, commonly referred to as the "carrot and stick" approach. Pink argues that these methods are outdated and that true motivation comes from intrinsic factors—autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Pink explores the science behind what drives us and presents a new framework for understanding motivation. He explains that people are more motivated by internal desires to direct their own lives, improve their skills, and contribute to a greater cause. Pink supports his arguments with a wealth of research from psychology, economics, and sociology, and provides practical advice for individuals and organizations to foster a more motivated and productive environment.

Top quote:  "Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives."

33. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Goodreads rating : 4.13 Pages : 452

Robert Greene is an author and speaker known for his books on strategy, power, and seduction. With a degree in classical studies and a varied career that spans several industries, Greene has become a prominent figure in the self-help and business strategy genres. His works are often characterized by their in-depth historical analysis and practical insights. The 48 Laws of Power is a complete guide to understanding and wielding power. Drawing on historical examples from a wide range of fields, including politics, war, and business, Greene distills centuries of knowledge into 48 concise laws designed to help you navigate the complexities of power dynamics. This book explains the tactics and strategies used by powerful figures throughout history. Each law is accompanied by historical anecdotes and practical advice on how to apply the principles in various aspects of life. The 48 Laws of Power has been both praised and criticized for its candid and sometimes ruthless approach to achieving and maintaining power. Top quote: "When you show yourself to the world and display your talents, you naturally stir all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity... you cannot spend your life worrying about the petty feelings of others."

Remember, reading is fundamental

Perhaps because it’s also a leisure activity, it can be hard to think of reading the best business books as part of your entrepreneurial journey. In a fast-paced, digital world, a leisurely activity like reading can seem like a waste of time⁠—but this just isn’t true.

Reading is exercise for your mind. We’d never think of jogging or lifting weights as being a “waste of time” for an athlete, and reading shouldn’t be viewed as a waste of time for entrepreneurs.

Reading is learning : it helps us destress, while also nurturing skills in communication, problem solving, and creative thinking that are absolutely necessary in building and growing your own business.

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Best business books FAQ

What should i read for business.

  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t by Jim Collins 
  • The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business  by Clayton M. Christensen
  • First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham

Do business books work?

Yes, business books work. If you choose the right book for your reading needs, you can find a business book to help you achieve your next goal. Books can help you develop market leadership skills, build high performance teams, and so much more. 

Which one book should every entrepreneur read?

Every entrepreneur should read Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek.

Is it good to read business books?

Yes, it’s good to read business books. You can find inspiration and motivation, gain valuable insights, and learn new skills through reading business books.

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The 30 Best Business Books of 2023

Zoe Ashbridge

Published: May 22, 2023

When did you last invest time or money into your personal or business development?

best books for business planning

Reading business books will improve your mindset, teach you new skills, or allow you to think outside the box. It’s also a great way to become the best version of yourself and inspire others to do the same.

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There’s no better time to curl up in a comfortable armchair with your favorite pet in your lap, drink a cup of tea, and dive into some of the best business books of 2023.

Table of Contents

The Benefits of Reading Business Books

Best business books for startups, best business leadership books, best business management books, best books on business strategy, best books about dei in business, best innovation books, best business books for agencies.

No matter how successful you’ve been in your business or job, how much time you spent in school, or how amazing your team might be, you’re bound to face challenges as you move through your career.

Business books — whether they be about starting a business, leading or managing a business, or improving your business — can help you see the problems ahead and create strategies to overcome them.

Most of these books are written by people who have experienced challenges in the business world and lived to tell the tales. Who better to learn from than someone who has already beaten whatever you’re dealing with (or will deal with in the future)?

There are books for every stage of your career, and here are our favorite reads for those interested in startups, management, DEI, and more.

best books for business planning

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If there's any silver lining to the economic turmoil we’ve faced, it's that all that unrest has inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs to bring new solutions to market. Starting a new business has a high failure rate — but with the right books, you can increase your chances of surviving.

1. Trajectory: Startup: Ideation to Product/Market Fit by Dave Parker

  • Rating: 4.7
  • Available on Amazon

Front cover image of Trajectory Startup, one of the best business books to read.

This book promises to remove the mystery from the startup process. It offers a path from ideation to launch and revenue in six months with easy-to-follow tasks and timeframes.

What we love: Parker provides a practical guide for aspiring entrepreneurs. You can learn how to turn your ideas into successful products that prospective buyers will love.

Best for: Entrepreneurs

2. The Minimalist Entrepreneur: How Great Founders Do More with Less by Sahil Lavingia

  • Rating: 4.5

best business books to read; The Minimalist Entrepreneur teaches founders how to do more with less.

The Minimalist Entrepreneur is written for a new generation of founders who would rather build great companies than big ones. Lavingia uses his experience building his company, Gumroad , to help entrepreneurs make smart investments, manage remote workers and gig workers, develop and release products quickly and successfully, and become profitable.

What we love: The idea of achieving more with fewer resources is highly desirable in this digital age.

Best for: Startups with lower budgets and few resources

3. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

  • Rating: 4.6

front cover of Eric Ries’ Startup

When starting out, you might get caught up spending months building your product or service — only to find that no one wants to buy it. The Lean Startup will help you create a product that customers want (and are happy to pay for) quickly by identifying and testing key assumptions early on. Why waste valuable time, energy, and money when you could avoid the hassle?

What we love: Ries is a founder and CTO of startups. His practical guidance comes from experience and true customer feedback.

Best for: Startups and entrepreneurs

4. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

Front cover of the $100 Start Up, a New York Times Bestseller

Want to start a business without capital? This is the book for you.

Guillebeau provides a roadmap for aspiring entrepreneurs on how to identify a profitable niche, create a simple business plan, and launch a business with little financial risk. If you’ve got a passion, Guillebeau believes you can turn it into a business idea.

What we love: Guillebeau emphasizes the role of passion rather than building businesses solely to make money.

Best for: Freelancers, entrepreneurs, graduates

Whether your title implies it or not, everyone can benefit from learning to be a leader. Leadership isn’t just about managing others. It’s about managing yourself and inspiring those around you to be the best possible versions of themselves.

5. Beyond Happiness: How Authentic Leaders Prioritize Purpose and People for Growth and Impact by Jenn Lim

  • Rating: 4.3

Front cover of Beyond Happiness

Named a Top Business Book of 2021 by Forbes, Beyond Happiness draws on the science of happiness to show readers that true joy comes from living your true purpose. The book shows company leadership how to help individuals align their purpose with the company mission.

What we love: Beyond Happiness is a refreshing read with a great perspective. We love the emphasis on connection and sustainable contentment.

Best for: Company leadership

6. Trusted Leader: 8 Pillars That Drive Results by David Horsager

Front cover of a great business book, Trusted Leader by David Horsager

Horsager uses his research and experience to teach the Eight Pillars of Trust — clarity, compassion, character, competency, commitment, connection, contribution, and consistency.

He sees trust as an asset and believes that you lose influence when you don't have it. Readers will learn strategies to increase alignment, overcome attrition, and clarify their priorities.

What we love: This book is full of practical and actionable insights. The eight fundamental principles keep the teachings succinct and enriching.

7. Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Real Change by Stacey Abrams

  • Rating: 4.8

Front cover of minority leader by Stacey Abrams

With a mixture of memoir and instruction, Abrams argues that knowing your own passion is the key to success. Minority Leader speaks to anyone who exists beyond the structure of traditional systemic power and encourages them to make a difference.

What we love: It’s no surprise that Minority Leader is one of the highest-rated books in this roundup. Abrams considers minorities and their challenges, giving the topic a unique perspective.

Best for: Leaders from underrepresented backgrounds

8. Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success by Gary Vaynerchuk

Front cover of twelve and a half by Gary Vaynerchuk which is one of the best business books to read for business success.

For too long, leaders have relied on "hard skills" to make decisions and ignored the importance of emotional intelligence. In his sixth business book, Vaynerchuk focuses on soft skills like self-awareness and curiosity to accelerate business success.

What we love: High levels of emotional intelligence are crucial for business success. We love Vaynerchuk’s unique perspective and focus on soft skills.

Best for: Leaders, entrepreneurs, graduates

9. MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Tony Robbins

Front cover of Tony Robbins’ book Money Master the Game

At 688 pages, Tony Robbins’ MONEY Master the Game is the longest book in this roundup, but it covers a lot. That includes asset allocation, diversification, tax planning, and how to manage risks.

What we love: Robbins interviewed over 50 of the world's top investors to uncover their strategies for achieving success in the financial markets.

Best for: Leaders and entrepreneurs

Be the manager you’ve always wanted to work for with these books on business management.

10. Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Difficult People by Renee Evenson

Front cover of Power Phrases by Renee Evenson.

Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Difficult People promises to create a more harmonious work environment by learning how to deal with difficult personalities — whether they're employees, colleagues, or bosses.

In this book, you’ll learn thirty common personality traits and behaviors. Then, you'll get the best phrases to use with each. Evenson also outlines a five-step process for moving from conflict to resolution. This book will help you stay calm and diffuse conflict in the workplace.

What we love: Business is all about relationships, and building better relationships is key. We love Evenson’s vision and approach to resolving conflict.

Best for: Leaders

11. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo

Front cover of ‘The Making of a Manager’ by Julie Zhuo; a must read business book.

You’ve been promoted to management… Now what? After struggling as a brand new manager at the age of 25, Zhuo now believes that great managers are made — not born.

This field guide provides insights on what it takes to be a great manager, how to build trust and rapport with your team, what to focus on in the first few months, and how to deal with the increased responsibility. This book is everything Zhuo wished she had known when she accepted her promotion.

What we love: Zhuo shares practical advice and leads with examples through her own stories.

Best for: New managers

12. Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman

Front cover of Multipliers, one of our best business books, and a Wall Street Journal bestseller

As a manager, you have two options for how you’d like to lead your team. You could be the genius that everyone turns to in a bind — or you can unlock the genius in each of your employees.

Multipliers is a Wall Street Journal Bestseller that helps you take the latter approach. Become the manager who makes everyone around them smarter, more capable, and more effective. You can achieve amazing results when you tap into the multiplier mindset.

What we love: Multipliers encourages leaders to amplify the intelligence and capabilities of their teams, leading to increased productivity and success.

13. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz

Front cover of Never Split the Difference, a must-read business book by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz.

Discover practical and effective strategies for negotiating in both personal and professional contexts. Voss stresses the importance of empathy, active listening, and building rapport in negotiations.

What we love: As a former FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss knows what it takes to be adequately persuasive for optimal negotiation.

Best for: Leaders and salespeople

14. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

best books for business planning

Read How to Win Friends & Influence People and expect to improve your interpersonal relationships in your business and personal life. Carnegie gives you the tools to make people like you and become more influential while gracefully handling difficult situations.

What we love: This book will help you endlessly in both your personal and professional life.

When was the last time you took a bird’s eye view of your business, got out of the daily grind, and focused on your organization’s strategy?

15. Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know by Adam Grant

Adam Grant’s Think Again

What if the most important skill is no longer to think and learn but to r ethink and unlearn ? Grant argues that too many of us favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt.

We entertain opinions that make us feel good, rather than ideas that make us think hard. Rather than surrounding yourself with people who agree with our opinions and conclusions, it’s time to look for those who challenge our thought processes.

Grant invites us to release the views that no longer serve us and position ourselves for excellence at work.

What we love: Grant offers insightful strategies for improving critical thinking skills. Expect to have your assumptions challenged so you can foster a growth mindset.

16. Your Next Five Moves: Master the Art of Business Strategy by Patrick Bet-David

Your Next Five Moves by Patrick Bet-David

What if you approached business like a grandmaster in chess? Bet-David invites business strategists to plan five moves ahead — the sweet spot of thoughtful strategy and swift action. Readers will learn to master knowing themselves, building the right team, crafting a strategy to scale, and making power plays.

What we love: Your Next Five Moves offers practical, actionable advice for developing a winning business strategy, backed by real-world examples and insights from successful entrepreneurs.

17. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman

Front cover of must read business book, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals.

How’s this for strategy? If you’re lucky, you’ll live to be around 80 years old. That means that you’ve got 4,000 weeks on this earth. Knowing that your time is finite, what will you do with it? How will you spend your days?

Will you cram in as much work as possible — even if it’s unnecessary — or will you fill your time with what matters? This book offers a fresh perspective on managing your time and, more importantly, how to strategize your life.

What we love: We all have a limited time on earth, and Burkeman offers a thought-provoking perspective on time management. Read this book, and you can expect to make the most of your time by prioritizing what truly matters in life.

Best for: Entrepreneurs, graduates, and leaders

18. Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

 Front cover of business book, Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy separates markets with little to no competition (blue oceans) from crowded, highly competitive markets (red oceans) and advises that businesses can create new blue oceans by focusing on innovation instead of blending into existing markets.

What we love: This book offers case studies and examples of successful blue ocean strategies, as well as practical tools and frameworks.

Best for: Entrepreneurs and business strategists

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

20 atomic-habits-jpg

Clear introduces the concept of "atomic habits," which are tiny changes in behavior that can significantly impact long-term success. He argues that the key to changing behavior lies in focusing on small, incremental improvements that compound over time.

What we love: Clear interviews business leaders in Atomic Habits . However, the lessons learned can be valuable for anyone in the business world. You’ll find practical tips that you can apply in your day-to-day life.

Best for: Entrepreneurs and leaders

20. Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention — and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari

  • Rating: 4.4


It’s no secret that lots of us struggle to pay attention in today's fast-paced world. Stolen Focus offers practical solutions for developing deeper thinking skills. Hari explores how technology and constant distractions (like text messages and emails) make it difficult to focus for extended periods.

What we love: Stolen Focus was voted Business Book of the Year by Porchlight . This book is a great read for anyone in business and can transform all aspects of your life.

Best for: Anyone who wants to improve focus

21. We Can't Talk about That at Work!: How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics by Mary-Frances Winters


Conversations on race, religion, and politics are happening at work. The goal should be for these conversations to take place in a way that is effective and not polarizing. In her book, Winters provides the exercises and tools to help leaders and organizations become aware of their cultural backgrounds and increase their understanding of others.

What we love about it: Winters draws on her 36 years of experience to help readers gain skills and understanding for optimal communication and conflict resolution.

Best for: All readers can benefit from Winters’ book and the included self-assessment

22. Better Allies: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Engaging Workplaces by Karen Catlin


If your goal is building a more inclusive, engaging workplace, Karen Catlin’s Better Allies is the book for you. In just 282 pages you can expect to find out how you can become a better ally. And better, how you can build a creative and inclusive culture within your business.

What we love about it: Catlin has over 25 years in tech, including a role as the vice president of engineering at Adobe. During her 25 years, Catlin noticed a sharp decline in women working in tech. Catlin sets out to encourage others to become better allies.

Best for: Those in managerial positions who want to better DEI in their teams and organizations

23. Inclusify: The Power of Uniqueness and Belonging to Build Innovative Teams by Stefanie K. Johnson


It’s not uncommon for companies to create a culture where inclusivity isn’t at its core, but it should be. In her book, Johnson challenges companies to take sustainable efforts to help everyone feel engaged and included in the workplace.

Johnson’s research finds that leaders who embrace DEI have better relationships and stronger and more cohesive teams. Clearly, there’s a lot to gain from Inclusify .

What we love about it: Johnson lives and breathes inclusivity. She has experience working for some of the biggest companies in the world.

Best for: Team leaders looking to improve workplace relationships and team cohesion

24. The Culture Map by Erin Meyer


Explore how cultural differences impact international business in The Culture Map. Throughout the book, you will decode the nuances of language and cultural expression through research, anecdotes, and examples.

What we love about it: The special focus on international communication.

Best for: International businesses or businesses thinking about expansion

25. Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis

Front cover of Paul Jarvis’ Company of One, an innovative business book.

Jarvis believes that staying small has advantages. He shares his own experiences and those of other successful entrepreneurs in Company of One .

He demonstrates how smaller businesses can thrive in today's fast-paced and competitive business landscape through greater flexibility, increased autonomy, and the ability to focus on delivering exceptional products or services to a niche audience.

What we love: Jarvis challenges the traditional idea of business growth. Company of One encourages entrepreneurs to build sustainable, profitable businesses that prioritize quality over quantity.

Best for: Startups, freelancers, and entrepreneurs

26. Freelance Your Way to Freedom: How to Free Yourself from the Corporate World and Build the Life of Your Dreams by Alex Fasulo

27 freelance-your-way-to-freedom-jpg

The book also has real-life examples, practical tips, and advice for getting your mindset geared for success.

What we love: Alex Fasulo has more than eight year’s experience working in the freelance gig economy. She made her first million on Fiverr and has since shared her freelancing insights on social media.

Best for: Freelancers, graduates, and entrepreneurs

27. The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen

Front cover of The Innovator’s Dilemma

Sometimes staying small is advantageous, but why? Clayton Christensen argues that established companies fail to innovate, allowing smaller, more agile competitors to disrupt their industries.

Christensen provides reasons for this and encourages companies to focus less on optimizing existing products and processes. Instead, he inspires the reader to pursue new and untested ideas.

What we love: This classic business book explores why successful companies often fail to innovate and adapt to disruptive technologies and offers strategies for avoiding this dilemma.

28. $100M Offers: How To Make Offers So Good People Feel Stupid Saying No by Alex Hormozi


This is the comprehensive guide for entrepreneurs and business owners on how to create irresistible offers that customers can't refuse. Hormozi draws on his own experience as a successful entrepreneur.

You will also learn how to craft compelling offers that drive sales and growth. Plus, you'll find out what it takes to charge what you’re worth and have the courage to ask for it.

What we love: In just 161 pages, Hormozi teaches you how to price products and services so that your customers can’t resist saying yes.

Best for: Entrepreneurs and agency owners

29. Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You by John Warrillow


Warrillow provides a step-by-step guide to transforming a service-based business into a product-based one. This book guides you in identifying your agency's unique selling proposition and creating a repeatable sales process.

Plus, this book offers insights into building a management team that can run the business without the owner's constant involvement, making it attractive to potential buyers.

What we love: This book offers advice to agency owners on how to create a sellable and scalable business.

30. T he New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly by David Meerman Scott

Front cover of business book The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott

Learn how to navigate the marketing and public relations landscape, which is essential and inevitable for every business. Scott emphasizes the importance of using digital tools to engage with customers directly, build brand awareness, and drive revenue.

What we love: This book offers practical advice on creating compelling content that resonates with customers, leveraging search engine optimization (SEO) to improve visibility, and measuring the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

Stocking Your Library

If you’re ready to up your business game and be the best you possible, it’s time to update your reading list and get started. There’s a world of wisdom in these books, and it’s yours for the taking.

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19 Best Business Plan Books of All Time

Our goal : Find the best Business Plan books according to the internet (not just one random person's opinion).

  • Type "best business plan books" into our search engine and study the top 5+ pages.
  • Add only the books mentioned 2+ times.
  • Rank the results neatly for you here! 😊 (It was a lot of work. But hey! That's why we're here, right?)

(Updated 2024)

As an Amazon Associate, we earn money from purchases made through links in this page.

Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

  • Best Business Plan Books

The One Page Business Plan for the Creative Entrepreneur

The One Page Business Plan for the Creative Entrepreneur

The fastest, easiest way to write a business plan.

The Art of the Start 2.0

The Art of the Start 2.0

The time-tested, battle-hardened guide for anyone starting anything.

Guy Kawasaki

Successful Business Plan

Successful Business Plan

Secrets & strategies.

Rhonda Abrams

The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan

The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan

A pro shares a step-by-step guide to creating a plan that gets results.

Hal Shelton

The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup

How today's entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses.

The Founder's Dilemmas

The Founder's Dilemmas

Anticipating and avoiding the pitfalls that can sink a startup.

Noam Wasserman

How to Write a Business Plan

How to Write a Business Plan

Mike P. McKeever

The Complete Book of Business Plans

The Complete Book of Business Plans

Simple steps to writing powerful business plans.

Joseph A Covello

The 1-Page Marketing Plan

The 1-Page Marketing Plan

Get new customers, make more money, and stand out from the crowd.

Business Model Generation

Business Model Generation

A handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers.

Alexander Osterwalder

Starting a Business QuickStart Guide

Starting a Business QuickStart Guide

The simplified beginner’s guide to launching a successful small business, turning your vision into reality, and achieving your entrepreneurial dream.

Ken Colwell

Mind Your Business

Mind Your Business

A workbook to grow your creative passion into a full-time gig.

Ilana Griffo

Writing Winning Business Plans

Writing Winning Business Plans

How to prepare a business plan that investors will want to read and invest in.

Garrett Sutton

Burn the Business Plan

Burn the Business Plan

What great entrepreneurs really do.

Carl J. Schramm

Anatomy of a Business Plan

Anatomy of a Business Plan

The step-by-step guide to building a business and securing your company's future.

Linda Pinson


The Book on Business Planning

Writing a Convincing Business Plan

Writing a Convincing Business Plan

Arthur R. DeThomas Ph.D.

Hit the Deck

Hit the Deck

Create a business plan in half the time, with twice the impact.

David Ronick

Creating a Business Plan For Dummies

Creating a Business Plan For Dummies

Veechi Curtis

  • 12 Books You Should Read Before Starting a Business
  • Business Plan Books
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  • 20 Best Books on The Business Plan - Bigger Investing
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The 5 Best Business Plan Books (& Why You Shouldn’t Read Them)

best business plan books

You probably know that having a business plan will improve your chances of success in starting and growing your business. Reading the right business plan book can help you craft the perfect plan. But, there are more efficient ways than reading a book to learn about business planning and to complete your plan. In this article, I’ll show you such options, and if you’d still like to read a book, I’ll tell you the top 5 business planning books to consider.  

Why You Don’t Need To Read a Business Planning Book

There are many books about business planning that you could read, but why shouldn’t you? 

The simple answer, time. 

Reading even the best business plan books will take time to read and then process, and this is on top of the considerable time it takes to complete market research and write a solid business plan.

Instead, technology has provided today’s entrepreneurs with easy-to-follow simple business plan templates that teach you how to write the business plan as you complete the plan. Although every business is unique, a business plan template will offer you a great starting point and often includes customizable financial plans specific to your industry.   

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here

The right business plan template will include all essential components of a successful business plan including:

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Overview
  • Market Analysis
  • Customer Analysis
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Marketing Plan
  • Operations Plan
  • Management Team
  • Financial Plan

You can learn more about each of these business plan components and how to write a business plan from the business planning experts at Growthink.

    Finish Your Business Plan Today!

If you enjoy reading & want to learn more….

successful business plans


So, you don’t actually need to read a business book, but if you do, learn from the experts who have ventured on the same entrepreneurial journey. Their practical advice provides a step-by-step guide through the planning process to help you complete the necessary market research to stay competitive while completing the financial analysis needed to secure funding.  

How We Can Help You Succeed

At Growthink, we have helped over 5,000 entrepreneurs and business owners develop business plans to start and grow their companies. With this extensive experience, we’ve created a simple business plan template and business plan examples for 100+ sectors (and we’re still going!) to save you time and make it even easier to write a successful business plan. Check out the links below or learn more in our Business Plan Writing Help Center to help you launch or expand your successful business.

How to Finish Your Business Plan in 1 Day!

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your business plan?

With Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates

Business Plan Template


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Subscribe for exclusive access, the 12 best business startup books every entrepreneur needs.

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Written by Jesse Sumrak | April 17, 2024

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Business startup books

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Want to become a world-class rock climber? Watch Alex Honnold. Looking to become the next President of the United States? Study about Barack Obama. Want to become a successful entrepreneur? Learn from Arianna Huffington and Gary Vaynerchuk.

While you can kick back, relax, and watch YouTube videos and Netflix documentaries about these masters of their trade, you’ve probably had enough screen time while building your business. Instead, whip up a mug of hot cocoa, cozy up next to your space heater and furry friend, and pick up a business startup book.

Sure, an eBook or audiobook will do the trick, too—but there’s something special about paper, ink, and the wisdom in between.

With millions of books out there, where should you start? That’s a good question. We set out to find and read the best business startup books, and while it’s hard to narrow it down, we’re pretty happy with the list we curated.

You don’t need these books on your bookshelf. Nor do you need them at your desk. You need them in your hands. You need their words in your mind.

All that to say, buying the best business startup books won’t do you very much good unless you set aside time to read and apply the principles.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of 10 business startup books that’ll change the way you start and scale your startup. You’ll learn everything from day-to-day management techniques and virality boosting tips to mindset changes and finding your life’s purpose.

Don’t Read Any of These Startup Books—Study Them

Reading is great, but studying is better.

Think about all the things you’ve read today: emails, articles, tweets, texts, guides, and cereal boxes. Do you remember much of the content? Probably not.

That’s because we spend hours every day reading. Today’s generations scan content faster than ever before, but with so much data coming in, it’s harder for our brains to pick and choose what to retain.

That’s where studying comes in.

Studying involves attention, note-taking, commitment, and action. It’s not something you can do at the end of a long day while lying in bed.

If you’re going to take the time to read these business books, get as much out of them as you possibly can. Create a quiet, distraction-free environment for you to study. After reading a chapter, take notes and highlight the takeaways. Write down (don’t just mentally note) what you plan to do with this newfound knowledge.

Foundr plus dollar trail build business banner

With seemingly a bazillion books to pick from, why did we settle on 10? Well, you’ve got a business to build. Reading and studying will help, but they’re only supplements to getting your hands dirty and getting to work.

Study, apply, build, repeat. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun, too.

Books are great. We love books. You should read every single one of the books we’ve outlined below—but pace yourself. That means you probably shouldn’t spend every spare moment with your nose stuck in a business book.

Take an evening to binge a Netflix show every now and then. Spend an evening with friends. Go for a walk.

Your business isn’t going anywhere.

You’ve got this, entrepreneur.

1. Born to Shine

Kendra Scott started her self-titled billion-dollar jewelry business out of failure. Her first business failed after 5 years, and she started selling handmade jewelry door-to-door as a side hustle.

Now, Kendra Scott Jewelry is a billion-dollar business with 100 retail locations across the US. But success didn’t come quickly. Through personal struggles, recessions, and rejections, Scott built a fashion business driven by an unforgettable customer experience.

In her entrepreneurial memoir Born to Shine, she shares leadership lessons from her successes and failures.

“Giving those tools of an entrepreneur mindset can be so beneficial,” Scott says. “I think this is a book not just for business owners or entrepreneurs but for people that are going through a transition in their life.”

Scott says that flaws and failures are what make us unique. As an entrepreneur, business leader, and person, embracing the pain gives you power. The “nos” lead to the next “yes.”

“It doesn’t matter what you’ve gone through,” Scott says. “You were put on this earth to do something awesome, whatever that is that brings you joy.”

If you need a bit of inspiration and true stories resonate with you, this book is a must-read.

Think You Have All the Answers? Watch This | Kendra Scott&#039;s Story

2. Made to Stick

Made to stick

Made to Stick explores the art of building unforgettable ideas. Brothers Heath, Chip, and Dan explain why you remember Kennedy’s stirring speech about making it to the moon and why everyone from your grandfather to your 3-year-old niece link “Just Do It” and Nike together.

Chip and Dan outline the 6 characteristics necessary to make a message “sticky.” Don’t worry—this isn’t a spoiler:

Storytelling is at the heart of every business, from Apple to IKEA to Patagonia. Unfortunately, some stories die young, but it’s not because the tale or mission is uncompelling—it’s because entrepreneurs didn’t know how to tell it.

Made to Stick transforms the way you communicate. Apply the principles in this book, and everything from your “About Us” page to your Slack conversations will benefit.

3. Thinking, Fast and Slow

Author Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow is an entertaining exploration of the way humans think. Understanding the concepts in this book and the psychology of the human brain not only helps you understand your humanity, but they help you learn more about your prospective customers.

Kahneman breaks down all this knowledge and logic into a compelling narrative. Trust us—you won’t feel like you’re reading a business startup book when you read this cover to cover.

If all your copywriting tactics and marketing strategies have failed, this book will tell you why (and what to do about it).

4. The 4-Hour Workweek

While the title might feel clickbaity, the content inside isn’t. The 4-Hour Workweek outlines techniques for how you can work less, make more, and build the life you want instead of living the life you’ve been handed.

Some entrepreneurs want to start their own businesses to get rich. Others do it to gain more everyday freedom. And some people just want to do whatever it takes to live a fulfilling life.

Tim Ferriss shares all the hacks and tools you need to do more with less. This guide shows you:

  • How to automate your business to work even when you’re gone.
  • How to affordably outsource the minutiae of your business to free up valuable time.
  • Methods to eliminate busy work and focus on what really matters.
  • How to take “mini-retirements” now instead of waiting until the end of your life to take a break.
  • Real-world templates for negotiating, cutting meetings out of your life, and building the work-life balance you’ve always wanted.

Today’s modern work world embraces and celebrates go-getters who trade sleep and social lives for work. “Hustle, hustle, hustle,” they cheer. Ferriss disagrees.

Ferriss gives drowning and aspiring entrepreneurs a reality check by showing you don’t need to work 80-hour weeks to be successful. In fact, you’re probably getting in the way of your business. Take a step by and accomplish more by doing less.

5. Winners Never Cheat

Winners never cheat

Good guys really can (and should) finish first—and Jon Huntsman proves it in Winners Never Cheat: Even in Difficult Times . Inevitably, you’re going to face business opportunities to lie, steal, cut corners, or cheat your way to success.

You might even be able to get away with it without ever being caught.

Yet, Jon Huntsman advocates for a higher way of living and doing business. Your life as a founder and entrepreneurial leader can be full of courage and integrity—and it should be.

Learn how to make the right ethical decisions, even when it’s hard. Remember why you work and what you’re pushing to achieve. Acquire the tools you need to always do what’s right regardless of the consequences.

If more people read Winners Never Cheat , the world would be a much better place. The insanely rich wouldn’t be the only winners—all their employees, shareholders, customers, and communities would be, too.

6. Before & Laughter

When reading a list of books that any startup business should read, you wouldn’t expect to see a book written by a famous UK comedian.

Before & Laughter , written by Jimmy Carr, is so much more than your average biography. Instead, Carr focuses on the pursuit of happiness, discussing his life story alongside the perspectives and beliefs he has developed along the way.

Such is the popularity of this book, that his appearance on Stephen Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO is one of the most watched and rewatched episodes of all time.

7. DotCom Secrets

Even the best brands can struggle to generate enough traffic to their platform. And for those that do get onto their site, the conversion rates don’t look great either.

DotCom Secrets aims to fix that, allowing you to use Russel Brunson’s insights and information to take your brand to the next level.

For any startups who are setting up an eCommerce brand, this is a must-read. It’s a little old now, first coming out in 2015, but many of the skills and techniques are still relevant.

Our current definition of success is killing us. We want money and power, and we’re willing to sacrifice our health, family relationships, sleep, and well-being to get it—often, without realizing it.

It’s hard to argue that Arianna Huffington hasn’t tasted this version of success. As co-founder of the Huffington Post Media Group, she’s recognized as one of the world’s most influential women—but is money, influence, fame, and never-ending burnout and exhaustion what success is supposed to look like?

Huffington doesn’t think so. She argues that we need a third metric to define success: thrive. Thrive includes our well-being, sense of wonder, and compassion.

Think about where you spend your time, and think about what you want to be remembered for. Do you want to be remembered for powerful PowerPoint presentations, sleepless nights at your desk, and arbitrary promotion titles? Or would you like your eulogy to celebrate your shared memories, fun adventures, small acts of service, and unapologetic lifelong passions?

Before you embark too far on your entrepreneurial journey, take a step back with Thrive to determine your vision of success. When hard decisions come (which they will), and burnout threatens your life and health (and it will), reflect on what you ultimately want. Are you on the path to money and power? If so, do you have the third leg of your stool, thrive, to keep you from toppling over?

From Air Mattress to $31 Billion | The UNLIKELY Rise of Airbnb

9. The Psychology of Wealth

Regarded as “one of the best and most original finance books in years” by The Wall Street Journal, The Psychology of Wealth is an absolute must-read for any entrepreneurs.

When you set out on your own, your potential earnings skyrocket, as does the potential of failure.

The Philosophy of Wealth helps keep your perspective of money in check, helps you secure funds for a rainy day, prevents overspending, and allows you to view profits and revenue in a healthy manner.

For anyone who deems themselves as a “workaholic,” this book should be at the top of your reading list.

10. The Lean Startup

You didn’t think we’d create a list of business startup books and leave out The Lean Startup , did you?

Let’s face it: most startups fail. Yet, yours doesn’t have to.

The Lean Startup teaches you how to leverage human creativity and capital more effectively to build a company made to last. You’ll learn:

  • How to rapidly test and validate ideas
  • How to adapt and adjust before it’s too late
  • Methods for measuring progress instead of vanity metrics
  • What your customers actually want
  • How to keep your startup nimble and agile

Test your ideas before you invest your 401(k) into them. Ignore what your customers say—instead, watch what they do. Build a minimum viable product (MVP) first before you waste time and money.

These are the valuable, unpopular lessons you’ll learn in The Lean Startup . Author Eric Ries doesn’t want your success to be a bet, chance, or a 1 in 7 billion success story like Mark Zuckerberg. He wants your success to be formulated and data-driven.

Ditch the fantasies and embrace the scientific approach. It’s not the sexiest method for building a startup, but it’s one that flips the odds of success into your favor.

11. Fall in Love With the Problem

As a business owner, chances are you’ve already come up against your fair share of problems.

And if you haven’t, you can rest assured that there are a few lurking for you just around the corner!

But problems don’t have to be feared. In fact, in Fall in Love With the Problem, Not the Solution by Uri Levine, he suggests you should actually fall in love with the problem instead.

Within these pages are insights from the co-founder of two unicorn startups–Waze and Moovit. He’s been a founder, investor, and chairman for more than ten successful startups focusing on solving big problems. In the book, Levine empowers you to build a successful business by identifying your consumers’ biggest problems and disrupting the inefficient markets currently serving them.

How to Fall in Love with a Problem | Uri Levine

12. Two Weeks Notice

When it comes to entrepreneurship, you’ll struggle to have an in-depth conversation without Amy Porterfield cropping up.

Over the past decade, Amy has become one of the leading voices in entrepreneurship, helping people leave their 9-5 jobs and start successful, self-run businesses.

In her book Two Weeks Notice , Amy teaches readers how to find the courage to quit their jobs, make more money, and work where they want.

From this book, you will gain the valuable tips you need to confidently stride into the office and hand in your notice, knowing you have all the tools you need to start your entrepreneurial journey.

Keep Learning:  Amy Porterfield Wants You to Leave Your 9 to 5 Job

Business Startup Books FAQs

Are business startup books worth reading.

The short answer is yes. In a world where consuming information happens as rapidly as a swipe of a finger, taking time to sit and savor an entrepreneur's story is rare. At foundr, we've chatted with the best of the best, and they universally say reading is one of the most effective ways to learn.

Are all business startup books alike?

No. You'll see many business books with catchy headlines and claims if you scan Amazon or your local bookstore. It's never been easier to get a book self-published, which means more ideas and access, but also more selection.

How do you know if a business startup book is worth reading?

Use the 50-page rule. The rest of the book isn't worth it if you get through the first 50 pages and have yet to learn something new. We also suggest listening to startup podcasts, like the Foundr Podcast, where entrepreneurs promote their books. A podcast episode can provide a snapshot of whether the entrepreneur's book is worth investing time in.

Put Your New-Found Knowledge Into Action

Business startup books can teach you new things and get you hyped about building your business, but then it’s time to put the book down and get to work. Let us help.

Check out our catalog of courses, community, and tools to learn everything you need to know to kick-off and grow your startup. Whether you want to grow your Instagram following or launch an ecommerce store, we have the resources to help you make it happen.

This article was updated with support from Graeme Whiles .

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About Jesse Sumrak

Jesse Sumrak is a writing zealot focused on creating killer content. He’s spent almost a decade writing about startup, marketing, and entrepreneurship topics, having built and sold his own post-apocalyptic fitness bootstrapped business. A writer by day and a peak bagger by night (and early early morning), you can usually find Jesse preparing for the apocalypse on a precipitous peak somewhere in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

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What is the best book to read about the making of a Business Plan?

I've search if someone has compared the best on this category, but it seems that the topic is a little bit obscure, so, what do you guys think is the most complete book on the topic of business plans?

Top 11 Little Business Books With Big Impact

Use These Short Books to Master Topics that Will Improve Your Career

  • Management Careers
  • Job Search Resources
  • Hiring Best Practices
  • Employment Law
  • Employee Motivation
  • Employee Management
  • Management & Leadership
  • Employee Benefits

Susan Heathfield is an HR and management consultant with an MS degree. She has decades of experience writing about human resources.

One trend in business books is the short management book, often written as a story or fable. These business books are approachable, useful, and may help encourage more people to read. And, as an employer, that's what you'd like to see—right? You're in favor of ongoing career development.

These business books pack a solid punch in a small package. Read some of the favorites that managers and HR staff recommend. You'll quickly agree with their assessment and understand why they have such universal appeal.

High Five! The Magic of Working Together

by Kenneth V. Blanchard, Sheldon Bowles, others (Morrow/Avon) ISBN: 0688170366 -

Fired from his job for failure to be a team player, Alan Foster helps a boy's hockey team learn both team secrets and hockey. Help from a retired girl's basketball coach, chants, cheers, focus, skill development, and knowing that, "None of us is as good as all of us," help Alan learn so he can teach. I love this book.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass) ISBN-13: 978-0787960759 -

Assigned to lead a dysfunctional Silicon Valley executive committee, Kathryn Petersen, a traditional manager, appointed CEO, watches and observes the effect of the group's interactions on its members and on the company's progress and results.

Following her instinctive knowledge about people and using her skill in building teams, she identifies the factors that are undermining the group's effectiveness. In story-style,

Lencioni tells how to overcome the human behaviors that corrupt this executive team's success: the lack of trust , fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of personal accountability, and inattention to results. A must-read for teams that strive for optimum success.

The 1% Solution for Work and Life

by: Tom Connellan (Peak Performance Press) ISBN-13: 978-0-9769506-2-2

Feeling a bit discouraged about your life and work? Not getting as excited as you once were? You can change this by doing one small thing just 1% differently than you are right now. Sound easy? It's not, but if you do one small thing differently for thirty days, it becomes part of your available toolkit.

And, 1% plus 1% plus 1% adds up. Follow Ken on his journey as he meets and learns from six One-Percenters, people who have transformed their lives using the ideas shared in this book. Even if you're after just a small improvement, each chapter gives you ideas that you can adapt now. For me, my new 1% shift? No email in the morning until I have published something. I am on the path.

Just Do Your Best

by Chuck Harwood (Group Fare Productions) ISBN - 13:978-0881971019

In just 108 pages, the essence of performing successfully on your job is distilled and shared. In an out-of-the-ordinary management setting: a visit to a cattle ranch, Mr. Harwood identifies the five critical factors in job success.

Knowing your job well, and continuously improving what you know, is the first. The second factor is making good decisions. Enjoy attending the management meeting with the ranch employees - the daily lunch table at the ranch. Visit 15 additional workplaces he uses as examples for the five factors. Insightful, fun book.

Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results

by Harry Paul, Stephen C. Lundin, John Christensen (Hyperion) ISBN: 0786866020

Based on the fun-loving fishmongers at Seattle's Pike Place Market, a supervisor learns how to create an environment in which employees are excited to serve customers and each other. Find out how she transformed a toxic work environment!

The One Minute Manager

by Spencer Johnson, Kenneth H. Blanchard (Morrow/Avon) ISBN: 0688014291

Can several million people be wrong? Read the book that spawned the dynasty! Timeless tips for supervisors and others who want to increase their effectiveness with people. Learn how to catch people doing something right and the power of clear, understandable goals. Though deceptively simple, this is a great read!

Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment

by William C. Byham (Development Dimensions International) ISBN: 0962348317

This continuing favorite may be hard to find but it's worth the search. Join a supervisor who is transported to a state in which he can suddenly "see" the real impact his actions have on whether staff is enabled to think, contribute, and find meaning in work. Experiment and learn with him as he changes.

Please Don't Just Do What I Tell You: Do What Needs to Be Done

by Bob Nelson (Hyperion) ISBN: 0786867299

Written directly for employees, the book has great tips about how to express individual initiative and self-empowerment at work. "Doing what you're told," no longer brings success for the individual or the organization - if it ever did! Everyone has the capacity to fulfill this "ultimate expectation." Share this book to help people find out how!

Gung Ho! Turn on the People in Any Organization

by Kenneth Blanchard, Sheldon Bowles (Morrow/Avon) ISBN: 068815428X

The story, told as a fable, provides a three-part strategy for motivating employees. Make sure people know why their work is important, give them control over how they do their jobs, and provide encouragement are the success factors. The story is told by a plant manager who learned these truths from a Native American manager.

The Peon Book

by Dave Haynes, Chief Executive Peon (Berrett-Koehler) ISBN: 1576752852

Not just a regular management book, written by an executive or a consultant, The Peon Book recommends you get the information you need to lead and manage people from the people you are trying to lead and manage. If all else fails, ask! What a concept!

Who Moved My Cheese?

by Spencer Johnson (Penguin Putnam, Inc.) ISBN: 0399144463

Explores positively approaching change through a parable populated by mice and "littlepeople," mouse-sized people. If you're an expert in change management , give it a chance; the book will make you smile and remind you of key change issues.

Others will find change management tips, real encouragement, and the sense that change is "doable." It's a book for everyone. Enjoy!

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How To Start A Business In 11 Steps (2024 Guide)

Katherine Haan

Updated: Apr 7, 2024, 1:44pm

How To Start A Business In 11 Steps (2024 Guide)

Table of Contents

Before you begin: get in the right mindset, 1. determine your business concept, 2. research your competitors and market, 3. create your business plan, 4. choose your business structure, 5. register your business and get licenses, 6. get your finances in order, 7. fund your business, 8. apply for business insurance, 9. get the right business tools, 10. market your business, 11. scale your business, what are the best states to start a business, bottom line, frequently asked questions (faqs).

Starting a business is one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences you can have. But where do you begin? There are several ways to approach creating a business, along with many important considerations. To help take the guesswork out of the process and improve your chances of success, follow our comprehensive guide on how to start a business. We’ll walk you through each step of the process, from defining your business idea to registering, launching and growing your business.

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The public often hears about overnight successes because they make for a great headline. However, it’s rarely that simple—they don’t see the years of dreaming, building and positioning before a big public launch. For this reason, remember to focus on your business journey and don’t measure your success against someone else’s.

Consistency Is Key

New business owners tend to feed off their motivation initially but get frustrated when that motivation wanes. This is why it’s essential to create habits and follow routines that power you through when motivation goes away.

Take the Next Step

Some business owners dive in headfirst without looking and make things up as they go along. Then, there are business owners who stay stuck in analysis paralysis and never start. Perhaps you’re a mixture of the two—and that’s right where you need to be. The best way to accomplish any business or personal goal is to write out every possible step it takes to achieve the goal. Then, order those steps by what needs to happen first. Some steps may take minutes while others take a long time. The point is to always take the next step.

Most business advice tells you to monetize what you love, but it misses two other very important elements: it needs to be profitable and something you’re good at. For example, you may love music, but how viable is your business idea if you’re not a great singer or songwriter? Maybe you love making soap and want to open a soap shop in your small town that already has three close by—it won’t be easy to corner the market when you’re creating the same product as other nearby stores.

If you don’t have a firm idea of what your business will entail, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do you love to do?
  • What do you hate to do?
  • Can you think of something that would make those things easier?
  • What are you good at?
  • What do others come to you for advice about?
  • If you were given ten minutes to give a five-minute speech on any topic, what would it be?
  • What’s something you’ve always wanted to do, but lacked resources for?

These questions can lead you to an idea for your business. If you already have an idea, they might help you expand it. Once you have your idea, measure it against whether you’re good at it and if it’s profitable.

Your business idea also doesn’t have to be the next Scrub Daddy or Squatty Potty. Instead, you can take an existing product and improve upon it. You can also sell a digital product so there’s little overhead.

What Kind of Business Should You Start?

Before you choose the type of business to start, there are some key things to consider:

  • What type of funding do you have?
  • How much time do you have to invest in your business?
  • Do you prefer to work from home or at an office or workshop?
  • What interests and passions do you have?
  • Can you sell information (such as a course), rather than a product?
  • What skills or expertise do you have?
  • How fast do you need to scale your business?
  • What kind of support do you have to start your business?
  • Are you partnering with someone else?
  • Does the franchise model make more sense to you?

Consider Popular Business Ideas

Not sure what business to start? Consider one of these popular business ideas:

  • Start a Franchise
  • Start a Blog
  • Start an Online Store
  • Start a Dropshipping Business
  • Start a Cleaning Business
  • Start a Bookkeeping Business
  • Start a Clothing Business
  • Start a Landscaping Business
  • Start a Consulting Business
  • Start a Photography Business
  • Start a Vending Machine Business

Most entrepreneurs spend more time on their products than they do getting to know the competition. If you ever apply for outside funding, the potential lender or partner wants to know: what sets you (or your business idea) apart? If market analysis indicates your product or service is saturated in your area, see if you can think of a different approach. Take housekeeping, for example—rather than general cleaning services, you might specialize in homes with pets or focus on garage cleanups.

Primary Research

The first stage of any competition study is primary research, which entails obtaining data directly from potential customers rather than basing your conclusions on past data. You can use questionnaires, surveys and interviews to learn what consumers want. Surveying friends and family isn’t recommended unless they’re your target market. People who say they’d buy something and people who do are very different. The last thing you want is to take so much stock in what they say, create the product and flop when you try to sell it because all of the people who said they’d buy it don’t because the product isn’t something they’d buy.

Secondary Research

Utilize existing sources of information, such as census data, to gather information when you do secondary research. The current data may be studied, compiled and analyzed in various ways that are appropriate for your needs but it may not be as detailed as primary research.

Conduct a SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Conducting a SWOT analysis allows you to look at the facts about how your product or idea might perform if taken to market, and it can also help you make decisions about the direction of your idea. Your business idea might have some weaknesses that you hadn’t considered or there may be some opportunities to improve on a competitor’s product.

best books for business planning

Asking pertinent questions during a SWOT analysis can help you identify and address weaknesses before they tank your new business.

A business plan is a dynamic document that serves as a roadmap for establishing a new business. This document makes it simple for potential investors, financial institutions and company management to understand and absorb. Even if you intend to self-finance, a business plan can help you flesh out your idea and spot potential problems. When writing a well-rounded business plan, include the following sections:

  • Executive summary: The executive summary should be the first item in the business plan, but it should be written last. It describes the proposed new business and highlights the goals of the company and the methods to achieve them.
  • Company description: The company description covers what problems your product or service solves and why your business or idea is best. For example, maybe your background is in molecular engineering, and you’ve used that background to create a new type of athletic wear—you have the proper credentials to make the best material.
  • Market analysis: This section of the business plan analyzes how well a company is positioned against its competitors. The market analysis should include target market, segmentation analysis, market size, growth rate, trends and a competitive environment assessment.
  • Organization and structure: Write about the type of business organization you expect, what risk management strategies you propose and who will staff the management team. What are their qualifications? Will your business be a single-member limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation ?
  • Mission and goals: This section should contain a brief mission statement and detail what the business wishes to accomplish and the steps to get there. These goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, action-orientated, realistic and time-bound).
  • Products or services: This section describes how your business will operate. It includes what products you’ll offer to consumers at the beginning of the business, how they compare to existing competitors, how much your products cost, who will be responsible for creating the products, how you’ll source materials and how much they cost to make.
  • Background summary: This portion of the business plan is the most time-consuming to write. Compile and summarize any data, articles and research studies on trends that could positively and negatively affect your business or industry.
  • Marketing plan: The marketing plan identifies the characteristics of your product or service, summarizes the SWOT analysis and analyzes competitors. It also discusses how you’ll promote your business, how much money will be spent on marketing and how long the campaign is expected to last.
  • Financial plan: The financial plan is perhaps the core of the business plan because, without money, the business will not move forward. Include a proposed budget in your financial plan along with projected financial statements, such as an income statement, a balance sheet and a statement of cash flows. Usually, five years of projected financial statements are acceptable. This section is also where you should include your funding request if you’re looking for outside funding.

Learn more: Download our free simple business plan template .

Come Up With an Exit Strategy

An exit strategy is important for any business that is seeking funding because it outlines how you’ll sell the company or transfer ownership if you decide to retire or move on to other projects. An exit strategy also allows you to get the most value out of your business when it’s time to sell. There are a few different options for exiting a business, and the best option for you depends on your goals and circumstances.

The most common exit strategies are:

  • Selling the business to another party
  • Passing the business down to family members
  • Liquidating the business assets
  • Closing the doors and walking away

Develop a Scalable Business Model

As your small business grows, it’s important to have a scalable business model so that you can accommodate additional customers without incurring additional costs. A scalable business model is one that can be replicated easily to serve more customers without a significant increase in expenses.

Some common scalable business models are:

  • Subscription-based businesses
  • Businesses that sell digital products
  • Franchise businesses
  • Network marketing businesses

Start Planning for Taxes

One of the most important things to do when starting a small business is to start planning for taxes. Taxes can be complex, and there are several different types of taxes you may be liable for, including income tax, self-employment tax, sales tax and property tax. Depending on the type of business you’re operating, you may also be required to pay other taxes, such as payroll tax or unemployment tax.

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When structuring your business, it’s essential to consider how each structure impacts the amount of taxes you owe, daily operations and whether your personal assets are at risk.

An LLC limits your personal liability for business debts. LLCs can be owned by one or more people or companies and must include a registered agent . These owners are referred to as members.

  • LLCs offer liability protection for the owners
  • They’re one of the easiest business entities to set up
  • You can have a single-member LLC
  • You may be required to file additional paperwork with your state on a regular basis
  • LLCs can’t issue stock
  • You’ll need to pay annual filing fees to your state

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

An LLP is similar to an LLC but is typically used for licensed business professionals such as an attorney or accountant. These arrangements require a partnership agreement.

  • Partners have limited liability for the debts and actions of the LLP
  • LLPs are easy to form and don’t require much paperwork
  • There’s no limit to the number of partners in an LLP
  • Partners are required to actively take part in the business
  • LLPs can’t issue stock
  • All partners are personally liable for any malpractice claims against the business

Sole Proprietorship

If you start a solo business, you might consider a sole proprietorship . The company and the owner, for legal and tax purposes, are considered the same. The business owner assumes liability for the business. So, if the business fails, the owner is personally and financially responsible for all business debts.

  • Sole proprietorships are easy to form
  • There’s no need to file additional paperwork with your state
  • You’re in complete control of the business
  • You’re personally liable for all business debts
  • It can be difficult to raise money for a sole proprietorship
  • The business may have a limited lifespan


A corporation limits your personal liability for business debts just as an LLC does. A corporation can be taxed as a C corporation (C-corp) or an S corporation (S-corp). S-corp status offers pass-through taxation to small corporations that meet certain IRS requirements. Larger companies and startups hoping to attract venture capital are usually taxed as C-corps.

  • Corporations offer liability protection for the owners
  • The life span of a corporation is not limited
  • A corporation can have an unlimited number of shareholders
  • Corporations are subject to double taxation
  • They’re more expensive and complicated to set up than other business structures
  • The shareholders may have limited liability

Before you decide on a business structure, discuss your situation with a small business accountant and possibly an attorney, as each business type has different tax treatments that could affect your bottom line.

Helpful Resources

  • How To Set Up an LLC in 7 Steps
  • How To Start a Sole Proprietorship
  • How To Start a Corporation
  • How To Start a Nonprofit
  • How To Start a 501(c)(3)

There are several legal issues to address when starting a business after choosing the business structure. The following is a good checklist of items to consider when establishing your business:

Choose Your Business Name

Make it memorable but not too difficult. Choose the same domain name, if available, to establish your internet presence. A business name cannot be the same as another registered company in your state, nor can it infringe on another trademark or service mark that is already registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Business Name vs. DBA

There are business names, and then there are fictitious business names known as “Doing Business As” or DBA. You may need to file a DBA if you’re operating under a name that’s different from the legal name of your business. For example, “Mike’s Bike Shop” is doing business as “Mike’s Bikes.” The legal name of the business is “Mike’s Bike Shop,” and “Mike’s Bikes” is the DBA.

You may need to file a DBA with your state, county or city government offices. The benefits of a DBA include:

  • It can help you open a business bank account under your business name
  • A DBA can be used as a “trade name” to brand your products or services
  • A DBA can be used to get a business license

Register Your Business and Obtain an EIN

You’ll officially create a corporation, LLC or other business entity by filing forms with your state’s business agency―usually the Secretary of State. As part of this process, you’ll need to choose a registered agent to accept legal documents on behalf of your business. You’ll also pay a filing fee. The state will send you a certificate that you can use to apply for licenses, a tax identification number (TIN) and business bank accounts.

Next, apply for an employer identification number (EIN) . All businesses, other than sole proprietorships with no employees, must have a federal employer identification number. Submit your application to the IRS and you’ll typically receive your number in minutes.

Get Appropriate Licenses and Permits

Legal requirements are determined by your industry and jurisdiction. Most businesses need a mixture of local, state and federal licenses to operate. Check with your local government office (and even an attorney) for licensing information tailored to your area.

  • Best LLC Services
  • How To Register a Business Name
  • How To Register a DBA
  • How To Get an EIN for an LLC
  • How To Get a Business License

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Open a Business Bank Account

Keep your business and personal finances separate. Here’s how to choose a business checking account —and why separate business accounts are essential. When you open a business bank account, you’ll need to provide your business name and your business tax identification number (EIN). This business bank account can be used for your business transactions, such as paying suppliers or invoicing customers. Most times, a bank will require a separate business bank account to issue a business loan or line of credit.

Hire a Bookkeeper or Get Accounting Software

If you sell a product, you need an inventory function in your accounting software to manage and track inventory. The software should have ledger and journal entries and the ability to generate financial statements.

Some software programs double as bookkeeping tools. These often include features such as check writing and managing receivables and payables. You can also use this software to track your income and expenses, generate invoices, run reports and calculate taxes.

There are many bookkeeping services available that can do all of this for you, and more. These services can be accessed online from any computer or mobile device and often include features such as bank reconciliation and invoicing. Check out the best accounting software for small business, or see if you want to handle the bookkeeping yourself.

Determine Your Break-Even Point

Before you fund your business, you must get an idea of your startup costs. To determine these, make a list of all the physical supplies you need, estimate the cost of any professional services you will require, determine the price of any licenses or permits required to operate and calculate the cost of office space or other real estate. Add in the costs of payroll and benefits, if applicable.

Businesses can take years to turn a profit, so it’s better to overestimate the startup costs and have too much money than too little. Many experts recommend having enough cash on hand to cover six months of operating expenses.

When you know how much you need to get started with your business, you need to know the point at which your business makes money. This figure is your break-even point.

In contrast, the contribution margin = total sales revenue – cost to make product

For example, let’s say you’re starting a small business that sells miniature birdhouses for fairy gardens. You have determined that it will cost you $500 in startup costs. Your variable costs are $0.40 per birdhouse produced, and you sell them for $1.50 each.

Let’s write these out so it’s easy to follow:

This means that you need to sell at least 456 units just to cover your costs. If you can sell more than 456 units in your first month, you will make a profit.

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There are many different ways to fund your business—some require considerable effort, while others are easier to obtain. Two categories of funding exist: internal and external.

Internal funding includes:

  • Personal savings
  • Credit cards
  • Funds from friends and family

If you finance the business with your own funds or with credit cards, you have to pay the debt on the credit cards and you’ve lost a chunk of your wealth if the business fails. By allowing your family members or friends to invest in your business, you are risking hard feelings and strained relationships if the company goes under. Business owners who want to minimize these risks may consider external funding.

External funding includes:

  • Small business loans
  • Small business grants
  • Angel investors
  • Venture capital
  • Crowdfunding

Small businesses may have to use a combination of several sources of capital. Consider how much money is needed, how long it will take before the company can repay it and how risk-tolerant you are. No matter which source you use, plan for profit. It’s far better to take home six figures than make seven figures and only keep $80,000 of it.

Funding ideas include:

  • Invoice factoring: With invoice factoring , you can sell your unpaid invoices to a third party at a discount.
  • Business lines of credit: Apply for a business line of credit , which is similar to a personal line of credit. The credit limit and interest rate will be based on your business’s revenue, credit score and financial history.
  • Equipment financing: If you need to purchase expensive equipment for your business, you can finance it with a loan or lease.
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) microloans: Microloans are up to $50,000 loans that can be used for working capital, inventory or supplies and machinery or equipment.
  • Grants: The federal government offers grants for businesses that promote innovation, export growth or are located in historically disadvantaged areas. You can also find grants through local and regional organizations.
  • Crowdfunding: With crowdfunding , you can raise money from a large group of people by soliciting donations or selling equity in your company.

Choose the right funding source for your business by considering the amount of money you need, the time frame for repayment and your tolerance for risk.

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You need to have insurance for your business , even if it’s a home-based business or you don’t have any employees. The type of insurance you need depends on your business model and what risks you face. You might need more than one type of policy, and you might need additional coverage as your business grows. In most states, workers’ compensation insurance is required by law if you have employees.

Work With an Agent To Get Insured

An insurance agent can help determine what coverages are appropriate for your business and find policies from insurers that offer the best rates. An independent insurance agent represents several different insurers, so they can shop around for the best rates and coverage options.

Basic Types of Business Insurance Coverage

  • Liability insurance protects your business against third-party claims of bodily injury, property damage and personal injury such as defamation or false advertising.
  • Property insurance covers the physical assets of your business, including your office space, equipment and inventory.
  • Business interruption insurance pays for the loss of income if your business is forced to close temporarily due to a covered event such as a natural disaster.
  • Product liability insurance protects against claims that your products caused bodily injury or property damage.
  • Employee practices liability insurance covers claims from employees alleging discrimination, sexual harassment or other wrongful termination.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance covers medical expenses and income replacement for employees who are injured on the job.
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Business tools can help make your life easier and make your business run more smoothly. The right tools can help you save time, automate tasks and make better decisions.

Consider the following tools in your arsenal:

  • Accounting software : Track your business income and expenses, prepare financial statements and file taxes. Examples include QuickBooks and FreshBooks.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) software : This will help you manage your customer relationships, track sales and marketing data and automate tasks like customer service and follow-ups. Examples include Zoho CRM and
  • Project management software : Plan, execute and track projects. It can also be used to manage employee tasks and allocate resources. Examples include Airtable and ClickUp.
  • Credit card processor : This will allow you to accept credit card payments from customers. Examples include Stripe and PayPal.
  • Point of sale (POS) : A system that allows you to process customer payments. Some accounting software and CRM software have POS features built-in. Examples include Clover and Lightspeed.
  • Virtual private network (VPN) : Provides a secure, private connection between your computer and the internet. This is important for businesses that handle sensitive data. Examples include NordVPN and ExpressVPN.
  • Merchant services : When customers make a purchase, the money is deposited into your business account. You can also use merchant services to set up recurring billing or subscription payments. Examples include Square and Stripe.
  • Email hosting : This allows you to create a professional email address with your own domain name. Examples include G Suite and Microsoft Office 365.

Many business owners spend so much money creating their products that there isn’t a marketing budget by the time they’ve launched. Alternatively, they’ve spent so much time developing the product that marketing is an afterthought.

Create a Website

Even if you’re a brick-and-mortar business, a web presence is essential. Creating a website doesn’t take long, either—you can have one done in as little as a weekend. You can make a standard informational website or an e-commerce site where you sell products online. If you sell products or services offline, include a page on your site where customers can find your locations and hours. Other pages to add include an “About Us” page, product or service pages, frequently asked questions (FAQs), a blog and contact information.

Optimize Your Site for SEO

After getting a website or e-commerce store, focus on optimizing it for search engines (SEO). This way, when a potential customer searches for specific keywords for your products, the search engine can point them to your site. SEO is a long-term strategy, so don’t expect a ton of traffic from search engines initially—even if you’re using all the right keywords.

Create Relevant Content

Provide quality digital content on your site that makes it easy for customers to find the correct answers to their questions. Content marketing ideas include videos, customer testimonials, blog posts and demos. Consider content marketing one of the most critical tasks on your daily to-do list. This is used in conjunction with posting on social media.

Get Listed in Online Directories

Customers use online directories like Yelp, Google My Business and Facebook to find local businesses. Some city halls and chambers of commerce have business directories too. Include your business in as many relevant directories as possible. You can also create listings for your business on specific directories that focus on your industry.

Develop a Social Media Strategy

Your potential customers are using social media every day—you need to be there too. Post content that’s interesting and relevant to your audience. Use social media to drive traffic back to your website where customers can learn more about what you do and buy your products or services.

You don’t necessarily need to be on every social media platform available. However, you should have a presence on Facebook and Instagram because they offer e-commerce features that allow you to sell directly from your social media accounts. Both of these platforms have free ad training to help you market your business.

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To scale your business, you need to grow your customer base and revenue. This can be done by expanding your marketing efforts, improving your product or service, collaborating with other creators or adding new products or services that complement what you already offer.

Think about ways you can automate or outsource certain tasks so you can focus on scaling the business. For example, if social media marketing is taking up too much of your time, consider using a platform such as Hootsuite to help you manage your accounts more efficiently. You can also consider outsourcing the time-consumer completely.

You can also use technology to automate certain business processes, including accounting, email marketing and lead generation. Doing this will give you more time to focus on other aspects of your business.

When scaling your business, it’s important to keep an eye on your finances and make sure you’re still profitable. If you’re not making enough money to cover your costs, you need to either reduce your expenses or find ways to increase your revenue.

Build a Team

As your business grows, you’ll need to delegate tasks and put together a team of people who can help you run the day-to-day operations. This might include hiring additional staff, contractors or freelancers.

Resources for building a team include:

  • Hiring platforms: To find the right candidates, hiring platforms, such as Indeed and Glassdoor, can help you post job descriptions, screen résumés and conduct video interviews.
  • Job boards: Job boards such as Craigslist and Indeed allow you to post open positions for free.
  • Social media: You can also use social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook to find potential employees.
  • Freelance platforms: Using Upwork, Freelancer and Fiverr can help you find talented freelancers for one-time or short-term projects. You can also outsource certain tasks, such as customer service, social media marketing or bookkeeping.

You might also consider partnering with other businesses in your industry. For example, if you’re a wedding planner, you could partner with a florist, photographer, catering company or venue. This way, you can offer your customers a one-stop shop for all their wedding needs. Another example is an e-commerce store that partners with a fulfillment center. This type of partnership can help you save money on shipping and storage costs, and it can also help you get your products to your customers faster.

To find potential partnerships, search for businesses in your industry that complement what you do. For example, if you’re a web designer, you could partner with a digital marketing agency.

You can also search for businesses that serve the same target market as you but offer different products or services. For example, if you sell women’s clothing, you could partner with a jewelry store or a hair salon.

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To rank the best states to start a business in 2024, Forbes Advisor analyzed 18 key metrics across five categories to determine which states are the best and worst to start a business in. Our ranking takes into consideration factors that impact businesses and their ability to succeed, such as business costs, business climate, economy, workforce and financial accessibility in each state. Check out the full report .

Starting a small business takes time, effort and perseverance. But if you’re willing to put in the work, it can be a great way to achieve your dreams and goals. Be sure to do your research, create a solid business plan and pivot along the way. Once you’re operational, don’t forget to stay focused and organized so you can continue to grow your business.

How do I start a small business with no money?

There are several funding sources for brand-new businesses and most require a business plan to secure it. These include the SBA , private grants, angel investors, crowdfunding and venture capital.

What is the best business structure?

The best business structure for your business will depend entirely on what kind of company you form, your industry and what you want to accomplish. But any successful business structure will be one that will help your company set realistic goals and follow through on set tasks.

Do I need a business credit card?

You don’t need one, but a business credit card can be helpful for new small businesses. It allows you to start building business credit, which can help you down the road when you need to take out a loan or line of credit. Additionally, business credit cards often come with rewards and perks that can save you money on business expenses.

Do I need a special license or permit to start a small business?

The answer to this question will depend on the type of business you want to start and where you’re located. Some businesses, such as restaurants, will require a special permit or license to operate. Others, such as home daycare providers, may need to register with the state.

How much does it cost to create a business?

The cost of starting a business will vary depending on the size and type of company you want to create. For example, a home-based business will be less expensive to start than a brick-and-mortar store. Additionally, the cost of starting a business will increase if you need to rent or buy commercial space, hire employees or purchase inventory. You could potentially get started for free by dropshipping or selling digital goods.

How do I get a loan for a new business?

The best way to get a loan for a new business is to approach banks or other financial institutions and provide them with a business plan and your financial history. You can also look into government-backed loans, such as those offered by the SBA. Startups may also be able to get loans from alternative lenders, including online platforms such as Kiva.

Do I need a business degree to start a business?

No, you don’t need a business degree to start a business. However, acquiring a degree in business or a related field can provide you with the understanding and ability to run an effective company. Additionally, you may want to consider taking some business courses if you don’t have a degree to learn more about starting and running a business. You can find these online and at your local Small Business Administration office.

What are some easy businesses to start?

One of the easiest businesses to start also has the lowest overhead: selling digital goods. This can include items such as e-books, online courses, audio files or software. If you have expertise in a particular area or niche, this is a great option for you. Dropshipping is also a great option because you don’t have to keep inventory. You could also buy wholesale products or create your own. Once you create your product, you can sell it through your own website or third-party platforms such as Amazon or Etsy.

What is the most profitable type of business?

There is no one answer to this question because the most profitable type of business will vary depending on a number of factors, such as your industry, location, target market and business model. However, some businesses tend to be more profitable than others, such as luxury goods, high-end services, business-to-business companies and subscription-based businesses. If you’re not sure what type of business to start, consider your strengths and interests, as well as the needs of your target market, to help you choose a profitable business idea.

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14 Best Startup Books to Read

By: Angela Robinson | Updated: August 12, 2023

You found our list of top startup books .

Startup books are guides to launching and growing new businesses. These works cover topics like raising capital, introducing products to market, building a brand, and growing at a sustainable rate. The purpose of these books is to position founders to more effectively manage the stress and challenges of building a business from the ground up and to increase the chances of long term success. These works are also known as “books on startups.”

These works are a type of business book and are similar to books on entrepreneurship , small business books and franchise books .

This list includes:

  • business startup books
  • books for startup entrepreneurs
  • startup books for beginners
  • books about startups
  • books for tech startups

Here we go!

List of startup books

Here is a list of must-read books on startups to help build and scale businesses from scratch.

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

The Lean Startup Book Cover

The Lean Startup is one of the bestselling tech startup books. The Lean Startup methodology consists of five main principles:

  • Entrepreneurs are everywhere
  • Entrepreneurship is management
  • Validated learning
  • Build-Measure-Learn
  • Innovative accounting

By following these guidelines, entrepreneurs can conserve costs, operate more effectively, and avoid common pitfalls, all while scaling the company and maximizing the creativity of the staff. The book teachers readers how to form and articulate a vision, test and experiment ideas, adapt to change, and grow sustainably. The Lean Startup is a handbook for building strong startup foundations that help organizations achieve longevity.

Notable Quote: “Success is not delivering a feature; success is learning how to solve the customer’s problem.”

Buy The Lean Startup .

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

Zero To One Book Cover

Zero to One is one of the most popular entrepreneur startup books. Peter Thiel co-founded PayPal and Palantir and launched a profitable VC that invested in top companies like Facebook, and Blake Masters served as COO of Thiel Capital. The authors use this combined expertise and experience to guide founders through the intricacies of the startup world. The central premise of the book is that major startups do not merely reimagine existing ideas, but rather innovate and present entirely new products to market. Zero to One teaches entrepreneurs how to overcome stagnation, create revolutionary technology or concepts, and launch a business that reshapes the business landscape and the world.

Notable Quote: “All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition.”

Buy Zero to One .

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3. The Startup Checklist: 25 Steps to a Scalable, High-Growth Business by David S. Rose

The Startup Checklist Book Cover

The Startup Checklist is one of the more comprehensive startup guide books. Serial entrepreneur and investor David S. Rose provides step-by-step instructions and actionable advice for launching and growing a successful startup. The book covers topics like finding a viable business model, networking with other entrepreneurs, navigating the legal and financial systems, building strong teams, and securing funding. The Startup Checklist provides a roadmap for building a business that includes all the most crucial operational elements.

Notable Quote: “In particular, it is crucial at the beginning to distinguish the business concept from the product concept. ”

Buy The Startup Checklist .

4. High Growth Handbook: Scaling Startups From 10 to 10,000 People by Elad Gil

High Growth Handbook Book Cover

High Growth Handbook is a playbook for rapidly scaling startups. The book analyzes the evolution of successful, high-growth companies such as Twitter, Google, Stripe, and Airbnb and points out patterns in the behaviors that enable entrepreneurs to expand the company quickly. The handbook covers topics such as recruiting and working with a C-suite, interacting with board members, navigating initial public offerings, and securing late stage funding. High Growth Handbook shows founders how to spur hyper growth without losing control, forgetting the core vision, or sacrificing company culture.

Notable Quote: “All startup advice is only useful in context, and I am a firm believer that the only good generic startup advice is that there is no good generic startup advice.”

Buy High Growth Handbook .

5. Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World by Rand Fishkin

Lost and Founder Book Cover

Lost and Founder is one of the best startup books for beginners. Rand Fishkin lays out an honest account of the trials and tribulations of founding and scaling a startup. The book discards the romance of the overnight sensation narrative in favor of the reality that running a successful startup requires years of hard work and mindful strategizing. Chapters come with titles such as “don’t raise money for the wrong reasons or from the wrong people,” or “startups carry their founders’ baggage,” and cover topics such as pivoting, scalable marketing, and launching products at the opportune moment. Lost and Founder presents “startup chat codes,” that are less shortcuts and more self-awareness, research, and filtering through the noise to find the right advice.

Notable Quote: “Growth hacks alone can’t solve all your marketing problems, but the right ones may add immense value to an already humming marketing flywheel.”

Buy Lost and Founder .

6. The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you by Rob Fitzpatrick

The Mom Test Book Cover

The Mom Test lays out the hypothesis that in the same way mothers will agree with you out of love, many collaborators and bystanders will exaggerate or fib in an effort to show support. Asking others’ opinions outright is not the most reliable method of evaluating ideas. Instead, entrepreneurs must learn how to ask the right questions and find audiences that are likelier to be honest. The Mom Test lays out formulas for avoiding bad data, wording constructive questions, and connecting more authentically with customers. This book is a recipe for cutting through hype and flattery and finding the truths that will help to guide organizational improvements.

Notable Quote: “It boils down to this: you aren’t allowed to tell them what their problem is, and in return, they aren’t allowed to tell you what to build. They own the problem, you own the solution.”

Buy The Mom Test .

7. Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz

Lean Analytics Book Cover

Lean Analytics is a guide on using data to inform startup business decisions. By paying attention to numbers, founders can grow startups more quickly. Measurable metrics can help founders accurately gauge the interest and needs of potential clients and monitor consumer behavior. These measurements reveal whether a startup is on track to hit goals or whether a change of course may be necessary. The book explores topics like what makes a good metric, how to analyze data results, and how to use numbers in ways that spark meaningful change. Lean Analytics is a simplified encyclopedia of data analytics as well as an instructional guide for making data-driven entrepreneurial decisions.

Notable Quote: “Don’t just ask questions. Know how the answers to the questions will change your behavior. In other words, draw a line in the sand before you run the survey.”

Buy Lean Analytics .

8. Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

Traction Book Cover

Traction is one of the best business startup books. Having a good idea is not enough to make a startup survive. To last, new companies must progress and catch on with potential customers. Traction as a concept is the measurement of the public accepting a new idea, and Traction the book is a guide to gaining that momentum. The book explains how to set traction goals, measure momentum, maximize media exposure, and turn brand awareness into sales. This guide is comprehensive and covers the full scope of ways to increase visibility, including email marketing, community building, in-person engagements, and paid aids. Traction is a handbook for turning a startup into a household name using practical and sustainable tactics.

Notable Quote: “The only essential thing is growth. Everything else we associate with startups follows from growth.”

Buy Traction .

9. Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days by Jessica Livingston

Founders at Work Book Cover

Founders at Work is an anthology of startup beginnings. Following an interview with founders format, the book charts the early days of companies like Tripadvisor, Apple, PayPal, and Yahoo. Jessica Livingston is a cofounder of the famous Y Combinator startup accelerator, and this entrepreneurial expertise shows in the questions she asks the founders. The book reads like a conversation between thought leaders rather than a self-help guide. Nonetheless, Founders at Work is a helpful resource for startups looking to launch, struggling to survive, or aiming to innovate. The book offers a behind-the-scenes look at the scrambling starts that preceded the polished later days of huge companies.

Notable Quote: “Innovations seem inevitable in retrospect, but at the time it’s an uphill battle.”

Buy Founders at Work .

10. The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup by Noam Wasserman

The Founders Dilemmas Book Cover

The Founder’s Dilemmas explores the issues and tough decisions founders face when establishing startups. The book outlines the common mistakes made by new entrepreneurs and prescribes strategies and tactics to avoid these missteps. Chapters focus around concepts such as determining equity splits or cash compensation, hiring at the right time, and defining roles within the organization. Drawing on anecdotes and data from hundreds of founders, Noam Wasserman gives advice on how to navigate relationships with partners, employees, and investors and how to make decisions that benefit the company long term. The Founder’s Dilemmas is a reference guide for overcoming obstacles and steering startups out of tights spots.

Notable Quote: “A decision made at one point can make a subsequent decision turn out badly, even if that subsequent decision might have turned out well in different circumstances.”

Buy The Founder’s Dilemmas .

11. Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture Capital and How to Get It by Scott Kupor

Secrets of Sand Hill Road Book Cover

While most books on startups are written from a founder’s point of view, Secrets of Sand Hill Road shares secrets from a venture capitalist’s perspective. Having experience as both an entrepreneur and a VC, Scott Kupor is in the unique position of being equipped to offer practical funding advice to founders. The book shines a light on VC logic and investment strategy and gives leaders tips on topics like using narrative to persuade backers, preventing VC’s from interfering too heavily in daily operations, and laying the groundwork for sale or acquisition of the organization. Secrets of Sand Hill Road is a masterclass in the fundamentals of funding and is a valuable reference for any startup looking to raise capital.

Notable Quote: “In fact, you’ll often hear VCs say that they like founders who have strong opinions but ones that are weakly held, that is, the ability to incorporate compelling market data and allow it to evolve your product thinking. Have conviction and a well-vetted process, but allow yourself to “pivot” (to invoke one of the great euphemisms in venture capital speak) based on real-world feedback.”

Buy Secrets of Sand Hill Road .

12. Dear Female Founder: 66 Letters of Advice from Women Entrepreneurs Who Have Made $1 Billion in Revenue by Lu Li

Dear Female Founder Book Cover

Dear Female Founder speaks to the unique challenges and triumphs of launching, running, and growing a startup as a woman. The book collects words of dozens of female entrepreneurs, including philanthropists, venture capitalists, media moguls, and ecommerce entrepreneurs. The sections of the book focus on different stages of the startup journey, from starting, to learning, to reflecting on lessons. Dear Female Founder is an anthology of advice from one generation of female startup leaders to the next.

Notable Quote: “I believe that there is a need to reinvent the experience of startup incubation to address the challenges that women face. I also believe that women are the most under-tapped resource for economic improvement.”

Buy Dear Female Founder .

13. Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur by Derek Sivers

Anything You Want Book Cover

Anything You Want is one of the best online startup books. Derek Severs started an online CD business in the early 2000’s and went on to sell it for $22 million dollars. His story is a how-to guide on unconventional enterprises. The author advocates for finding and following your own entrepreneurial path instead of following rigid structures and arbitrary conventions. The book champions following your passion, bootstrapping sans traditional funding, and setting your own professional goals instead of striving for an ideal. Severs advises not to stress having a small yet loyal customer base and not to feel shame if your company is a current project instead of your life’s work. Anything You Want offers an alternative to the stereotypical startup narrative that is especially relevant for the internet age.

Notable Quote: “Never forget that absolutely everything you do is for your customers. Make every decision—even decisions about whether to expand the business, raise money, or promote someone—according to what’s best for your customers.”

Buy Anything You Want .

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

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

The Hard Thing About Hard Things remains one of the top selling startup books on the market. Entrepreneur and thought leader Ben Horowitz lays out the realities of building a startup and the tough choices that confront CEOs and founders along the way. The book tackles topics such as firing an executive, confronting beloved employees about poor performance, minimizing office politics, and striking a balance between accountability and creativity. The Hard Thing About Hard Things presents practical, firsthand advice about some of the most complicated yet lesser-discussed challenges in the startup world.

Notable Quote: “Spend zero time on what you could have done, and devote all of your time on what you might do.”

Buy The Hard Thing About Hard Things .

Society paints startup founders as revolutionaries who shake up systems and blaze trails into the future. While new companies can indeed have great impact on the world, the path to running a successful startup is nowhere as simple or straightforward as most folks make it out to be. Founding a new business comes with a unique set of challenges, and leaders can often feel lost when trying to figure out the best moves for each situation. Reading books about startups can help prepare ambitious entrepreneurs for the realities of starting and maintaining a brand new enterprise, and can help leaders better navigate the intricacies of innovative industry in the midst of crisis or change.

For more reading, check out these lists of innovation books , marketing books , training and development books , and books on change management .

We also have a list of books on business finance .

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FAQ: Startup books

Here are answers to common questions about books on startups.

What are startup books?

Startup books are guides to launching and growing brand new companies. These works cover topics such as securing funding, growth hacking, marketing and brand-building, and weathering adversity.

What are the best startup books for beginners?

The best startup books for beginners include Lost and Founder by Rand Fishkin, The Startup Checklist by David S. Rose, and The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

What are some books every startup founder should read?

Some books every startup founder should read include The Founder’s Dilemmas by Noam Wasserman, Secrets of Sand Hill Road by Scott Kupor, and Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters.

Is reading books on startups helpful for starting a business?

Reading books on startups is helpful in building a business because these guides prepare founders for the challenges of entrepreneurship and help leaders avoid the common pitfalls that befall young companies. Founders often cannot rely on members of the organization or industry for guidance, and advice and insights from established entrepreneurs can be a valuable resource in navigating competitive and constantly changing business landscapes.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Marketing Coordinator at Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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Marketing Coordinator at

Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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The Best Business Accounting Software Services of 2024

The best accounting software makes managing your books easy, with precision accuracy and efficient automation.

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  • Starts at $30 per month
  • Easy setup and intuitive platform
  • Integration with many apps

Xero company logo

  • Starts at $15 per month
  • Unlimited users on all plans
  • Free onboarding support

Plooto company logo

  • Starts at $32 per month
  • Automated accounts payable/receivable
  • Accelerated payments

Freshbooks company logo

  • Starts at $19 per month
  • Professional invoice creation
  • Automated invoicing

Zoho Books logo

  • Automated accounting tasks
  • Useful client portal

Table of Contents

Why you should trust us.

To choose our list of the best accounting software, our small business experts spent hours researching and testing some of the most popular solutions on the market. We started by examining subscription prices, plans and fees to determine which platforms offered the most value for the money. Then, we got to work testing some of the most important features, like invoicing tools, accounts payable and receivable management, payment reminders, support for contractors and financial reporting. We also looked for platforms that were customizable, enabling users to adjust dashboards to present the most important information at a glance. Finally, we considered customer reviews and how users’ real-life experience lined up with our research. Learn more about our methodology .

Managing your business finances with spreadsheets might work when you first start out, but it can soon become challenging and lead to errors. That’s where accounting software comes in. We’ve reviewed and tested leading solutions on the market and chose the best accounting software for your business. The platforms on this list can help you streamline the process of tracking your expenses and revenue, reduce manual errors and understand the financial health of your business at a glance. These tools are indispensable to helping a small business grow, and with our firsthand insights and guidance below, you’ll be able to easily select the best accounting software for your needs and your budget.

Quickbooks Online dashboard

This example of an accounting software dashboard comes from our test of QuickBooks Online, one of our best picks.

Best Accounting Software of 2024

  • QuickBooks Online: Best for Small Businesses
  • Xero: Best for Payments
  • Plooto: Best for Accounts Payable
  • FreshBooks Accounting: Best for Invoicing
  • Zoho Books Accounting: Best for Microbusinesses
  • Wave Financial: Best Free Accounting Software

How We Decided

Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.

Compare Our Best Picks

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Our Top Picks for 2024
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Review Link

Our Reviews

  • Pricing: Starts at $30 per month
  • Service Plan Options: Three plans
  • Free trial: 30 days

Top Features

Our favorite QuickBooks Online features that we tested are its customizable dashboard, comprehensive reporting tools, and accountant and bookkeeper integrations.

QuickBooks Online also offers a 50 percent discount for the first three months of service when you forgo the 30-day free trial period and subscribe straightaway.

Quickbooks Online analytics

While testing QuickBooks Online, we were impressed by how many pre-built reports there are before you even create any custom reports. Many business owners will have everything they need in the reporting module already.

  • QuickBooks Online stood out in our testing for its usability, range of features and a variety of pricing plans suitable for businesses of different sizes.
  • QuickBooks Online also offers bookkeepers and Certified ProAdvisors to provide professional help and guidance.
  • QuickBooks Online is easy to set up and begin using.
  • Only the highest-priced QuickBooks plan allows for unlimited reports-only users.
  • Each plan only supports a limited number of users.
  • To obtain the lowest price possible, you must forego the free trial.

Who is it for?

QuickBooks Online is suitable for small and growing businesses that want a scalable solution with expert support options.

Read our full QuickBooks Online review.

  • Pricing: Starts at $15 per month
  • Free Trial: 30 days

Our favorite features in our test of Xero included its tools for bill pay management, its customizable dashboard and its bookkeeping features.

Xero also offers frequent discounts. They are currently offering a 60 percent discount for four months of service.

Xero customizable dashboard

We were impressed by Xero’s clean, intuitive and customizable dashboard during our test, as well as the helpful guided setup the software offers.

  • Xero offers some of the best data visualizations we tested during our review of accounting software.
  • Xero offers thousands of third-party integrations, making it easy to integrate it with other business software.
  • Xero offers 24/7 support services via email and live chat, so you can contact customer service at any time.
  • To request help when you need it, you’ll have to submit a support ticket rather than just picking up the phone.
  • Xero is only effective for project tracking at the most expensive pricing tier.

Xero accounting software is for small businesses that want to streamline supplier payments and those who like detailed data visualizations and at-a-glance reporting.

Read our full Xero review.

  • Pricing: Starts at $32 per month
  • Service Plan Options: Two plans

In our test of Plooto’s accounting software, we especially liked the automated invoice and billing tools. We also found the smart approval workflows, which streamlines the approval process for payments, to be especially valuable.

Plooto uploading documents

In our test drive of Plooto, it was easy to get started managing your accounts payable and receivable by connecting your accounting software and uploading business documents. 

  • Plooto offers automation features that make it easy to streamline your accounting processes and reduce manual labor, especially around accounts payable and receivable.
  • Plooto’s payment platform lets you manage payments, approvals and reconciliation from one central location.
  • You can import your bills into Plooto and then pay them in one click.
  • Plooto only supports accounts receivable and payable automation, it is not a complete accounting software.
  • International payments are expensive with Plooto at $10 per transaction.

Plooto is for businesses that prioritize efficiency and want to reduce the amount of time spent manually conducting accounting tasks.

Read our full Plooto review.

  • Pricing: Starts at $19 per month
  • Service Plan Options: Three plans plus a custom option

Our favorite features during our test of Freshbooks accounting software included its invoicing and project management tools, and the Gusto payroll integration.

FreshBooks offers coupon codes through certain partners, such as a 50 percent discount for four months of service that we found during our review.

Freshbooks features

In our trial of Freshbooks, we were impressed by the breadth of features available. We found the software highly effective for growing businesses that want a tool to scale alongside their company.

  • Freshbooks excels with its breadth and depth of features, as well as its vast integration marketplace.
  • FreshBooks makes it easy to craft invoices, accept payments through invoices, track expenses and send automatic reminders.
  • You receive a full suite of accounting tools to handle tasks such as tracking time and expenses and running financial reports.
  • It can get expensive to add several team members to the software.
  • Freshbooks does not offer vendor, inventory management or purchase-ordering features.

Freshbooks is ideal for business owners who want strong all-around accounting software that can scale with their business as it grows.

Read our full Freshbooks review.

  • Service Plan Options: Six plans
  • Free Trial: 14 days

Our favorite features that we tested during our review of Zoho Books included its support for 1099 contractors, overall usability and customization options.

Zoho Books tools

During our test of Zoho Books, we were impressed by its additional tools like project management and time tracking. This is useful for microbusinesses who want one software with multiple functions. 

  • Zoho Books offers tools specifically designed for sole proprietors or businesses working with independent contractors.
  • Zoho Books has apps for popular operating systems and devices, including Apple, Android and Windows.
  • You can send invoices, reconcile accounts, track and manage bills, and accept payments on the go.
  • Zoho Books limits your annual invoice volume, which may be challenging for some businesses.
  • Zoho Books does not offer tools for calculating quarterly taxes and other important business taxes. It only supports sales tax calculation.

Entrepreneurs who outsource a lot of labor to freelancers or who manage most administrative tasks on their own.

Read our full Zoho Books review.

Wave financial company logo

  • Pricing: Free subscription plus 2.9% transaction fee (1% for ACH transfers, 3.4% for AmEx transactions)
  • Service Plan Options: One plan
  • Free Trial: None

When testing Wave, our favorite features included its invoice management features, payment reminders and payroll add-on.

Wave Financial invoice templates

In our test of Wave, we especially liked how easy it was to build custom invoice and estimate templates. The tool was intuitive and made it simple to create beautiful, branded documents.

  • Wave’s free invoicing tools are easy to use and result in professional-looking invoices.
  • Wave gives you standard bookkeeping services for free.
  • Wave’s reporting suite is especially robust and impressive.
  • Wave’s integrations are far more limited than most of the competitors we reviewed.
  • Receipt uploads and tracking tools are paid add-ons not included in the subscription price.

Wave is best for new businesses or very small businesses that need basic accounting functionality at a low cost.

Read our full Wave review.

Accounting Software Costs

There are typically two types of pricing models for accounting software: perpetual licensing or a recurring subscription. With a perpetual licensing model, you make a one-time payment for unlimited access to the software. With a subscription pricing model, you pay a monthly or annual fee.

For subscription pricing, expect to pay anywhere from $15 per month for a basic starter plan to $350 per month for a more advanced service plan. Other factors, like the included features and number of users, affect the monthly cost as well.

Regardless of the pricing model you select, watch out for hidden fees. These can include charges for customization options, installation or setup services, integrations, and maintenance or support services.

If your business is on a tight budget, consider free accounting software. Wave, for instance, provides many of the accounting and invoicing features you would find in paid programs. Zoho Books also offers a free plan for businesses with under $50,000 in annual revenue.

When you’re choosing accounting and billing software for your business, we strongly encourage you to take advantage of free trials to test the solutions and see which one offers the tools you need. Plus, spending time with the software beforehand will help you feel more confident in your decision.

Accounting Software Features

Many aspects of accounting software make it a useful tool. If you’re a small business owner, it’s important to know which features to look for. Most online accounting software offers accounts receivable, accounts payable, banking and reporting features. Some programs include inventory management, project management, time tracking and payroll tools.

Here are some of the core features to look for in accounting software:

Bank feedAccounting software connects with your bank so that your banking transactions appear in your online ledger as well.
DashboardThe best accounting software platforms have organized, customizable dashboards with clear data visualization and organization features.
Online invoicingYou can create and send invoices from within most accounting software, so there’s no need to print or mail anything.
Recurring invoicesOften, accounting software includes automation features for sending recurring invoices each month.
Automatic payment remindersMany accounting software platforms regularly and automatically remind your customers to pay outstanding invoices.
Bank reconciliationAll accounting software should match your bank transactions to invoices, bills, purchase orders and expenses.
Financial reportingYou can use accounting software to generate basic forms, such as and advanced business health reports.
Mobile appsAlmost all accounting software platforms offer iOS and Android mobile apps, some of which include nearly all of the software’s features.
IntegrationsThe best accounting software integrates with point-of-sale systems, payroll services, HR platforms, customer relationship management software and more.
Tracking for billable hoursMany platforms include features for tracking your time spent per task or project, or they integrate with your third-party time-tracking platform.
Inventory managementSome accounting software includes tools for tracking your inventory, creating purchase orders and keeping your warehouses stocked.
Project-based billingWith this feature, you can bill your clients based on your time spent per project or task and your hourly rates.
Support for multiple businessesSome accounting software platforms let you use the same set of tools for more than one business.

This feature connects the software to your business bank and credit card accounts to provide a daily update of your transactions. This saves time, as you will not have to upload transactions manually. It also gives you a daily, rather than monthly, overview of your accounts. A real-time bank-feed feature can assist with reconciliation, which allows you to make it a small daily task rather than a monthly ordeal.

When you log in to your account, you’ll be greeted by a dashboard that shows you an overview of your account activity and key metrics, such as cash flow , profit and loss, account balances, expenses, accounts payable and receivable , and sales. Some accounting programs allow you to rearrange the information.

Online Invoicing

If your business sends invoices, the ability to email them and accept online payments helps you get paid faster. Most accounting programs integrate with third-party payment processors; others require you to use their in-house processing services. It’s a plus for accounting software to serve as an invoice generator.

Recurring Invoices

With this feature, you can schedule the system to automatically generate and send invoices for recurring charges, such as subscriptions. You can choose how frequently invoices are sent — daily, weekly, monthly or annually — and indicate whether there’s an end date to the billing.

Xero billing analytics

The best accounting software offers easy ways to track your outstanding invoices and accounts receivable. This example comes from our test of Xero.

Automatic Payment Reminders

This feature helps you remind customers about upcoming and past-due payments. Some have sample email text that you can use or customize. You can then choose when you want the reminders to be sent. Some programs give you the option to send thank-you emails to customers after you receive their payments.

Bank Reconciliation

Smart reconciliation tools identify potential matches between your bank transactions and the invoices you’ve entered into the accounting software. This saves you the time it would otherwise take to sift through your bank account for this information. You can then approve or deny the suggested matches. The best applications suggest potential matches as you reconcile your accounts, and a few include a reconciliation tool in their mobile apps.

Financial Reporting

Every accounting program can generate financial reports. But some are more basic than others, and some require you to subscribe to a pricier plan for advanced reporting. If you need specific types of financial reports , make sure they’re included in the software application and plan you choose. Detailed reports can help you interpret your financial data to make informed business decisions.

Mobile Apps

Not all accounting and invoicing programs have mobile apps, but the best ones do. There is, however, quite a range in the capabilities of mobile apps. Some can only capture receipts for expense tracking , some allow you to create and send invoices, and others have almost every feature the web-based software does. It’s worth checking if the software you’re considering offers a mobile app and, if so, what features will help you manage your business while you’re away from the office. Did You Know? Did you know The best accounting software mobile apps include all of the features available in the browser version.


The ability to connect your accounting software to other business programs you use saves you valuable time because you don’t have to manually transfer data from one system to another. Payroll, payment processing, the best point-of-sale (POS) systems and the best customer relationship management (CRM) software are just a few of the popular types of integrations that are available with accounting software. Integration with systems you already use also cuts down on training time for employees who will use the software.

Quickbooks integrations

Most accounting software comes with a third-party app marketplace for integrations. This example comes from our test of QuickBooks Online. 

Tracking for Billable Hours

If you’re a consultant or your business bills clients by the hour, you need accounting software that allows you to track and bill your time or that integrates with the time-tracking program you already use. This is an important feature in the best accounting software for freelancers .

Inventory Management

If you have a retail, e-commerce or distribution business, you need an application that helps with inventory tracking and purchase orders. You may need to subscribe to a top-tier plan to get this feature, unless you use ZarMoney. If you need more advanced inventory features, look for software that integrates with a dedicated inventory management system.

Project-Based Billing

Firms, freelancers and consultants who work with clients on projects or jobs should look for accounting software that helps them track their projects’ tasks and budgets. The software should allow you to invoice customers for tracked time and bill them for project expenses.

Xero billing tools

Xero’s project-based billing tools are ideal for businesses that need to track materials and labor costs, ensuring each project stays on track and profitable.

Support for Multiple Businesses

Several programs we evaluated let you add more than one business to your account , though some companies charge extra for this convenience. Also, the types of accounting methods that are important to you will depend on the specific needs of your business. For example, if you run a small freelance business, project-based billing might be the most important feature. Or, if you plan to do some work on your mobile device, a full-featured mobile app might be at the top of your list.

Alternative Accounting Software Platforms to Consider

Want more options to choose from? These accounting software options are viable alternatives to the best picks listed above and may deserve your consideration if none of our favorites seem to fit the bill for your business.

  • Oracle NetSuite: For larger businesses that need a more powerful platform, Oracle NetSuite’s accounting software checks all the boxes. While its higher price point kept it off our list of best picks, it’s powerful enough to warrant it for enterprise-level companies that need sophisticated software that can manage the books and then some. As a sprawling enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, Oracle NetSuite is tailored to the needs of the individual business and pricing is custom. The company offers a 14-day free trial, though, so you can get a sense of how the software works and whether it’s right for your business. Check out our full review of Oracle NetSuite for more information.
  • Sage 50: If you’re looking for robust reporting and deep data-driven insights, Sage 50 is the accounting software for you. Starting at $49.58 per month, Sage 50 offers some of the strongest reporting tools we encountered in our review. While its higher price point and lack of a free trial kept it off our best picks list, it’s still a viable option for businesses that thrive on data analysis for decision making. Check out our full review of Sage 50 for more information.
  • Melio: Businesses that are looking for a free tool to support their bill pay and manage accounts payable should look no further than Melio. As you might expect from a free tool, Melio’s capabilities are somewhat limited compared to platforms that we named to our best picks list — but Melio does quite a lot without impacting a business’s budget. Very small businesses or new businesses can rely on Melio to make sure their accounts payable is organized and bills are paid on time and with ease, making it a useful tool to help get your accounting in order for no additional charge. It can also integrate with more comprehensive accounting tools as your business grows, so there’s no unwieldy data migration needed when adopting new accounting software. Check out our review of Melio for more information.
  • ZarMoney: Retail businesses and others that require advanced inventory management tools should consider ZarMoney. This cost-effective platform starts at just $15 per month and includes useful features for monitoring your inventory, whether that’s the goods you’re selling or the raw materials used in your manufacturing process. ZarMoney offers a 15-day free trial so you can take it for a test spin before buying. Although we were disappointed by the lack of a mobile application, we found ZarMoney an effective tool with strong integrations to other common business software, so you can easily tie it into your existing tech stack. Check out our review of ZarMoney for more information.
  • Neat: If you like to keep meticulous records, Neat is the accounting software you need in your corner. A strong tool for managing receipts and tracking expenses, Neat starts at $16.66 per month when billed annually and gives you all the tools to stay organized. If you want to test it out before committing, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial. You can even integrate Neat with your document management software to ensure nothing is filed out of place. Check out our review of Neat for more information.

Accounting Software Trends in 2024

According to data from The Brainy Insights the global accounting software market is projected to reach $37.63 billion by 2032. This figure reflects a compound annual growth rate of 10.5 percent across the decade. The following trends are likely to be part of that growth, shaping accounting software as it evolves to meet growing businesses’ needs.

Increasingly complex automation of repetitive or tedious accounting tasks has set some accounting software platforms apart from the crowd — and business owners want more of it. Expect to see increasingly sophisticated approaches to automation that take more of the burden off business owners in the coming years, freeing them and their staff up for more pressing tasks.

“As an entrepreneur, it can be very time-consuming to navigate and balance all the various needs of your business,” said Ben Richmond, country manager of the U.S. at Xero. “By utilizing technology that helps to automate your most mundane to-do’s, small business owners can better streamline tasks, free up time to focus on other important aspects of running (and growing) a business and save on costs. This includes things like automatic data entry from bank statements and receipts, automatic categorization of expenses and automated generation of reports.”

Artificial Intelligence

AI is set to drive continued growth in the accounting software sector. This technology is powering automation tools that streamline key accounting processes, thus minimizing tedious work. It’s also behind live-chat tools that make it easier to provide customer service.

“The widespread integration of artificial intelligence presents significant opportunities in the small business accounting landscape,” Richmond said. “AI-driven tools help to streamline time-consuming manual processes by delivering timely and relevant insights. This enhancement enables small business owners and their advisors to have more time to devote to more strategic areas of the business.”

Bookkeeper and accountant support

Many of the accounting software platforms we reviewed included a direct line to professional bookkeepers and accountants, giving business owners additional support when managing their books. This useful feature offers business owners access to professional guidance for no additional cost beyond their subscription price, helping them save money but still set their business up for success, especially at the earliest stages of their company.

“Partnerships between accounting platforms and accountants and bookkeepers will continue to remain an essential piece of the puzzle, as they enable more efficient workflows and collaboration,” Richmond said. “The personalized support from an accountant or bookkeeper allows small business owners more time to focus on their core business activities while ensuring their finances are in good hands with relevant strategic input. Especially with tax changes on the horizon, the need for personalized guidance will remain a crucial aspect of advisors’ work with their small business customers.”

Cloud computing improvements

Cloud computing revolutionized the accounting software space, offering users access to their data from any internet-connected device from any location. Although it may seem like all accounting software is now cloud-based by default, that doesn’t mean there is still room to grow; expect significant advancements in how accounting software integrates with other key business tools in the near future.

“I anticipate that cloud-based accounting will be used more broadly to offer real-time and accurate financial data. As a result, we’ll likely see even greater integration between accounting software and additional business tools as companies grow and develop their platforms, continuing to streamline operations and workflows,” Richmond said. “We’re also progressing from a phase where a wide ecosystem of top-tier tools emerged and integrated with one another within the cloud, to a new phase where tools are more deeply embedded within each other’s platforms.”

Business Accounting Software FAQs

What is accounting software.

Accounting software offers features for tracking the revenue and expenses of a business. The best small business accounting software has a wide range of reports that allow you to analyze the financial health of your business. These platforms also have dashboards that provide an at-a-glance overview of key financial aspects, like accounts receivable, accounts payable, historical sales data and cash flow. Small business accounting software is also useful for tax management, as it ensures that you accurately estimate your tax liabilities and save money accordingly. The best accounting software integrates with other key business systems, like payroll software and HR software, thereby eliminating the need to enter the same data manually in multiple systems.

What do you need from your accounting software?

You need accounting software that tracks the money moving in and out of your business, with both accounts payable and accounts receivable features. Some software solutions don’t include both accounts payable and accounts receivable information. Also, accounting software should connect to your bank and credit card accounts and automatically download your transactions. If your business is service-based, you may need project management tools . If your business sells products, you may want an accounting solution that has inventory management features. Finally, look for software that offers greater advantages by connecting to other business applications you already use, such as your POS system, CRM system or the best email marketing software .

Do you need online bookkeeping software instead of accounting software?

For small businesses, the term “online bookkeeping software” is usually interchangeable with “online accounting software.” (However, there is a difference between bookkeepers and accountants .) The best online accounting programs for small businesses have bookkeeping capabilities that allow you to record debit and credit transactions, as well as accounting features that let you run reports and analyze your business’s financial performance. Look for more than just a bookkeeping solution; accounting software should include more detail and let you generate invoices and detailed reports.

Should your accounting software also act as an invoice generator?

It depends on your business. If you generate (or expect to generate) a lot of invoices to send to clients, we recommend that you find a comprehensive accounting application with invoice-generating features. Freelancers should consider using accounting software that can generate invoices.

What does an online accounting service do?

Online accounting services can perform a wide range of tasks for busy business owners. Some focus on bookkeeping duties , such as entering and categorizing transactions, reconciling accounts, and generating financial statements and reports that you can take to your certified public accountant (CPA) at tax time. Others provide payroll and tax preparation services. Some — such as virtual controllers, chief financial officers and CPAs — provide high-level accounting services, like internal audits and financial planning and analysis.

Should small businesses look for certain accounting software attributes?

Small business owners should look for accounting software that is easy to install, simple to use, integrates easily with third-party apps, and provides a bevy of tools, including invoicing and inventory management. The best accounting software enables easy collaboration between you and your accountant.

Why should my business consider changing accounting software vendors?

Changing accounting software vendors is easier said than done. After all, you already uploaded all of your data to the platform and learned how to operate it. Nonetheless, there are reasons to consider a switch:

  • In the same way you shop for your insurance, you should check out what accounting competitors are offering from time to time. If you find a more affordable vendor that offers the features you need, that may be a reason to consider switching.
  • If your business grows and your accounting software can no longer support your operations, you may be due for an upgrade.
  • A surefire reason to switch accounting software is if your staff hates it. If they find it difficult to use, you may want to pay attention.

If you are considering switching accounting software, the best time to do so is at the end of your business’s fiscal year. The end of the quarter is the second-best option.

What business processes have been automated with accounting software?

Accounting software is used to extract data from large tax documents, create new journal entries, track payments, send invoices, and eliminate manual data entry. These tasks are both time-consuming and prone to human error. Automation can provide enormous time savings for finance departments that total thousands of hours annually, which is another reason to consider implementing accounting software.

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Costco Plans to Stop Selling Books Year-Round

The decision, which will be implemented in January 2025, could significantly impact publishers.

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A shopper in Costco looks over stacks of books.

By Elizabeth A. Harris and Alexandra Alter

In a blow to publishers and authors, Costco plans to stop selling books regularly at stores around the United States, four publishing executives who had been informed of the warehouse retailer’s plans said on Wednesday.

Beginning in January 2025, the company will stop stocking books regularly, and will instead sell them only during the holiday shopping period, from September through December. During the rest of the year, some books may be sold at Costco stores from time to time, but not in a consistent manner, according to the executives, who spoke anonymously in order to discuss a confidential business matter that has not yet been publicly announced.

Costco’s shift away from books came largely because of the labor required to stock books, the executives said. Copies have to be laid out by hand, rather than just rolled out on a pallet as other products often are at Costco. The constant turnaround of books — new ones come out every Tuesday and the ones that have not sold need to be returned — also created more work.

A Costco representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

The decision could be a significant setback for publishers at a moment when the industry is facing stagnant print sales and publishing houses are struggling to find ways to reach customers who have migrated online.

While Costco isn’t as critical a retail outlet as bookstore chains like Barnes & Noble, it has provided a way for people who might not otherwise seek out books to see them and perhaps grab a new thriller or a cookbook while shopping for socks and paper towels. Shoppers could also browse books at Costco in a way that is difficult to do online.

Costco had already stopped selling books in some markets, including Alaska and Hawaii. Publishing industry executives say other big box retailers remain committed to carrying books and have seen some success with the category.

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How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy in 9 Easy Steps [Free Template]

Creating your social media marketing strategy doesn’t need to be painful. Create an effective plan for your business in 9 simple steps.

How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy in 9 Easy Steps (Free Template) | Hootsuite

A social media marketing strategy is a summary of everything you plan to do and hope to achieve on social media. It guides your actions and lets you know whether you’re succeeding or failing.

The more specific your plan is, the more effective it will be. Keep it concise. Don’t make it so lofty and broad that it’s unattainable or impossible to measure.

In this post, we’ll walk you through a nine-step plan to create a winning social media strategy of your own. We’ve even got expert insights from Amanda Wood, Hootsuite’s Senior Manager of Social Marketing.

How to create a social media strategy:

Bonus: Get a free social media strategy template   to quickly and easily plan your own strategy. Also use it to track results and present the plan to your boss, teammates, and clients.

What is a social media marketing strategy?

A social media strategy is a document outlining your social media goals, the tactics you will use to achieve them and the metrics you will track to measure your progress.

Your social media marketing strategy should also list all of your existing and planned social media accounts along with goals specific to each platform you’re active on. These goals should align with your business’s larger digital marketing strategy.

Finally, a good social media plan should define the roles and responsibilities within your team and outline your reporting cadence.

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Create. Schedule. Publish. Engage. Measure. Win.

Creating your own social media marketing strategy (video guide)

No time to read the whole article? Let Amanda, Hootsuite’s own Senior Manager of Social Media Marketing, guide you through our free social media marketing strategy template in less than 10 minutes:

How to create a social media marketing strategy in 9 steps

Step 1. choose goals that align to business objectives, set s.m.a.r.t. goals.

The first step to creating a winning social media strategy is to establish clear objectives and goals. Without goals, you have no way to measure success and return on investment (ROI) .

Each of your social media marketing goals should be SMART : s pecific, m easurable, a ttainable, r elevant and t ime-bound.

Psst: Need help getting started? We’ve got social strategy guides for small businesses , financial services , government , higher education , healthcare , real estate , law firms , and non-profits .

Oh, and if you need examples of smart social media goals , we’ve got you covered there too.

track your social media goals in a social media strategy doc, like this one.

Once you’ve decided on your goals, track them in a social media strategy doc — grab our free template if you don’t have one already.

Track meaningful metrics

Vanity metrics like number of followers and likes are easy to track, but it’s hard to prove their real value. Instead, focus on things like engagement, click-through, and conversion rates.

For inspiration, take a look at these 19 essential social media metrics .

You may want to track different goals for different social media networks, or even different uses for each network.

For example, if you use LinkedIn to drive traffic to your website, you would measure click-throughs. If Instagram is for brand awareness, you might track the number of Instagram Story views. And if you advertise on Facebook, cost-per-click (CPC) is a common success metric.

Social media goals should align with your overall marketing objectives. This makes it easier to show the value of your work and secure buy-in from your boss.

Screenshot of chart showing how social media goals should align to business objectives for an effective social media marketing strategy.

Start developing a successful social media marketing plan by writing down at least three goals for social media.

“ It’s easy to get overwhelmed by deciding what to post and which metrics to track, but you need to focus on what you want to get out of social media to begin with,” says Amanda Wood, Hootsuite’s Senior Manager of Social Marketing. “Don’t just start posting and tracking everything: match your goals to your business, and your metrics to your goals.”

Step 2. Learn everything you can about your audience

Get to know your fans, followers, and customers as real people with real wants and needs, and you will know how to target and engage them on social media.

When it comes to your ideal customer, you should know things like:

  • Average income
  • Typical job title or industry

Here’s a simple guide and template for creating audience/buyer personas .

Document important information about your target customers in your social media strategy doc

Don’t forget to document this information in your strategy doc!

Social media analytics can also provide a ton of valuable information about who your followers are, where they live, and how they interact with your brand on social media. These insights allow you to refine your strategy and better target your audience.

Jugnoo, an Uber-like service for auto-rickshaws in India, used Facebook Analytics to learn that 90% of their users who referred other customers were between 18- and 34-years-old, and 65% of that group was using Android. They used that information to target their ads, resulting in a 40% lower cost per referral.

Check out our guide to using social media analytics and the tools you need to track them .

Step 3. Get to know your competition

Odds are your competitors are already using social media, and that means you can learn from what they’re doing.

Conduct a competitive analysis

A competitive analysis allows you to understand who the competition is and what they’re doing well (and not so well). You’ll get a good sense of what’s expected in your industry, which will help you set social media targets of your own.

It will also help you spot opportunities and weaknesses you can document in your social strategy doc.

track essential information about your competitors in your social strategy doc

Maybe one of your competitors is dominant on Facebook, for example, but has put little effort into X (Twitter) or Instagram. You might want to focus on the social media platforms where your audience is underserved, rather than trying to win fans away from a dominant player.

Use social media listening

Social listening is another way to keep an eye on your competitors.

Do searches of the competition’s company name, account handles, and other relevant keywords on social media. Find out what they’re sharing and what other people are saying about them. If they’re using influencer marketing, how much engagement do those campaigns earn them?

Pro tip : Use Hootsuite Streams to monitor relevant keywords, hashtags and accounts in real-time.

Try Hootsuite for free. You can cancel anytime.

As you track, you may notice shifts in how your competitors and industry leaders are using social media. You may come across new, exciting trends. You might even spot specific social content or a campaign that really hits the mark—or totally bombs.

Use this kind of intel to optimize and inform your own social media marketing strategy.

Just don’t go overboard on the spy tactics, Amanda advises. “ Make sure you aren’t ALWAYS comparing yourself to the competition — it can be a distraction. I’d say checking in on a monthly basis is healthy. Otherwise, focus on your own strategy and results.”

Step 4. Do a social media audit

If you’re already using social media, take stock of your efforts so far. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s working, and what’s not?
  • Who is engaging with you?
  • What are your most valuable partnerships?
  • Which networks does your target audience use?
  • How does your social media presence compare to the competition?

Once you collect that information, you’ll be ready to start thinking about ways to improve.

We’ve created an easy-to-follow social media audit guide and template to walk you through each step of this process.

Screenshot of a social media audit spreadsheet for building an effective social media marketing strategy

Your audit should give you a clear picture of what purpose each of your social accounts serves. If the purpose of an account isn’t clear, think about whether it’s worth keeping.

To help you decide, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my audience here?
  • If so, how are they using this platform?
  • Can I use this account to help achieve my goals?

Asking these tough questions will keep your social media strategy focused.

Look for impostor accounts

During the audit, you may discover fake accounts using your business name or the names of your products.

These imposters can be harmful to your brand—never mind that they’re capturing followers that should be yours.

You may want to get your accounts verified too to ensure your fans know they are dealing with the real you.

Here’s how to get verified on:

  • X (Twitter)

Step 5. Set up accounts and improve profiles

Decide which networks to use.

As you decide which social networks to use, you will also need to define your strategy for each.

Benefit Cosmetics’ social media manager, Angela Purcaro, told eMarketer : “For our makeup tutorials … we’re all about Snapchat and Instagram Stories. [X], on the other hand, is designated for customer service.”

Hootsuite’s own social team even designates different purposes for formats within networks. On Instagram, for example, they use the feed to post high-quality educational infographics and product announcements and Stories to cover live events or quick social media updates.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Hootsuite 🦉 (@hootsuite)

Pro tip : Write out a mission statement for each network. A one-sentence declaration to keep you focused on a specific goal.

Example: “We will use X for customer support to keep email and call volumes down.”

Or: “We will use LinkedIn for promoting and sharing our company culture to help with recruitment and employee advocacy.”

One more: “We will use Instagram to highlight new products and repost quality content from influencers.”

If you can’t create a solid mission statement for a particular social media channel, you may want to ask yourself if it’s worth it.

Note : While larger businesses can and do tackle every platform, small businesses may not be able to — and that’s ok! Prioritize social platforms that will have the most impact on your business and make sure your marketing team has the resources to handle content for those networks. If you need help focusing your efforts, check out our 18-minute social media plan .

Set up your profiles

Once you’ve decided which networks to focus on, it’s time to create your profiles. Or improve existing ones so they align with your strategy.

  • Make sure you fill out all profile fields
  • Include keywords people would use to search for your business
  • Use consistent branding (logos, images, etc.) across networks so your profiles are easily recognizable

Pro tip : Use high-quality images that follow the recommended dimensions for each network. Check out our always-up-to-date social media image size cheat sheet for quick reference.

We’ve also got step-by-step guides for each network to walk you through the process:

  • Create a Facebook business page
  • Create an Instagram business account
  • Create a TikTok account
  • Create a X (Twitter) business account
  • Create a Snapchat account
  • Create a LinkedIn Company Page
  • Create a Pinterest business account
  • Create a YouTube channel

Don’t let this list overwhelm you. Remember, it’s better to use fewer channels well than to stretch yourself thin trying to maintain a presence on every network.

Optimize your profiles (and content) for search

Never heard of social SEO ? It’s time to learn.

44% of Gen Z consumers use social platforms to research their purchase decisions, which means it’s extra critical that your channels are optimized for social search.

That means making sure your profile names are clear and descriptive, you’re including relevant hashtags and keywords in your bio and on every post, and you’re using features like alt text and captions to include your target keywords as naturally as possible.

Step 6. Find inspiration

While it’s important that your brand be unique, you can still draw inspiration from other businesses that are great on social.

“ I consider it my job to stay active on social: to know what’s trending, which campaigns are winning, what’s new with the platforms, who’s going above and beyond,” says Amanda. “This might be the most fun step for you, or the hardest one, but it’s just as crucial as the rest of them.”

Social media success stories

You can usually find these on the business section of the social network’s website. ( Here’s Facebook’s , for example.)

Case studies can offer valuable insights that you can apply to your own social media plan.

Award-winning accounts and campaigns

You could also check out the winners of The Facebook Awards or The Shorty Awards for examples of brands that are at the top of their social media game.

For learning and a laugh, check out Fridge-Worthy, Hootsuite’s bi-weekly awards show highlighting brands doing smart and clever things on social media.

Your favorite brands on social media

Who do you enjoy following on social media? What do they do that compels people to engage and share their content?

National Geographic, for example, is one of the best on Instagram, combining stunning visuals with compelling captions.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by National Geographic (@natgeo)

Then there’s Shopify. The ecommerce brand uses Facebook to sell themselves by showcasing customer stories and case studies.

And Lush Cosmetics is a great example of superior customer service on X. They use their 280 characters to answer questions and solve problems in an extremely charming and on-brand way.

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Source: lushcosmetics on X

Notice that each of these accounts has a consistent voice, tone, and style. That’s key to letting people know what to expect from your feed. That is, why should they follow you? What’s in it for them?

Consistency also helps keep your content on-brand even if you have multiple people on your social media team.

For more on this, read our guide on establishing a compelling brand voice on social media .

Ask your followers

Consumers can also offer social media inspiration.

What are your target customers talking about online? What can you learn about their wants and needs?

If you have existing social channels, you could also ask your followers what they want from you. Just make sure that you follow through and deliver what they ask for.

Step 7. Create a social media content calendar

Sharing great content is essential, of course, but it’s equally important to have a plan in place for when you’ll share content to get the maximum impact.

Your social media content calendar also needs to account for the time you spend interacting with the audience (although you need to allow for some spontaneous engagement as well).

Set your posting schedule

Your social media content calendar lists the dates and times at which you will publish types of content on each channel. It’s the perfect place to plan all of your social media activities—from images, link sharing, and re-shares of user-generated content to blog posts and videos. It includes both your day-to-day posting and content for social media campaigns.

Your calendar also ensures your posts are spaced out appropriately and published at the best times to post .

Pro tip: You can plan your whole content calendar and get recommended best times to post on every network based on your past engagement rate, impressions, or link click data in Hootsuite.

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Hootsuite’s Best Time to Publish feature

Determine the right content mix

Make sure your content strategy and calendar reflect the mission statement you’ve assigned to each social profile, so that everything you post is working to support your business goals.

(We know, it’s tempting to jump on every meme, but there should always be a strategy behind your social media marketing efforts!)

You might decide that:

  • 50% of content will drive traffic back to your website
  • 25% of content will be curated from other sources
  • 20% of content will support lead-generation goals (newsletter sign-ups, ebook downloads, etc.)
  • 5% of content will be about your company culture

Placing these different post types in your content calendar will ensure you maintain the right mix.

If you’re starting from scratch and you’re not sure what types of content to post, try the 80-20 rule :

  • 80% of your posts should inform, educate, or entertain your audience
  • 20% can directly promote your brand.

The 80-20 rule of social media publishing

You could also try the social media content marketing rule of thirds :

  • One-third of your content promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit.
  • One-third of your content shares ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses.
  • One-third of your content is personal interactions with your audience

The social media marketing rule of thirds

Whatever you decide on, be sure to document it in your strategy doc.

document your content pillars in your strategy doc

Don’t post too much or too little

If you’re starting a social media marketing strategy from scratch, you may not have figured out how often to post to each network for maximum engagement yet.

Post too frequently and you risk annoying your audience. But, if you post too little, you risk looking like you’re not worth following.

Start with these posting frequency recommendations:

  • Instagram (feed): 3-7 times per week
  • TikTok: 3-5 times per week
  • Facebook: 1-2 times per day
  • X (Twitter): 1-5 times per day
  • LinkedIn: 1-5 times per day

How often to publish on social media by each platform

Pro tip : Once you have your social media content calendar planned out, use a scheduling tool to prepare messages in advance rather than updating constantly throughout the day.

We might be biased, but we think Hootsuite is the best social media management tool. You can schedule social media posts to every network and the intuitive calendar view gives you a full picture of all your social activity each week.

Try It Free

Step 8. Create compelling content

Remember those mission statements you created for each channel in Step 5? Well, it’s time to go a bit deeper, a.k.a. provide some examples of the type of content you’ll post to fulfill your mission on each network.

If you’re not sure what to post, here’s a long list of social media content ideas to get you started. Or (to make it even easier) you can use an AI tool like OwlyWriter to generate on-brand content in a flash.

The idea here is to:

  • Keep your content aligned with the purpose of each network;
  • Show other stakeholders (if applicable) what kind of content they can expect to see on each network.

This last point especially will help you avoid any tension when your colleagues want to know why you haven’t posted their case study/whitepaper/blog post to TikTok yet. It’s not in the strategy, Linda!

Ideally, you will generate content types that are both suited to the network and the purpose you’ve set out for that network.

For example, you wouldn’t want to waste time posting brand awareness tweets if you’ve designated X/Twitter for primarily customer support. And you wouldn’t want to post super polished corporate video ads to TikTok, as users expect to see short, unpolished videos on that platform.

It might take some testing over time to figure out which type of content works best on which type of network, so prepare to update this section frequently.

We won’t lie: content creation isn’t as easy as everyone not on the social team seems to think. But if you’re struggling, Amanda suggests going back to basics.

The first question to ask is: is there cohesion between your content types? Is your content providing value? Do you have a good mix of entertaining, or educational content? What does it offer that makes a person stop and spend time? Creating a few different content pillars or categories that encompass different aspects of storytelling for your brand, and what you can offer your audience is a good start.

This brings us to Step 9.

Step 9. Track performance and make adjustments

Your social media marketing strategy is a hugely important document for your business, and you can’t assume you’ll get it exactly right on the first try.

As you start to implement your plan and track your results, you may find that some strategies don’t work as well as you’d anticipated, while others are working even better than expected.

That’s why it’s important to document your progress along the way.

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Look at performance metrics

In addition to the analytics within each social network (see Step 2), you can use UTM parameters to track social visitors as they move through your website, so you can see exactly which social posts drive the most traffic to your website.

Benchmark your results

You’ve got your numbers, but how do they stack up to the competition in your industry? Industry benchmarks are a great way to evaluate your performance against other businesses in your category.

If you’ve got Hootsuite Analytics , you can use our built-in social media benchmarking tool to compare the performance of your social accounts against the average of brands in your industry with just a couple of clicks.

You can set up custom timeframes, switch between networks — Instagram, Facebook, X (Twitter), LinkedIn, and TikTok — and look up benchmarks for metrics like followers, audience growth rate, engagement rate, clicks, shares, and much more.

You’ll also find resources to improve your performance  right in the summary section:

Industry benchmarking in Hootsuite Analytics: Performance summary with dedicated resources for improvement

Re-evaluate, test, and do it all again

Once this data starts coming in, use it to re-evaluate your strategy regularly. You can also use this information to test different posts, social marketing campaigns, and strategies against one another. Constant testing allows you to understand what works and what doesn’t, so you can refine your social media marketing strategy in real time.

You’ll want to check the performance of all your channels at least once a week and get to know the basics of social media reporting so you can track your growth over time.

Pro tip: If you use Hootsuite, you can review the performance of all your posts on every network in one place. Once you get the hang of checking your analytics, you may even want to customize different reports to show specific metrics over a variety of different time periods.

Surveys can also be a great way to find out how well your social media strategy is working. Ask your followers, email list, and website visitors whether you’re meeting their needs and expectations, and what they’d like to see more of. Then make sure to deliver on what they tell you.

Finalizing your social media strategy

Spoiler alert: nothing is final.

Social media moves fast. New networks emerge, others go through demographic shifts.

Your business will go through periods of change as well.

All of this means that your social media marketing strategy should be a living document that you review and adjust as needed. Refer to it often to stay on track, but don’t be afraid to make changes so that it better reflects new goals, tools, or plans.

When you update your social strategy, make sure to watch our 5-step video on how to updating your social media strategy for 2024:

Social media strategy template

Ready to start documenting? Grab your free social media strategy template below!

the cover page of Hootsuite's social media strategy template

What’s next? When you’re ready to put your plan into action, we’re here to help…

Save time managing your social media marketing strategy with Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can easily:

  • Plan, create, and schedule posts to every network
  • Track relevant keywords, topics, and accounts
  • Stay on top of engagement with a universal inbox
  • Get easy-to-understand performance reports and improve your strategy as needed

Try Hootsuite for Free

With files from Shannon Tien .

Do it better with Hootsuite , the all-in-one social media tool. Stay on top of things, grow, and beat the competition.

Become a better social marketer.

Get expert social media advice delivered straight to your inbox.

Christina Newberry is an award-winning writer and editor whose greatest passions include food, travel, urban gardening, and the Oxford comma—not necessarily in that order.

Amanda Wood is a senior social marketing professional who combines analytical and creative thinking to build brands.

As head of social at Hootsuite, Amanda oversees the global social strategy encompassing organic and paid social on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn, a social engagement and listening strategy, and an employee advocacy program.

As the leader of a high-performing social team, she has extensive experience collaborating with creatives to bring campaigns to life on social and drive business results.

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    Conclusion: If you want to get started on your business plan for your idea, check out one of your favored books from the list and start preparing. Below is a listing of recommended 7 best business ...

  22. What is the best book to read about the making of a Business Plan

    Most business books are recipe books. If you've ever cooked from a recipe it's pretty obvious that if you use different ingredients, even a slight variation, you will get a different outcome. Such is the case with making a business. Even if you're trying to copy a successful business plan step-by-step you'll get a much different result.

  23. Little Business Books That Have a Big Impact

    Just Do Your Best. by Chuck Harwood (Group Fare Productions) ISBN - 13:978-0881971019. In just 108 pages, the essence of performing successfully on your job is distilled and shared. In an out-of-the-ordinary management setting: a visit to a cattle ranch, Mr. Harwood identifies the five critical factors in job success.

  24. How To Start A Business In 11 Steps (2024 Guide)

    The best way to accomplish any business or personal goal is to write out every possible step it takes to achieve the goal. Then, order those steps by what needs to happen first. Some steps may ...

  25. 14 Best Startup Books to Read

    13. Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur by Derek Sivers. Anything You Want is one of the best online startup books. Derek Severs started an online CD business in the early 2000's and went on to sell it for $22 million dollars. His story is a how-to guide on unconventional enterprises.

  26. The Best Business Accounting Software Services of 2024

    Zoho Books also offers a free plan for businesses with under $50,000 in annual revenue. ... The best small business accounting software has a wide range of reports that allow you to analyze the ...

  27. Costco Plans to Stop Selling Books Year-Round

    By Elizabeth A. Harris and Alexandra Alter. June 5, 2024. In a blow to publishers and authors, Costco plans to stop selling books regularly at stores around the United States, four publishing ...

  28. How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy [Template]

    Step 7. Create a social media content calendar. Step 8. Create compelling content. Step 9. Track performance and make adjustments. Bonus: Get a free social media strategy template to quickly and easily plan your own strategy. Also use it to track results and present the plan to your boss, teammates, and clients.

  29. The Best Business Books Aren't Actually About Business

    One of my favorite "business books" is a scintillating autobiography by Alex Ferguson, the famous coach of Manchester United. It was written with Michael Moritz, who used to be a journalist ...