12 Best Entrepreneur Books in 2020

12 books for entrepreneurs

Are you a small business owner looking for that extra spark of motivation? Need to tap into some time-honored wisdom to give you the skills and perspective needed to revolutionize your business, marketing, and management style? We’ve collected recommendations and compiled a list of the best entrepreneur books to add to your reading list this year.

What books should I read to become a successful entrepreneur?

If you’re just starting out in your entrepreneurial journey, start with these books. If not, skip this section and head to the next: What should I read to become a better marketer?

1 – The Harvard Business Review Entrepreneur’s Handbook: Everything You Need to Launch and Grow Your New Business

Author: Harvard Business Review
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Book Cover for The Harvard Business Review Entrepreneur's Handbook: Everything You Need to Launch and Grow Your New Business

If you’re on the hunt to find out the age-old question, “how do you become a successful entrepreneur?” look no further than the Harvard Business Review’s Entrepreneur’s Handbook. It covers both breadth and depth of starting a business, with sections ranging from, “Preparing for the Journey” and “Defining Your Enterprise”, to “Financing Your Business”, “Scaling Up” and “Looking to the Future”. 

The book takes a linear look into entrepreneurship, from initial questions you should ask yourself as you start out on the journey, to end-stage questions like “how do you cash out on your business?”

This book is the go-to for newbies and is even applicable to mid-stage and seasoned entrepreneurs to brush up on their knowledge. 

2 – The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting and Running a Business: Turn Your Ideas into Money!

Author: Steve Mariotti
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Book cover of The Young Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting and Running a Business: Turn Your Ideas into Money!

“It doesn’t matter how old you are or where you’re from; you can start a profitable business,” says The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting and Running a Business’ author Steve Mariotti.

Through real-life anecdotes of young entrepreneurs, this book reveals how to transition your passions, skills, and even hobbies, into profit-churning business ideas. 

The author begins by describing the ideal mindset of entrepreneurs, then details how to get a business off the ground taking a crawl, walk, run approach.

It doesn’t matter how old you are or where you’re from; you can start a profitable business

Steve Mariotti

3 – Mind Your Business: A Workbook to Grow Your Creative Passion Into a Full-time Gig

Author: Illana Griffo
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Book Cover for Mind Your Business: A Workbook to Grow Your Creative Passion Into a Full-time Gig

Another great book that discusses how to build a successful business from scratch, Mind Your Business, forces readers to actively participate in building a foundation for a business. Through hands-on exercises—from developing your brand to designing products to identifying your legal and tax needs—this book guides you through the process to create a unique and customized roadmap for your business.

The strategies offered in this book are even rooted in truth. The author, Ilana Griffo, re-tells the formula that turned her creative hobby into a profitable design studio. Book cover to book cover, you can expect to learn:

  • Insider strategies from entrepreneurs
  • Tips to identify your core customers
  • Legal guidelines to shield yourself from legal woes
  • How to budget and forecast
  • Strategies to circumvent the ups and downs most startups face
  • Growth tips
  • Ways to knock out competition with online marketing (SEO and social media)

Mind Your Business puts you in the driver’s seat. It will help you navigate the journey of starting your first business and take your ambitions and ideas from wishful thinking to successful reality.

What should I read to become a better and more present entrepreneur? 

4 – Boss Up!: This Ain’t Your Mama’s Business Book

Author: Lindsay Teague Moreno
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Book cover for Boss Up!: This Ain’t Your Mama’s Business Book  Author: Lindsay Teague Moreno

So much of becoming and flourishing as an entrepreneur is mental. Many entrepreneurs have to overcome mental roadblocks like negative self-talk, lacking motivation, and having a fuzzy focus. 

Boss Up! helps you overcome those mental hurdles.

Especially if you are a boss-lady. 

The author, a former stay-at-home mom turned successful business owner, shares her enduring passion for helping women tap into their innate ambition and achieve success in their own business endeavors.

In reading the book, you can gain confidence knowing that having ambition doesn’t come in the way of other areas of your life and no matter your education or experience, you can tap into your passions and create a business that ignites the fire in you.

The book gives you the tools to create a real, solid business with ten distinct success philosophies that you will encounter on the journey to entrepreneurship, such as:

  1. How to think long term
  2. How to be yourself 
  3. How to use the un-sales tactic
  4. How to tell stories and connect through feeling
  5. How to understand your “why”
  6. Why brand consistency matters
  7. How to put on your positive pants
  8. Why you should keep learning
  9. How to treat your business as a business
  10. How to set goals and refuse to fail

5 – Fear Is My Homeboy: How to Slay Doubt, Boss Up, and Succeed on Your Own Terms

Author: Judi Holler
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Book Cover for Fear Is My Homeboy: How to Slay Doubt, Boss Up, and Succeed on Your Own Terms

Fear—it’s the fight or flight reaction.

Fear is my Homeboy is a book that allows you to harness fear and transpose it into a positive. 

It teaches you to shut down self-doubt so they can start taking action so you can become more confident in your daily life.

Inspired by improv theatre at The Second City Training Center’s Conservatory in Chicago, Holler’s book shares valuable, actionable advice on how to accept and even embrace fear, so you can live a more balanced and successful life. 

The manifesto of this book is clear: stop fear in its tracks. It allows you to reframe fear into opportunities so you can begin connecting in powerful and profitable ways. 

We can’t think of a better resource for business owners than this one, as fear is abundant in the world of entrepreneurship.

What should I read to become a better marketer?

6 – This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See 

Author: Seth Godin
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Book cover for This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See by Author Seth Godin

Famed author Seth Godin is at it again with This is Marketing, a #1 Wall Street Journal and  New York Times bestseller. This author of Permission Marketing to Purple Cow, Tribes, and The Dip, offers essential marketing wisdom in one compact, accessible, timeless book. 

The underpinning of the book revolves around the fact that great marketers don’t use consumers to solve their company’s problem; they use marketing to solve other people’s problems. 

Good marketers rely on empathy, connection, and emotion instead of spammy marketing messages.

This book helps to frame how your business is presented to consumers, in a way they want it. Godin uses his signature blend of insight, observation, and memorable examples to educate you on:

  • How to build trust and permission with core audiences
  • The art of positioning—figuring out who your business is for and not for
  • How to reach business goals by helping others
  • How to avoid old-school, unsuccessful marketing tactics
  • How tension can aid a purchase decision
  • How the basis of good marketing is good storytelling

7 – May I Have Your Attention, Please? Your Guide to Business Writing That Charms, Captivates and Converts

Author: Mich Slade
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Book Cover for May I Have Your Attention, Please? Your Guide to Business Writing That Charms, Captivates and Converts by Author Mich Slade

So much of marketing lies in the ability to communicate. And much of that communication happens with the written word. 

While many entrepreneurs view writing as a tedious and even pompous task, it doesn’t have to be. You can easily convey personality by cutting through the jargon and pinpointing your customers. 

Point blank: good writing = competitive advantage.

The book lays out 12 simple principles that permit entrepreneurs to enchant their “unicorn” customers with laser-sharp examples of what works and why. It offers business owners ways to breathe more life into their website, content marketing or sales materials.

Here are some additional takeaways of May I Have Your Attention, Please?:

  • Turn your dull-as-dishwater marketing into “can’t resist” copy – even without having writing experience
  • Make price irrelevant and be the only choice for your audience – all through copywriting
  • Learn what rules you should break in copywriting, as well as avoidable mistakes that are turning your customers off
  • How to look into the crystal ball and predict why people want to buy from you, and how to do it

[Extra resource: Whether you want to write more clickable headlines, or just become a better marketing copywriter, view our copywriting best practices.]

What should I read to become a better manager?

8 – Leaders Eat Last

Author: Simon Sinek
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Book Cover of Leaders Eat Last

Ever wondered what makes people tick? How about what compels people to compete vs. collaborate? Simon Sinek, author of best-seller Start With Why explores the difference between managers and leaders as well as the human tendencies that leaders can use to shape a beneficial work environment. 

“Leaders are the ones willing to look out for those to the left of them and those to the right of them. Leaders are the ones who are willing to give up something of their own for us. Their time, their energy, their money, maybe even the food off their plate. When it matters, leaders choose to eat last.” 

Simon draws on wide-ranging examples to illustrate leadership at it’s best—and worst—and also explores the biological, historical, and cultural forces that shape human behavior and decision making. 

9 – The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You

Author: Julie Zhuo
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Book cover of The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Author Julie Zho

Another book on the Wall Street Journal bestselling list is Julie Zhuo’s masterpiece, The Making of a Manager. After your business emerges from infancy stages—and if you want to grow—you must quickly learn how to manage a team. This is where this book comes in. 

Many people can manage numbers, marketing, and the non-human aspects of a business. Where the real challenge comes in is managing actual people. It’s safe to say not many people know what they’re doing when managing a team. 

But this book changes that.

Zhuo chronicles her own life starting as a rookie manager at 25 years old. Facing a million uncertainties as a manager, from personnel management and planning and hiring and firing staff, she was like a chicken with its head cut off. This book helps answer:

  • How do you translate teamwork into value? 
  • How can you be a steward of others’ careers?
  • What is the secret to leading with confidence in new and unexpected situations?

At its core, this book talks about how great managers are made, not born. It’s a digestible guide with realistic examples and insights, including:

  •  What makes a great manager (versus an average one)
  •  When you should look past an awkward interview and hire someone anyway
  • How to build trust with your reports through not being a boss
  • Where to look when you lose faith and lack the answers

Whether you’re new to the job, a veteran leader, or looking to be promoted, this is the handbook you need to be the kind of manager you wish you had.

10 – The One Minute Manager 

Authors: Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson M.D.
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Book cover of 10 - The One Minute Manager by Authors Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson M.D.

The One Minute Manager offers a classic story of a young man looking for an effective manager. Through the story, it offers relevant tips for any business owner who is looking for quick and effective ways of becoming a better leader. 

Written by two doctors, the book lays out timeless and practical secrets about leading others—and explains why these techniques continue to work so well.

As compelling today as the original was thirty years ago, the book was recently updated to reflect today’s modern challenges in a recent edition. 

What should I read to become more customer-centric? 

11 – The Service Culture

Author: Jeff Toister
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Book cover of The Service Culture by Jeff Toister

One of the most difficult tasks in today’s business world is appeasing customers. How do you actually do it? Well, read The Service Culture and find out. This step-by-step guide helps you develop a customer-focused culture—no matter the business or industry. 

Whether you’re fresh into the entrepreneurial journey or have been in business for years, this book offers actionable advice, straightforward exercises, and proven tools to align your business with upstanding customer service.

The book answers what customer-focused companies do differently to engage their employees and dives into ways to create and sustain a customer-obsessed culture.

12 – Be Our Guest (Revised and Updated Edition): Perfecting the Art of Customer Service (A Disney Institute Book)

Authors: The Disney Institute (Author), Theodore Kinni (Author)
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Book cover of Be Our Guest (Revised and Updated Edition): Perfecting the Art of Customer Service (A Disney Institute Book)  Authors: The Disney Institute (Author), Theodore Kinni (Author)

Who better to teach us about customer service than Disney. For decades, Disney has been able to anticipate every child (and adult’s) hopes and dreams by creating magical moments both tangible and intangible. Their secret? Exceeding expectations, rather than just meeting them. 

In the 10th anniversary of the original edition, Disney Institute, an institution that specializes in helping professionals view new possibilities through concepts not found in the typical workplace, is revealing even more of the business behind the magic of quality service. 

If you want a lighthearted read on customer service, read this book. It dives into the essentials of customer-orientation in the following sections: 

  • “Service, Disney Style”
  • “The Magic of Service”
  • “The Magic of the Cast”
  • “The Magic of Setting”
  • “The Magic of Process”
  • “The Magic of Integration

What is the best book for entrepreneurs?

If you’re looking for that one, specific entrepreneurial “bible” or blueprint, you won’t find it. There are so many books for entrepreneurs that vary in subject matter expertise. Our advice—pick one a month to read from here on out. Switch up the subject matter each month so you’re deep-diving into all areas of entrepreneurship—from marketing and management to customer service and finance. 

Whether you’re a newbie or seasoned business owner, devour every detail of the following 12 entrepreneur books and put it into practice in your own life. You will undoubtedly find new inspiration to move forward in 2020 with gusto and enthusiasm as a better business owner, leader, marketer and more! 

Do entrepreneurs read books?

Great entrepreneurs? They read all the time.

Whether you want to start a business in 2020 or are further along in your entrepreneurial journey when it comes to navigating an evolving business, evolving market place and acquiring the skills you need—books (literally) bring the knowledge home.

Of course, there are some topics that the print publishing industry simply can’t keep pace with. For that reason, here are a few recommended resources to get your daily dose of reading:

  • Stay abreast of the day’s headlines with Google News
  • Keep up with your favorite blogs & online publishers with feed readers (such as Feedly)
  • Keep a pulse on what your audience is asking about with Quora Spaces
  • Discover new topics related to your niche by checking in on Reddit

The books mentioned above will undoubtedly rev up your entrepreneurial engine and help set the stage for entrepreneurs from all walks of life. They cover essentials on every stage of the business, from starting from the ground up, building a brand, sustaining great customer service, and leading with grace.  

Keep every business book close to you and consult them often. You never know when you’ll need that extra spark of creativity and innovation. 

Looking for more top-notch resources to fuel you through the year ahead? View our marketing resources.