After spending several hours trying to come up with a perfect opening paragraph for this blog post I got a little demotivated. I’ve read hundreds of non-fiction books on different subjects and many authors claimed that this struggle for perfection is often just a sign of procrastination. We tend to look for excuses that will explain our lack of action and our reasons for postponing tasks.
This post isn’t about writing a perfect introduction, it’s about books so I’ll jump right into it.
Normally I order books on Amazon. Whenever I walk by a thrift shop I always walk in and spend 15-20 minutes browsing the used books section (and I often find a book that I keep hearing about). I’ve been reading quite a bit in the past few years and I just realized I only read non-fiction books. In fact, I tend to read books that would benefit my business or my personal life. Mixing business with pleasure.
I know that many of us don’t have the time to sit down and read a book but I still highly encourage everyone to give it a try. You can easily exchange a few hours of Netflix time for a few hours of reading. If you look at successful entrepreneurs you’ll learn that most of them read books. “85% of rich people read two or more education, career-related, or self-improvement books per month, compared to 15% of poor” (source: Business Insider). Books give you ideas. Books let you dig deep into people’s experiences, habits and personal traits. Books help you become better.
As we’re just starting a new year I am sure you’re setting up resolutions for 2016. If you are reading this very post, chances are you are planning to read books this year, more specifically books that will help you move forward in your life and your business. In this article I will give you a list of my favorite books (in no particular order) that helped me succeed more and that will certainly help you as well. I’ve read some of these gems several time and I am sure I will be re-reading some of these books again this year. So let’s do this.
30 Books You Must Read in 2016
1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
First published in 1937 this books became an instant hit selling millions of copies. Dale Carnegie’s bestseller will always be relevant as it teaches you how to become a better communicator and listener. This is the first “business-self-help” kind of book I ever read and I keep on rereading it.
Little spoiler before you read the book: it isn’t really about making friends or using some voodoo magic to influence people. However, it will teach you some of the (often forgotten) essential rules of communication and relationships. This book is a true MUST-read.
2. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
Whenever I try to describe this book to someone in a few short words, I say’s it’s like hardcore psychology described to a five year old. Dan looks into our behavior and explains that most of our actions could be easily predicted (if we understand follow and understand certain patterns).
When I first got this book I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to read it because I wanted to learn about marketing and this book was clearly about something else. Well, I read it (more than once) and this is exactly why I highly recommend it to every single person in sales and marketing. Predictably Irrational will help you understand your clients and in return make more sales. As simple as that.
3. All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin
If I had to pick a single world’s best “marketing expert” it would be Seth Godin. Maybe this is purely a personal choice but I simply love how Seth tells stories. Just watch some of his TED talks and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
All Marketers Are Liars is packed with great case studies, amazing stories and helpful advice. This book will be a great read for marketers and non-marketers alike. Actually, I’d suggest you read all books by Seth Godin, they’re all great.
4. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
This book came out in 2012 but I failed to read it all the way until the end of 2015. I kept hearing about it but thought it wasn’t for me because I don’t have any “Inner Creative Battles” since I am not really an artist in the pure sense of the word. However, I still bought a copy of this book.
Steven’s book is an amazing read for everyone out there. Artists who can’t finish (or start) their painting, writers who can’t finish their book, entrepreneurs who can’t start on their project and so on. This book will help you get through the most common obstacles and achieve your goals.
5. Getting Things Done by David Allen
Most of the time referred to as GTD, Getting Things Done is an incredibly important book for every single business person out there. Lifehack called it “The Bible of business and personal productivity” for a reason.
I must admit that I never had any structure to my business ventures until the end of 2013. This is when I increasingly started planning things and structuring everything I do. These few things have helped me grow my online business quite a bit in 2014 and 2015 and I know it’s just a beginning. I will certainly be re-reading David Allen’s bestseller and I highly recommend you do the same.
6. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
I must say that you should be reading every single book published by Malcolm Gladwell. His books aren’t only easy to read but they’re all filled with engaging stories and incredible journey and research. Outliers, in my opinion, is one of the best Malcolm’s books.
Outliers looks into the life of the most famous and successful people. What is so different about these people? Can success be predicted? Why did The Beatles become one of the best rock bands ever? Many of these questions are answered in great detail within “Outliers”. Grab your copy today and enjoy the read.
7. You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
This book has been one of my personal favorite discoveries of 2015 although it’s been published in 2013. Jen is an engaging writer and her writing style is rather unique. I’d compare the experience of reading this book to reading a long series of interesting letters from a good friend.
You Are a Badass is all about creating a life you love by understanding and eliminating self-sabotage. I know this is a very short description but I don’t want to spoil the read for you. I’ve read this book 3 times in 2015, just saying :). Note: there are occasional swearwords in the book so if that’s something that bothers you a lot, you have been warned.
8. Let Go by Pat Flynn
Pat Flynn is one of my favorite business bloggers (if not the favorite). Now a superstar of online entrepreneurship and digital marketing Pat was once out of a job, uncertain of the future and fearing the unknown that he thought he wanted to pursue.
Let Go will take you through Pat’s personal struggle before he became a successful blogger and entrepreneur. Self -doubt is a huge problem for most of us (either we realize it or not) and Pat’s book will teach you how to Let Go of the fear and build a life you truly want. It’s not easy but it is possible for each and every one of you.
Get it on Amazon (only format available for $2.50)
9. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
This book has become somewhat controversial and in my opinion it happened because of the title. Lots of people buying the 4-hour workweek are hoping that Tim will give them a magic potion that will allow them not to do anything in life and make a boatload of money.
I love this book because Tim gets into details of being super efficient and organized. He then explain how to properly delegate and outsource MOST of the mundane and boring tasks. Can you build a business in just 4 hours per week? Most likely not. Can you RUN an established and structured business dedicating only 4 hours a week to it? Totally. Give this book a try and let me know how you understand it.
10. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
“Why some ideas survive and others die” – this not only makes a great sub-header for the book but also an amazing question that I am sure we’re all curious about. If you’re a salesperson, a business person, a teacher, a comedian – you surely want people to remember you and your ideas, right?
In this book the Heath brothers explain how to make your ideas sticky and memorable. They do it through lots of research and case-studies, so this book is actually filled with real-life examples that you could apply to your business. The book isn’t just helpful it’s also very entertaining.
11. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
Zappos does over $1 Billion in gross sales per year however this company is functioning very differently from most others. The company culture is the #1 priority at Zappos. All employees at Zappos are encouraged to grow personally and professionally.
Although Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos, he wrote this book with YOU in mind. You don’t need to own or manage a huge corporation to apply Tony’s advice. Read the book and you will understand how you can make your small business incredible (even if you’re the only “employee” there).
12. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
Although this book wasn’t written specifically for entrepreneurs or marketers, it’s often referred to the most important book in business. This books digs deep into the psychology of why people say “Yes” to certain things and that could be huge for your business.
Influence was one of the very first book I read when I started learning about marketing and sales. I must admit that this book wasn’t an easy read and I had to re-read certain paragraphs 2-3 in a row to completely understand the meaning. One of the most important books a marketer could read, even if it talks about applied psychology.
13. Start with Why by Simon Sinek
If you are looking for a book that is telling you how to make money – this isn’t the one. Start With Why is more of inspirational book that explains that most incredible business leaders have a common way of thinking and doing things (as opposed to the rest).
Simon shares great stories and helps you come up with a purpose for yourself and your business. His theory is that you can’t become a great leader without first figuring out WHY you are doing whatever you’re doing. A great read for those who run a business or just looking into starting one.
14. The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday
I’ve never heard of stoicism until I read this book. If you are in the same boat than you definitely should pick up a copy of this book today, it will probably transform your life for the better. Not a business book but it will help you and your business tremendously.
Ryan Holiday explores the strategy of embracing setbacks. This is crucial especially in business when it seems like everyday life just throws more and more obstacles at you. What if you stopped seeing this obstacles as a negative and turned them into a positive? I know it sounds far-fetched but it is possible (and you should be doing that).
15. Emergence by Derek Rydall
Derek Rydall almost lost his life – and only after that he truly understood what what wrong and what needed to change. I was very privileged to have Derek as a guest on our very own Extra Paycheck Podcast. You can check out this awesome interview here.
Emergence is not your typical self-help book. We’re often told that we need to find ways to better ourselves but Derek suggest that “everything we need to fulfill our full potential is already inside us.” If you’ve been struggling with any aspect in your life than you need to get this book right now.
16. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
I’ve heard a lot of people didn’t like this book because it’s aimed at CEOs of large companies (multi-million dollar startups). I do not own a startup or a tech company yet I enjoyed this book quite a bit.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things is written by one of the Silicone Valley giants who shares his personal experience of a struggling startup. Ben goes through the several roadblocks they encountered and how his company almost went belly-up several times, yet they always found a way to fix things or steer in a different direction. If you are curious to hear from the perspective of someone running a big tech company then this book is for you.
17. Choose Yourself by James Altucher
I think the best way to describe this book in just one sentence would be: “This is a self-help book without all the self-help fluff”. I like self-help books but Choose Yourself feels quite different from everything else out there.
James helps us understand that we live in a different world. While our grandparents might have worked all their lives for “the man” so they could retire later, we can’t really rely on that in our time and age. Whole industries shut down, economy is unstable, promises aren’t kept. The only person you can still rely on is… yourself. So read the book, follow the advice in it and choose yourself.
18. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
Chris is a very interesting person. He has traveled to over 170 countries while never having a “real job” but this book isn’t about him. This book is about finding what you’re good at then figuring out how you can turn that expertise into cash.
The author takes us through the case studies of 50 entrepreneurs who started their business with less than $100 and turned it into interesting, profitable and fulfilling ventures. This isn’t a step-by-step blueprint to creating your own success but rather an awesome book of ideas and experiences.
19. Crush it! by Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary has been making a lot of noise online in the past 10 years or so. Most of us know him as a social media guru and an amazing business strategist. In Crush It! The author talks about how you can take your passion and turn it into a real business. More importantly he explains why NOW is the time to do it.
This book might feel a little outdated to some of you because Gary explains how he used the Internet to grow his family business to another level. This book isn’t only about “using internet as a tool” but rather about ideas, innovation and creativity.
20. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Yes, another book by Mr. Gladwell. I love books with real-life stories and examples and the author doesn’t fail to deliver in “The Tipping Point”. Malcolm explores some really interesting cases of how little actions caused an incredibly huge change in crime, fashion, health, etc.
Not a typical business book but it will give you some ideas on how you could possible market your business in such way that it would spread like wildfire. Some readers wouldn’t agree with me but I think that every book is open to interpretation and that we see what we really want to see. I am currently re-reading this book for the second time and I am loving the ideas in it.
21. Digital Bacon by Alex Rodriguez
Anyone can register a business or create a website but in order to create success you need to stand out. As Alex Rodriguez puts it, you need to make your online business presence irresistibly attractive. Intrigued yet? Check out this Extra Paycheck Podcast interview with Alex Rodriguez.
Alex is a seasoned expert and he’s been connecting brands with people through online media for nearly two decades. In Digital Bacon the author reveals five important steps that you need to follow to create an amazing online presence. This isn’t just about the “Why” but also about the “How”.
22. Ask by Ryan Levesque
Ryan has achieved a lot in his relatively short career. He’s built a multi-million dollar businesses and he has helped others to generate 100’s of Millions. These numbers alone should give you a good idea of the kind of advice Ryan has to share in his book.
The author suggests that in order to create a successful business we need to ask out customers what they want. Simple, right? Yet most of us offer our potential clients what WE think they want instead of what THEY really want. In this book Ryan gives you a step-by-step system of how you can truly please your customers (and end up making a lot more money than you though possible).
23. “Content Inc.” by Joe Pulizzi
If you’ve been involved in online marketing for any period of time you’ve certainly heard the phrase “Content is King”. With years this statement only got more true and in 2016 good content will be crushing everything else. I’ve experienced this in the past few years and it’s only getting more important.
Joe Pulizzi shares his 6-step blueprint of how he built his successful business and how you can do the same. We used to create a product before trying to find someone to consume it. Joe suggests that we should build content, then we build a loyal audience for it and only then we can create a product for this hungry audience.
24. Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson
A great read for every entrepreneur, wantepreneur, small business owner and simply everyone who wants to work on their own. This is a business book but it won’t teach you how to create a proper 27-point and 400 business plan, it will teach you something else.
Fred and David believe that we don’t need outside investors, or lots of employees, or even paying too much attention to our competition. The authors explain how to be efficient and how to actually start doing things and succeeding instead of just talking about it. Easy and great read.
25. Purple Cow by Seth Godin
Here is another book by Seth Godin making this list. To be honest, I would read (or listen) to Godin all day every day. Seth takes a simple (but great) idea and expands on it in this book. Now you have the choice to either paying attention and ripping the benefits of what you’ve learned or you could just keep on failing.
This book talks about being different. More importantly about building a unique and remarkable business that’s worth talking about. As the author puts it: “You’re either a Purple Cow or you’re not. You’re either remarkable or invisible. Make your choice.” Great read for every single entrepreneur out there.
26. Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past 10-20 years then you haven’t heard of Richard Branson. He is the founder of Virgin Airways, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Records and a bunch of other successful companies hosted under the umbrella of the Virgin Group.
Losing My Virginity is an autobiography of this inspiring and wildly successful man. Richard tells us the story of his success, he shares his beliefs and even the story of the very first business he started with friends. Since they were all “virgins” to the business they called their first company “Virgin”. This is not a business book but totally worth a read.
27. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
If you are thinking of starting your own business or if you have just started one (or even if you started one a while ago but it’s failing) then you should put this book on the very top of your “to-read” list. This book will come especially handy who are following their passion without knowing much about the actual business aspect.
Michael is the small-business expert with over 40 years of experience. In this book the author looks at several businesses that failed and he finds a common trait in all of them. More importantly, Mr. Gerber argues that it takes a very specific and different approach if you want your small business to succeed.
28. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
Hal Elrod was hit head on by a drunk driver. When he woke up after 6 days in a coma doctors told him he may never walk again. However, Hal ran an ultra marathon (50+ miles), became a successful entrepreneur, bestselling author and he keeps inspiring thousands of people every single day.
In this book the author explains how a simple (yet very effective) morning routine can totally transform your life. Why morning? Because the way you start the day dictates how you spend the rest of that day. It goes a lot deeper into the philosophy of life but I don’t want to spoil the book for you.
29. Switch by Chip and Dan Heath
Earlier in this list I talked about “Made to Stick”, an amazing book by Chip and Dan Heath. Switch is another great book from the same authors (so we can already expect greatness). Switch looks deep into the way we shape our decisions and how we can make our decision making more successful.
As the authors put it: “Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline.” A must-read not only for entrepreneurs but for every single person and their mom.
30. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
This book became a bestseller in self-help category when it first came out some 25 years ago. Over the years it has shifted to the “business” category while selling over 25 Million copies worldwide. I am not surprised though, this is one of the greatest books for every business person out there.
The author claims that we need to achieve the balance of personal and professional effectiveness. In order to do this, Stephen Covey describes the seven habits of highly effective people and techniques for adopting these habits. You’ve probably already read this book but if you haven’t, this is the time.
Woah! It took me two days to write this blog post. I wanted to make sure that I only recommend the best of the best, so while crafting the list I had to get rid of some books and add some new ones. As I am looking over it I am very happy with the final result.
Tip: If you don’t like reading most of the suggested books are available in mp3 format as audiobooks from Audible. The cool thing is you can get two (2) of your very first audiobooks completely free if you are new to Amazon’s Audible.
Just click on any book link in the list above and click on the Audible version when you’re given the choice between different versions of the book.
Disclaimer: Most of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that at NO extra cost to you I will receive a small commission if you decide to purchases any of these books by clicking the links on my site. If you don’t want me to get a commission, feel free to simply Google the names of these books and buying them directly on Amazon.
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What are your favorite business books? Please let me know in the comments below.
16 thoughts on “30 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read in 2016”
Awesome! I only have 5 of those…. guess I have my reading list now
I am always looking for new business books out there to inspire and motivate me 🙂 Thanks for creating this list. I was super excited to find a really helpful leadership/business book this past year that I have to recommend called “Leading For Results” by leadership development expert Joan Bragar. The book is broken down into five intelligent practices which really hone in on the fundamental, key aspects that define a top leader. I found it very easy to read and follow without having to sift through the usual, generic cliches that often clutter books like these.It is a book that is written for people who want to inspire their team/staff/etc and is written in a way that is easy to understand and implement. I also think the practices that she discusses in detail can be applied to your personal life as well as your professional life. The author is someone who has been in the business for over 25 years and it shows. I really hope you and your readers check it out.
Thank you, Alex, for a great review!
A very male dominated list indeed. They are good books though. 😉
Shonté, as mentioned in the post, you are very welcome to submit your personal recommendations 😉
Great list. Most of these have been on my list and some I have actually started and never actually finished. Your post was really well written and has inspired me to try and make it through all these books this year. Also a huge Pat Flynn fan, totally forgot about his first book. Thanks again, Stephen
Stephen, thanks for checking out the list.
If you can do 3 books a month you can get through the list and some 😉
Thanks for the list, have added a few of them to my to read pile. The list just goes on and on!
Ruby, I feel ya 😉
My own list is also getting longer and longer for this year 😀
People Over Profit by Dale Partridge
Great book indeed!
That is an impressive list. Some of my favorite books have been so far. No particular order.
1. The alchemist
2. Think and grow rich
3. Micheal Jordan: Driven from Within
5. The Bible
It’s a short list so far. I’m new to the entrepreneur work so I got some more reading to do. Currently, I am reading Linchpin by Seth Godin
The alchemist is an amazing book although I have a really hard time putting in the “business” category 😉
That’s a very awesome and long list of books 🙂
I thought I could suggest some more but I think you’ve covered all of them.
Now I just need to figure out how to read that many books in 1 year…
Thank You Jordan.
As I am looking at people’s comments on Facebook I am realizing that I’ve missed some great books 😉 I guess next year the list will be much longer!