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Last Updated on September 17, 2021 by Mandy Schmitz
Investing a pretty penny and setting up a business sounds great, but is that all you need to succeed? I’m afraid not!
Your management skills, leadership traits, business model, and the ability to think outside the box are equally important. What else matters is your desire to learn more, and books are the best source of information.
Did you know Warren Buffet, arguably the greatest investor of our time, spends 80% of his waking hours reading?
Reading the best business books is one of the simplest ways to get inspired and become a whip-smart business person. So, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced business professional, reading every day will certainly help. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top business books of all time.
It is typical for novice business owners to seek mentorship from highly successful entrepreneurs, and surprisingly, most of them are avid readers. Bill Gates, for instance, says, “Reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding.”
So, are you willing to learn new things and test your knowledge? If you are, you’ve already stepped onto the first phase of your growth and business success.
Thousands of business books have been written to date, and countless more will be written tomorrow. The subject of succeeding in business has so many facets, and a wide variety of books can leave you baffled, “Which one shall I prioritize?”
Remember, the best business books are those that inspire change, self-development, and leadership qualities. But since there are tons of publications penned by great authors, we have boiled down a list of the top business books of all time for you.
Benjamin Franklin would easily have been the most famous investor of the 20th century if not for his student Warren Buffet (who surpassed him in his investing skills).
Widely regarded as the “father of value investing,” Franklin belonged to a low-income family. After attending Columbia University, he started his investing career with a job on Wall Street. He compiled his investment principles in The Intelligent Investor in 1949.
Warren Buffet, in fact, considers it one of the best books ever written on investing.
The book describes Value investing, which focuses on producing consistent, long-term gains by disregarding the current market conditions and selecting high intrinsic value firms.
So, do you want to become an intelligent investor? If yes, here are three basic principles – summarized – to become a brilliant investor.
- An intelligent investor thoroughly analyzes a company’s history (earnings, assets, dividend payouts), management value and invests only in a few companies. This approach saves him from losing everything in case things go wrong.
- Another analogy is not trusting Mr. Market (Graham pictures the stock market as a single person). Why? Because it is unpredictable, suffers from mood swings, and is not very clever. So it’s best to depend on your research and ignore the market.
- Lastly, it’s ideal to follow a strict formula (Formula investing) and invest a fixed amount every month or quarter. While it can be demanding emotionally, it prevents you from significant losses.
Warren Buffet describes it as “by far the best book on investing ever written.” Of course, value investing demands a careful plan. Nevertheless, it’s pretty defensive, and if it worked for one of the most influential business-person, why not for you?
Robert Kiyosaki had two influential father figures in his life. Poor dad was his biological father, who was very well educated and highly intelligent. He believed in studying hard, obtaining good grades, and then landing a decent career.
Yet, despite these seemingly favorable aspects, his dad struggled financially; hence, ‘Poor Dad.’
Rich dad, on the other hand, was Kiyosaki’s friend’s father. His work ethic attributes were similar to poor dad, but he believed in financial education and teaching children how money works. So, despite being a dropout, the rich dad became a millionaire.
Here are the five big ideas from the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
- It’s not about how much money you make, but how much you keep.
- The poor work for money, while the rich make money work for them.
- Financial skill is what you do with the money once you earn it (how you keep it, save it, or make more from it)
- The poor acquire liabilities, whereas the rich acquire assets.
- Our mind is the single most powerful asset we all have.
Kiyosaki believes that our educational system is still deficient in the field of finance, and once we’re out of college, we only seek a job.
He mentions, “Thinking that a job makes you secure is like lying to yourself.”
While the book does provide an excellent framework for building wealth, it doesn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. For instance, successful examples in the book may be hard to replicate as they are unique to the author’s specific situation.
Nevertheless, this book encourages you to develop your distinct path to financial freedom. The key takeaway is, not all wealthy people are born wealthy.
Ben Horowitz, the co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, is Silicon Valley’s most experienced and respected entrepreneur. His parents believed in the Communist philosophy; hence, he got to see the world from a diverse perspective at a young age. This attribute proved valuable later in his life when he became a successful entrepreneur.
The book is all about the lonely times and tough decisions all CEOs face. Ben Horowitz outlines several traits of a positive leader in his book The Hard Things About Hard Things.
He believes that a CEO should be the first one to mention when a crisis occurs. Have you ever been in a work environment where there was a lot of gossips? What do you think could be the reason behind it?
Well, usually, it’s because of the cover-up policy. Most firms believe in hiding things from their employees and posing as if everything is right and in place. But, unfortunately, companies fail to realize that this move is futile and impractical because the information leaks out anyway.
So, it’s best to convey honest things to employees. Additionally, it allows you to delegate the problem to those who are most capable of solving it.
Furthermore, Horowitz describes two types of CEOs: Strategic and Practical. The former focuses on finding a path that works best for their company and are visionaries. Practical CEOs, on the other hand, love to execute and implement things instead of researching. They’re more into directing a team and getting the work done.
To sum up, Horowitz believes that great CEOs are comfortable with being uncomfortable. That is, a leap of faith doesn’t scare them, and they don’t back down from challenges. “There’s no recipe for leading a group of people out of trouble,” writes Ben Horowitz. A practical CEO knows there is no such thing as an untroubled way of leading.
The book, by far, is a perfect depiction of a leader’s struggles, what it takes to be a great CEO, and how to build a company that lasts!
Did you know the powers of thought and brain can help you advance in your career? Well, this is what Think and Grow Rich is all about.
Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate, gave young Napoleon Hill a challenge in the autumn of 1908. He asked him to narrow down a specific theory of success based on the experiences of the world’s most successful people. As a result, Hill researched more than forty self-made millionaires and compiled one of the best business books of all time.
His work contains 13 principles that are considered as the “Philosophy of Achievement.”
These include desire, faith, auto-suggestion, specialized knowledge, imagination, organized planning, decision, persistence, the power of the mastermind, sex transmutation, the subconscious mind, the brain, and the sixth sense.
While most people believe success is “up to fate.” Hill teaches how to control your future by mastering your subconscious mind. His philosophy is, “You are the master of your destiny.” He believes that if your mind can conceive and assume an idea, it has the power to achieve it.
Overall, the goal of this book is to help readers become more self-aware and understand that they have the power to become more effective despite nature’s rigid laws. Thus, this work can be considered as an accessible and condensed explanation of the Law of Success.
The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People is more about self-improvement that helps you on the road to success. While the best business books typically talk about business strategies, this one, in particular, discusses the “habits” of influential people.
First published in 1989, this book ditches the vague and old-school characteristics that define a person’s success. Instead, Covey believes that it’s your character that needs development to achieve ever-lasting success and not your personality. Here are the 7 Habits that Covey describes, which define the success of a person.
- Developing the habit of being proactive. Instead of reacting to external events, take charge and know that you are responsible for your life.
- Working aimlessly is not a good idea; instead, you should begin with an end in mind. Having a vision helps you align your actions accordingly.
- Put first things first. In other words, prioritize things and plan your day-to-day actions based on what’s important.
- When negotiating, think win-win. That is, find a solution that is suitable for all the parties.
- When presented with a problem, take time to listen instead of giving suggestions right away. Simply put, seek first to understand, then to be understood.
- The contributions of a group are better than that of an individual alone, so develop the habit to synergize.
- Take time to sharpen the saw. Simply put, take out time to renew yourself spiritually, mentally, physically, and socially.
There’s no doubt why this book is the best seller: It ignores pop psychology and trends instead focuses on timeless principles of honesty, human dignity, fairness, and integrity.
Dr. Travis Breadberry and Jean Greaves, co-founders of TalentSmart, reveal proven strategies of increasing emotional intelligence in their book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, published in 2009.
As a novice entrepreneur, you may wonder what emotional intelligence has to do with success in your business, and it’s understandable. Most people believe that IQ is enough to make them prosperous in life. Nevertheless, our minds are wired to feel emotions first and logic second. So, if we do not control our emotions or lack self-awareness, how can we advance in our careers?
Breadberry believes that unless we take meticulous steps to control our emotions, we are hard-wired to let emotions control us. As such, we might overreact to things, making them worse. But the question is, how do you learn to manage your emotions? The authors outline several things:
- Understand your behaviors, feelings, and WHY you feel a certain way.
- Become socially aware. Once you understand your emotions, you’ll know whether another person is sad, angry, or happy (you’ll judge from their body language)
- Create a balance between your emotional and logical sides. You can do so by creating a reason vs. emotion list.
- Does your body language align with your words? For instance, you fought with your spouse early in the morning so that you couldn’t smile throughout your thanking speech during work. As a result, your audience may have a hard time connecting with you.
- Ask your closest friends or family members to give you feedback
Overall, the book highlights that EQ (Emotional quotient) is more important than IQ, and a higher EQ makes up for a happier, fulfilling life. If you want to work better with your team members, this book is a must-read.
Happy meal and Big Mac taste delicious, thanks to Ray Kroc. He is credited with establishing McDonald’s outlets all over the world.
While most business owners today became successful at a young age, Ray Kroc started franchising the restaurant in his 50’s! So, if you think you are old, remember it’s just a number!
His book’s name, Grinding It Out, comes from Kroc’s early, difficult times when he struggled to make ends meet. The book is essentially based on Kroc’s growth and success in his career.
He started his entrepreneurial career with a lemonade stand in Oak Park, Chicago. Later, he worked at various grocery stores and even sold soda. However, his life changed when he discovered a six-spindle milkshake machine, the Multimixer, to prepare shakes quickly. He believed it was an innovative technology and thought to sell it right away.
While selling multimixers to soda counters and dairy bars, he heard about San Bernardino, a restaurant run by the McDonald brothers. He believed they were operating their business brilliantly, so he decided to team up with them. He suggested that they expand the chain of restaurants (that way, they’d get to grow the company and sell more mixers).
The brothers agreed to sign a contract with him, which later became a tremendous success. Kroc’s success was based on his stress management, business sense, and thrift: he wasn’t extravagant with the company’s money.
The accounts of Kroc’s life depict the hard work, struggle, and consistency behind a successful business. If you believe that success is primarily determined by age, then this book will indeed motivate you.
One of the oldest and best business books of all time, The E Myth, was initially published in 1986. However, Micheal Gerber revised it later in 1995 as The E-Myth Revisited. The book explicitly discusses why 80% of small businesses fail and ensures yours isn’t a part of it.
Geber believes that building a company is based on systems and not the efforts of a single individual.
The first lesson he conveys is that technical skills do not define your business success. For instance, if you’re good at painting, baking, or cooking, for that matter, it doesn’t determine your success in a relative field. To elaborate, if you’re good at writing and believe you’ll be a successful freelancer, you’re wrong. You need to debunk this E-myth.
Once you start your company, your work isn’t limited to your technical skills. Instead, you’ll need to be a CMO, CEO, CFO, CTO, and a bunch of other things all at once. In addition, you need to get clients, manage finances, answer customer queries, create advertising material, set a strategy, and the list goes on.
So, if baking cakes is all you know for a baking business, you’ll likely fail. Secondly, assume your business as a nationwide franchise, then build your first outlet from the first day. This approach will ensure that you create a company based on systems, not people.
An old book yet not to be taken for granted. This masterpiece is even more relevant today, as more people have started their own businesses and often fail or worry about it.
One thing is common among all successful leaders: They’ve probably read and recommended the book How to Win Friends and Influence People to others. This self-help classic is a life manual that teaches you to alter other people’s behavior by changing your own.
Dale Carnegie, a salesman at one point in his life, ended his sales career and became a public speaker eventually. But here’s the intriguing part, Warren Buffet took Carnegie’s course when he was 20.
This valuable and intriguing work explains techniques to handle people, for instance, giving sincere and honest appreciation and avoiding criticism. Carnegie points out, “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”
Hence, our criticism puts them in a defensive mode where they try to justify themselves, wounding their sense of importance and pride. The author further explains six ways to make people like you.
- Become genuinely interested in them
- Remember their name
- Talk in terms of their interest
- Make them feel important
- Be a good listener
While not essentially a business book, this classic piece teaches you the art of seeing things from the other person’s point of view, which helps in business relations. Not only this, you can convince people to your way of thinking that may help you define your business goals in a better way.
Remember, the best business books aren’t limited to specific material that outlines business strategies and highlights ways to grow your business; there’s more to them.
For instance, if you follow your business goals as your dream and destiny, perhaps you need to see your success journey through a philosophical lens.
Hence, I chose to close it off with The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
Written by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho in 1988, it is translated into more than 70 languages and is an international bestseller.
The Alchemist tells the story of a boy, Santiago, who dreams about treasures lying in the Pyramids of Egypt. He begins his journey to follow his dream and encounters experiences while getting to his destiny. He meets new people along his way and finds himself in the face of difficulties which help him learn and grow.
But does he find the treasures in the pyramids of Egypt? Surprisingly, he finds them in Spain (where he lives). So the whole process was about becoming a better version of himself in pursuit of the treasure.
While you might think your business success got you some big bickies, you’ve earned a lot more in the process if you observe keenly. Once you learn to deal with the troubles in your path, you not only become a successful leader but a stronger version of yourself that inspires others.
Lastly, the book teaches us that fear should never stop us from chasing our goals and dreams. Instead, glorious days await you on the other side of fear.
Thousands of business books are published every year, and it’s not possible to read them all. Nevertheless, the best business books get positive reviews and intrigue readers long after their publishing date.
The compilation of top books by some of the most successful entrepreneurs will help you excel in your business career and give you the courage to struggle against overwhelming odds.
Are you still looking for additional ideas on what to read? Then continue with our list of the Best Books On Procrastination.