10 Business Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read

Are you looking for substantial resources, inspiration and tips that will give you an advantage in your entrepreneurial journey? Many of us have the desire to improve ourselves, our strengths, knowledge, and as a person. The market of business books is vast and can be intimidating to take the plunge. In this article, we came up with 10 of our top business books that will not only gets you thinking, but could also spark some creativity in you:

1. Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“When I went to school, teachers asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down, ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” This was one story of the famed John Lennon. Where some people grew up wanting to be doctors or lawyers or CEOs, Lennon knew that to be happy is just as important, if not more. Even though Flow is not an entirely new concept, Csikszentmihalyi, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University, gave the concept its name today. Csikszentmihalyi is noted for his works in happiness and creativity, and in this book, argues that Flow can increase the happiness and achievement of employees. As a useful note, his name is probably not the easiest to pronounce, but as a guide, if you are indeed searching for his book physically, try “mi-hy Czech-sent-mi-hyee”

2. Never Give In!: The Best of Winston Churchill’s Speeches by Winston Churchill

From sayings of Sir Winston Churchill’s abnormal poly=phasic sleep habits to the power of his oration, it is clear that Churchill is one of the biggest political figures in history, and remains the only British Prime Minister to have won the Nobel Prize in Literature. In the book Never Give in!, grandson Winston S. Churchill has put together a personal selection of Sir Churchill’s speeches. It covers the whole of Sir Churchill’s life, from the very first speech he made to those of his last days. Sir Churchill is revered as an indomitable public figure, his spirt and wisdom can be called upon to move and inspire.

3. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B Cialdini, Ph.D.

Influence was Dr. Cialdini’s seminal book, based on 3 ‘undercover’ years applying for, and training at used car dealerships, fund-raising organizations, and telemarketing firms to observe real-life situations of persuasion. The book has since sold over 2 million copies and has been translated into twenty-six languages. Harvard Business Review lists the Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University in “Breakthrough Ideas for Today’s Business Agenda”. Influence posits and explains the 6 psychological principles that drive the human impulse. It reveals not only ways to nudge others into complying to you, but also to defend yourself against subtle coercion and manipulation. For people in marketing or digital marketing and business, this may well be among the most important books to be written in the past years.

4. How Google Works by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg

We are know that Google’s unique culture and working arrangement has put itself in its own class, but how much do we know of what really goes in within. The problem is compounded by Google being one of those organisations that is notoriously hard to go into. How Google Works is an entertaining, page-turning primer that contains lessons and explanations about how technology has shifted the balance of power from companies to consumers. Google’s solution to succeed in the ever-changing landscape is to create superior products, and the attraction of a new breed of multifaceted employees dubbed the smart creatives’. Schmidt, once a CEO himself, and Rosenberg, offer insights on corporate culture, strategy, talent management, decision-making, communication, innovation and so on, with numerous insider anecdotes from Google’s history.

5. Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science by Charles Wheelan

With notions in macroeconomics that there is such as a thing as an unemployment rate that is ‘too low’, suggesting that the economy is inefficient in its use of its resources, it is no wonder that Economics has been labelled with the humorous tag of being a ‘dismal science’. Naked Economics by American economist and author Wheelan strips down the economic jargon and demystifies nomenclature, to allow the general reader to engage with pleasure and confidence, the not so dismal science. The book covers hotly debated and thought provoking topics into the 21th century such as the globalization, information economics, the unavoidable interdisciplinary nature of economics and politics, as well as the Federal Reserve. Wheelan has since published a sequel called Naked Statistics, also worth checking out.

6. Losing my Virginity: The Autobiography by Richard Branson

The book Losing my Virginity features Sir Richard Branson, best known as the founder of Virgin Group, and his inspiring story of rags to riches. “Oh screw it, let’s do it”. That attitude and has allowed Branson to run hundreds of companies through Virgin Group, and become one of the wealthiest man alive with an estimated net worth of US$4.9 billion. The Autobiography covers Branson’s journey, as he starts out with his friends and the outrageous idea of deciding on the name Virgin, since they were ‘complete virgins in the business’, through the forging of his own rules of success, to a new model to compete in today’s stressed out and overworked generation. You may want to pick this one up before the adaptation of the Branson biopic by David Mirkin is done on the big screen.

7. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis

American sports and cultures are built on long standing traditions and conventions. When MLB’s Oakland Athletics larger than life General Manager Billy Beane was facing low budgets and the public pressure to win games, he turned to an analytical, empirically based sabermetric approach to assemble a competitive baseball team. Despite a disadvantaged revenue position and the conventional believe that young, big and athletic hard hitters were tickets to success, Beane defied both tradition and his own scouts in his quest for success. Even for non-baseball enthusiasts, Moneyball shows that sometimes, wisdom is in the questioning of the conventions and beliefs we hold dear and take for granted.

8. Economics: User Guide by Ha-Joon Chang

Once again, the dismal science is rendered in an intelligent, lively, readily accessible, and a not so dismal manner. University of Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang offers a whirlwind crash course through economic history that explains the strengths and weaknesses of different schools of thoughts, from the classical to the Keynesian to Neo Keynesian Economics. Being a heterodox economist, Chang has a disregard for conventional economic pieties. Economics: The User’s Guide offers a non-mainstream lens through which the layman can easily look through. From the future of the Euro, inequality in China, or the condition of the American manufacturing industry in the United States, the book is a concise and expertly written guide to economic rudiments that offers a clear and precise snapshot of the global socio-politco-economic landscape and how it affects our lives.

9. Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton M. Christensen

Probably the best known written work of Harvard Business School Professor Christensen is The Innovator’s dilemma. In Innovator’s Dilemma, Christensen articulated his theory of disruptive innovation and its importance in today’s ever changing landscape and consumer preferences. As stated in the title, the dilemma stems from the idea that businesses and firms tend to reject innovation and new insights since the current consumers cannot use them now. It shows how the ‘successful’ companies can do everything right in adhering to the current needs of their consumer base, adopting new technology and competing with rivals, but still ended up losing market dominance. The book offers many examples of successes and failures from the perspective of the dilemma of innovation and the anticipation of future needs.

10. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

We cap this list with another book by Csikszentmihalyi. How did Einstein came up with his Theories of relativity? What process did J. M. Keynes went through in writing the seminal work The Theory of Employment, Interest and Money? Creativity aims to unravel the mystery behind the geniuses of people such as Keynes and Albert Einstein, among others. We can all try to quantify levels of intelligence through standardised tests and IQ tests, from convergence tests to divergent tests. There are many theories of the creative process but it remains unknown what the traits of creative genius really are and where they come from. Creativity uses the concept of flow, and draws from 91 interviews with the truly exceptional academics, musicians, artists, outstanding politicians and business figures. Csikszentmihalyi explores the creative process behind the genius, including 14 Nobel Prize winners, and learn that many of them were not even stars in school.

Although the benefits of such an insight and empirical approach to scholars and academics are clear, the thought-provoking mixture of scholarly and colloquial will enlighten even the inquisitive general readers as well. Find out more about the truth for business growth and how to grow your business faster.

Xavier Tan
Xavier is the Co-Founder of Heroes of Digital. He started social media marketing and SEM long before it became popular in Singapore. His passion is in helping businesses grow through effective lead generation. He has overseen campaigns for Amara Hotel, NTU, Marina Bay, L'Oreal, and 100+ SMEs.
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