Taking the road less traveled is great, but we tend to forget it's less traveled for a reason. There's a lot of risk involved in entrepreneurship. To give yourself every possible advantage, it's important to use every resource available and learn from the people who have gone before you. Fortunately, that doesn't mean you have to be close personal friends with Warren Buffett.
Reading can help you accumulate a wealth of useful knowledge, and many business leaders believe that doing it regularly has contributed to their success. While reading is not guaranteed to make you a successful entrepreneur, it will help you learn how to minimize the kinds of mistakes that can derail your business.
One of the best ways to keep your decision-making on track is by learning from the mistakes and successes of others -- and that's where these books come in.
1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
This is one of my personal favorites. No entrepreneur is an island, and getting a business off the ground requires dealing with all kinds of people. Carnegie's classic does a great job of illustrating how you can work with people to achieve mutual benefit even against the odds.
2. Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss
Ferriss's book shares broad wisdom that almost anyone can apply to his or her life, entrepreneurs included. The book includes excerpts from individuals like Maria Sharapova, Jimmy Fallon, Gary Vaynerchuk, and many others. By investigating their daily habits, you can start to distill the secrets of their success.
3. Your Last Differentiator: Human Capital by Gregg Gordon
Gordon's book focuses on creating a culture of trust and respect that's vital in any organization. Many executives believe that good ideas flow from the top down, but Gordon illustrates how they're mistaken. By sharing your company's strategy with your employees, you can receive groundbreaking and practical ideas from the trenches.
4. Good to Great by Jim Collins
Collins and his team spent five years studying almost 30 different companies, looking at every aspect of their operations and management from top to bottom. Along the way, they conducted in-depth interviews and dug through reams of data to find out what makes the businesses at the top stand head and shoulders above their mediocre competitors. You can learn a lot from examining the philosophy of these successful companies.
5. The Essays of Warren Buffett by Warren E. Buffett
Almost everyone I know could benefit from the money management principles shared by Buffett in his essays. One of the greatest investing minds of our time focuses on the foundations of investing and dispels some of the destructive myths surrounding it in this collection.
6. The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker
Even if you start out as a one-person operation, most entrepreneurs will have to lead other people at some point, and Drucker's book provides an excellent blueprint for how to do that. In fact, Jeff Bezos has even established it as required reading for senior managers at Amazon.
7. The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen
Especially today, business changes quickly, but companies often don't. Christensen's book explains why that is, and he provides insights into how even large companies can strive to keep up with industry shifts. His book has been widely read by founders, venture capitalists, and other business leaders--and it's worth your time, too.
There's a reason there are so many more employees than entrepreneurs -- the former is safe and (relatively) easy, while the latter is risky and hard. However, reading can make you rich with the know-how you need to be a successful entrepreneur.