If you're an entrepreneur, or even have the slightest interest in becoming an entrepreneur, then you have to read. I know some people in the business like to proclaim their negligence toward reading, or claim they can learn the same lessons from videos, podcasts, and even life experience.
However, while all of those work too, reading has a unique quality you can't get elsewhere. It forces your brain to work differently. Besides, some of the brightest minds in history didn't record YouTube videos--they wrote books. To say you don't read is essentially to refuse learning some of the greatest lessons of all time.
There are so many thought leaders and brilliant minds who continue to share years of expertise in the written form, which is why it is essential for both new and seasoned entrepreneurs to continue reading and learning.
Here are 11 books you absolutely need to read (or reread) this year:
1. All In by Bill Green
How do you go from running a flea market business to operating a distribution empire that rakes in sales of more than $1.8 billion? All In by Bill Green is filled with lessons learned by this serial entrepreneur over the past 40 years, and details the steps he had to take to build his first small hardware store--which ultimately morphed into the wildly successful Interline Brands. This book is a how-to guide packed with practical tools on how to take an idea and make it big.
2. Meetings Suck by Cameron Herold
How many times have you sat through a meeting and thought to yourself, "Why is this such a waste of time?" According to renowned business growth expert Cameron Herold, meetings aren't the problem. We are. This is one of those books that helps shed some perspective on the importance of focusing on soft skills, like how to hold an effective meeting that leaves people feeling empowered. Meetings Suck is essentially a guide on how to be a better leader, by walking readers, step by step, through systems that encourage true productivity and efficiency.
3. The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen
Why is it so difficult for big brands and major corporations to keep up with the rapid-fire evolution of their respective industries? In Clayton M. Christensen's well-known business book The Innovator's Dilemma, he tackles why outstanding companies can continue to perform at optimum efficiency and still lose ownership over their market. This book serves as a history lesson as much as it is an actionable guide for business leaders who want to ensure the long term success of their company.
4. Good to Great by Jim Collins
How does an organization go from good to great? That is the question that Jim Collins set out to answer. He deployed a 21-person research team to comb through every Fortune 500 company that met their scrupulous criteria: companies that suffered a decadelong period of stagnant profits, followed by 15 years of great success and increasing profits. These companies ended up being the foundational case studies for his book, and act as teaching tools for any entrepreneur wondering how a company can ultimately surpass its competitors.
5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
This is one of those books you should read and then reread every year. Make it a habit because it is deemed one of the best business leadership books of all time for a reason. Stephen R. Covey gives actionable but extremely self-aware guidance to aspiring leaders who want to lead by example. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is meant for individuals who are looking to improve themselves from the inside out.
6. Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute
A business book written in a different fashion than most, Leadership and Self-Deception is one part story, one part brilliant analysis of the inner workings of a company with positive interpersonal relationships. The Arbinger Institute is known for its insights on leadership, and this book truly sets the stage. It allows readers to discover for themselves, by watching the main characters interact with one another, what it truly means to be a leader in every sense of the word.
7. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
What does it take to build a habit? Furthermore, what impact do our everyday habits have on us, as human beings? According to Charles Duhigg, they have a far greater impact on our happiness, productivity, relationships, and everything in between than we might think. It was Duhigg's interest in the science of habits that sparked this well-known book, and in it, he tackles questions like how and why companies use the science of habit building to influence what we buy--and when we buy it.
8. Cold Hard Truth on Men, Women, and Money by Kevin O'Leary
No one knows money like Shark Tank's "Mr. Wonderful." In this fast-paced, easy-to-read guidebook on money management, Kevin O'Leary breaks difficult financial concepts down to their simplest form. Why is this a must-read for every entrepreneur? Because to grow your business, and ultimately provide yourself with financial freedom, there is one thing you are going to need to master above all else: your money.
9. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Tried and true, How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the most popular business books of all time for a reason. With plenty of undertones of self-development, Dale Carnegie shows readers why handling business the right way is so imperative. He exhorts us to treat each and every opportunity with the same level of respect and dignity you would any other--and acknowledge that people want to do business with their friends. People sign deals with the people they like, and with whom they believe they'd work well. If there is one book out there that will teach you how to do just that, it's this one.
10. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
Every entrepreneur knows the challenge: How do I continue to build my network while I'm swamped with work? Keith Ferrazzi's extremely popular book Never Eat Alone is a tactical guide to networking the right way, and the power of giving first. Here, readers will find advice on how to handle rejection, find their way into certain "inner circles," and make the most of a conference. Ferrazzi's approach to networking is both insightful and highly practical, and built on the proven principles he has employed in his own career.
11. Zero to One by Peter Thiel
Entrepreneurs everywhere say they want to do something different, that they want to change the world. Well, serial entrepreneur Peter Thiel has decided to tackle that topic head-on, and point out exactly what it takes to make something entirely unique and new. As he says, "The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won't make a search engine. Tomorrow's champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today's marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their business will be unique."
These are words of wisdom for entrepreneurs looking to separate themselves from the pack.