There are hundreds of great business books that come out every year. It is impossible to read them all, but the best business books attract readers and positive reviews long after their publication dates.
Here are thirteen great business books that can help entrepreneurs and leaders at all stages of their careers.
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries.
Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.
Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business.
The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.
From Inc.com’s most popular columnist, a counterintuitive–but highly practical–guide to finding and maintaining the motivation to achieve great things.
It’s comforting to imagine that superstars in their fields were just born better equipped than the rest of us. When a co-worker loses 20 pounds, or a friend runs a marathon while completing a huge project at work, we assume they have more grit, more willpower, more innate talent, and above all, more motivation to see their goals through.
But that’s not actually true, as popular Inc.com columnist Jeff Haden proves. “Motivation” as we know it is a myth. Motivation isn’t the special sauce that we require at the beginning of any major change. In fact, motivation is a result of a process, not a cause. Understanding this will change the way you approach any obstacle or big goal.
Success isn’t for the uniquely-qualified; it’s possible for any person who understands the true nature of motivation. Jeff Haden can help you transcend average and make a lasting positive changes in your life.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz.
Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, offers essential advice on building and running a startup—practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover, based on his popular ben’s blog.
While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he’s gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.
Filled with his trademark humor and straight talk, The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures, drawing from Horowitz’s personal and often humbling experiences.
Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz.
A former international hostage negotiator for the FBI offers a new, field-tested approach to high-stakes negotiations―whether in the boardroom or at home.
** A Wall Street Journal Bestseller **
After a stint policing the rough streets of Kansas City, Missouri, Chris Voss joined the FBI, where his career as a hostage negotiator brought him face-to-face with a range of criminals, including bank robbers and terrorists. Reaching the pinnacle of his profession, he became the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator. Never Split the Difference takes you inside the world of high-stakes negotiations and into Voss’s head, revealing the skills that helped him and his colleagues succeed where it mattered most: saving lives. In this practical guide, he shares the nine effective principles―counterintuitive tactics and strategies―you too can use to become more persuasive in both your professional and personal life.
Life is a series of negotiations you should be prepared for buying a car, negotiating a salary, buying a home, renegotiating rent, deliberating with your partner. Taking emotional intelligence and intuition to the next level, Never Split the Difference gives you the competitive edge in any discussion.
Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
If you want to build a better future, you must believe in secrets.
The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One, legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.
Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.
Zero to One presents at once an optimistic view of the future of progress in America and a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places.
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal.
How do successful companies create products people can’t put down?
Why do some products capture widespread attention while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of sheer habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies hook us?
Nir Eyal answers these questions (and many more) by explaining the Hook Model—a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior. Through consecutive “hook cycles,” these products reach their ultimate goal of bringing users back again and again without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging.
Hooked is based on Eyal’s years of research, consulting, and practical experience. He wrote the book he wished had been available to him as a start-up founder—not abstract theory, but a how-to guide for building better products. Hooked is written for product managers, designers, marketers, start-up founders, and anyone who seeks to understand how products influence our behavior.
Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares.
Most startups don’t fail because they can’t build a product.
Most startups fail because they can’t get traction.
Startup advice tends to be a lot of platitudes repackaged with new buzzwords, but Traction is something else entirely.
As Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares learned from their own experiences, building a successful company is hard. For every startup that grows to the point where it can go public or be profitably acquired, hundreds of others sputter and die.
Smart entrepreneurs know that the key to success isn’t the originality of your offering, the brilliance of your team, or how much money you raise. It’s how consistently you can grow and acquire new customers (or, for a free service, users). That’s called traction, and it makes everything else easier—fund-raising, hiring, press, partnerships, acquisitions. Talk is cheap, but traction is hard evidence that you’re on the right path.
Traction will teach you the nineteen channels you can use to build a customer base, and how to pick the right ones for your business. It draws on interviews with more than forty successful founders, including Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Alexis Ohanian (reddit), Paul English (Kayak), and Dharmesh Shah (HubSpot).
What If It Does Work Out?: Turn your passion into cash, make an impact in the world and live the life you were born to by Susie Moore.
Think about that hobby, that talent, that passion which you joyfully engage in. Just thinking about it shifts your energy, doesn’t it? Do you want to start transforming that into a side business which provides you with inspiration, fulfilment and a truckload of cash? This book will be that vital motivational injection to help you overcome your fears and doubts and get started in creating a successful side hustle! Build that business, make an impact, quit your job and live the life you were born to!
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant.
The #1 New York Times bestseller that examines how people can champion new ideas—and how leaders can fight groupthink, from the author of Give and Take and co-author of Option B
“Reading Originals made me feel like I was seated across from Adam Grant at a dinner party, as one of my favorite thinkers thrilled me with his insights and his wonderfully new take on the world.” —Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers and The Tipping Point
“Originals is one of the most important and captivating books I have ever read, full of surprising and powerful ideas. It will not only change the way you see the world; it might just change the way you live your life. And it could very well inspire you to change your world.” —Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In
With Give and Take, Adam Grant not only introduced a landmark new paradigm for success but also established himself as one of his generation’s most compelling and provocative thought leaders. In Originals he again addresses the challenge of improving the world, but now from the perspective of becoming original: choosing to champion novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battle conformity, and buck outdated traditions. How can we originate new ideas, policies, and practices without risking it all?
• More than 500 appearances on national bestseller lists
• #1 Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today
• Won 12 book awards
• Translated into 35 languages
• Voted Top 100 Business Book of All Time on Goodreads
People are using this simple, powerful concept to focus on what matters most in their personal and work lives. Companies are helping their employees be more productive with study groups, training, and coaching. Sales teams are boosting sales. Churches are conducting classes and recommending for their members.
By focusing their energy on one thing at a time people are living more rewarding lives by building their careers, strengthening their finances, losing weight and getting in shape, deepening their faith, and nurturing stronger marriages and personal relationships.
Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future by Leonard A. Schlesinger and Charles F. Kiefer.
How to succeed at work and life—in an increasingly unpredictable world
In a world where you can no longer plan or predict your way to success, how can you achieve your most important goals? It’s a daunting question. But in today’s environment, where change is the only constant, it’s a question everyone must answer. This is true whether you are an innovator or an entrepreneur, a manager or a newly minted graduate.
Using this novel approach, Just Start will help you:
• Determine the best strategy and tactics when the future is uncertain
• Minimize financial risk in every decision you make
• Attract like-minded people to what you want to do (and learn why this is important)
• Understand why “Act. Learn. Build (so you can) Act again” is the best course of action when facing the unknown
So throw out your forecasting tools and shrug off that nagging frustration that comes with constant uncertainty. Just Start distills for you the very essence of what makes people successful in today’s volatile environment. This book is your guide to achieving your goals—whether your project is professional or personal, or somewhere in between.
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin.
This life-changing manifesto shows how you have the potential to make a huge difference wherever you are.
Few authors have had the kind of lasting impact and global reach that Seth Godin has had. In a series of now-classic books that have been translated into 36 languages and reached millions of readers around the world, he has taught generations of readers how to make remarkable products and spread powerful ideas. In Linchpin, he turns his attention to the individual and explains how anyone can make a significant impact within their organization.
There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a third team, the linchpins. These people figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art.
Have you ever found a shortcut that others missed? Seen a new way to resolve a conflict? Made a connection with someone others couldn’t reach? Even once? Then you have what it takes to become indispensable, by overcoming the resistance that holds people back.
Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success by John C Maxwell.
Are some people born to achieve anything they want while others struggle? Call them lucky, blessed, or possessors of the Midas touch. What is the real reason for their success? Is it family background, wealth, greater opportunities, high morals, an easy childhood?
New York Times best-selling author John C. Maxwell has the answer: The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.
Most people are never prepared to deal with failure. Maxwell says that if you are like him, coming out of school, you feared it, misunderstood it, and ran away from it. But Maxwell has learned to make failure his friend, and he can teach you to do the same.
“I want to help you learn how to confidently look the prospect of failure in the eye and move forward anyway,” says Maxwell. “Because in life, the question is not if you will have problems, but how you are going to deal with them. Stop failing backward and start failing forward!”
What’s Your Favorite Business Book?
Did we miss any of your picks for the best business books to read? Keep in mind that while most of these books we’ve reviewed are available for purchase on Amazon, there are also plenty of websites out there that offer free books to download online—many of which communicate similar ideas, insights, and actionable advice to take your business to the next level this year.
If we missed any of your favorites, comment below telling us:
1. Your choice for the best business book you think we should read
2. The name of the author.