The Best Books For Entrepreneurs & Marketers


When it comes to expanding your business acumen, there are a lot of viable options out there. Authoritative blogs, YouTube videos, podcasts, conferences, networking, workshops, and college courses are all effective methods for expanding your horizons. But it's hard to beat the knowledge that you can learn from well-written books. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk replied, "I read books" when asked how he learned to build rockets. There’s truly no substitute for reading books when it comes to helping you launch something new; whether it's rockets or the business you’ve always aspired to build. 

Knowledge is perhaps the rarest and most valuable of all elements found on earth, provided you know the source and the right medium of transmission. But it's easier to get now than ever before with millions of affordable eBooks at our fingertips on any smartphone or tablet! These top business books can help an individual learn, grow and innovate when it comes to launching a new business or successfully managing a company. Read through the following list of books (in no particular order) that can effectively help you to stay motivated to achieve your entrepreneurship goals.

1.  "Lost & Founder" by Rand Fishkin

Rand Fishkin is the co-founder of Moz and an icon in the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) world. He emphasizes throughout the book that the startup process, transition to leadership roles, and making it in Silicon Valley should not be viewed with rose-colored glasses. They are all challenging and frantic endeavors that nobody is really prepared for in an increasingly competitive digital world. He shares his trials and tribulations of starting his company SEOmoz with his mother and breaking out of crushing debt to build a $50 million a year software company. I think it helps a lot of entrepreneurs and marketers to know that they aren't the only ones dealing with challenges, setbacks, and even outright failures during their journey to build a business.  

This bold business book may have been the straw that broke the camel's back at Moz, as they asked him to leave his regular duties a couple month's before the book was officially published. Due to the 18 months he devoted energy writing it (probably taking away from time spent on company needs), and some of the candid and critical content about Moz and other companies in the book, the company probably decided that it was time to further distance themselves from Fishkin. He's still a majority shareholder at around 25% and is still on the board though so he's only gone from daily operations for now.   

2.  "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey 

This is a classic read for business professionals from all walks of life. From developing leadership qualities to being self-motivated, setting up a business requires an individual to adopt numerous skills proficiently. This is where this book comes into play. The author Stephen R. Covey has extensively talked about the fundamentals of attaining success and how effectiveness and efficiency can help an individual. 

3.  "Hustle" by Neil Patel

Hustle is a book co-written by entrepreneur digital marketing extraordinaire Neil Patel, the founder of Kissmetrics and Crazy Egg. If you're not familiar with Neil, he's made a big name for himself online in the marketing world with thousands of blog posts, hundreds of YouTube videos, several website businesses, keynote speeches, and consulting work for major corporations. You could say that he's a younger and more technical Gary Vaynerchuk, just with less obscenities. He's been a big inspiration for me as an entrepreneur and digital marketer over the last couple years so I was excited to read his eBook. 

His New York Times best-selling book "Hustle" is very different from his blog and video content. His writing and new video content is usually very technical, especially when it comes to search engine optimization and social media marketing tactics. This book however was much more about the big picture and lessons learned from himself and the two other co-authors during their business ventures. It talked about the authors' upbringings and how they deviated from the beaten path by becoming successful entrepreneurs. The book can be a little generic at times and doesn't get into the nitty gritty of how Neil built his businesses at a young age, lost a million dollars, and experimented with countless SEO and digital marketing tactics to make it to the top. Overall though I still liked the positive message, strong points, and even the lame alliteration I love.

I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from "Hustle" but I thought it would be a little more similar to his blog, podcast, and video content. I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way and I think he'll eventually publish a more strategic marketing book in the next year or two. His marketing advice has helped thousands (if not millions) of people and I think a book more in his wheelhouse will get a better reception. The only problem is that digital marketing changes every month and that books on this topic can become outdated or even obsolete in a couple years.

4.  "Steve Jobs" – by Walter Isaacsen 

This book is not merely an autobiographical work on the life and achievements of Steve Jobs; it is an inspiration by itself, depicting the personal and professional life of the Apple co-founder. The book represents a compilation of a series of interviews conducted by Isaacsen with Steve Jobs, his family members and colleagues over the period of three years. It provides a "warts and all" perspective which doesn't just idolize Jobs but instead delves into his personal and professional flaws. If you are about to start a business, this book is going to inspire you in every possible way. This book was so successful in fact that they have essentially created two Steve Jobs movies based on it ("Steve Jobs" and "The Man In The Machine"... not the older "Jobs" movie with Ashton Kutcher).

Steve Jobs was not only a stubborn genius that created innovation and new benchmarks for several industries, but he was also an extremely hard worker. He would work so hard (and pushed his team to the brink) so often on so many projects that he would make himself ill on many occasions. He put his whole entire life and being into all of his products and expected perfection. 

Jobs was also a cutthroat businessman and ruthless when it came to taking out the competition (Microsoft and later Google) and ensuring victory for his enterprises. He often had very difficult decisions to make, as do all entrepreneurs, when it came to making the best products possible and keeping the company from oblivion. I greatly respect this man, warts and all. He had unbeatable enthusiasm for innovation, work ethic, and perfection. If you don't have passion for your profession like this man, you will never be even remotely as successful.

5.  "The Founder's Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup" by Noam Wasserman 

Starting up a business requires the founder to decide things wisely and move ahead with the venture in ways that can avoid risks and pitfalls in the long run. Noam Wasserman is here with an extensive overview on how to predict and avoid all potential pitfalls that may affect your startup negatively. From advising you on whether it’s going to pay off well on cofounding with relatives and friends to providing suggestions on how to anticipate and take a call regarding partnership splits and the likes; this book offers its readers a comprehensive solution. 

6.  "Losing My Virginity" by Richard Branson

Losing My Virginity is the autobiography of the world's coolest billionaire businessman: Sir Richard Branson. Richard Branson is the founder of Virgin - you know, Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines, and VIRGIN GALACTIC (just to name a few of his brands). Yes, all real men and women want to go to space simply to say they did it. Don't you dare try and say you don't. Everyone with hopes and dreams should read this book. 

Branson expertly delivers a fast paced read that gets you excited to start your own business and fly around the world in one of those aluminum foil lookin' hot air balloons. Losing My Virginity goes into detail about Branson's wheeling and dealing that turned his magazine into record stores, a label, an airline, and a brand known round the world. As a young man, Branson snagged ads from competing soda companies (Pepsi Co & Coca-Cola) by telling them the other had already reserved a space in his magazine. Brilliant! This is just the beginning. 

Signing controversial rock acts such as The Sex Pistols helped propel Virgin into the spotlight. From there, Branson used his outgoing personality and daredevil mentality to launch the business into the mainstream. From public adventures like sailing and flying around the world - pause. You have to be the man to sail or fly around the world and a) make it and b) not die. Most people would definitely wimp out halfway through. Like I was saying, these adventures helped with the cool, edgy image that is Virgin and Branson played it perfectly. 

Anyone who wants to learn a lot about the non-fiscal side of grabbing the business world by the horns and having a blast doing it needs to read this book. It will blow your mind. So ladies and gentlemen, go on Amazon and buy this book. Instead of watching the next pile of reality TV show garbage, read a book about a true entrepreneur - sauve, adventurous, rich, and the image of cool. This man was knighted, bought an island, and is bringing space travel to the masses. Enough said.

7.  "The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses" by Eric Ries 

There’s always a way to prevent startup failures, and this is what the book "The Lean Startup" is all about. Reading this book will help all young entrepreneurs and also the aspirants to adapt a scientific approach that can help them set up and manage startups much more successfully. Appropriate for the business of all categories, this book is just the right kind of read that can help you with a clearer vision and adaptability concerning all dos and don’ts of startup ventures. 

8.  "Disrupted: My Misadventure In The Startup Bubble" by Dan Lyons

Disrupted is a humorous and critical take on the chaos and contradictions in the startup, marketing, and tech world. It focuses on new Boston marketing software company HubSpot as it becomes a unicorn (venture backed startup that becomes valued at $1 billion or more) and a publicly traded company. Former tech journalist and satirist Dan Lyons delves into the ridiculousness that the company deals with including aggressive telemarketing, spamming, employee attrition, ageism, sexism, favoritism, and incompetence with the comedic genius that only "Fake Steve Jobs" (Dan Lyons former alter-ego) can. The growing "bro culture" in the tech world is also hilariously recalled on several occasions. He also takes jabs at Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and many other top tech companies of Silicon Valley. 

But most importantly it's a good read because it shows you a few things to be wary of when starting a business, scaling up your company, working in marketing, or investing in the tech space. It's always a good thing when you can learn from Dan Lyon's mistakes or HubSpot's mistakes instead of damaging your own business learning the hard way.

Like Rand Fishkin's "Lost & Founder" this book also caused some drama within the company, and in this case led to the firing of marketing mastermind Mike Volpe before it was published. That was due to his actions trying to get an early manuscript more than the actual content, but that's a whole different story.

9.  "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" by Simon Sinek 

President Truman once famously said “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers”. If you aspire to become a successful entrepreneur, bring a new wave of change and become one of the forerunners of the startups, then reading through the pages of this book by Simon Sinek will help you to draw inspiration. You will explore how some of the world’s greatest leaders hold their vision of success, and act accordingly to lead movements, materialize dreams and establish businesses successfully. 

10.  "The Power Of Broke" by Daymond John

As you can imagine from a guy with a website titled "Frugal Business", I'm a big fan of the rags to riches Shark Tank star and fashion mogul Daymond John. He started FUBU (For Us By Us) on the streets of Queens from the ground up by himself with almost no funds and turned it into a multi-billion dollar brand. He started selling clothes out of his car and now he owns more cars than you can imagine. He's currently a successful investor in dozens of businesses spanning a variety of industries. The Power Of Broke is a tribute to the success that can be achieved with enough hustle, creativity, resolve, resilience, and patience. Contrast his lean startup approach with tech titans Mark Cuban and (often to a lesser extent) Robert Herjavec. 

The core principles of his success in founding and growing FUBU are always prevalent when working with entrepreneurs he's invested in. Daymond John says not to be stingy with money for the sake of being stingy, but to the point where his entrepreneurs will have to learn and grow to solve the problem at hand. "Throwing money at problems never works" is a big theme with him. Not only will you potentially lose it, but you won't have to dig deep and solve the challenges in an efficient manner. 

The book consistently recounts his own entrepreneurial past, current business enterprises, entrepreneurs he's invested in (successes and failures), and the Shark Tank pitching / investment process. He chronicles the case studies of several rags-to-riches success stories like Steve Aoki (EDM DJ), Tim Ferriss Author of 4-Hour Work Week, GiGi Butler (a cupcake empire), and Mo Bridges (11 year old Shark Tank prodigy) to just name a few. He proves that there's nothing you can't do even with just a few dollars in your pocket and your back against the wall. 

It's certainly a fantastic inspirational story for any entrepreneur, and you'll learn a great deal from the successes and failures he chronicles in his book. Believe me when I say that it will be money well spent. I don't buy many eBooks but I am glad I shelled out the money for this one. If you love The Power Of Broke you'll also love my new eBook "The $10 Digital Media Startup" for entrepreneurial inspiration, digital marketing strategy, and making an amazing online living on a shoestring budget.

11.  "Be Obsessed Or Be Average" by Grant Cardone 

This book is all about Grant Cardone’s journey from being broke and drug addicted to becoming a successful millionaire businessman. If real life instances motivate you towards establishing successful businesses, then buy this book today. This man’s incredible journey from rags to riches with success in car sales, real estate, writing, social media, and investing is likely to serve as the right dose of inspiration that every budding entrepreneur needs to establish their ventures successfully. He offers insights into sales, entrepreneurship, management, public speaking, real estate, and investing throughout his incredible story.

12.  "The Barefoot Executive: The Ultimate Guide for Being Your Own Boss and Achieving Own Freedom" by Carrie Wilkerson 

If you are not sure about what should you offer to your audience and who exactly are your target customers, then this book by Carrie Wilkerson is for you. The author talks explicitly about setting business goals and focusing on them - what type of business suits an individual best and every essential thing that can trigger excitement. The author guides her readers through the entire process of establishing a successful business by developing ultimate leadership qualities, abilities to keep up with the pace. 

13.  "#AskGaryVee" by Gary Vaynerchuk

AskGaryVee is a compilation from hundreds of the questions that digital marketing and entrepreneurship mastermind Gary Vaynerchuk is asked on a daily basis. It covers everything on questions from social media marketing, analytics, Google AdWords, startup funding, management tips, and work-life balance (that's probably the shortest section in the book of course). Gary Vaynerchuk also writes some of his own summarized thoughts on the nitty gritty (dirt) and the big picture (clouds) of business and life. Although this book is now a few years old and the digital marketing landscape has changed a bit, his overall insight and strategy will carry over well for years to come.   

14.  "The Little Red Book of Selling: Principles of Greatness" by Jeffrey Gitomer 

This one goes out to the salespeople willing to establish something by their own self. Even though you are planning to put an end to your professional life as a salesperson and start something on your own, you will be required to sell products at the end of the day in order to take your business to the level of prosperity. This short but effective book on sales tactics and ideas should certainly make it to your must-read list. 

15.  "Million Dollar Consulting" by Alan Weiss 

If you are truly determined to set up with your business and move ahead with the venture towards attaining utmost success, then add this book to your must-read list today. This book is basically a guide covering all nitty-gritty of working for yourself, bagging new clients, raising capital and every crucial corporate advice on practicing a trade that can fetch you accolades in the long run. 

16.  "The Art Of War" by Sun Tzu

This one is a classic read from 2,500 year old Chinese General Sun Tzu. It teaches you classic lessons on the strategy and philosophy needed to become successful in many aspects of life including business. It's obviously directly referring to strategies utilized in war and politics but there is a lot of carryover into other areas. Some of the key takeaways: Know when to fight and when not to fight: avoid what is strong and strike at what is weak. Know how to deceive the enemy: appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak. Know your strengths and weaknesses: if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. 

All of these lessons translate incredibly well into the business world even today. Along with Machiavelli's "The Prince", this book is still a staple book for entrepreneurs, managers, politicians, military leaders, and sales professionals worldwide. 

17.  "The Business Start-Up Kit" by Steven. D. Strauss 

Pretty evident from the name of the book, the author has explicitly talked about the various aspects highlighting those things that are appropriate for start-ups and the ones that are not. Additionally, the readers will also get to read through suggestions regarding appropriate choice of businesses, alongside other essential tips and tricks requisite for running start-up ventures successfully. So, before you are thinking of anything else, make it a point to read through these books as discussed above. It is to be remembered, apart from investing capital on business, you gotta invest your knowledge and time as well. Good luck! 

I'd highly recommend all of these top business books for your physical book or Kindle eBook collection. As I read more business books I'll make sure to update this list accordingly! 


I hope you enjoyed this article about the top business books to read for entrepreneurial, marketing, and sales success.

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