top books for entrepreneurs

There are books that you read to get information, books that you read for fun and books that change the way you think and look at life.

Everyone has a special book that has influenced them one way or the other.

As I was looking for the next book to read I had a great idea – why not ask the people who I look up to?

So I asked friends and top bloggers, that I admire, for their top 3 books that have influenced them the most.

I got amazing recommendations that I want to share with you all. This is the ultimate must-read book list for any entrepreneur who wants to succeed in this business.

Here’s what they replied (in alphabetical order):

Corbett Barr

Corbett Barr

Corbett blogs at Think Traffic and has a very successful blogging course How to Start a Blog That Matters.


This book shows you the psychology behind why people say “yes,” and how to use this information to persuade people (and prevent yourself from being persuaded).

This book will open your eyes to unconventional ways of building software and small businesses.

This book defines a simple strategy for eliminating the biggest risk of entrepreneurship (building something no one wants).

John Chow

John Chow

John blogs at John Chow dot com and recently released his very in depth blogging course Blogging with John Chow.



Tim Ferriss teaches us to forget the old concepts of retirement and a deferred life plan, and join the New Rich. For living more and working less, this book is the blueprint.
There is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times.

This is the book I’m currently reading. The author, MJ DeMarco, sent me a dozen signed copies. So far, I’m really enjoying it. The book describs three different economic paths most people follow. The first path is the sidewalk where people are basically living from paycheck to paycheck. The second is the slow lane – work hard for forty to fifty years, dutifully save 10% or more in your 401K and retire with a modest sum. Then there is the fast lane. Which one are you on?

There are no words higher than the word of God.

Gregory Ciotti

Gregory Ciotti

Gregory blogs at Sparring Mind where you can learn how to use psychology to grow your business.


This might seem like a weird book to include on a list for entrepreneurs, but for me, this has served as one of the most life-changing books I’ve read in my life.

This book has more been about my state of mind as an individual, and since it has, in many ways, helped me improve myself as a person, it’s also indirectly help me improve myself as an entrepreneur.

As an example, here’s a quote from the edition I own:

Withdraw into yourself, as far as you can. Associate with those who will make a better man of you. Welcome those whom you yourself can improve. The process is mutual; for men learn while they teach.

These sorts of insights are literally found all throughout the book, and I dare someone to read it and not come out a slightly changed (and improved) individual.

This is definitely one of my favorite social psychology books of all time, it’s the one that really got me into reading about human behavior.

It’s somewhat of a hard book to acquire, and I think that speaks to it’s quality: it’s the gran-daddy of social psych books!

I’d also recommend the rest of Aronson’s work, the 2nd favorite being Mistakes Were Made, but Not by Me.

In terms of getting the best “foundation” of an education in business, I can’t recommend any book more than this one.

If you don’t know about terms like “shadow testing”, be sure to pick this up and save yourself a massive amount of headaches.

You’ll be head and shoulders above most wannabe entrepreneurs just by reading this book.

Justin Cooke

Justin Cooke

Justin (with Joe Magnotti) blogs at Adsense Flippers and they have developed a theme specially for niche websites called IntelliTheme



There are many different ways you can build your “business”, but this is a book you’ll want to read if you’re looking to maximize your value/impact and set your business up efficiently.

If you’re in the service industry and are looking for ways to productize your services, this would be a great read for you.

Whether you’re part of the younger, Napster/Torrent generation or you share the older, skeptical “You get what you pay for” beliefs, this book will break down the benefits and risks associated with “free“.

It’s more than a gimmick and this book explains how to both use and take advantage of free products and services. Highly recommended.

Ok, I’m cheating a little here as this isn’t a book. Andrew Warner of Mixergy interviews entrepreneurs that have recently had a major breakthrough, realizations, etc. and walks them step-by-step through their story. He’s an amazing interviewer and storyteller.

Honestly, if you listen to a few episodes of Mixergy and don’t walk away with a ton of ideas, I have second doubts about whether or not you really want to be an entrepreneur.

Chris Ducker


Chris Ducker

Chris blogs at and if you are looking for a virtual assistant make sure to check out his Virtual Staff Finder service.


I learned more about the art of personal branding in the digital age from this book than I have in my entire career. Gary’s attitude towards this stuff is a massive game-changer. It’s simple to read, easy to follow and I’ve devoured it twice, just for good measure!

Most entrepreneurs I know have read this book and enjoyed it. For me, honestly speaking, I didn’t really ‘learn’ anything from it – but, what it did do is open my eyes to the fact that we can control the way we work, the hours we work and what that, in effect, means for our lifestyles, family, etc.

This is a newer book. I bought it a year ago and only just got around to reading it. I wish I’d done so sooner. Mari’s approach to utilizing social media to build communities, fans, customer lists, etc., is a breath of fresh air. As an ‘older school’ business type of business owner, I picked up a lot from this read.

Trent DyrsmidTrent Dyrsmid

Trent blogs and interviews successful entrepreneurs at Bright Ideas.

Tom Ewer

Tom Ewer

Tom blogs at Leaving Work Behind and if you are interested in freelance writing make sure to check out his Successful Freelance Writing Online course.


This may not be seen as a business book by many, but it was in fact written to help those in business better communicate and network. I think it’s as relevant today as it ever was and consider it recommended reading for just about anyone.

I’m always hesitant to mention this book because of (a) its title and (b) the author’s propensity for hyperbole, but even with its weaknesses noted, it is a superb read for anyone who is interested in following a different track to the typical nine to five. It is a real eye opener for all of those people who have been indoctrinated into the “go to school, get a degree, get a job, retire at 65” way of thinking.

This book was only published in 2012 but has become a firm favorite of mine. Chris Guilleabeau is a great writer and an excellent teacher, and in this book he demonstrates that you need neither a great deal of resources or a genius mind to create a successful small business. Required reading for anyone interested in making money online.

Rand Fishkin

Rand Fishkin

Rand is the CEO and co-founder of SEOmoz and he also blogs at Rand’s blog.



A remarkable biography of one of my personal heroes: Chuck Feeney. This is probably the book that’s inspired me most in my professional career.

From analyzing 1,435 companies over 40 years, Jim Collins’ team found 11 standouts. This book looks at the difference between the great ones and the rest.

Robert Cialdini’s seminal work on how and why mankind thinks and acts. Essential reading.

Eric Gati

Eric Gati

Eric blogs at My 4 Hour Workweek about passive income.


I suspect this one will be on many people’s lists. The idea of creating a passive income “muse” as Tim Ferriss describes is was/is so alluring. This book was the single motivation behind my blog and all of the passive income projects that followed.

I’m actually not done with this book yet, but I love all the inspiring stories it tells about entrepreneurs who have started businesses from absolutely nothing.

Yes, it’s another startup/entrepreneurship book, but I read this one before I ever took the first step in attempting to create a business (before the first two books above). It’s a great “nuts and bolts” read that gets you thinking about everything that goes into starting a business, from someone who has had a lot of success doing it.

Danny Iny

Danny Iny

Danny blogs at Firepole Marketing and if you want to learn the art of guest posting and growing your audience check out Write Like Freddy training program.


Joe Magnotti

Joe Magnotti

Joe (with Justin Cooke) blogs at Adsense Flippers and they have developed a theme specially for niche websites called IntelliTheme


Great look into randomness — it affects you more than you think!

This book helped shape our business model at

It will change the way you look at why people got to where they are. Introduced me to the 10,000 hour rule of becoming an expert.


Dane Maxwell

Dane Maxwell

Dane is the founder or “Head honcho” at The Foundation where he teaches entrepreneurs to build lucrative software companies. Really awesome community.


It was my first book. It was basic enough that it taught me in an easy story format how to be a rich ass mofo. Re-reading it today I see how basic it is, but I felt at the time it spoke to me perfectly where I’m at.

This book talks about how Chet Holmes doubled 9 of Charlie Mungers companies in 2 years each. Chet uses the same system to double all of Charlie’s companies. The system is insane.

This book taught me about true power. Not like how much can I bench press power, but how much can my heart expand power. This book is one of the most life changing books I’ve ever read. I turned the book into 2, 4ft by 8th paintings in my room. These are huge paintings!

Bamidele Onibalusi

Bamidele Onibalusi

Bamidele blogs at YoungPrePro. He’s the guy to turn to when you need advice about freelance writing.


I only read a book once. This is the only book I’ve read twice that I can remember and I’ll be reading it again soon. The principles in this book are timeless and powerful and can help you succeed in life. What you do with what you learn is up to you. While the theme of the book is “power”, the principles outlined in it applies to all areas of life.

It’s my favorite book by far.

This is another powerful book every marketer should read; it helps me know how I respond to certain things in certain way and also how I can get people to respond to my messages the way I want.

My 2nd most favorite book, I love this book because it focuses on genuine principles that contribute to other people’s lives and ensures every party involved enjoy a win-win. No gimmicks.

Neil Patel

Neil Patel

Neil blogs at Quick Sprout and he is also the co-founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics.



Joel RunyonJoel Runyon

Joel blogs at the Blog of Impossible Things where he does everything impossible.



Maneesh Sethi

Maneesh Sethi

Maneesh blogs at Hack the System about all his crazy antics.




Opened my mind to not working a 9-5.

How to effect behavioral change, why environment is more important than willpower.

Why follow your passion is bad advice, and how to actually do the work you want to do.


Steve Scott

Steve Scott

Steve blogs at and he writes a lot of books about marketing himself. If you are interested in affiliate marketing check out his Affiliate Marketing Without the B.S course.


This fiction book is about a guy who gets to repeat his life again and again. What makes it “inspirational” is the realization that we don’t get a second shot at life. Each one of use has a single chance to create a meaningful existence. In other words, there is NO replay.

Unlike other self-help books, Canfield’s guide provides an action plan for success. He breaks everything down into sixty-four sections with specific things to do. Just start from the beginning and you’ll find a blueprint for achieving your goals.

I like Gary’s simple message – Work REALLY hard at one thing to become successful. We live in an age of infinite options and possibilities. So it’s nice to see someone demonstrate how insane dedication to a single purpose can provide value to the world while making money at the same time.

Marcus Sheridan

Marcus Sheridan

Marcus blogs at The Sales Lion and he shows you how powerful content marketing can truly be.



Want to learn how to talk to others online? What to tweet about? How to handle blog comments? Yep, it’s all there, long before the internet was even a thought. Dale Carnegie’s teachings are timeless and life-changing.

Like everyone, I love Seth. I love the idea of forming a tribe, which, for me, means that we are not here to make everyone happy, but rather we should focus on making our tribe happy.

Do you know your business’ or blog’s hedgehog concept yet? If not, you should, as it makes ALL the difference. I’ve read this book at least 10 times. Powerful stuff.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas

Mike blogs at Mike From Maine and definitely check out his podcast.


It’s all about simplifying your life and living your dreams. One of the quotes I always remember from that book is “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”. I’ve always strived to create a life for myself worth living.

It’s core principle is that “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”. This is completely true for me, but you need to know what you want first before you can take it.

I thought I should through a business book in here, so there you go 🙂 It’s a great read that emphasizes that in our age it’s cheap and simple for anyone to start a business. Read it.

Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson

Mark blogs at and he creates a ton of products as well.




Good book which looks at how you can be ethical and still succeed.

How having a different corporate culture can help you succeed…. (guess there is a trend here!)

Why you don’t need to work 9-5 and how you can make an income on your own terms.


Huge special-thanks again to everyone who took their time and shared their influential books with us.

This became an awesome resource for anyone (including me) who wants to find the next great book to read.


PS: If anyone is wondering where to get started, the top 4 most recommended books were:

  1. The 4-Hour Workweek – by Tim Ferriss
  2. The $100 Startup – by Chris Guillebeau
  3. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – by Robert Cialdini
  4. Good to Great – by Jim Collins


What books have inspired you? 

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