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10 books every aspiring entrepreneur should read

Planning to start a business? Looking to sustain a business? Just generally curious about business?

There are numerous challenges entrepreneurs face while working to make their business a success. Help from any corner is usually useful. A good thing is that they can learn from the experiences of others who have already been there. These book recommendations will guide you through what you need to know.

Some of the many successful businessmen have recorded their life lessons, researches, studies, tips and advice in the form of books. From learning how to influence others to their advantage, understanding how their own mind works, ensuring constant profits, building a business from nothing and even gaining an insight into what makes some people better than others — all these essential skills, and more, can be gained by reading these books.

Get your hand on one or all of these if you are planning to start a business.

[Hero and Featured Image Credit: Jereon den Otter/Unsplash]

This article first appeared on Prestige Online.

To be a successful entrepreneur, one must learn the art of dealing with people. How to Win Friends and Influence People has been teaching this skill to its readers since 1937.

One of Time magazine’s 100 all-time non-fiction books, millions have learned from it the ways to not only do better in their career but in life as well. Indeed, Carnegie’s book is considered a guaranteed life-changer. Who doesn’t want friends, after all? Its advice is as appropriate today, in the age of search engines and social media, as it was several decades ago. And that is why it is often seen as one of the earliest self-help books.

The book is divided into multiple sections containing steps to help you learn things like ‘Fundamental Techniques in Handling People’ or ‘Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offence or Arousing Resentment.’

Rich Dad, Poor Dad is one of the most successful financial planning books of recent times. It is an extremely helpful guide to everything you wanted to know about how to manage your money wisely in a way that even if you decide to retire in your middle-age, you can do it without a worry in the world.

The book breaks down all the necessary financial terms in easy-to-understand and entertaining bits while breaking several myths including the one that says a house is an asset. It contains lessons that are not taught in a school but after reading it you would be among millions who think it should be.

One of the biggest names in both psychology and economics, Kahneman is the winner of the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (shared with Vernon L. Smith). Thinking, Fast and Slow is the definitive chronicle of his lifelong studies, including the one on behavioural science with fellow Israeli psychologist Amos Tversky.

The opening chapters inform you about the two systems by which we think — one fast, the other slow — and how these systems work in everyday life. For instance, when we respond to a problem immediately it is the faster system which is called System 1, that works at the time. System 2 is when we have to think hard. While System 1 is quick, it can produce coloured results. And even though System 2 is more rational, it can be too time-consuming.

The book then goes into the details of the systems, how our brain works through these systems, how to effectively utilise these, cognitive biases, as well as Kahneman’s ‘Prospect Theory’ for which he won the Nobel. There are also case studies and examples from Kahneman’s other researches.

The book is important for anyone in any profession or even just for sailing through life smoothly. Entrepreneurs will find the concepts useful to understand and solve complex problems all the while learning about how overconfidence impacts corporate strategies. The book has emerged as one of the most read by scouts and executives of Major League Baseball (MLB) teams like Baltimore Orioles, Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers who rely on it for effective decision making.

Inspired by the life of his father in the US, Patel narrates an extremely engaging story of a paperboy who becomes a business owner. Through the story, he presents his ’11 principles of success’. These include recognising opportunity, investing in success, creating raving fans, delegating authority and branding for the future. Every principle is important for anyone looking to start a business, no matter the size and nature.

The book also contains interviews of renowned names such as former CIA chief General David Petraeus, actress Heidi Gardner, entrepreneur and author Gina Smith, Harvard Business School professor Laura Huang, and entrepreneur Derek Lidow to name a few.

Patel was only 16 years old when he wrote the book. Post its phenomenal success, Patel is famous as a serial entrepreneur and marketer.

The third book by the reputed columnist of The New Yorker, Outliers is about what is behind the success of people such as Bill Gates and bands like Beatles. Written in a journalistic style, the book deep dives into the backgrounds of those who made it big in their respective fields. Gladwell compares equally intelligent people like Christopher Langan and J. Robert Oppenheimer to convincingly drive his point that their respective family backgrounds were directly responsible for the former becoming a horse rancher and the latter becoming the father of the atomic bomb.

The Outliers is a book for those who want to understand specific skills and foundational advantage successful people have over others. Gladwell cites researches and explains several concepts for the ease of readers. You will find out answers to why ice hockey players are born in the early part of the year and why Asians are good at maths. (Hint: The latter has a connection with paddy.) One of the most interesting chapters is “The 10,000-Hour Rule”. To put it simply, it’s about the hours you practise your craft — something that made the Beatles one of the greatest bands of all time. Gladwell concludes the book with his own example, delving into his race and family background to explain the reasons behind his success.

The book debuted at No.1 on the New York Times bestsellers list and spent 11 weeks at the top.

John is the founder-CEO of hip-hop apparel company FUBU and is well-known for his appearance as an entrepreneur in the American business reality show Shark Tank. Drawing on his years of experience, John illustrates why the best way to succeed in business is to start from broke which means to start from nothing.

According to him, the reason is that starting with nothing makes you more creative, imaginative, authentic and efficient while dealing with several aspects of business such as marketing, resource management and customer relations. More importantly, the limitations help you focus better on your objective.

Besides John’s own experience of building FUBU from the ground up, the book contains numerous real-life examples of people who made it big in the world of business starting from scratch including Steve Aoki and Gigi Butler. There are also examples from Shark Tank such as 14-year-old Mo Bridges, who used his genius-level sartorial skills to create Mo’s Bows clothing line in 2011.

A New York Times bestseller, the book is helpful not only for those planning to start a business but also CEOs of established companies.

A billionaire, Dalio is one of the biggest names in the world of finance. He is the founder of Bridgewater Associates — the world’s largest hedge fund. Dalio shares his invaluable insights and experiences in the book, underlining his view that everything that he has learned, including investment, can be understood through a systematic set of principles.

The book is divided into three parts. The first is about Dalio’s life and lessons he learned as he went on building his name in the world of finance. The next two parts are about principles of life and work, respectively. There are more than 200 of them, including his concept of “radical transparency” and the need to get the right people and the right culture. The principles were developed by Dalio for over two decades and are applied by him and those at Bridgewater Associates at various points in their lives and work.

The book was released in 2017 and was a #1 New York Times bestseller. Among those who have praised the book are Bill Gates, Jamie Dimon, Mike Bloomberg and Tony Robbins.

If you want to know what is it that some companies can do to make their products a success then this is the book you should read. Eyal presents what he calls the “Hook Model”, which is a set of phases that enable successful products such as the iPhone to gain consumer behaviour in their favour. Once hooked, the consumers can be encouraged to return to the products repeatedly without aggressive marketing techniques through a system known as the “hook cycle”. The book helps everyone from product managers to start-up founders understand the point where technology, psychology and business meet.

Since its first publication in 2014, the lessons in Hooked have been of help to smaller businesses around the world like fitness app Fitbod, Norwegian educational start-up Kahoot! and a banking company in Africa known as Paga. It has received praise from the likes of WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg and investor Andrew Chen among others.

Eyal has years of experience in the video gaming and advertising industries where he learned the applications of what he describes in the book. He has also taught applied consumer psychology at Stanford Graduate School of Business and Hasso Plattner Institute of Design.

The book begins with what is perhaps one of the biggest challenges for most entrepreneurs — the business becoming an unbridled cash-eating monster.

Profit First aims to help owners of small businesses, who are among the most affected by this problem, become instantly profitable. For this, the book posits counter-intuitive cash management solutions. The simple approach involves tweaking an age-old accounting foundation of all profit-making businesses that profits are what is left after deducting expenses from sales (or revenue). Michalowicz proposes that a predetermined percentage of profit should be taken from revenues first and then spend what is left as expenses. This behavioural approach and the emphasis on money are the foundations of the book.

The book contains principles, case studies and advice to help businesses not only attain profitability early but also plan for long-term growth. Michalowicz is the author of business classics such as The Pumpkin Plan and The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. He had sold two multi-million dollar businesses by the age of 35 and is currently leading two new multi-million-dollar ventures.

Johnson is the president of the multimillion-dollar marketing and communications company Johnson Media Inc., which counts some of the Fortune 100 businesses as its clients. His book is for anyone aiming to become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Sara Blakely.

Johnson goes into the minds of wannabe entrepreneurs, starting with how to deduce from signals whether you have that mind in the first place. There are 100 lessons for self-development and ways to make a mark in the entrepreneurial universe. Through its chapters, the book tells new entrepreneurs that skills such as creativity and initiative can be cultivated. Every aspect of a business is covered through seven topics including finance, leadership, motivation and education.

The author cites examples from his own life and helpful tips to run a hassle-free business.

Manas Sen Gupta
Manas enjoys reading detective fiction and writing about anything that interests him. When not doing either of the two, he checks Instagram for the latest posts by travellers. Winter is his favourite season and he can happily eat a bowl of noodles any time of the day.
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