16 Entrepreneurial Books Successful CEOs Swear By

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entrepreneurial books

Browse through the business section at your local bookstore or favorite e-commerce site, and you’re sure to become inundated with a variety of titles. Reading takes time, and for entrepreneurs, time is the most precious resource of all. So how do you choose which books will fill your hunger for entrepreneurial success?

We asked 16 entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC):

“If you had to pick just one, which of the entrepreneurial books out there do you wish was required reading for your entire staff and why?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. ‘The E Myth’ by Michael Gerber

“The best business book I’ve ever read is The E Myth by Michael Gerber. “The E Myth” teaches entrepreneurs how to think about building their business so that they can turn their company into a well-structured, systemized business. I truly believe too many entrepreneurs do not follow the advice in this book, which is why 80 percent of startups fail.” ~ Arian RadmandCoachUp

2. ‘Zero to One’ by Peter Thiel

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel is an amazing book that helps me think beyond myself and the small ideas that I come up with. To truly create an amazing company, you have to create something that nobody else has created. This is what I want all my employees to be a part of.” ~ Peter Daisyme, Hosting

3. ‘Setting the Table’ by Danny Meyer

Setting the Table by Danny Meyer. Meyer, founder of Shake Shack and numerous other restaurants, wrote this book on his experiences developing customer service for his restaurants. While we are in a completely different industry (I’m in the marketing/advertising world), the principles shared on how you can make your customer feel their best while they’re with you stands true for any organization. Definitely recommend the read.” ~ Kenny Nguyen, Big Fish Presentations

4. ‘The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything’ by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica

The Element by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica. I want my entire staff to know what they’re passionate about and then be motivated to apply that to their work. I love it when an employee finds something that they’re good at, that they love to do, and that creates a huge benefit for us. Working with their passion reaps huge rewards, not just for my company but also for the employee’s happiness and sense of fulfillment.” ~ Dave Nevogt,Hubstaff.com

5. ‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck

Mindset by Carol Dweck. It’s a great book on how we can learn to fulfill our full potential. It helps my employees do their jobs better and grow the company. More than that, it helps them be better in their personal lives. Overall, I find this combo makes them happier and more productive. Many companies focus just on the person’s career, but I found this blend to be more effective.” ~ Joshua Lee, StandOut Authority

6. ‘Win One for the Shareholders!’ by Al Angrisani

“I recommend Win One for the Shareholders! by Al Angrisani to all staff, no matter the department. Angrisani outlines his proven model of building equity value. While he focuses on turnarounds, his wisdom is applicable to companies of any size and stage. The book provides insight on enhancing the performance of your company to create new wealth for shareholders, including employees and founders.” ~ Doreen BlochPoshly Inc.

7. ‘The Ultimate Sales Machine’ by Chet Holmes

The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes revolutionized the way I plan my time. One of the most important lessons for me was that saying “yes” to one thing means saying “no” to something else. Even if someone asks for “just five minutes,” I have to look at my calendar and decide what I have to say “no” to in exchange for those five minutes. This really helps me prioritize what’s important and stay on track.” ~ Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now

8. ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’ by Patrick Lencioni

“Many times, it’s not the product or service you offer that keeps you from success, it’s how your team functions. “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni does a great job of breaking down the key components of a dysfunctional (and conversely, functional) team so you can get people to trust each other, have productive conflict, commit to actions, be accountable for their actions and track results. Wouldn’t that be a nice world?” ~ Jerry Nevins, Snow & Co

9. ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a classic for a reason. It’s a fabulous blueprint for how to build a successful team based on trust, collaboration and empathy.” ~ Abby RossThinkCERCA

10. ‘Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success’ by Ken Segall

“I love Insanely Simple by Ken Segall because it reminds us how easily we overcomplicate everything, and how simplicity is the key to success. It is also a good example of how a company value, simplicity, can permeate culture at all levels of an organization.” ~ Angela Harless, AcrobatAnt

11. ‘Venture Deals’ by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson

“As founder of a transactional law firm, I have every one of my employees read Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson. It is accessible enough that people who are not attorneys or professional investors can understand the basics of the transactions we focus on, while covering a wide enough breadth of topics, including how venture funds operate and negotiation tactics, to make it a worthwhile read for my attorneys as well.” ~ Peter MintonMinton Law Group, P.C.

12. ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ by Rick Warren

The Purpose Driven Life set me on a path of living life on purpose. By refusing to be a victim of your circumstances, you declare that you are the creator of your reality. Imagine a workforce that collectively thought this way, with individuals declaring themselves leaders of their lives and accountable to their results. ” ~ Mina ChangLinking the World

13. ‘Influence’ by Robert Cialdini

“Regardless of industry or product type, all companies must know how to guide customers to a purchase decision. In Influence, behavioral scientist Robert Cialdini uses interesting case studies to show how a great product can sell well or poorly, depending on how it is packaged and presented. All employees should understand what drives buying behavior, and “Influence” is an excellent primer.” ~ Joel HollandVideo Blocks

14. ‘Spin Selling’ by Neil Rackham

“Spin Selling” is written by Neil Rackham, who has advised leading companies such as IBM and Honeywell. He offers easily applicable techniques for sales teams to follow, and demonstrates why these processes work and how sales success is achievable in any size company.” ~ Jayna CookeEVENTup

15. ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. The book outlines the steps to put in practice in your everyday life to ensure you stay accountable to your goals and live up to your maximum potential.” ~ Benj Millereyespeak

16. ‘The Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries

“Product development is ultimately an exercise in prioritization. Every company struggles to decide which products and features they should build, and how to measure their impact. The Lean Startup provides a clear framework to unify any team and put them on the right track to building products that actually yield measurable, desirable results.” ~ Sathvik TantryFormSwift

Book Image via Shutterstock


The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

3 Reactions
  1. ‘Influence’ by Robert Cialdini is so freakin’ good and I rarely see it on this sort of lists. I would add “Crush It” from Gary Vaynerchuk and “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferris but overall it is a great compilation of books. And probably I’m going to check out “Spin Selling”, the synopsis looks promising!

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