13 Books That Should Be on Every Startup Founder’s Summer Reading List

Startup owners, add these best books for entrepreneurs, as recommended by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council, to your summer reading list.

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There’s so much to read, it can often be overwhelming to know exactly where to start. Not to mention when you’re busy running a company. That’s why we asked 13 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:

“What business book should be on every founder’s summer reading list?”

Best Books for Entrepreneurs

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. “Mindset” by Carol Dweck

“This essential read is all about learning the growth mindset. When you orient your life, business and mind towards learning and growing as your No. 1 priority, you’ll end up in a good place. This book teaches you how to do that. A lesser known but equally awesome book is Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way.” ~ Sean KellySnackNation

2. “What to Do When It’s Your Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn)” by Seth Godin

“This is a must read for any entrepreneur who needs to get out of their own way. Whether you’re a solo founder or partner, sometimes the largest critic and factor in your inability to move forward and change is yourself. This book dives into the fear of the unknown, the fear of our own freedom of choice, and the fact that owning your mistakes is the fun part of life’s adventure. ” ~ Kim KaupeZinePak

3. “Letters From a Stoic” by Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“The ancient stoic worldview teaches the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and maintain emotional stability in good times and bad. Much more so than any canned framework, your ability as a business owner to react well to circumstances is what leads you to success.” ~John RoodNext Step Test Preparation

4. “Be Our Guest” by the Disney Institute

“This has been one of the best hospitality and culture books I have ever read. We learn the science behind Disney’s work culture and formulas they use to ensure clear communication with the staff. The interesting part is how diverse each Disney property’s cultural standards may be while they stay aligned with performance standards.” ~ Kenny Nguyen, Big Fish Presentations

5. “Founders at Work” by Jessica Livingston

“Originally published in 2007, Founders at Work captures authentic interviews with founders of famous tech companies concerning what happened in their early years. Not only are the interviews entertaining and insightful, but it’s reassuring to read about other founders who may have found themselves in situations similar to the ones you face and have persevered.” ~ Brett FarmiloeMarkitors

6. “Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers” by Jay Baer

“Haters are a reality of life and work. Reading Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers helps you figure out how to handle them in an effective way, including onstage and offstage haters. It’s a great way to up your customer service.” ~ Drew HendricksButtercup

7. “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz

“We commonly hear a success filled one-sided view of running a business, but what about the hardships? Written by a successful entrepreneur and VC, this book doesn’t sugarcoat how hard it is to run your own business. It’s filled with practical advice from Horowitz’s business experiences. He frankly discusses his near failure of his company too. Great book for any CEO or entrepreneur.” ~ Elliot BohmCardcash.com

8. “#AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness” by Gary Vaynerchuk

“Gary Vaynerchuk’s new book is one that all founders should read. He speaks his mind and his views are spot on. He stresses the “work” part of the equation and is very vocal about the new startups that don’t have a strategy to make money, because they are simply banking on more investment rounds to keep them above water. His ‘real talk’ is refreshing and this is a book everyone will find value in.” ~ Jonathan LongMarket Domination Media

9. “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber

Michael Gerber’s book has inspired millions and helped countless business owners learn how to adapt their business to a franchise prototype model. His story-telling ability makes for a quick, interesting read. You’ll walk away understanding the need to incorporate the right systems and processes in your business so that it functions well regardless of who’s running it.” ~ Joseph HansenBuy Box Experts

10. The Second Machine Age” by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew Mcafee

“The first machine age, the industrial revolution, overcame our physical limitations. Now with the rise of computers and other digital technologies, we have moved to overcoming our mental limitations. The Second Machine Age reveals the forces that are driving innovation and thus the economy, and in doing so reveals how technology, society, and the economy all progress.” ~ Peter BonacBonac Innovation Corp.

See Also: Surprising Way One Company Managed Home Health Care During Covid

11. “Living With a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet” by Jesse Itzler

“I am always impressed by people who continuously push themselves, especially when they are emotionally and financially stable. Entrepreneur Jesse Itzler’s book made me question my commitment levels and my own personally set limits within my business and everyday life. His unconventional methodology and commitment to pushing the limits will motivate you to get out of your comfort zone this summer.” ~ Anthony PezzottiKnowzo.com

12. “Zen and the Art of Happiness” by Chris Prentiss

“Everyone should read this book about accepting things rather than resisting them. It hits home the point that anything that happens to you, even though it may feel like the worst turn of events in a given moment, will in retrospect have impacted you positively in some way. This lesson helped me develop a stronger and more resilient mindset, especially in fundraising and solving complex problems.” ~ Ajay YadavRoomi

13. “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni

“Written as a fable, this leadership book describes the most common causes of organizational dysfunction and suggests ways to create a cohesive, productive team that works well together. It’s a quick, easy read that’s very timely for any founder that’s managing a growing team.” ~ Roger LeeCaptain401

Bookshelf Photo 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.

2 Reactions
  1. I should make it a habit to have a yearly reading list. It pays to learn and be inspired by successful businesses.

  2. Nice compilation of the books. I will check out @GaryVee’s new book. I think I will get is as an audio-book.

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