Entrepreneurs offer a powerful service to the world. They take an idea that exists only in their heads and turn it into reality. In the daily grind of emails, phone calls, and to-do lists, this powerful vision can get lost.
Don’t let it.
Entrepreneurs are awesome, but sometimes they need a little inspiration to keep pursuing their goals.
This list of 10 books about successful entrepreneurs demonstrates that potential. The entrepreneurs on this page all came from humble beginnings but they were able to tap into their inner entrepreneur to create entrepreneurial magic. They used everyday items like hair products, hamburgers and perfumes to create a wonderful life for themselves, their families, and the world.
Inspirational Business Biographies
If you are ever in need of some entrepreneurial inspiration, take a peek at one (or more) books on this list. You won’t be the same after reading!
Miss Jessie’s: Creating a Successful Business from Scratch — Naturally
by Miko Branch
Miss Jessie’s: Creating a Successful Business from Scratch –Naturally is the story of the rise of Miss Jessie’s, a hair care product specifically designed for curly haired women.
Told from the perspective of founder Miko Branch, the book follows the journey of Miss Jessie’s from a household experiment into an award-winning, industry-changing brand that opened a whole new market.
Miss Jessies’s didn’t grow to its current level of success without inspiration from the original “Miss Jessie”, Miko and Titi Branch’s self-assured paternal grandmother who inspired her granddaughters with self-created hair products.
It was that spirit of independence and experimentation that led Miko and Titi Branch to create Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding after they launched their salon. It became an underground hit, eventually winning several awards.
The book follows along as the brand known as Miss Jessie’s moves from the website to its first retail outlet. From that point, a wild ride would ensue.
PAPA: The Story of Papa John’s Pizza
by John H. Schnatter
You’ve heard of “Papa John’s”, the global, multi-million dollar pizza company, no doubt. You have probably also seen “Papa John” himself, John Schnatter, in a Superbowl ad or other commercial.
What you haven’t heard is the story of how Papa John became the brand that it is today. For that, readers can turn to the book written in Schnatter’s own words, PAPA: The Story of Papa John’s Pizza.
This book will follow the leap Schnatter took from his humble beginnings. (His business office was a broom closet and he had to sell his car to buy used pizza equipment.)
The book follows Schnatter’s triumphs, as well as his failures. It also details the core values that he adopted from his parents and how he integrated those values into a growing business.
Filled with colorful family photos and insightful advice, “PAPA” combines business advice and the memoir of a man who jumped on a dream and never let go.
by Dave Thomas
Another company that you might think you know all about is Wendy’s. You might also know the owner behind Wendy’s, Dave Thomas, as well as his daughter who serves as the store’s logo.
What you don’t know is how Wendy’s grew from one restaurant specializing in square hamburgers into the third largest restaurant brand on the planet.
Written in Thomas’s own words, Dave’s Way starts off following the founder’s early life, career and military service.
Using this as a starting point Thomas then shares the strategies and principles his business used to become a global brand. The last section ties the first two parts of the book together, sharing the wisdom Thomas has gathered along the way and his advice to business owners who want to carve out their own story based on the three principles that have guided his own success: hard work, humility, and integrity.
If you ever wondered how Wendy’s grew to the successful brand it is today, this book will give you a peek at the life and business strategy of the man behind the logo.
Jo Malone: My Story
by Jo Malone
Jo Malone’s background was no blueprint for her multi-million dollar success. Her story started in one of Britain’s “council houses”, the United Kingdom’s version of public housing. Malone suffered in school because of dyslexia. Ultimately, she opted to drop out to take care of her mother after a stroke.
That’s just the beginning, though.
Malone always had a “nose” for scents and would often experiment creating different fragrances. She began a career path giving facials, but she did one thing that made her stand out.
She sent her clients some of her candles and other scented beauty items as a thank-you gift. Clients appreciated the gesture, but they liked the scents even better.
A new career began.
Jo Malone: My Story shares the story of how Malone rose to become a master perfumer and entrepreneur with no formal training, using only her nose. It also follows her story after a cancer diagnosis and her leaving of the perfume company she founded to start the second chapter in her life.
Ray & Joan: The Man Who Made the McDonald’s Fortune and the Woman Who Gave It All Away
by Lisa Napoli
When the name Ray Kroc is mentioned, McDonald’s usually comes to mind. You may not have heard a lot about Kroc’s wife, Joan. But with Lisa Napoli’s book Ray & Joan: The Man Who Made the McDonald’s Fortune and the Woman Who Gave It All Away, you will.
Joan Kroc (aka “St. Joan of the Arches”) became known for her numerous donations ranging in the millions, both to public causes (like alcoholism and nuclear disarmament) and to anonymous recipients.
This book is about the couple’s life together and the life of Joan after Ray Kroc’s death in 1984. Kroc was a former milkshake mixer salesman who wanted more. He found that opportunity in McDonald’s turning a single restaurant into a billion-dollar franchise while married to his previous wife.
Joan was a musician who played the Hammond organ and who was also married when the two first met. A few years and two divorces later, Ray and Joan would emerge as the couple who controlled McDonald’s billions. Joan didn’t feel comfortable sitting around with all of that money. She gave it away, lots of it! Her efforts would make her one of the most powerful and generous philanthropists of the 21st century.
Locally Laid: How We Built a Plucky, Industry-changing Egg Farm — From Scratch
by Lucie B. Amundsen
When someone tells their spouse or significant other they want to quit a full-time job and start an egg farm, you might expect that person to have a background in agriculture. Lucie’s husband didn’t.
He had only raised a few chickens in the backyard. None of those managed to lay a single egg.
Locally Laid: How We Built a Plucky, Industry-changing Egg Farm — from Scratch is the story of the Midwestern family who turned this weird dream into a reality.
The book follows the Amundsen family from its scramble to find over 2,000 chickens to the forging of Locally Laid, the pasture-raised and award-winning business they would create.
If you are ready to get inspired by a family who turned a wacky dream into a thriving business consistent with their values, Locally Laid is for you.
Lilac Dreams: My Journey from a Sewer Drain to the Boardroom
by Bonnie Hathcock
Lilac Dreams: My Journey from a Sewer Drain to the Boardroom is about the need to appreciate your past in order to fully own your future. Bonnie Hathcock had reached the highest level at the C-suite level.
She was named “one of the most powerful women in HR” by Human Resource Executive magazine.
But she didn’t feel comfortable in her role. She felt like she didn’t belong. She had done everything a leader was supposed to do. She got the right degrees. She excelled at her work.
Finally, Hathcock realized she wasn’t comfortable with herself. She was still living out a narrative from her past. It was a narrative of pain, of hurt, of being abandoned by her father at three years old, and of being bullied in school.
Finally, one day, Hathcock decided to own her past, realizing it had made her the person she is today.
Lilac Dreams is the story of how Hathcock reached that realization and leveraged that insight to create a happier life.
Beyond the Label: Women, Leadership, and Success on Our Own Terms
by Maureen Chiquet
As we grow up in the world, we are given labels. We adopt labels to describe ourselves. For the most part, this is healthful.
They help us create a sense of self. Labels can also hold us back.
We create rules for our labels. We start to put ourselves in a self-imposed box because of our labels.
Beyond the Label: Women, Leadership, and Success on Our Own Terms is about breaking out of that box to reach a new level in life.
Written by the former global CEO of the Chanel, a luxury fashion line, the book chronicles her transition from a shy literature major to the most powerful positions in the fashion brand.
It talks about the risks she and obstacles she faced when she decided to follow her own path. Her book serves as a guide for anyone, especially women, break free of their current situation by adopting a new label of their own choosing.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
by Phil Knight
It’s hard to imagine the world without Nike, but this global company has only been around for 53 years.
Before that, it was only the dream of Phil Knight after he graduated business school and was ready to invest $50 from his father into something new.
He was ready to start his own business.
That dream would eventually become a billion-dollar company.
There hasn’t been much written about the origin story and founder of Phil Knight.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike is that story, written from Phil Knight’s point of view.
The memoir shares his journey as a child through his development as the owner of a billion dollar brand. You’ll find humor, loss, competition, and wisdom, all wrapped up in a well-crafted and inspirational tale of a man who kept running to victory.
How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life
by Lilly Singh
Lily Singh accomplished something by herself that businesses with hundreds of employees dream about. Singh became a global brand and she did it in less than 7 years.
Lily Singh started making YouTube videos while struggling with depression. She took on the username, “Superwoman” because she once held a belief as a child, that she wore an invisible “S” on her chest that allowed her to do anything.
She did everything on her channel from impersonations to more serious discussions about life, her Punjab heritage, and growing up as a young woman in the modern world.
Her YouTube videos started receiving millions (You heard right, millions!) of subscribers. Along the way, celebrities dropped by, Singh won numerous awards, appeared in music videos, took acting roles, and promoted a bracelet campaign for girls’ education in Kenya.
In other words, Singh became a “bawse,” someone who embraces life with all its challenges and uses it as an opportunity to uplift others. Her book, How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life provides the basic “bawse” principles so others can achieve greater success on their own, no matter their situation.
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