From finance to networking to leadership to productivity, these 10 reads touch on the various aspects of being an entrepreneur. They carry lessons that you wouldn’t have been able to learn anywhere else, and serve as supreme stepping stones to propel you towards your startup goals.
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1. The $100 Startup (by Chris Guillebeau)
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Who says you need to rack up the big bucks first before building a company? With 50 rags-to-riches stories of entrepreneurs who began with no more than $100 (sometimes even less) and are now bringing in five-figure incomes at the very least, this guide book will show you how to turn passion into paychecks with the little that you have. It examines what these 50 individuals did right, what they did wrong, and how you can learn from them to launch your own start-up.
2. The Hard Thing About Hard Things (by Ben Horowitz)
This book gets down to the nitty-gritty, the honest and uncensored details of opening a business. A product of Silicon Valley and CEO of Opsware, Ben Horowitz prepares you for the uphill battle that is to come, and dispenses practical advice on how to deal with the toughest of times, the most head-scratching conundrums, and the inevitable missteps and failures you may face – basically things that no one told you about in business school. Drawing from his own experiences, he also talks about being a CEO, and the truth about battling inner demons that turned him into his biggest adversary.
3. Grit (by Angela Duckworth)
As you can tell by the title of the book, it’s all about grit. There is no magic formula, no special pill, no amount of talent that can automatically get to the hallowed halls of success. After years of research and picking the brains of the best in the business, author and psychologist Angela Duckworth discovered that it all boils down to that one quality, where passion meets persistence. It’s not the easiest trait to quantify, but this book sheds light on it, and teaches you how to develop more grit.
4. Never Eat Alone (by Keith Ferrazzi)
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One of the most challenging aspects of entrepreneurship is the soft skill of networking. You’ve got your technical know-how, and your brilliant ideas, but there’s something missing. The need to expand your professional circle is a crucial one, and networking is a necessary evil, but it’s a tricky world to navigate. To ease your process, this book brings you pragmatic tips on effective networking, from dealing with rejection to finding a mentor to mastering the art of small talk.
5. The Innovator’s Dilemma (by Clayton M. Christensen)
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A book that we’ve mentioned in a previous article – “The Rise of Disruptors: What it means for your company” – this indispensable debut by Clayton M. Christensen goes into the dangers and potential of failure when you least expect it. In a world that is ever-changing, it is an absolute must for companies to evolve with it, reevaluate outdated strategies, and capitalise on new technologies to maintain longevity. Without that, your company will be disrupted (and erased) by the new wave of competitors.
6. The One Thing (by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan)
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To be an entrepreneur, one often has to wear many hats, and deal with a thousand things at once. But multitasking isn’t always productive, and might even undermine the quality of your work and the growth of your company. The One Thing attests to the benefits of identifying that one task (be it at the present moment or in the grand scheme of things) that’s above all else, and concentrating on completing it without any other distraction. It asks readers to figure out what is the one thing they can do that makes every other task easier or unnecessary.
7. Idea to Execution (by Ari Meisel and Nick Sonnenberg)
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Written by a duo of entrepreneurs who built a fully operating business from scratch within 24 hours, Idea to Execution details the steps to their success, and smashes the stereotype that starting an enterprise has to be a lengthy, tedious affair. Doing away with any kind of startup capital or expenditure, their singular 21st century approach is broken down into three main steps in the book: Optimise, Automate, and Outsource. Who knows? It might help bring your napkin-scrawled business ideas to life in no time as well.
8. Rich Dad Poor Dad (by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter)
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One of the most highly lionised books on personal finance, this 1997 manual is not just for aspiring entrepreneurs, but for anyone with a bank account. An accessible, transformational read that’s been praised worldwide by celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith, Rich Dad Poor Dad talks about financial independence, investments, building a business, and improving your financial intelligence. Instead of working for your money, you’ll learn how to get your money to work for you – a skill of paramount importance if you’re looking to raise your company’s profit margins.
9. Rework (by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried)
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Toss out everything you know, everything that you’ve learnt in business school about external investors, tracking the competition, having meetings, hard work, and even the need for business plans. The traditional rules and procedures have become far too outdated in this day and age, at least according to this book, which presents you with a new roadmap to get your startup up and running. With free digital tools and all sorts of information at your fingertips, anyone can easily go far with less – and Rework will show you how.
10. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (by Stephen R. Covey)
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A classic that deserves a spot on this list, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has endured since 1989 as a must-read for a reason – it works. Applicable to every scenario in life and every individual whether business-minded or not, this universal self-help book goes deeper than its seven-pointer guide, and provides profound insights and stories that beg to be read and reread for as long as you’re committed to the path of self-betterment. As for your business, it’ll benefit most with your enhanced leadership skills.