The Ultimate Business Book List (Updated April 2020)
The business book industry is crazy, and I love it.
That being said, it’s challenging to find time to read all of these books. Moreso, for each topic there are hundreds of ‘best’ books out there. How do you know where to start?
After reading 300+ books around business, I’ve compiled down more super-shortlist guide to business books, organized by when you should read them.
I’ve cut out tens of high-quality books that everyone should read if they had the time. Unfortunately, they weren’t the best book, so you won’t see them here.
I’ll update this list as I go through the stages of business myself.
Before You Have an Idea (Don’t Skip!)
When Coffee and Kale Compete - Alan Klement
This book explains the mindset that is ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED to come up with a good idea. If you don’t have this mindset, you may as well play the lottery, because you have the same odds of winning as you do starting a company.
If you don’t read this, you’ll misunderstand why people would buy your product, and mess it up out of ignorance.
Once You Have an Idea
Running Lean - Ash Maurya
Although Lean Startup has died in recent popularity for the bootstrapper crowd, this book takes the theory of the Lean movement and puts it to work. You won’t find chapters on how to endlessly split test the color of your signup button here. This book is all about iterating from the first version of your idea into an idea that works.
If you don’t read this, you’ll commit to your original idea, and never be able to pivot into the business you dream of.
Once You Have a Product
Obviously Awesome - April Dunford
This book is about positioning, something you know nothing about unless you’ve read this specific book. This thing is basically gospel at this point, it’s that good. If you have a good product, this book will teach you how to get your users absolutely raving over it.
If you don’t read this, you’ll have a mediocre product that could have been a home-run.
When You’re Ready to Grow
Purple Cow - Seth Godin
To be frank, I dislike Seth Godin’s writing. He makes one point, rambles on for 80 pages, and then people go wild. I don’t get it.
So, you don’t have to read this book. I’ll summarize the important point for you.
- Remarkable - Something amazing
- Remark-able - Something that people are able to comment on
In other words, you need to be something amazing, “Oh look, a purple cow!”, as well as be easily shared.
If you want more elaboration on this subject, check out the book (you’re welcome, Seth).
When There’s Actually Money
Profit First - Mike Michalowicz
This is the equivalent of the “pay yourself first” advice in personal finance. Turns out, it applies to business finance too. This book is what will allow you to bootstrap past $1k, past $2k, and up to however many millions in revenue.
If you don’t read this, you’ll screw up your expenses, and will have a company with great revenue but no profit
That’s it for now. Out of 300-some business books, these are the ones you need to read.