10 Of The Best Motivational Books For Entrepreneurs
I do a lot of reading (177 titles and counting on Audible), and most of those titles are business and marketing. I want to share the best business books for startups, and just to be upfront this post has affiliate links in it and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Maybe you’re the same way- you go through seasons of doubt or just not motivated to take on the next big challenge in your business right now. I’ve learned that this cycle is normal throughout the business world, and one of the best ways for me to snap out of this doubt-filled season is to learn from other successful people on how they continue to drive forward.
Whether you run a small startup or you oversee a million-dollar small business, all entrepreneurs and business owners need as much help as they can get to make the most of their time and resources.
There are lots of self-help books out there, and to be honest most of them are garbage. While they provide the illusion of practical advice, most of the inspirational books out there are nothing more than fancy wordsmith and tag lines.
While I love reading lots of business and marketing books, I can’t deny the value of motivational books when it comes to applying real-world direction for me as a marketer and a successful entrepreneur.
Business owners can’t waste time listening to shallow expressions when they need actionable takeaways to get them fired up again for their business or current challenge. Let’s take a look at the best business books to help motivate new business owners, entrepreneurs, or managers in a large established business.
1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a self-development book that aims to help people improve their personal and professional lives through increased efficiency and focus. Written by Stephen Covey, it was first published in 1989 as a result of a number of case studies about what he calls “paradigms”– the mental lenses with which we view the world and act within it.
The premise of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to examine seven universal roles that successful people understand at an instinctive level – areas where they are constantly “acting” or living their private lives, their professional lives, conducting themselves ethically in society.
Ultimately, all of these discoveries come down to one fact: People tend to be greatly influenced by their environment. That’s why changing your environment is the best way, and sometimes the only way, for you to change.
I put this book at the top of my list because it is one of the best books of all time when it comes to motivational insight and direction. You will be able to understand how leaders in small businesses and even large organizations continue to build successful business even through adversity with hard work and focus.
Get this book if you want practical advice and gain some new habits that will make a big difference in getting things done (and getting them finished). It will teach you how to keep moving forward – maybe even finish those pesky projects that always seem hard to complete.
The numbers don’t lie- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a best seller because it offers real-world advice that will help you improve your impact in your personal life and help you grow a successful business. Be sure to pick up this best seller if you want o gain a new perspective and jump start your business plan in a new direction!
2. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
The Hard Thing About Hard Things, written by Ben Horowitz, is a provocative and practical discussion of what it means to be an entrepreneur. If you are reading this post then you are likely a small business owner or entrepreneur who wants to impact the business world and get insights to change your life. This must-read book can help you understand the nuances in the process and get you on the path to success.
Ben Horowitz taps into his personal experiences to share engaging stories and insights throughout his journey. Ben Horowitz has taken this long walk from humble beginnings as a young boy in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood through his extraordinary professional career.
He offers a range of experiences based on his blend of street smarts and sophistication that has equipped him well for survival on an economic battlefield now loaded with Wall Street big guns, hostile takeovers, megamergers, IPOs, SEC investigations and increasingly unquestioned business practices such as entrepreneurship.
Mr. Horowitz taps into his experience to explain the things that most business books don’t tell you because the only way to address your core issues is that you must also simultaneously solve three other challenges, including:
1) People trust their own experience over any marketing message.
2) Marketers have a limited ability – or interest – to truly make a customer’s day better by fulfilling wishes and needs not currently on offer.
3) Everybody believes change is necessary but having it happen too rapidly whips up fear.
As a business owner, I know that I need a solid business plan to help me increase sales and gain an upper-hand in the market. I know that I am competing against some of the smart people who are trying to figure out how their company can win in the marketplace.
Whether you are a founder at a startup, a small business owner, or you are a director at a large company, you will be able to find step-by-step information to break down complex situations to ensure you make the best choices possible in any environment.
Add this inspirational book to your reading list if you want to gain a competitive edge when you need help with the decision making process in tough situations.
3. Emotional Intelligence 2.0
Emotional Intelligence, 2.0, written by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, is next generation of Daniel Goleman’s best selling book Emotional Intelligence on the same topic.
This is one of the best business books of all time because it breaks down “invisible” issues that block relationships the professional and personal settings. The profound impact this one small shift has on daily life and work can be astounding—providing a pathway to stronger relationships, increased resilience in the face of workplace challenges, enhanced self-respect and authenticity as well as healthier minds.
Hands-down, this is one of the best business books available to help you change your life and improve how you interact with other people. As you gain empathy and understanding, you will be able to influence people in a more meaningful way.
Owning a business is more than being able to produce work- you need to be able to work with other people to build relationships and this inspiring book can help you achieve your goals.
Whether through sales, or building relationships with partners, this approach to entrepreneurship can help you develop richer relationships with yourself and your loved ones—in work or at home—expanding the reach of your ideas.
4. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Written by Simon Sinek, Start With Why is a great book that focuses on leadership potential of business owners. The author examines the principles of successful leaders to breakdown how to influence human behavior through manipulation and inspiration, and how each of these strategies differ.
Through this approach, Mr. Sinek shows how the greatest leaders in history have shared one common starting point: Why they do what they do.
The author then illustrates how people care about a leader who starts with WHY and success will come much quicker than when one embarks from WHAT or HOW. Instead, it is more important for a leader to define that reason behind their belief first before being agile enough to adapt as circumstances change
I continue to return to this book, because Start with Why tells the compelling story of how a small group of people can change the world by starting with WHAT they believe and WHY they hold those beliefs. I continue to uncover key points and apply them to my life because the author’s writing style is simple and elegant as it shows how leaders should lead.
5. Outliers: The Story of Success
Malcolm Gladwell shares several inspirational stories in his bestseller Outliers to help motivate business owners throughout the journey in the market. Many business books fail to connect between abstract though and application, but this book does a great job to provide readers with concrete advice that can be applied to the business world.
This book is an exploration into the causes of success and offers evidence which tells us that it’s not just one or two things that make a person successful. This is great news for any entrepreneur who needs a “pick me up” because it examines essential parts of our own view of the world like our upbringing, culture, parents’ occupations and intelligence – as well as traits like grit.
Talking to people from around the world–from Taliban fighters in Afghanistan to business leaders in Pittsburgh, Harlem’s pioneering real estate brokers to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs; from famous baseball players to high school students chosen at random–he reveals so
In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the hidden side of success–how we undervalue external factors like culture, privilege and wealth that play as much of a role in our lives as talent and hard work.
It’s all too easy for me to get lost in the day to day activities of running a business, and it’s a breath of fresh air to know that I can breakdown my view of the world and make sense of seemingly impossible situations.
Entrepreneurs tend to have a unique perspective on life and need to keep their assumptions in check as we work with a wide range of people. It’s important to understand why we believe what we believe–and how those beliefs shape who succeeds and who doesn’t.
6. The Dichotomy of Leadership: Balancing the Challenges of Extreme Ownership to Lead and Win
Extreme Ownership is an engaging book by Jocko Willink because it uses an engaging narrative structure to talk about complex leadership issues from the perspective of the U.S. military officers.
At it’s core, Extreme Leadership shows that great leadership is the result of small choices based on the need of the team. It’s about taking responsibility for everything, doing what it takes (within legal and moral bounds) to achieve results, and embracing accountability.
In this amazing book, the author shares his values-driven mindset for success in the business world and his personal life. Mr. Willink has proven himself in teams both as an executive leading others and as a cofounder partnering with entrepreneurs who do the same.
While not your typical business book, I loved this book and it has had a profound impact on my approach to team leadership. I really enjoyed the narrative structure as the author uses specific examples from his time in the military and business world to help readers see the results of his recommendations.
This book takes an interesting dive into leadership by looking at the challenges in balancing it.
For some people extreme responsibility makes them a natural leader but leads to micromanaging all aspects of team members’ lives–ensuring that everything under their watch is done properly can lead individuals to burn out on responsibilities or feel too stressed-out to take care of themselves or others.
7. Stop Doing That Sh*t: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back
Stop Doing that Sh*t is like a table of contents for the self-help books you’ve been dying to read, but never had enough time to. It offers little bites of wisdom hewn from Rogers’s personal experience and teachings as well as other industry leaders and experts in their fields.
The result is a compilation of short tips, quizzes, exercises, podcasts, chapters—all designed with one goal in mind: To level up your game so you can have what you want out of life (and help others do the same).
Stop Doing That Sh*t. This book provides useful strategies for how to escape boredom, anger, and lack of fulfillment in order to be the person you were destined to be.
I go through seasons of feeling that I can’t do anything right in my business, and when I hit one of those seasons I love reading this book to get me back on track. After reading this book I understand how to stop the self-sabotaging behavior of comfort, fear and pride. The tone is casual with colloquial language used throughout.
Examples are given that show people who have successfully changed their habits in order to change not only themselves but also those around them.
This book is a powerful way to learn why I sometimes self-sabotaging my efforts when they could be doing things differently as well as real stories from both men and women on what caused this negative pattern of thinking
8. The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy
In his book, The Productivity Project, blogger and journalist Chris Bailey shows how people can reach their full potential by understanding themselves better and changing their environment to suit their needs: managing time, focusing attention, and recycling energy.
Filled with surprising but ultimately practical ideas drawn from psychology, neuroscience, design thinking and other fields–and illustrated throughout with fascinating illustrations–Bailey’s book is a groundbreaking look at what it takes to succeed in today’s complex world.
The Productivity Project is a task-management guide for how to plan an efficient day and stay engaged with your work as an entrepreneur. Whether you’re just starting out in the workforce, or are a seasoned pro more than 10 years in, The Productivity Project has actionable advice that will help lead you to big gains in performance and results.
9. Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business
To be productive at life, work, and everything in between-and to break the bad habits you don’t even know you have-you need access to insights that transcend the traditional workplace wisdom. What’s so unusual about Smarter Faster Better is that it was created from interviews with some of today’s most successful CEOs, entrepreneurs, artists, and athletes–to figure out how they’ve learned not only what works but also what doesn’t.
Everyone wants to be better – more successful, richer in relationships, wiser about life. But we live in a world of misconceptions and false assumptions that can distract us from our true goals. In Smarter Faster Better (published by Random House), Charles Duhigg shows how success isn’t the result of freak genius and luck—it’s the product of specific practices for consistently maximizing one’s attention, diverse skills, personal instincts, creativity—the qualities essential for expanding each aspect of your potential.
10. The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure
What does it take to achieve success? For many people, they need a better workplace, equipment or avenues of support. What if the only thing standing in the way of your success is you?
With The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure, entrepreneur Grant Cardone provides readers with strategies and insights on how to create not just an ordinary life but a happier one, too. He takes us through what needs to be changed mentally as well as how we approach work–his own included.
Everyone has a pretty good idea of what it means to work hard. But as you climb the corporate ladder, there comes a time when you have to take consecutive steps upwards in order to move the needle on your career.
This is why many people find that after they hit their stride, they settle into a 9-5 routine with barely any noticeable upward mobility (or if there was then it wasn’t sustainable) because “working smart” requires more work than “working hard.”
I always thought I was doing a pretty good job. That is, until it really hit me: How talented and skilled we all are on any given day varies 10x (ten times) or more from how we do in other moments.
The knowledge that our ability to produce at peak levels fluctuates so much shook me to the core like nothing before in my work life. It felt unfair – not just for me personally but for everyone else too – that some days you have it and some days you don’t; that some people will get better results than others no matter the effort.
Do you want to find out why some people succeed while others don’t? What does it take to become an exceptional person in your field? Have you ever wondered how other people consistently get what they want from life and the world, while others seem doomed to repeat their mistakes again and again?
The 10X Rule reveals that there are actually only 10% of people who win in any competitive environment. These rare individuals have discovered a hidden power that takes them beyond “time management” or “task management.” It’s not about how much they can do – but how radically the way they think about.