Our Favorite Physical Books for Entrepreneurs, Marketers, and Creatives
I love "real" paper books just as much as the next person. I've bought and read over 70 non fiction books that I would classify as Business, Marketing, or for Entrepreneurs. The vast majority of them felt like a big waste of time because of sub-quality content that I either already knew about or didn't leave me with any action steps to take to improve myself or my business.
This list was put together to help you cut through all the crap that's out there. The following books will not only leave you feeling inspired, but will give you clear actions to take to improve your business or your life. (All books are hyperlinked to Amazon with our Affiliate link. If you find value in this post or have any interest in reading these books I'd appreciate the click!)
The 7 Best Books for Entrepreneurs
This has been the most beneficial book to my business to date! Chris Guillebeau has a fantastic story and is a thriving, traveling Entrepreneur himself. Every single chapter ends with easily digestible key takeaways and simple action steps to apply to your business. Chris traveled the world and interviewed over 2,000 micro-entrepreneurs to put together this book. He gathered data from their business to create case studies to find the patterns that helped people quit their 9-to-5 and run their own business full time with little to no employees.
One of the main themes throughout The $100 Startup is that you need to start, today, and make constant improvements as you go. Chris hammers home the point that to start a business, you only need 3 things:
- A product or service
- A group of people willing to pay for it
- A way to get paid
Everything else is completely optional.
If you are frequent reader of Nate Silver's blog FiveThirtyEight, this book is right up your Alley! Jordan Ellenberg created a book packed full of mathematical theory that doesn't use many formulas or math, is easy to follow, reads like a story, and uses situations and examples that effect all of us in real life and in business.
How Not to Be Wrong will teach you how and why people constantly misread and misuse the types of data and stats that people see in every day news articles, business reports, research findings, and in their own reasoning and logic (spoiler alert: humans are terrible at identifying patterns with their own gut feeling and "common sense" alone).
This book is especially rewarding for the more analytical minded, but even those that focus on relationship building fields like sales can benefit from this read. By shifting the way you think about and question the data and patterns you see in life, you can string together a whole lot of "not being wrongs" which in the end almost always out pace those that take big swings and misses at trying to be right.
This book is especially good for creatives: artists, designers, marketers, and musicians alike. Anyone that is a maker of content, art, or products will benefit from the realistic truths about process and creativity laid down by Austin Kleon.
Some of the great topics covered in depth in Steal Like an Artist:
- Processes are boring. How to set yourself up for success without killing what makes you creative
- Geography is no longer our master
- Creativity is subtraction (ideas can be found everywhere)
- Nothing is original, everything is a remix, so steal like the best artists
When Austin was writing this book, he was focusing on the things he wished someone experienced would have told him when he was first starting out on his own. And boy did he nail it! This book is full of graphic illustrations, exercises to walk through with your own work/projects/business, and examples to put you in touch with your artistic side and help you create something that you will be excited to share with others.
Miki Agrawal is a badass, period. While she was working a high-paying yet crazy demanding and soul-sucking job on Wall Street, she managed to fulfill one of her lifelong dreams and landed a spot on the New York Magic as a professional soccer player. After getting injured, she realized some of her other dreams that she once thought were passed her and now impossible, were within her grasp.
After quitting her job, she founded a farm-to-table pizza shop at the age of 26 in the heart of NYC! She has never looked back since. She now has Tony Hsieh (Zappos.com CEO) as a business partner, has founded other businesses and charities, and is an angel investor in several other companies, mostly with women founders.
Do Cool Shit is an inspiring and humorous read for sure. What separated Miki's book from all the other inspiring entrepreneur-biographies was that breaks down her though process and blueprint that made her successful as she reflects on her journey in a very relatable, actionable way that truly left me thinking: "I can actually do this."
When searching for this book on Amazon, I was very sad to learn that their are only 5 used copies left, starting at $200. So I won't link to that crap, but will instead direct you to buy the eBook directly from Drew Wilson and Josh Long on their site.
This amazing thing about this book is that IT WAS CREATED IN 8 DAYS! Talk about Executing and practicing what you preach. From initial idea of this book, to the first copy printed, 8 freaking days. Wow. This book definitely inspired me to create something and launch it into the world, quickly. Drew is a maker of all things (mostly of the coded variety) and Josh is the designer and writer. They understand that shipping a product out into the world doesn't mean perfect, it means done.
Execute is the ultimate tangible guide for how to create an MVP (minimum viable product) product or business. They will walk you through their tried and tested process of: idea inspiration, design, develop, market, launch, and support - that has led them to launch countless successful products.
Their goal in creating this book was to inspire you to create, not just dream. This book is about executing on ideas immediately when inspired rather than following the normal rules.
This book by Greg McKeown falls into the category of self improvement books, however he does an outstanding job of relating it to business and uses several stories and examples from executives and entrepreneurs that he has worked with over the years.
Essentialism sheds some light on one of the greatest puzzles of life: How can we do less, but accomplish more? This book explores so much more than just the 80/20 rule, and actually digs into the psychology of what it takes to only focus and act upon the truly essential.
This book truly helped me to identify what projects were essential to my business, how to claim my time back from the people and things that were controlling my schedule, and helped me shift the time I spent on my business from being simply busy to productive.
Gary V seems like the last person that needs another recommendation, but I felt compelled after reading this book, especially because so many authors and titles that are widely recommended felt like marketing fluff to me.
Jab Jab Jab is a blueprint for social media strategies that actually work on all of today's emerging platforms. Gary V serves up a dose of reality that it is hard to sell on social media in such a crowded space. He sets out to train marketers and entrepreneurs the importance of honest communication and giving away free value in a way that leads to trust, and ultimately sales.
I made my career start in social media, and this book really covered it all. I was reminded of a lot of important lessons that had fallen to the side as I focused on other areas of my business. Social is about more than just gaining new followers and traffic, this book taught me new ways to optimize my existing social network through engaging the right customers in the right way, with the right content/context, at the right time.
A Living List
This list started with just 3 of my favorite books (one has already been replaced by something that provided more value). It will continue to evolve and grow the more I read. Always be a student and never stop learning!