If you have decided to start on the long and windy road of becoming an entrepreneur like I have, then you will be after some advice. I am going to talk about some of the top entrepreneur books that I have found really useful. These are some of the best entrepreneur books around and will provide you with some great advice and steps on how to make the most of them.
Why are these the best entrepreneur books for beginners?
I have read most of these books myself and the rest come highly recommended by other influencers in the entrepreneur community. Obviously, this is a bit subjective and I look forward to hearing from you, your thoughts on these books and if you have read some other great books yourself!
Four Hour Work Week (4HWW) is practically a manifesto for the entrepreneur or digital nomad movement that has started up in our age of high-speed internet. I would probably say it is my favourite entrepreneur book and it was the first one I read. Ferriss introduces his readers to the idea of divorcing yourself from your office to join the ‘New Rich’ (NR). Whether you enjoy your job or not, Ferriss sets out steps to be able to become much more productive with your work. He also introduces his readers to the idea of being able to work anywhere around the world, just using your laptop or mobile phone.
Not only does Ferriss give steps on how to become free from the confinement of working in your employer’s offices, he also talks about techniques to improve your productivity. These techniques give the book its name, the idea being that you can be so productive, you only need to work four hours a week, about a tenth of the time you do now. This made some people think that this book was all about slacking off and being lazy, but this is not true.
Ferriss is all about really thinking about what work we really need to do and what is Work For Work’s (W4W) sake. He challenges the reader to think what we would work on if we could only work for an hour a day. What tasks would you choose to do?
Aside from cutting out unnecessary work, Ferriss discusses the Pareto principle, which you may know as the 80/20 rule. Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist who found that 20% of his peapods yielded 80% of his peas and the remaining 80% of his peapods yielded the remaining 20% of his peas. This is applicable to our work because you will probably find that roughly 80% of your results at work come from just 20% of your effort.
If you were selling a product and you find you are selling 80% of your products to 20% of your customers, then it might make sense to focus on these 20% of customers and try to provide more value for them or find more great customers like them. The other 80% of customers aren’t a very good use of your time.
The other productivity technique that really hit home with me, was Parkinson’s law. This is the idea that a task or project will expand in time or complexity to fill the resources that are made available. This is just like the old adage that a task takes as long as you let it. Ferriss says to provide yourself with time constraints so you will work productively and complete the task quicker.
Why be more productive?
Ferriss is providing the steps to be more productive so you can do the work you need to do in a much shorter time frame. Once you get the hang of this, you will have more free time to spend on activities you really want to, like your hobbies and your passions.
This is where Ferriss’ tips on how to work outside your boss’ office become important, because if your boss saw you do your week’s work in less than a day, then they would just give you more work to do!
By the time, I read this book it had been released for a few years and the edition I came across included case studies of those who had read 4HWW a few years’ ago. These case studies were really interesting and reinforced what Ferriss had been preaching.
I really enjoyed reading this book, it is so easy to read and there is loads of great actionable information, I definitely recommend this book to any entrepreneur.
Who is Tim Ferriss?
Tim Ferriss is a Wall Street Journal and New York Times best-selling author and has written the series of Four Hour Work Week, Four Hour Work Chef and Four Hour Work Body. He has a really good blog and website that I would recommend checking out. Ferriss is also an expert in marketing and had been a start-up advisor to Uber and Evernote, just to name a couple of examples.
The $100 Startup: Fire Your Boss, Do What You Love and Work Better To Live More, by Chris Guillebeau
This is a great book and I would say the main thing to take from this if you’re not going to read any further (please do!) is that starting a business that can support you financially doesn’t have to mean spending lots of money to get it started.
As you may know, this is the main idea behind this website and what I want for us all to achieve. You don’t need a million dollar loan like the President of the United States or an MBA to start a successful business.
Guillebeau has about 50 different case studies of people who have set up businesses for less than $100, on a shoestring and are successful having done so. These case studies are from people who are doing what they enjoy and are doing so with lots of different types of businesses. I know a lot of people who have read this book like the fact that there are lots of different examples to learn from.
I would say that maybe Guillebeau lets on that this is easier than it actually is. I’m not really sure I necessarily buy into the idea that everyone should ‘follow their passion’. There are also a lot of people trying to sell us a way to make money that is really easy when in reality it takes some constant hustling to keep a successful business going.
Still, there is a lot of great information in this book for entrepreneurs and you will definitely get some value out of it.
Who is Chris Guillebeau?
Chris Guillebeau started out as a travel writer and still is. He has visited 193 countries before his 35th birthday and is also a New York Times best-seller.
Purple Cow is all about standing out from the crowd, being the purple cow and not the usual black and white, monochrome ones. Godin says this is the key to success. The book is broken up into short and easy chapters, that make it a well paced and a tightly packed read. There are loads of examples to back up Godin’s points, some interesting, some less so. The examples in the book are a bit dated even though it was released in 2003, although the lessons in this book are still relevant.
By standing out from the crowd, you can avoid making costly mistakes with advertising, as there is no point spending time and money on advertising if the service you are offering is similar to everyone else’s as your message will get lost among all the other monochrome cows. Godin urges us to take risks, not to be afraid to upset a few people to get your core target market excited and enthused about what you are offering.
It’s all about aiming for being remarkable and making major leaps, not just minor incremental improvements. That means he’s big on innovating and customer engagement, which I think are really important.
Is TV advertising dead?
He also talks a lot about TV advertising being dead which some people disagree with, saying it is still effective. That may be so, but my takeaway from this is that there are more effective ways to reach people, like through social media. TV advertising is more to a mass market, whereas social media can be more targeted and therefore more effective.
I think this book is a really good entrepreneur book for beginners and a great introduction to marketing. That said, it would be better if the book had a meaningful step by step process on how Godin’s insights could be used and implemented by us, the readers. Some people say that there isn’t much new said in this book and are a bit disappointed, but given Godin’s demigod status, whenever he speaks, he is always worth a listen.
Who is Seth Godin?
Seth Godin has written a number of international bestsellers, like The Dip, All Marketeers Are Liars and, of course, Purple Cow. He is generally considered an all round guru in marketing and entrepreneurship and arguably the most influential business blogger in the world and consistently in the top 25 most read blogs in the English language in the world.
If you’re not too hot on this book, then I would check out some of his other books and his great blog as well, as he has some great lessons for entrepreneurs to learn.
#AskGaryVee is based on Gary Vaynerchuk’s YouTube show and is a bit like a transcript in places, but is definitely one of the best entrepreneur books around. On Vaynerchuk’s YouTube shows he answers viewers questions about social media, entrepreneurship, which in itself is definitely worth a watch. Vaynerchuk is always so enthusiastic, I feel like he really draws you and keeps your attention!
Aside from his engaging style, Vaynerchuk has got the words of wisdom to back it up. He is always a keen early adopter and this book is a condensed version of his show. The best questions and answers have been distilled down into the book from over 200 shows. He is really well known for being authentic, with his no-nonsense advice and how he backs up his own talk with his own results.
This is one of the top entrepreneur books, especially if you are just starting out as one because he throws away so many misconceptions about business and marketing. So it really helps to have a clear head when taking his advice.
Vaynerchuk has an intuitive understanding of human behaviour and is able to pass this on in simple terms. He talks about offering plenty of value to your relationships (at least 51% in fact) so people will be indebted to you and also utilising influencers to spread your message as this social proof will help gain you more fans and customers.
I have also heard that his audiobook is better. The audiobook is 12 hours long and includes all the content in the print version, plus Vaynerchuk going off on all sorts of tangents when he’s recording the audiobook himself. I’ll be sure to check that out soon myself! 🙂
In short, there is a lot to learn from Vaynerchuk from the point of view as an entrepreneur, a behaviour scientist or just as a person.
Who is Gary Vaynerchuk?
Gary Vaynerchuk is, like me, another huge global name in social media, marketing and entrepreneurship and a fan of the NFL team, New York Jets. Alright well, may be just being fans of the Jets, for now 🙂
After he left college, he went into his family’s wine business and transformed it from a $3 million business to a $60 million one in just five years. He rebranded the business and set up the website, winelibrary.com, and had a very popular YouTube channel that reached cult status, called Wine Library TV. He then left to set up his own media agency, VaynerMedia, which has a host of Fortune 500 companies as clients.
Contagious by Jonah Berger has some fantastic insights into how to get your content, product or service talked about by others. This the basis for how some content online goes viral (think Fenton the dog and Gangnam Style). Berger suggests that even with social media and the Internet, the importance of offline discussions matter more than online ones.
At the centre of this is what is termed the ‘psychology of sharing’ and why some subjects and content are discussed by people more than others. Just think if you could get a good understanding of this, you would be more equipped to have your product, service or message talked about more.
There’s loads of great advice and information in this book, but where it does start to fall down is in some of the examples to back up Berger’s points. He does offer six ingredients to help your content go viral and they form the acronym STEPPS, which are as follows;
- Social currency – sharing it makes us look good
- Trigger – we are reminded of the content at key moments in our day
- Emotion – the content engages us
- Public – the application of the content is visible to others
- Practical value – the content is useful to us
- Stories – the content can be encapsulated by a compelling narrative
Some of the case studies that he cites are really interesting, like how Apple debated which way round their apple logo should be on their MacBooks. The debate was centred around whether it would be better to be observed by onlookers or by the user. It was decided that it would be better for the logo to be more easily observed by onlookers and then it would be seen and talked about by more people.
Who is Jonah Berger?
Jonah Berger is a New York Times best-selling author. Berger is a marketing professor at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studies social influence. He researches why some products do well and others fail, how things go viral online and how word of mouth can influence the success of a product or service. Aside from Contagious, he has also authored Invisible Influence, which is all about how other people have an influence on the choices we make in life, without us necessarily releasing this is happening.
These entrepreneur books give some great insights from some hugely successful entrepreneurs and authors about becoming an entrepreneur and setting up your own business, either to support yourself financially or more as a side hustle. You will learn a lot from them and the books are easy to read, with some actionable steps to help you grow and develop. Even if you are not that interested in setting up a business or have already an established business, you will find these books interesting.
Let me know what you think about this if you have read some of these books before or if you have read some other top entrepreneur books.