Fortunately you’re not the first to make the journey, so by combining the experience of several ‘been-there-done-that’ books you can find something that fits for you. Learning from the experience of others and understanding which path you are likely to take – along with defining your vision, your strengths, your capacity to be able to do this and of course your vehicle for providing value you’ll be able to put in place a blueprint for your eventual success.
So I’ve compiled a list of the books that have helped me with productivity, starting in business, the psychology of business, the philosophy of business, how to best understand the journey that you would like to take, and many more areas beside. These are all good reads and with the advent of Kindle and the like, you needn’t invest in a new bookshelf to accommodate them.
Note, these are in no particular order and appear as I found them from my collection. Please add any books that have inspired you, that I’ve missed in the comments!
It would be remiss of me to not mention my own book Stop Thinking Like a Freelancer first, but since I wrote it I’ve opted not have it within the top 50. Click the panel opposite to get your copy.
50 books (in no particular order)
1. “Like a Virgin: Secrets they won’t teach you at Business School”
By Richard Branson
I like this one as it’s pretty much shaped entirely from anecdotes. Sometimes that can feel a little exhausting to read as it’s constantly hopping from point to point but this works!
2. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”
By Stephen R. Covey
Stephen Covey’s work exemplifies integrated and holistic approaches in how to provide principle-centred solutions to business problems. Being adaptable to change is the key to being effective here.
3. “The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything”
By Guy Kawasaki
Consider this your best friend if you’re in the “should-be entrepreneur bracket”. It provides some very inspirational, soul-shaping ideologies and techniques to jumpstart a business competitively.
4. “The Practice of Management”
By Peter F. Drucker
This 1954-published book was remodelled and takes pride of place as a business bible of most business leaders nowadays. It documents frameworks to effectively handle business challenges and interestingly most of the challenges are relevant even in the present day.
5. “The Entrepreneurial Spirit Lives: 25 Tales to Help Entrepreneurs Start, Grow, and Succeed in Small Business”
By Cavanaugh L. Gray
Cavanaugh Gray shares his diverse business experiences through the decades as the founder of The Entrepreneur Cafe LLC. This book focuses on small and medium enterprises home-based businesses and the stories are quite inspiring.
6. “The Magic of Thinking Big”
By David J. Schwartz
I’m not a big fan of Donald Trump but one of his quotes as stuck with me “if you’re going to think anything you may as well think big” and in this one is on a similar tip. Millions of copies were sold and is still counting. This book goes deep on some of the ideas that help people see the bigger picture, ensuring big things are absolutely achievable.
7. “The 4-Hour Work Week”
By Timothy Ferris
I’ve said before (and still maintain) that a 4-hour workweek per se is a bit of a utopian misnomer (indeed, Tim Ferriss himself is quoted as working 60+ hours per week) but certainly to give you some perspective on what really is possible with systems, remote teams and processes this one is great.
8. “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”
By David Allen
If you get chance, watch David Allen’s TEDx talk from last year.This was his breakthrough book – and lead to variants of this same principle, generally to ‘get shit done’!
9. “The Blue Ocean Strategy”
By W. Chan Kim, Renee Mauborgne
Business challenges are interminable unless you know how to ride the waves of change. Blue Ocean Strategy was an interesting take on this – how to continuously lead or compete in competitive markets
10. “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t”
By Jim Collins
One of the most inspiring to me is this, I just love the concept Jim Collins brings to the table – analysing what has made good businesses great.
11. “Awaken the Giant Within”
By Anthony Robbins
One of Tony Robbins’ more noted productions. Sometimes Tony Robbins material goes a bit too spiritual for me but this one really worked and gave me a new spin on taking control of mental, physical, and emotional factors of decision-making and business goal creation.
12. “No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs”
By Dan Kennedy
I’ve been a long time follower of Dan Kennedy and for good reason. Yes his stuff is often periously close to dated informercial but this one really hit the nail on the head and I still receive Glazer-Kennedy emails to this day.
13. “Think and Grow Rich”
By Napoleon Hill
If you only read one book from this list, please make it this one. It’s a little awkward to read in places as English has evolved slightly since it’s production in 1937 but just mind-blowing content. Just be prepared to read it through 2 or 3 times and you’ll be massively inspired to fulfil your vision and life goals.
14. “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference”
By Malcolm Gladwell
One of the best-selling business books that illuminates tipping point events or magic moments of creativity. It teaches us how a small idea could become a wildfire leading to an outstanding achievement.
15. “Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy”
By Isadore Sharp
A story of the world renowned hotel chain and a philosophy that nurtured its growth. Great read for all business aspirants even if you’re not in the hospitality business as it gives great concepts on business design and a superior service culture.
16. “The Art of Closing the Sale: The Key to Making More Money Faster in the World of Professional Selling”
By Brian Tracy
Brian Tracy is hands down one of the best speakers I’ve seen, really captivating and his books are no different. He is a luminary in time management, sales and marketing and this one shares some great ideals for closing a sale.
17. “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”
By Charles Duhigg
Gotta say I’m a sucker for psychology and philosophy when applied to business issues – this one gives a nice spin on the behavioural origins of habit and how you can use them to your advantage.
18. “The 12 Bad Habits That Hold Good People Back: Overcoming the Behavior Patterns That Keep You From Getting Ahead”
By James Waldroop, Ph.D., Timothy Butler, Ph.D
The aim of this book is to kill the bad habits that keep you from achieving your dreams and goals quicker. Some of the techniques are difficult to implement but overall a top bracket book.
19. “Business Psychology and Organizational Behavior”
By Eugene McKenna
At this time I was devouring any book of this ilk and this one presents helpful theories, psychological analyses and situational examples to help build a better business attitude.
20. “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses”
By Eric Ries
I actually went through this one as an audiobook and it really helped develop (what is now standard practice) an innovative outlook on product development and continual improvements. There are issues in here that can be translated to non-tech environments also in and around attitude to failure, or more importantly allowing a business to quickly “pivot” to something they can do better and more profitably.
21. “It’s Not All About Me: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone”
By Robin Dreeke
Rapport is an awesome topic for a book, you’ve probably been sold to by someone who has used rapport and influence to make the sale and provided everyone has a good deal it’s a pleasant experience for all concerned. The aim of this book is to “bottle” that ability.
22. “EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches”
By Dave Ramsey
Nice book around the concept of the Entrepreneur:Leader intersection; some unique thoughts in here for being a better leader and growing yourself and your business.
23. “Start Your Own Business, Fifth Edition: The Only Start-Up Book You’ll Ever Need”
By The Staff of Entrepreneur Media Inc.
Starting up a new business is indeed a hard challenge for anyone and everyone has their own best practice. They coin this book ‘the only startup book you’ll ever need’ and I’m not sure that’s quite true but the assertion isn’t so far fetched! I particularly enjoyed the streamlining and strategy elements in this one.
24. “Growing a Business”
By Paul Hawken
Hawken theorises that we can reach anything through our imagination. But, action brings them to reality. In this book, he explores the ideologies, probable risks and business benefits.
25. “Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload”
By Mark Hurst
It is important to jive in with the modern face of industrial innovations. In this digital age, “Bit Literacy” is one of the best reads to run along the fast pace of technology where essential guides towards the use of devices for a more productive work and lesser stress are included.
26. “Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours”
By Robert C. Pozen
As one of the most successful executives in the world of business, Pozen created this book to distribute his knowledge and skills towards maximizing work hours and increasing output volumes while not missing the most important aspect of all – personal life.
27. “Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better”
By Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway, Katie Yezzi, and Dan Heath
It is all about practice with discipline, intelligence, and determination. Know the rules on how you could keep climbing up the ladder of success. You will get better and better. Lemov’s promising book is your guide along the way. There’s no other way, but UP!
28. “Eliminate Chaos at Work: 25 Techniques to Increase Productivity”
By Laura Leist
Take control of everything that might waste your time and derail you from driving towards your business goals. This book epitomizes the value of increasing productivity through applying trouble-free techniques.
29. “The Carrot Principle: How the Best Managers Use Recognition to Engage Their People, Retain Talent, and Accelerate Performance”
By Adrian Gostick, Chester Elton
As part of Elton and Gostick’s groundbreaking efforts to strengthen managerial skills amongst business leaders, the carrot principle was created. It emphasizes the weight of recognizing and energizing workers that could best lead to greater business results.
30. “Top Business Psychology Models: 50 Transforming Ideas for Leaders, Consultants, and Coaches”
By Stefan Cantore, Jonathan Passmore
This book analyses several valuable business psychology models, theories, and other fundamental frameworks that would best determine cognitive approaches and human behaviors toward work.
31. “The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work”
By Shawn Achor
Positive psychology recently discovered that success is not the key motivator of happiness, but rather, happiness drives success. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy every little thing in this world? This is truly a life-changing read for everyone in all walks of life.
32. “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”
By Carol Dweck
The way we think leads us to where we are supposed to be. Carol Dweck, psychologist of the famous Stanford University, discovered that our mindsets matter a lot in our thrive towards business, relationship, school, and even parenting successes.
33. “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind”
By Al Ries, Jack Trout
Anything can be put in the right place with appropriate positioning methods. In this book, positioning refers to branding, marketing, and management. Thus, it also provides excellent and in-depth understanding of varying consumer behaviors. Be seen and be heard in the big marketplace!
34. “The Management Myth: Debunking Modern Business Philosophy”
By Matthew Stewart
Gain knowledge from Stewart’s ability to penetrate into the deepest grounds of industry management as this book correlates and discusses pseudoscience with modern business philosophies.
35. “Thick Face, Black Heart: The Warrior Philosophy for Conquering the Challenges of Business and Life”
By Chin-Ning Chu
This is an Asian business psychology book which unveils the efficiency of entrepreneurship along with applied ancient Chinese military wisdom. According to Success magazine, this material might be the next “Think and Grow Rich” best-seller.
36. “Helping People Win at Work: A Business Philosophy Called “Don’t Mark My Paper, Help Me Get an A”
By Ken Blanchard, Garry Ridge
A satisfied worker accomplishes more. An employer with such a business philosophy to help his people will surely witness success within the organisation. Help your people win first and you will also win. That’s the game plan.
37. “20 Things I’ve Learned As An Entrepreneur”
By Alicia Morga
Learn from Morga’s summary of inspiring success stories in the field of entrepreneurship. She is now the leading female technology entrepreneur in the Silicon Valley.
38. “The Business Model Innovation Factory: How to Stay Relevant When the World is Changing”
By Saul Kaplan
It is never too late to try and test the newest business models in line with our fast-changing technology. In the global arena, innovators last longer in the pipeline.
By Jason Fried
Another great speaker, and the co-founder of 37 signals Jason Fried delivers this shoot from the hip book around business ventures. Fried asserts that drafting a plan can be extremely harmful and it’s counter-intuitive messaging like this which saw it on the New York Times bestseller list.
40. “Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies”
By Jim Stengel
41. “Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You”
By John Warrilow , Bo Burlingham
This investigates the idea of working ON your business instead of IN it – and gives a great framework for gradually phasing yourself out of the front-line of your business, enabling it to be in a position to sell, for you to exit and for the business to thrive without you.
42. “Next Generation Business Strategies for the Base of the Pyramid: New Approaches for Building Mutual Value”
By Ted London, Stuart L. Hart
This book contains all the necessary information on how to develop a more sustainable business plan as opposed to the first-generation BoP ventures. Innovations, sets of techniques, and paradigms are well-presented and discussed in this material. Get ahead with the newest approach for a more collaborative entrepreneurship.
43. “Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable”
By Seth Godin
Make your business remarkable by using a different kind of branding scheme. Godin’s work highlights brand differentiation as the key method to create a bigger demand for your business.
44. “The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur”
By Mike Michalowicz
This book is great for all startup owners struggling over a no-cash budget, no clear path and business plans, and for those who failed to grow their previous businesses. This is the real deal and you will discover things and reality checks that you’ll never think of while focusing on your ventures.
45. “The New Business Road Test: What entrepreneurs and executives should do before writing a business plan”
By John Mullins
Avoid the future mistakes that could be the culprit of your start-up business by conducting a business road test before drafting any plans. Mullins takes on advanced procedures for effective risk management and prevention.
46. “How to Get Ideas”
By Jack Foster
How do you develop new ideas? Are you still getting the same answer with your latest innovations? Well, time to fuss no more as Jack Foster share his ways on how to make ideas an amazing and viable pact for your business endeavours.
47. “Creativity Workout: 62 Exercises to Unlock Your Most Creative Ideas”
By Edward de Bono
Most of us consider creativity as a talent that only a few people luckily possess. But, did you know that there are several ways to bring out creative juices within you? This book is your gym and your mind and hands are your muscles. Work on it and succeed beyond your limits!
48. “The Business Planning Guide”
By David H. Bangs
It has no senseless approaches. Each detail in this guide will surely lead to a winning business plan! Bangs has the ability to deal out intimidation in this crucial arrangement method.
49. “Organizational Culture and Leadership”
By Edgar H. Stein
Most of the time, culture creates gaps for an organisational structure to deal with varying changes. In this material from Schein, leadership is the core topic. In-depth understanding of various socio-cultural frameworks and organisational dynamics can be of great help in dealing with changes.
50. “The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization”
By Peter M. Senge
They’ve actually just revised this one and I haven’t gotten hold of the 100 new pages but I’m guessing the same quality stands firm, Senge argues that learning patterns within a business affects the competency level of workers and pits Traditional versus modern approaches.
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