Reading great entrepreneur books is one of the best ways you can get started on the path to business ownership. Most would-be entrepreneurs should plan on reading at least 3-10 of these books before attempting to launch their ventures, as this process of self-education creates a foundation for future success.
Of course, it’s not really enough to read just any books. You have to read the right books. Otherwise, you may waste a lot of time and follow a lot of bad advice. You may even become discouraged!
So here is some simple advice you can follow to find the best entrepreneur books.
Check Awards Lists
Awards lists are a great start. Most non-fiction book awards have rigorous selection criteria and a dedicated team of readers who are serious about selecting and curating high-quality options for their own followers. Here are a few great award sites to check out.
The Feathered Quill – Alhough The Feathered Quill Book Awards don’t have a “Best Business Category,” you can find some outstanding options by checking out their “Best Self-Help” and “Best Informational Book” categories. The lack of “one category for every type of book” is actually a good sign, as it prevents them from having to hand out an award to every single author who comes along.
Nonfiction Book Awards – This site publishes awards on its blog. Take a few moments to scroll through and see what’s out there. You’ll find great business books (and a host of other great reads as well). If you’re crunched for time, stick to entrepreneurial books that have received the “Gold Medal” rating.
Small Business Book Awards – This site focuses exclusively on books about small businesses and entrepreneurship, so you’re sure to find some real gems here.
Make sure the book contains actionable insights
What you really need is a road map—a way to get you from where you are now to where you want to be. Too many books are filled with “positive thinking” fluff. If positive thinking were all that it took to launch and run a business, every optimist in the world would have one!
How can you tell without buying the book? First, look for reviews. Check for words and phrases like, “actionable,” “practical,” and “easy to follow.” If you get the sense that reviewers came away from the book knowing exactly what to do, you probably have a winner.
You might even try to preview the book by flipping through it at your local bookstore or reading an excerpt online.
Once you’ve found a good book, read it with a notebook and pen in hand. You’ll get the most value out of any entrepreneurial book if you use these actionable insights to develop your own plan. Creating a running to-do list and idea list is a great way to put the book to best use. If you find you’re not getting anything down on paper after three or four chapters, give yourself permission to move on and find another book…the one that you’re reading might not live up to its hype, and you don’t have time for anything that’s not going to get you closer to your goals.
Read the author’s story
It’s never a good sign when an author cloaks him- or herself in a veil of anonymity. The best entrepreneur books come from authors who are open about their stories. They are happy to share where they are coming from and what they’ve accomplished.
They are also transparent about their failures—especially their failures, in fact, as there is no road to success that does not include some hard times and tough lessons!
As you read the author’s bio, ask yourself a few questions. Has he or she been where you are? Does the author’s story inspire you? You should get this feeling of, “If he or she can do it, so can I!” If you’re trying to escape your low-end cubical job that barely pays a living wage you don’t want to try to take advice from an author who inherited all of his or her wealth. That author’s reality just isn’t in synch with yours.
Of course, the author’s accomplishments should also impress you. Why follow someone’s road map if you aren’t interested in reaching the destinations they’ve reached?
Look for people who have used the author’s advice
It’s wise to research entrepreneurs you admire. Find out what they are reading lately—it’s a great way to start emulating their success. However, you also want to make sure the advice is accessible to someone in your current life circumstances.
In One Million in the Bank, author Michael L.F. Slavin shares dozens of stories of real people who have made his plan work. It’s easy to see his advice is accessible to anyone at any time. These are the kinds of results you’re looking for, since you can be certain the steps that he outlines will produce results for you, too. Isn’t that just the sort of thing you’d want out of an entrepreneur book?
Remember, this is an investment in yourself
While you may feel like your current lifestyle doesn’t leave you a lot of time for reading, any entrepreneur will tell you that you can only develop your business as you develop yourself. This means taking the time to grow your knowledge and understanding.
Of course, reading alone isn’t going to get you where you need to go. Eventually you have to get out there and start enacting the advice you’ve encountered. After you find and read the best entrepreneurial books, it’s time to commit the actions that will help you change your life!