10 books every aspiring entrepreneur should read before they start a business

If you want to start a business (which you can do in a day) and you're a first-time entrepreneur, it's hard to know the things you don't know you need to know.

Unfortunately, learning how to start and build a business by trial and error can be really expensive -- so let's make sure you're as prepared as possible.

See reading the following great books as an investment, one that will pay off for years and years to come:

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Top 10 books aspiring entrepreneurs should read
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Top 10 books aspiring entrepreneurs should read

High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way, by Brendon Burchard

When you start a business, you are your business.

Some people succeed more quickly than others, and maintain that success over the course of decades. How?

Brendon has the answers to that question.

Amazon

The Innovator's Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen

The classic book on innovation, describing how innovation takes place, why market leaders often fail to ride the next wave of innovation in their industries... and how entrepreneurs can take advantage. 

Even if the "market leader" is just the mom-and-pop shop down the street that you hope to supplant.

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The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, by Eric Ries

Think of Lean Startup as the nuts-and-bolts guide to starting a business. Ries doesn't focus on finding that one big idea. Or disrupting an existing market. Or the cult of entrepreneur personality. 

Ries writes, "It's the boring stuff that matters the most. Startup success is not a consequence of good genes or being in the right place at the right time. Startup success can be engineered by following the right processes, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught."

Which means you can learn how to make your startup a success.

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Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business, by Danny Meyer

While you may not decide to open a restaurant, lessons from the founder of Shake Shack (and seemingly dozens of other restaurants, catering businesses, etc) can be applied to any business.

The better you know your customers, the better you can serve them. 

The same applies to your employees, your suppliers, your partners... everyone around you is a "customer."

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Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits! by Greg Crabtree

If you own a small business, numbers must be your friend. (Don't say you'll leave that stuff to someone else; the more you understand the financial realities of your business, the better decisions you can make. Every successful entrepreneur I know can talk numbers with the best of them.)

Hyperbolic title aside, Simple Numbers provides a straightforward look at the money side of starting and building a business. 

And making that business a profitable business -- because otherwise a business is just an expensive hobby.

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The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, by Brad Stone

Maybe you'll never have to compete with Amazon. But even if you won't, you should know how Bezos built such an incredible business.

And you definitely should know -- and incorporate -- the premise of a flywheel in your business.

Here's Stone:

"... Bezos and his lieutenants sketched their own virtuous cycle, which they believed powered their business. It went something like this: lower prices led to more customer visits. More customers increased the volume of sales and attracted more commission-paying third-party sellers to the site. That allowed Amazon to get more out of fixed costs like the fulfillment centers and the servers needed to run the website. This greater efficiency then enabled it to lower prices further. Feed any part of this flywheel, they reasoned, and it should accelerate the loop."

The key is to build a flywheel that, when you feed any part of it, naturally accelerates the entire loop.

And builds a better business.

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Ego Is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday

Someday you may be tempted to believe your own hype -- to believe that you, and only you, were the special sauce that made your business a success.

And that's when you'll need to take a step back and re-think your goals, the way you build and maintain relationships with other people, and stay humble so you can keep learning.

And stay the kind of person other people not only want to do business with, but spend time with. 

A hundred years from now people will still be reading Ego Is the Enemy. So shouldn't you read it now?

Amazon

EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence 

Justin Bariso

Emotional intelligence is a key driver of leadership skills -- both in terms of leading other people, but just as importantly, for leading yourself.

If you're hoping to become a better leader or parent or friend or simply a better person -- you could read thousands of articles on emotional intelligence.

Or you could just read this book. No fluff, no long theoretical discussions... just real-world advice on how to control your emotional reactions, break bad habits, and escape "emotional hijacks." 

Amazon

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, by Daniel Coyle

Dan spent time inside incredibly successful organizations like the San Antonio Spurs, Pixar, and SEAL Team Six to uncover three key skills that explain how diverse groups learn to function with a single mind.

He shows that great teams don't just have that special "something" -- they have leaders who intentionally build them into something great.

Which, as your business grows, will definitely be your job.

Amazon

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The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win

(Yes, it's mine. But I'm proud of it.)

Starting a business is easy. Building a successful business is hard: It can take years of hard work, effort, and perseverance.

That means you'll need to stay motivated. But motivation isn't something you get. Motivation is something you create, on your own, by following a process that allows you to improve, bit by bit.

That means you already have everything inside you that you need to achieve your goals. You just need a process guaranteed to allow you to enjoy those small successes so that you get small, steady doses of motivation every day along your journey to success -- as well as to becoming whatever it is you hope to become.

Like an entrepreneur. 

Amazon

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