The idea of being an entrepreneur can be heady until you start reading about the successes of other popular entrepreneurs.
Then it’s easy to become intimated and make you wonder if you will ever get to their stage in life and business.
However, rather than be intimated by their popularity and success, you should read their stories to be inspired and learn from their journey as risk-takers and money-makers.
What mistakes have they made? Do their journeys mirror yours in any way? How did they overcome obstacles to get to the heights they now enjoy? How did they achieve work-life balance?
Of course, you could curate your own list of titles to read, but we’ve already done the heavy lifting for you.
Here are nine books written by or about successful entrepreneurs that will give you insight into how the big boys and girls made it and hopefully motivate you to stay on this journey to business success.
Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way by Richard Branson
Branson is a British business magnate, investor and author who founded the Virgin Group in the 1970s.
The group now controls more than 400 companies in various fields.
Known for insightful business quips like, “business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another coming,” Branson reveals to readers, his numerous successes but also his failures.
Much more than a memoir, the story is Branson’s take on his superlative life and a definitive business guide that underscores his unique philosophy of commerce, success and of course, the joy of living.
In Losing My Virginity, you’ll ride the rollercoaster of Virgin growing from a mail-order music business into a record-setting global brand. It’s certainly worth the read.
#GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso
Have you heard about Nasty Gal, the eCommerce company with $100M+ in annual revenue? Whether or not you’ve heard of it, you need to read Amoruso’s story on how she went from being broke at a job she despised to creating a mega-million-dollar vintage fashion company.
Amoruso spent her teens hitchhiking and stealing. By the time she was 22, she had dropped out of school, broke, and had no idea what direction her life was going in.
What she did know was that she had more to give than checking IDs in the lobby of an art school. It was in that lobby that the author’s story starts.
Lena Dunham calls the book ‘a movement’ and that it is! It has piqued the interest and reignited the
passion of over 500,000 readers, more than 21 million podcast downloads, and sold-out events at biannual Girlboss Rallies in 30 countries.
Many entrepreneurs become enthralled with Amoruso’ s journey, from scrounging in dumpsters for bagels to taking her unique path to success.
#Girlboss proves that education or lack thereof doesn’t dictate your direction in business. It’s about trusting your instincts and following your gut.
If you’re looking for honest advice and inspiration, then #GirlBoss should be your next read.
This book is for every entrepreneur who believes things will go right from the very beginning!
The story of Twitter surrounds the company’s four founders and friends, Ev Williams, Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Noah Glass.
The friends’ constant infighting, mismanagement and power struggles humanizes the multibillion-dollar company that accidentally revolutionised online communication.
Twitter has certainly seen its fair share of mishaps, CEOs and directional torment but this is what makes the story grab at the fearful but excited start-up owner who’s uncertain hiring a couple of his buddies was the best move for his business.
Fans of Twitter will probably enjoy knowing about the drama, backstabbing, and constant secret meetings of the leaders but entrepreneurs will also find nuggets of wisdom in the friend’s individual and collective journeys.
It’s a bit over 140 characters but worth the read and definitely worth Tweeting about.
Tamara Mellon is the co-founder and former CEO of Jimmy Choo and a self-made British businesswoman.
Mellon details the adversities she faced from her troubled childhood and her time as a young editor, to her partnership with cobbler Jimmy Choo and her larger-than-life public relationships.
Described as ‘pure Danielle Steel with added MBA’ by Sunday Times, this book is a must-read for all fashionistas who are also entrepreneurs.
You may be wondering who Bo Peabody is and that’s OK.
He’s not one of the popular household names but impactful just the same. He is an extremely successful entrepreneur who started five businesses in various fields and became a multi-millionaire by age 27.
In Lucky or Smart? Peabody takes readers through the lessons he has learned as an entrepreneur and who to position yourself for ‘business luck.’
Peabody’s work emphasizes that to be successful in business, one’s work has to be fundamentally innovative, morally compelling, and philosophically positive.
The 7 Day Startup: You Don’t Learn Until You Launch by Dan Norris
Dan Norris is the founder of a start-up WP Curve.
In his book, the 7 Day Start-up, he explains in detail how he built a cash-rich small business from scratch in only 7 days and has since grown it to over $400,000 in annual revenue in a short period.
He gives practical advice to entrepreneurs on how to evaluate a business idea, choose a business name, build a website in only 1 day and he exposes 10 proven ways to market small businesses quickly.
Readers will also get:
- An idea evaluation spreadsheet
- A business name checklist
- A growth tracker spreadsheet
- A marketing idea checklist specifically for small businesses
- New business resources
If you’re in the market for a practical guide to moving your small business from an idea to an income generator, then quickly get a copy of The 7 Day Startup.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight: Just do it.
Nike founder and board chairman, Phil Knight took this philosophy seriously when, at 24 and fresh out business school, he borrowed $50 from his father to launch a company with a single aim: import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan.
He started selling the shoes from the trunk of his car in 1963 and grossed eight thousand dollars in his first year.
In Shoe Dog, Knight tells of his perilous days, encountering crushing setbacks, cutthroat competitors and shark-like bankers to fight for a dream that would become a household name and move from eight thousand to $30 billion in annual sales.
Bill Gates called Shoe Dog one of his favorite books of 2016 and applauded Knight for opening up ‘in ways few CEOs are willing to do.”
Without Their Permission: The Story of Reddit and a Blueprint for How to Change the World by Alexis Ohanian
This book is ideal for entrepreneurs, providing advice to all ages and for every step of the small-business owner’s journey.
Ohanian at 29 realized as he helped to co-found the widely popular reddit.com; the internet is the most powerful and prolific tool for sharing information in our history.
And should that power be harnessed by entrepreneurs for good, the results become life-changing.
Without Their Permission takes readers on the author’s journey, making brief stops to share experiences and guidance on how business owners can leverage the internet for business success. The book will become your guidebook, whether or not you designate it to be.
By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop by Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson: Are you interested in starting an e-commerce site? Get inspiration from Gilt.
Gilt was founded by Alexis Maybank, Alexandra Wilkis Wilson and three colleagues in 2007.
Their idea was to bring sample sales online and change the way people shopped. The idea worked and continues to work to the tune of $1 billion.
The founders in writing about the day the site went live said “we had created a Web site that could potentially change the rules of retail.
If shopping was traditionally a slow, leisurely activity, it would now be competitive, addictive, urgent, thrilling, not just easier but so much more fun.”
By Invitation Only shows other entrepreneurs how they blended their strengths and managed their weaknesses and the ever-growing team as well as the darkest period yet in the company’s history – the recession when it almost all came crashing down.
By Invitation Only is a must-read for aspiring entrepreneurs who will undoubtedly be inspired by the partnership and passion of the founders.
This is certainly not the only books we think aspiring entrepreneurs need to get their hands on but it is a great starting point.
Find the time to read or listen to the stories of each one of these entrepreneurs and be inspired by their journey and tenacity in building their entrepreneurship dreams.
Learn from their mistakes and pick out the parts of their stories that apply to you or your business.
Which inspirational books have you read lately? Go ahead and tell us in the comments below!