Looking for new business books to read?
Looking to increase your business prowess?
I’m always on the hunt for a new book to get lost in that (1) tells me an amazing story of how another entrepreneur built their company or (2) teaches me hard skills that I can take and apply to the growth of my own business and my own entrepreneurial mindset.
Is reading business books worth it?
I’m a strong believer in reading books to learn from the mistakes and successes of other entrepreneurs, leaders, change makers, and thought leaders.
I know some people shun books and claim that they don’t provide you with any actionable knowledge. That you can listen to a podcast or an audiobook faster and retain the same information.
Some people even say that reading books is a waste of time in business because you could be spending it working on your company rather than locked into a book spending hours of your time trying to learn what someone else figured out already.
It’s a shame to me that some people think that way. Sure, reading is not for everyone. Each person has their own ways of learning that they prefer, but books do and can add knowledge to your tool belt that you can use in business.
I’m a prime example of it and I wanted to share with you 10 business books that I’ve read in the past 10 months outlining exactly how they can add value to your life and growth as an entrepreneur.
I’m a voracious reader and I aim to read at least 15 books each year. This year so far (2018), I’ve read 6 already and it’s driving my motivation to continue working 60+ hour weeks on growing my company, FreeeUp.com.
Without further ado, here are 10 business books that I highly recommend for you to read as an entrepreneur in 2018.
10 Business Books I’ve Read in the Past 10 Months
There’s a very high chance that if you’re reading this article, you’ve watched Netflix or you are a Netflix user. Netflix has absolutely blown up in the past 10 years, but do you know how they were founded?
Did you know that they were founded in the late nineties right before the dot com crash and that they fought through the crash then battled the likes of Blockbuster?
Did you know that Netflix was originally founded by two people, but that one really only gets all of the fame today?
Hell, did you even know that Netflix started as a company that shipped DVDs to people’s homes…? They weren’t always a sexy online subscription service granting you access to thousands of streaming movies and TV shows.
In this fast paced and well written book, the founding, growth, and eventual dominance of Netflix is detailed in amazing fashion.
As an entrepreneur reading this book, you learn the ups and downs of growing a business to a point where it needs someone “more senior” to step in and take over the operations.
You learn about the eCommerce industry in the late 90s as Amazon was just starting to dominate the newly formed industry. You learn about the crash and burn of Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, and every other brick and mortar video store around the United States.
And you learn the marketing and advertising strategies that allowed Netflix to stay afloat against such giants in the industry to become one of the leading media companies providing millions of people around the world with immediate access to TV and movie entertainment.
Are you running your own business and wondering how to grow all of the following: your traffic, your users, your revenue, your retention rate, your repeat customer rate, etc.?
Growth hacking started to become popular in Silicon Valley in the past 10 years as a group of veteran entrepreneurs came together to marry the practices of techies with that of marketing experts.
And that’s exactly what growth hacking boils down to…using technological hacks to highly influence your key business metrics.
A key example that bleeds into the next book is from AirBnB. One of the technical geniuses on their founding team found a hack that allowed them to post all of their AirBnB rentals on Craigslist giving them a gateway to millions of people looking for potential places to stay while on vacation or traveling. It was a growth hack that drastically increased the number of users to AirBnB and ultimately set them up for other growth hacks along the way.
In this book, former marketing executive and guru talks about how the traditional methods of marketing (public relations and media) have become completely obsolete due to the growth hacking culture that is taking over the startup world.
Small startups and companies no longer need massive million dollar budgets to grow their customer base. They have the power of growth hacking where they can tap into large groups of people online and entice them to start using their product/service.
He talks about growth hacking as an advantage to small starts today and that larger companies need to start adjusting so that they don’t get run out by this new generation of growth hackers.
If you’re interested in growing your own company and will be in charge of the marketing as you get it off the ground, read this quick 100 page book to get in the right mindset.
3) AirBnB story
I brought this book with me while traveling in Europe this past summer and I got to it as we were arriving in the beautiful coast town of Praiano, Italy. It was a picturesque town on the Amalfi Coast of Italy looking out over hundred foot cliffs out into the beautiful ocean.
With such a relaxing setting, I had nothing I wanted to do more than relax on the porch, drink some Italian wine, eat Italian bread, and read a book.
In 4 short days, I read the AirBnB story gaining a deeper insight into a company that I had seen go from nothing to an internationally recognized giant in the travel industry.
What made it even more interesting from the start was that I found out that one of the founders, Brian Cheskey, was from a town just a few towns over from where I grew up in Albany, New York. Right away, I felt a connection to Cheskey and the story became even more meaningful to me as I learned how they went from Ramen-eating entrepreneurs to valued over 1 billion dollars.
If you’re an AirBnB user and you admire the company that they’ve built, you need to pick up this book and give it a read. Their story and the strategies that they used to grow and brand the company will inspire you to take your company to the next level.
4) Uber story
After reading the AirBnB story in a quick 4 days, I was on a reading binge and I didn’t want to stop. Minutes before we boarded our plane out of Naples and back to the US, I bought the Uber story eBook. I was searching on Google books for a new one that I could enjoy on the long plane ride, I saw that it had just been released, and I downloaded it immediately.
Do you know Travis Kalanick and the story of how he started Uber then was ousted as the CEO for some of the controversial actions and statements that he made?
This book gives you the inside scoop to Uber and Kalanick on a human level built off of hours of interviews with Kalanick and other employees and founders of Uber.
Talk about building a company that could disrupt an industry worldwide. Kalanick and his founding team built a company and a brand that took on the likes of the largest taxi companies around the world. And they did it super fast with millions of dollars of investment from venture capitals.
Now, don’t be discouraged by that or think that every company needs millions of dollars of venture capital to make a real difference. Great companies can be started from the ground up and bootstrapped to make a real difference in the world.
If you’re interested in the rise of Uber and how its original leader, Travis Kalanick, steered the ship towards international recognition, usage, and controversy, then give this one a read.
Ever heard of ClickFunnels? How about Russell Brunson?
In the world of internet marketing, Brunson shines through as one that has done an amazing job of branding himself as his company. His software company, ClickFunnels, is driven off of Brunson’s brand that he’s built over the past 10 years.
He’s the casual CEO that hangs out with the likes of Tony Robbins and still provides advice to his thousands of users through the video and email content that he creates. Sign up to ClickFunnels and you’re welcomed by his face teaching you about how you can create great funnels for your business.
Brunsons is an extremely talented marketer that truly understands the value of connecting your potential customers to a story that they can relate and get passionate about.
In DotComSecrets, Brunson shares his entrepreneurial story and breaks down the framework that he uses to market to new users in the digital era.
He provides email sequences that you can use to target your ideal customer. He explains the different parts of a funnel and how to approach them. And he leaves you with enough information that you can go and apply directly to growing your business.
This one turned some ideas that I had about marketing upside down.
I highly recommend this book to anyone that is running the marketing operations of their company and wants to really learn how you, as a person, can relate more directly to your customer base, which in turn can lead to more sales.
People buy from people.
I had bought this book a while back, but just finally got to reading it recently. I had heard amazing things about Jim Collins and his past book (Good to Great), but I had never dived into reading Great By Choice…until I did 🙂
This is definitely one of the heavier reads of the list, but it was an absolute eye opener to some of the habits of the most successful and consistent companies in the 80s and 90s.
The premise of this book is the Jim Collins and Morten Hansen conducted a study for years while being business professors that looked at a selection of companies that outperformed all other companies in their industry in an elongated period of time (I think it was 20+ years).
In their studies, they looked at a variety of factors that made those companies great boiling it down to the qualities that the leaders of those companies had that made them stand out.
In the book, they call these types of companies and leaders the “10xers”. They found ways to get 10x what their direct competitors were during that same period of time.
I finished the book with a new understanding of 10 new companies that I hadn’t studied before along with real qualities that I could work towards having as an entrepreneur.
If you’re interested in growing as an entrepreneur and building a company that lasts years down the line continuing to create new profits and real value to customers, this book is for you. Just be ready to buckle in and really focus. This isn’t a light read.
Have you ever bought a pair of Tom’s Shoes? If you haven’t…have you ever seen Tom’s Shoes? Of course you have. Tom’s has become a brand synonymous with impact around the world.
In this book, the founder and CEO of Tom’s Shoes, Blake Mycoskie talks about how Tom’s went from a startup run out one of his first apartments to a company with hundreds of employees all around the world passionate about making a real difference in people’s lives through selling their shoes.
The story and the lessons that Blake shares in the book really hits home for me as I am a strong believer in social entrepreneurship and its ability to make a positive impact on large groups of underprivileged people.
Blake is an extremely intelligent and well written CEO that shares timeless advice with other entrepreneurs on how to run their company based off of a common mission greater than making profits.
If you’re an entrepreneur interested in social impact as well as growing a profitable business, pick up this book and be inspired by Blake’ story with Tom’s Shoes.
Ever wonder how Jeff Bezos built the Amazon empire from the ground up?
In this quick read, you’ll learn the key principles that went into building the Amazon culture and what continues to push its employees and culture forward with Bezos at the helm.
The book opens your eyes to the simplicity of building a values based culture, but the complexity of keeping it implemented and alive as you grow from a rinky dink startup shipping books out of a garage to a billion dollar company shipping products all over the world.
I’m a big fan of Bezos and the rise of Amazon so this one meant a lot to me. To be able to remove the veil that sits over Amazon in the public eye was an amazing insight into how a great company can be built.
If you’re interested in eCommerce, Jeff Bezos, and how to build a long lasting company culture that drives the decisions of leadership and all of its employees, pick this book up. It’s a quick read.
9) The Four
You are most likely familiar with The Four: Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook.
These four companies permeate almost every aspect of our life. From Apple making products that are constantly glued, to our hands to Amazon being a resource for buying anything from anywhere in the world, to Google being our constant knowledge base, to Facebook being the place where we interact with others online.
These four companies have been the stock market darlings since they went through their IPO and nothing is going against them.
In this well documented book, you’ll learn how The Four have risen to such fame and dominance in the tech market. You’ll see the new initiatives that they are all tackling and how they compete with each other for more time in front of our eyes and minds.
This is a great book for entrepreneurs that enjoy understanding how the largest tech companies in the world are working to further make a stamp in all of our lives.
This growth hacking book is very different from the one that I mentioned above. This book is all about different growth hacking tests that you can try within your business to improve the key metrics that ultimately determine your company’s growth.
In this book, two seasoned entrepreneurs and growth hackers put together 100 different small growth hacks that they’ve used to grow their companies. They lay each out in a simple fashion that allows you as a marketer to highlight strategies that you can try yourself.
This is a book that you can continually come back to as you are testing different marketing strategies for new ideas and inspiration.
If you’re leading marketing at your business, you should have this business book on your book shelf so that you can refer to it when your ideas are getting stale.
How Have These 10 Books Impacted Me As An Entrepreneur?
It’s fun to look back on a selection of the business books that I’ve read in the past 10 months because it reminds me of the ways that my mindset has changed.
Before I read these 10 books, I didn’t know as much as I now do about all of the different companies that were examined in the books, the growth hacking strategies that were presented, and the entrepreneurial hacks that you can take to grow your company.
These 10 books in particular have better prepared me for the stage of growth that I’m going through right now with my company, FreeeUp.
Comparing 2017 to 2016, we were able to grow the company’s revenue and profits over 500% without much advertising dollars spent. All of our efforts were grassroots growth marketer hacks that helped us to bring in new customers, improve our experience, and retain those customers over the long run.
In 2018, we have a lot of open field ahead of us and it’s going to be a challenge to keep up with the same growth rate that we saw in the previous year.
We’re approaching a new stage of growth in the company that brings us from a small to a medium sized business and it means that our strategies to grow must also slightly change.
Reading these 10 business books gave me the insights into how other great companies have gotten to that point and catapulted forward.
I plan to take the lessons learned from these 10 business books and apply them directly to the growth of FreeeUp and my tool belt as an entrepreneur.
It’s my hope that some of these 10 books will also inspire you along your journey of being an entrepreneur and building a great company that not only makes profits, but impacts people over the long run.
If you have any questions about these books, feel free to leave comments of ping me directly at Connor@ConnorGillivan.com.