Let’s take a look at 10 of the best entrepreneur books to read in 2021. Each one covers unique insights that can save you time, energy, and money. All while helping you have a greater impact in the world.
None of these books are required to become an entrepreneur. You can start a business and you can accomplish many great things without ever reading a single one of these books. But, if you go that route, you’ll almost certainly waste a lot of time rediscovering things that others have already solved for you. So think of these books as shortcuts that can save you time, energy, and money.
1. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
It’s critical to identify the core assumptions that are being made in any new startup. That way you can test and validate the fundamentals before spending a lot of time, energy, or money on building out the entire business model.
This book is all about finding ways to validate your idea more efficiently. And how to make steady progress by continuing to identify areas of uncertainty that can be resolved. This will help you accelerate the pace at which you make the transition from early startup to a stable and sustainable business.
2. Traction by Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares
The #1 reason why new businesses fail is due to a lack of customers. Most are able to build out a simple product or service. But they ultimately fail to generate enough interest to build a sustainable business. So, it’s critical that startups split their time 50/50 between product development and nurtuing customer interest.
This book covers 19 marketing channels that you can use to attract customers. And it explains a simple framework that you can use to discover the most promising marketing opportunities for your specific business.
3. Sprint by Jake Knapp
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when developing a new product, service, or solution. Often there are multiple challenges that come up at the same time, and it’s very difficult to keep things moving forward in a consistent and effective way.
This book covers Google Ventures’ unique five day sprint process. It’s all about addressing critical questions by creating rapid prototypes and testing ideas with customers. It compliments the premise of The Lean Startup by offering a solid framework, and library of tactics, for validating startup or product ideas.
4. The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick
One of the fastest ways to improve an idea is through talking with early potential customers. In fact, this is a great way to refine things even before building a basic prototype. Unfortunately, the default approach that many startups take is to share their idea with people and ask for early feedback. And that often results in blind encouragement as people want to be encouraging and socially polite.
This book explains how to properly talk with potential customers to get honest and useful information. It can help you avoid blind encouragement and determine if you are on the right path or if you need to adjust course. It’s one of the single most important books to read early in the startup journey.
5. Start At The End by Matt Wallaert
The unfortunate reality is that so many products fail to create a real impact in the world. Even if they do sell well, many end up buried in a closet or a desk drawer, never being used as intended. And this impacts customer reviews, word-of-mouth referrals, and repeat business in the future.
This book is about creating products that customers will actually use. It starts with helping you clarify how you want customers to use your solution. And then it explains how to design it to increase the likelihood of the desired outcome.
6. Building A StoryBrand by Donald Miller
As an entrepreneur, it’s critical to be able to communicate effectively. It’s key to develop the ability to clarify who you are, what you do, and how you can help. Becuase the last thing you want is for a potential customer to say “no” only because they don’t understand what you do or why they should care.
This book is all about how to clarify your message so customers will listen. Not only can this help customers make a more informed decision, but it can also boost word-of-mouth referral from anyone that comes into contact with your business. When people know exactly what you do, it’s easier for them to spread the word.
7. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries & Jack Trout
A common desire is business is to have your products stand out from the crowd in a competitive market. Because, even if your product is unique, customers may not understand the difference between your solution and that of a competitor.
This book is all about positioning. It explains the importance of owning a product category in the minds of your customers. So, just as the “fast food” category is often linked with a brand like McDonalds, the goal is to position your brand as the leader in a clearly defined category. And this book explains several different ways to achieve that outcome.
The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. If you’re interested in learning more before picking up a copy, check out my book summary of The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing.
8. Contagious by Jonah Berger
Word-of-mouth is likely the single most important marketing strategy for most businesses. As an entrepreneur, it’s critical to find ways to increase the rate at which customers recommend your products, services, or brand with others. It can have a significant impact on the long-term growth of your business.
This book covers the six principles of contagiousness. Six individual tools that you can use to make your products, services, or content more likely to spread through word-of-mouth referral. And it includes many practical examples of how other businesses have used these strategies to achieve great results.
9. Hooked by Nir Eyal
Another important aspect for long-term product success is driving repeat usage and engagement. This is especially important for recurring subscriptions or consumable products that may lead to re-ordering in the future. Because if the customer doesn’t engage over time, they don’t get the full value of your product and you lose out on a valuable revenue stream.
As a result, many companies spend a small fortune in the form of ongoing marketing campaigns and special promotions to drive repeat usage. But not only can this be incredible expensive, it can quickly become too costly to maintain.
This book offers an alternative approach. It’s explains how to help customers build habits around your product, so they continue to use your solution automatically. Done properly, customers will return to your product or service without needing to be prompted with ongoing advertising.
10. Crossing The Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore
As an entrepreneur, you will come across many different types of customers. Each of whom have different interested and are attracted to different kinds of solutions. For example, some customers love brand new solutions that are on the cutting edge, while others strongly prefer tried-and-true, proven solutions.
This book explains how to successfully market and sell disruptive products. And in doing so, it explains the different kinds of customers that you will encounter at various stages of a new business. Most important of all, it explains how to make the transition from early adopters, those who like new things, to the far more lucrative market of mainstream customers, those who like proven solutions.