I read a lot of books. I don’t read fiction and I very, very rarely read something that isn’t about business. Having an e-book reader (in my case, it’s an iPad using the Kindle app) has made my appetite even more voracious. I am currently “reading” 14 different books simultaneously on my Kindle app. I put reading in quotes because it’s tough to say I’m really reading 14 books at the same time, but I am. I’d say that I read 40-50 pages of one book and then switch to another. Back and forth, back and forth. Eventually I complete each and every one. I finish some much faster than others.
Overall, I read 40+ business books each year.
With that concept in mind, I thought I’d list my favorite top 10 business books of all time. These are the ones I have hard copies of. These are the ones I’ve read more than once. I’ll add to this post as I come across new favorites. For now though, I hope you’ll enjoy a brief review of my favorite business books of all time (in no particular order). I’d love it if you’d add a comment to this post with the name of your favorite business books. I’m always looking for a great read, as are others, so please do share your favorites with us in the comments.
ReWork is one of my most recent favorites. I have not met anyone yet that DIDN’T love this book. Rework is a quick read but that doesn’t mean it isn’t FULL of super valuable information. It’s aggressive, lean, new and takes umbrage with many of the old school business techniques. That’s why I love it! Like many of my favorite books, they take a strong stance behind their opinions. I agree with about 80% of it; the other 20% I don’t. You’ll have to get the book and see for yourself if you find 80% of it agreeable or not.
Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers (Wiley Desktop Editions) is a gorgeous book. The illustrations are like porn for entrepreneurs. In all seriousness though, this book is a must have for anyone who is starting or thinking of starting a business. The business model canvas, the centerpiece of the book, is something I think you’ll use time and again throughout your career as an entrepreneur. I have about ten copies of this book in my office that I give away when certain entrepreneurs come by. Get your own copy first though 🙂
Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity is a must if you want to operate a business that has any connection to the Internet (read “pretty much every single business on the planet”). This is the most succinct, direct and detailed book about how to do analytics (the backbone of the Internet) that I have come across. I use it as text in my Internet Marketing class at Weber State University so I obviously think it’s an outstanding text to learn from. If you want a business to succeed online, then you need to own and read this book.
Free: The Future of a Radical Price is a great understanding of how to give things away and then monetize them (or related products/services) later. This is a key concept to understand well. So many websites give away some form of their product or service with a plan (or a hope) to monetize it later. This book goes thru the “free” process and history in detail. It’s really interesting and important if you plan to have any kind of a free offering for your site.
Outliers: The Story of Success is a best seller and perhaps many of you have read it already. Malcolm Gladwell is not someone I agree with all of the time. I vehemently disagree with his views on social media. This book, however, is one that I love! He is a fantastic writer and you’ll find this book, as well as several of his others, very enjoyable to read. Gladwell builds a convincing case for how successful people rise on a tide of advantages, “some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky.”
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game has so many different tangents that relate to business I couldn’t help but add it to my list. It is quite entertaining as well. I love the way Michael Lewis writes. I’ve heard that they are making this into a movie with Brad Pitt as the books main character we well. Don’t let that dissuade you. It’s a must read even though it’s technically about “baseball”.
The Four Steps to the Epiphanyis considered by many as the “Bible” of software startup roadmaps. Although the book is technical and not easy on the eyes, the information it contains is pure gold. I wish this book had been around 20 years ago when I first started out. You have to own this book if you plan to start a business. If you already own a business, put it to the 4 Steps test. Marc Andreesen (founder of Netscape and now huge VC at Andreesen/Horowitz) says this about 4 Steps to the Epiphany: “Buy it, read it, keep it under your pillow and absorb it via osmosis.”
In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives is just a fascinating, fascinating read about how Google was started and what it is like inside of one of the World’s largest, most profitable and most interesting companies. The book is very well written. It flows well and makes the story entertaining and interesting at the same time. I love the early stories of Google, particularly when they tried to unsuccessfully sell it to Yahoo! for $1.6M. These kinds of things make it easier to relate to, and understand how, every company (even Google) starts small and make unusual and difficult decisions.
Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant is a classic. I have given this book away to many entrepreneurs over the years. The BOS is a part of a decade-long study of 150 strategic moves spanning more than 30 industries over 100 years (1880-2000). These strategic decisions, creations of new markets (blue ocean) and innovations are something that every fence-swinging entrepreneur should think about. This is one of the best business books to read before business school.
Atlas Shrugged is a bit out of the mix when compared to the rest of this list. However, if you haven’t read Atlas Shrugged yet, you need to. Now. It is really long, and not technical by any means. However, it contains some of the most important concepts about capitalism I’ve ever seen in print. Oh yeah, it’s total fiction as well which is unusual for me (and this list). Perhaps that shows why it is on my “you have to read this now” list of which few books land.