Must Read Startup Books for Entrepreneurs to Read in 2021

Stay curious, entrepreneur! Here's a list of top books for entrepreneurs and must-read books about startups. Time to get reading!

March 2, 2021 Β· Christian Nicolai Thiesen

For the longest time, reading has been holy grail of the world’s most prominent and successful entrepreneurs. They read to get inspired, to stay sharp and they read to learn. Even the best entrepreneurs never stop learning. They know that there’s always something they don’t know. New knowledge to acquire. 

Bill Gates reads one book every week and has done so for most of his life, and he’s not alone. His squad of fellow readers include Mark Cuban, who spends 3 hours every day reading, Warren Buffett, who spends 80% of his waken hours with his head in books as well as Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, who all keep their eyes on the books. The best entrepreneurs know that it’s better to learn from someone else’s experience whenever possible than to only learn from their own. Want to join the Book Club? Here’s a list of the best books for entrepreneurs to read to get even better at starting, growing and running a business.

Books about Mindset and Productivity

To be a great entrepreneur, you must decide to be productive. But the decision to keep working is just one of those things that are easy to say, but hard to do. At least if you're not a natural. Productivity depends on your mindset, and being a successful startup founder requires those two things. The right mindset and the ability to get things done. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? Still, for most it isn't. Luckily, productivity and mindset are some of the most well-researched phenomenons out there. Here's our list of favorite books on the topics:

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Where do you go to find motivation on tough days? This book is one place. Mark Manson speaks the truth about winning and losing and encourages to stop trying to be positive all the time and instead, learn how to cope with the negative sides of life.


Screw It, Let's do It

Richard Branson shares the lessons learned from the long and eventful life of a successful global entrepreneur. Let Sir Branson inspire you to keep going, even when no one thinks it’s possible.


Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

With this book David Allen started a movement. GTD is the result of a life long urge to identify patterns and create models that work universally. In this book you will get Allen’s world famous approach to getting things done - in business and in life.


Awaken the Giant Within

Learn strategies to take control of your work, emotions, finances and your life. In this book, the world-renowned expert in psychology of change and peak performance, Anthony Robbins, teaches you his best techniques for self-management so you can get the most out of the massive potential you have inside. If you want to increase your productivity, efficiency, relationships and overall happiness, don't miss out on this one.


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Effectiveness is the balance between the results you want and caring for the process and actions that brings you those results. That is the underlying idea author Stephen Covey presents in this best-selling book, first published in 1985. Throughout the book he defines and elaborates 7 habits that makes people more efficient and shows you how to implement those habits yourself.


Atomic Habits

Time for some self-improvement? In this book, the world-leading habit expert, James Clear, shares his proven framework for improving yourself on a daily basis. Atomic Habits teaches you how to break bad and limiting habits and replace them with good ones that will support you on your journey to greatness, no matter what that may be for you.


Deep Work

Do you sometimes struggle to stay focused? Do you get distracted easily? You're not alone. In modern-day life, most of us have lost the ability to stay deeply focused for an extended period of time. But instead of condemning distractions, why not celebrate their opposite? Being distracted can teach us the counterpart. To stay focused. At least that is the theory of author and professor, Cal Newport. In Deep Work, he teaches us the psychology of focus and gives us actionable advice to stay deeply focused.


Books with Inspirational Founder Stories

One thing that all entrepreneurs need, is inspiration. We need people to look up to, stories that sparks our motivation, Northern Stars to follow. When things get tough, there's nothing like great startup stories that will get you back in the saddle. Here's some of the best ones:

Founders at Work

Ever wondered how successful entrepreneurs got to where they are? Did they struggle? Was it even that hard? Jessica Livingston asks successful founders to share stories from their early startup days.


The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Building and running a business is really hard. This is the simple yet, well, hard point, Ben Horowitz makes. He shares his own story and along the way makes important points about leadership, honesty and always putting people above product.


Creativity Inc.

If you want to break standards and create innovative solutions, this is the book for you. Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, shares how creativity helped him build the multi-billion dollar company that changed the animation industry forever.


Lost and Founder

Failure and screw-ups are part of any startup life. In this book, Rand Fiskin talks about the entrepreneurial life in a painfully honest way and shares some much-needed advice to help you during your business journey.


Startup Stories: Lessons Learned from a Startup's Launch, Grind, and Growth

Are you dreaming of starting your own business, but scared you don't have what it takes to make it? The startup world is filled with stories of how hardship of being an entrepreneur. If you just read the headlines of these stories, it's easy to get scared off from ever taking the leap. Reading this book gives you the full picture of entrepreneurship. It shares the tricky parts alongside the amazing parts and sheds light on the journey of starting a startup. Reading Startup Stories will give you a clear picture of what it takes and gets you ready to go after your dream.


Never Too Late to Startup

This one is for all the corporates out there dreaming to take charge and bring meaning to their lives. It's Never Too Late to Startup is a guide book for the mid-life hamster wheelers, who are fed up with the triviality of their day jobs and want to start something of their own. Author Rob Kornblum understands the struggles of wanting to break free, when you also have kids to feed and mortgages to pay. So instead of giving you the classic "just do it" speech, he shows you all the steps to start your own business without betting your house, car and first-born in the process. 



Ready to be impressed? Then take a look at Farrah Gray and his book Reallionaire. Gray sold his first business when he was just 14 years old. Today, his CV includes titles like Entrepreneur, Business Man, Author, Motivational Speaker, and, yes, Millionaire. In this book, Gray shares the touching story of leaving a life of public assistance behind and building prosperity for yourself against all odds. He also gives you the nine steps he used to get rich - steps you can take and apply to your own life.


Lifestyle Books for Entrepreneurs

Most entrepreneurs start out, not because they had a good idea, but because they dream of building a life of freedom and self-fulfilment. But how do you go about doing that? And more importantly, how do you pay for such a lifestyle? These books will teach you:

The 4-hour Work Week

Even if you’re in love with your work, we bet a 4 hour workweek, travelling the world and making money sounds pretty damn good. Maybe a bit far fetched too. In this book, Tim Ferriss reveals how he did it and gives you the recipe to do the same.


The $100 Dollar Startup

Can you make money doing something you love? Chris Guillebeau collects stories from entrepreneurs that challenged the rules and built amazing businesses from their passion.



Tired of reading the same advice in every book? Rework changes the rules of the startup game and will help you do the same. No more boring step-by-step tutorials to achieve success. This book teaches you to tread your own path.


Thrive: The Third Metric to Success

The concept of success has become a source of immense pressure for many people today. Work hard, push through, be better, never back down. Those are just some of the words associated with building success today. According to Arianna Huffington, it's time to redefine what it means to be successful. Being successful should feel amazing, not bad. It should be the cause of happiness, wealth and energy - not stress, deprivation and low self-esteem. To be successful, we must Thrive. This book explores how to get there. 


Finding Your Way in a New Wild World

Do you know what you want in life? No? Then this book is for you. The question of purpose in life is universal. Most of us wonder what we're supposed to make of ourselves and sometimes feel stuck. In this remarkable book, Martha Beck teaches you the transformational path to finding the life that's right and fulfilling for you. Personalities like Oprah swears to Becks program. If you long to discover your higher calling, Finding Your Way is for you. 



Life is filled with negotiations, compromises and attempts to reach common ground. Too often though, the intentions behind is merely for individuals to get what they want, not taking into consideration their counterparts. In this book, Guy Kawasaki argues that interactions with people are not about getting what you want, but about lasting, voluntary changes in people that improves both theirs and your own situation and life.


Books about How to Start a Business

So, you've decided to start a business. Now what? From finding the right idea, to setting a team and building something amazing, as an entrepreneur you have to figure everything out by yourself. But that doesn't mean you can't get help. These books will take you through all the major steps of starting your own startup from scratch:

Startup Guide

The Startup Guide is the ultimate guidebook for entrepreneurs going global. Startup Guide covers over 30 cities in the World and inside each book you’ll find everything you need to know about the startup scene in the city of your dreams.


The Startup Playbook

Building a startup is all about making it on your own. But sometimes we need guidance, inspiration and, well, cheat sheets. This book has it all and will help you through startup life.


The Lean Startup

In The Lean Startup Eric Ries challenges the traditional way of thinking business. In fact, it breaks with the very idea that you can think a perfect product. Instead entrepreneurs have to test and validate ideas and products as they build them.


The Simplicity Cycle

The best ideas are the most obvious ones. But that doesn't mean they are easy to come up with. In this book, Dan Ward teaches you how to transform your great idea into a brilliant one: By making it so simple, even your grandparents will understand.


All in Startup

This book is not like the rest of them. All in Startup is a fictional novel about the struggles and worries of balancing life and startup and keeping a business a life. But don't be fooled. There's a lot to learn from Diana Kanders bestselling book. The main character, Owen Chase, has only 9 days to save his company. The story follows Chase to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, through a meeting with a mysterious mentor and the decision to go all-in. All In Startups is a valuable lesson in building and running a business through tough times and provides new perspectives on launching ideas and building traction.


The Founder's Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls that can Sink a Startup

You're going to start a business. But will you do it alone? Or do you bring other people with you? There is more than just money at stake when building a business. Doing it alone means keeping a high level of control, but leaves you with all the responsibility. Bringing on a team means a less lonely journey, but a higher need for debate and compromise. So who do you bring on? Do you start a business with friends? Or will that challenge the business and ultimately make relationships suffer? So what do you do? This book explores the most underrated dilemmas startup founders face.


Will it Fly? How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money

The worst thing you can do as a founder is to build something, no one really needs. There are good ideas, and then there are business ideas. Good ideas may excite you, motivate you and ignite the flame needed to throw yourself head-first into pursuing it. But that's not enough to make it a business-worthy idea. Business ideas are well-validated, tried and tested, before they ever turn into actual businesses. In this book, Pat Flynn teaches you how to stop wasting time on no-good ideas and start spending your time on the ones that will actually work. 


Books about Growing Your Startup

You won't have a business for very long, if you don't get customers - a lot of customers. But if you're not a sales guru or a marketing wizard, generating growth is a tricky and sometimes slightly uncomfortable task. At least until you get a hang on it. Then it's actually quite fun. We promise. We've gathered the best growth books out there to get you started:

Purple Cow

If you're not remarkable, your invisible. Is it really that simple? according to marketing guru, Seth Godin, it is. In his cult status classic, Purple Cow, Godin teaches us what it takes to create truly memorable products that will be worth every penny of your marketing budget. He argues that the one true lesson in entrepreneurship and marketing is to build products, people really love. Those products are easy to sell. Mediocre products will never be worth your marketing efforts. Throughout the book, you'll learn from the stories of Starbucks, Apple and other companies, who managed to build real, lasting, remarkable products.


Crushing it

Gary Vaynerchuk is a well-established entrepreneurial expert. His knowledge and perspectives of building and marketing businesses has helped millions of people do it themselves. Crusthing it! is an inspiring break-down of how to use major social media platforms to grow your business massively. Everyone can learn from this book, no matter what business you're trying to build. Sit back, relax and learn from entrepreneurs, who've succeeded in exploiting the world of social media for the good of their business. 


The entrepreneurial bible to venture capital

If you want to grow your startup to its full potential, you will need money. But the world of venture capital is a jungle, and if you haven't tried it before, raising money is a tricky art form. Luckily, this book is here to save you. It's packed with advice on how to create measurable value in your startup, how to get convince business angels and venture capitals to invest and how to exit your company at the highest value. 


Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers

90% of startups fail. Almost all of them have built a product. What they fail at, is getting people to buy that product. In other words, they lack traction. This book introduces readers to the Bullseye Framework. The five-step process to unlock growth and shows how successful startups, like Evernote, Kayak and Reddit successfully grew traction and built successful businesses.


How to Win Friends and Influence People

This ground-breaking bestseller teaches you nothing less than how to get what you want. Getting success and building the life you want is all about getting other people on board. The book explores behavioral science and how you can use it to build the life and business you dream of. It teaches you strategies to make people like you, change their minds and to win them over. The strategies of behavioral psychology is a powerful tool. Use it wisely.



Today, competition is everywhere. In a world overflowing with products, services and information, businesses are constantly competing for consumers attention. But what if fighting so hard to stand out actually causes your business to disappear in the crowd? What if spending too much time on competitors actually limits your chances of success? In Different, Youngme Moon explores how businesses can stand out from the crowd by using strategies that make them meaningfully different.


None of Your Business

You didn't build a business to run a business. At least not if you're like most entrepreneurs. You built your business, because you got an idea so good and so joyful for you that you had to pursue it. But no one taught you how to actually run a business. In the first years of a startup journey, the limitations of not truly understanding how to run a business may not show. But a few years in, you risk finding yourself struggling to get customers, sticking to budgets and feeling like a failure. But not if you read this book. Going through the chapters of None of Your Business will teach you everything you need to know about running your business, from marketing and sales to mindset and entrepreneurship.