18 Must-Read Books for First-Time Entrepreneurs

Starting your first business is an exciting time in any entrepreneur’s life, however if you’re going to be successful you need to ensure you’re using your time and resources wisely.

From launching a website, to marketing, to time management and appropriate financial expenditure there’s a lot of elements that all need to work together if you’re going to begin to progress forward instead of madly trying to keep your head above water.

To help out we’ve curated a list of 20 must-read books for first time entrepreneurs. Our list is aimed out cutting out the ‘flaky outdated advice’ that has been around for ever and focuses on providing tough-talking no-nonsense advice that you can take to the bank.

So whether it’s in-between meetings, on the bus, catching an Uber or just before you nod off to sleep at night, make sure you pick up one of these books and start flipping pages!

Hustle by Neil Patel, Patrick Vlaskovits and Jonas Koffler

Hustle: The Power to Charge Your Life with Money, Meaning, and Momentum

Authors: Neil Patel, Patrick Vlaskovits and Jonas Koffler

If you’re looking to super-charge your life and change the way you do business, you're going to need advice from those who have done all before. If this sounds like you, then Hustle has got you covered.

Hustle provides invaluable insights into how to become successful in modern-day business from Internet and content marketing expert Neil Patel, growth hacking and marketing expert Patrick Vlaskovits, and globally recognised creative media consultant Jonas Koffler.

At OSE we’re avid readers of Neil Patel’s work and recommend Hustle as a must-read book for first time business owners and entrepreneurs. In our opinion if you’re looking to optimise the way you do business online and limit the amount of time spent on ventures that aren’t going to deliver you the kinds of returns you’re looking for, then Hustle should definitely be on your list of reads this year.

Crush It! Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion

Authors: Gary Vaynerchuk

If you’ve got a hobby or passion and would prefer to be pursuing that as your primary source of income, ‘Crush It!’ authored by Gary Vaynerchuk can help you get there!

Gary spent years building his family’s local wine store into a national success growing the business from $3M in annual turnover to a whopping $60M! Not satisfied by this tremendous achievement, Gary decided to use the Internet to really kick-start his life and earning potential by using video marketing and services such as YouTube to build an extremely profitable personal brand.

Gary is the owner and founder of VaynerMedia one of the net’s largest digital agencies and has become a serial investor in wildly successful companies like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Uber just to name a few. If you’re looking for some really great advice on how to use the Internet to grow your business, ‘Crush It’ is a great place to start.

Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup

Author: Eric Ries

So many businesses fail because their loose with their cash, hire too many employees, implement sloppy business practices and don’t invest their capital in the right places. This is where ‘The Lean Startup’ comes into it’s own.

If you’re looking to start a software or technology-based business, this book will be a life saver for you. Not only will you learn how to effectively execute lean services, but you'll also discover how to put in place effective means of assessing the success of your business processes.

For many first time entrepreneurs this can be the difference between failing in the early years of business or coming out a success, and is why we strongly recommend this must-read business management book.

Want to know more about The Learn Startup? We recommend checking out theleanstartup.com for even more great insights.

Will It Fly?

Author: Thomas K. McKnight

One of the greatest challenges entrepreneurs and business owners alike face at one time or other, is answering the question: ‘Will my idea work?’

Using McKnight’s 44-item checklist, by the end of ‘Will it fly?’ you’ll be well on your way to evaluating the likely success of your business idea. ‘Will it fly?’ can be confronting at times as you’re continually asked to honestly answer questions which may shape your future. With this in mind, the end-game of ‘Will it Fly?’ is to save you money and a whole lot of time on sub-par business ideas whilst challenging you to look for innovative ways to improve your concept and see gaps in the market.

If you’re looking to start your own business or extend an existing business with a new product or service and those around you aren’t exactly sure that you’re onto a winner, we recommend ‘Will It Fly?’

Will it fly? Thomas K. McKnight
Inbound Marketing and SEO: Insights from the Moz Blog

Inbound Marketing and SEO: Insights from the Moz Blog

Authors: Rand Fishkin and Thomas Hogenhaven

If you’re going to run a successful business of any kind these days, you need to be utilising search engine traffic to drive enquiries. In this book, Rand Fishkin the founder of Moz.com (widely recognised as the Internet’s most reputable and information-rich website when it comes to search engine optimisation) discusses the learning outcomes garnered from the Moz blog on how to do just that.

From ensuring your website is ranking for the keywords that matter most to your business, to conversion optimisation, on-site performance, website analytics and guest blogging; Rand will show you how to use your website to drive new business and make a difference to your bottom-line.

Every business owner should at least have some knowledge of how to drive traffic online, that’s why we recommend this book from the best in the business.

The $100 Startup

Author: Chris Guillebeau

The $100 Startup is by no-means a new book, however it is a staple for any first-time or experienced business owner looking to build a brand with very little startup capital.

In this book Chris Guillebeau shares a number of case studies where business owners who have started out with less than a $100 have been able to grow their businesses to the point where they are pulling in over $50,000 annually. Not only this, but these business owners are following their passion and living lives they could only dream of before they started their $100 startup.

If you’re looking to build a business and like their idea of a location independent lifestyle with meaning and purpose, ‘The $100 Startup’ is the book for you.

The $100 Startup
Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World

Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World

Author: Gary Vaynerchuk

Growing the visibility of your business online can be tricky when you’re just starting out, however with an effective social media strategy…this can definitely become your reality.

In this book Gary Vaynerchuk discusses how it’s no longer enough to just create great content and expect it to go viral; you need to create content specifically tailored to each of the popular social networks such as Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn to have the best chance of garnering attention online.

If you’re planning on implementing a social media strategy to help promote your business, you’ll save a lot of time and frustration by taking advice from Vaynerchuk as he educates you on how to craft the perfect social media posts specifically adapted for each of the major networks.

No matter what your business, you can grow it online using social media, you just need to know where, when and what to be posting to get the job done right.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

Author: Peter Theil with Blake Masters

PayPal founder Peter Thiel is one of the world’s most successful startup founders and venture capitalists. After purchasing a 10.2% stake in Facebook as the first outside investor for $500,000, Thiel went on to sell the majority of his shares for over $1 billion in 2012.

In 'Zero to One' Thiel discusses the topics of trying to be the next big thing, copying what others have done before you and most importantly true innovation and how it leads to incredible success.

Theil’s background in technology-based startups and serial Angel investing has led him to write Zero to One to help entrepreneurs really begin to ‘think for themselves’ so they may begin to experience a slice of the success he has been so lucky to be around so many times before.

Zero to One is an excellent book for those looking to differentiate themselves in the market through the application of true innovation with advice from one of the most famous investors of our time.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

Authors: Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

Voted one of Top 100 Business Books of All Time by Goodreads, The One has appeared on more bestseller lists (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today) than just about any other business book in recent times.

In ‘The One’ you’ll learn how to master the art of focussing in on what really matters to you now, and how you can achieve the goals that relate to that one important goal you may have. This includes blocking out distractions, cutting clutter from your life, achieving more in less time, overcoming stress, and feeling more satisfied with the work that you’re doing; all with the goal of ensuring you’re happier, more successful and can spend more time with family and friends.

The One is a widely recognised business book by entrepreneurs all over the world and applies to all industries and walks of life. If you have a goal and are genuinely invested in reaching that goal, The One is without a doubt a must-read.

The Art of the Start

Author: Guy Kawasaki

Regardless of who you are, everyone wants to make the world a better place. In business, you may be looking to do this through the implementation of a killer app, awesome new web service, or a bricks and mortar store than offers a product the world simply can’t do without. Whatever your motivation or idea that just won’t go away, computing and marketing evangelist Guy Kawasaki will show you how in ‘The Art of the Start’.

In the 1980’s Kawasaki was entrusted with the job of turning ordinary customers into evangelists for one of the world’s biggest corporate success stories, Apple. With over two decades of experience behind him, Guy Kawasaki’s track-record for transforming organisations of all shapes and sizes into success stories is unprecedented, and he’s letting you in on all his secrets in this fantastic read.

If you’re looking to really understand what your customers need and want, have an idea you think could fill that gap, then ‘The Art of the Start’ is for you.

The Art of the Start - Guy Kawasaki
Hug Your Haters - Jay Baer

Hug Your Haters

Author: Jay Baer

It’s amazing to learn that 80% of companies think they deliver outstanding customer service but only 8% of customers agree. Ouch! Hug Your Haters addresses this major opportunity in the market by providing proven techniques for ensuring your existing customers stay happy and become brand advocates.

Growing your business via word of mouth and positive social media mentions is critical in today’s digital driven market, but what happens when you come up against a ‘hater’ who’s determined to voice their less than positive views on your customer service?

Jay Baer puts these customers into two categories, ‘Onstage Haters’ and ‘Offstage Haters’. In Hug Your Haters you’ll learn how to manage both of these types of haters and turn them into brand advocates using simply but effective customer service techniques.

The Conversion Code

Author: Chris Smith

The Conversion Code provides a step-by-step blueprint for increasing sales in the modern, Internet-driven era. Committed to helping you understand online lead generation and conversion, ‘The Conversion Code’ is widely praised by many of the world’s most successful software founders and Internet marketers as a must-read.

If you’re looking to increase the number of website visitors you receive and convert those visitors into actual paying customers, ‘The Conversion Code’ is the blueprint you need.

From learning how to engage with consumers more effectively online, to leveraging social media, apps, and blogs to capture more leads, to converting leads and getting social media influencers to act as brand advocates for you, if you’re ready to take your Internet marketing strategy to the next level or just tired of missing out on opportunities that could otherwise affect your hip pocket, we recommend this for you.

The Conversion Code - Chris Smith
Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses

Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, an extremely successful online business aimed at educating its readers on the value of content marketing and how anyone can grow their business using the power of words and imagery online.

In ‘Content Inc’, Joe Pulizzi reveals the six-step strategy he used to build his multi-million dollar business. Rather than building a product and developing an audience for it, Joe’s philosophy is based around the exact opposite; building and audience and delivering a product the audience wants (and the best thing is...it works!)

Content Inc. discusses what Joe calls ‘The Sweet Spot’, content tilting, building the base, harvesting audiences, diversification of content and how to monetize your content as part of his core strategy that will have you transforming the way you do business online. So if you’re ready to commit to content marketing as a major component of your business activity, this book is for you.

Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly

Author: Bernadette Jiwa

Recommended by the likes of Seth Goddin, ‘Meaningful’ is all about embracing business ideas that you’re genuinely passionate about for the good of others.

If you’re looking to really a splash with your passion project or business idea and don’t quite know how to get it off the ground, Bernadette Jiwa can assist you with this wonderful read.

By utilising Bernadette’s ‘Story Strategy Blueprint’, you’ll be well on your way to creating meaningful change not only in your own life through the success of a business venture, but potentially thousands of your customers who will all hopefully find your idea a god send. If knowing what your customers really want and following those ‘aha moments’ to delivering empathetic change to your customer base is what get’s you up in the morning, then ‘Meaningful’ will help you navigate the digital landscape to do so.

Meaningful - Bernadette Jiwa
The Smashing Idea Book : From Inspiration to Application

The Smashing Idea Book : From Inspiration to Application

Author: Cameron Chapman

Smashing Magazine is one of the Internet’s most popular resources for design inspiration and a major ‘go-to site’ for the graphic design and web development community.

In ‘The Smashing Idea Book’ you’ll gain exposure to the learnings of the Smashing Magazine staff and community. If you’re hoping to refine the look and feel of your brand, website, even business cards, ‘The Smashing Book’ has got you covered.

Web designers and developers across the world are always looking for new and innovative ideas to make their content stand out from the crowd, and Smashing Magazine's in-depth content is often where they head to get the creative juices flowing.

If you’re lacking design direction or motivation, prepare to get a major injection of new ideas in this great read.

Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent

Author: Sydney Finkelstein

Are you a ‘Super Boss’? Maybe. After ten years of industry research and more than two hundred interviews, Sydney Finkelstein realised that almost every industry has a superboss and as a general rule, the top 50 superbosses in those industries had worked for a superboss at some point earlier in their career. Wow!

Nurturing talent, recruiting effectively, leading teams and even letting go of great people are all part of much larger puzzle that make up a superboss. If you’re going to run your own business, lead a team of people or simply get the most out of yourself each day, getting advice from those who have been able to transform tired companies with new-age thinking is a must.

We recommend ‘Superbosses’ for those of you who feel like they can really add value by improving their management skills. Even if you only take a small piece of the advice Finkelstein is offering, this is a fantastic read.

Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent
ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever

ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever

Author: Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Are you tired of your day job and thinking of transitioning to your first business venture? If so, ‘ReWork’ is for you. ‘ReWork’ by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson shows you how to initiate the tactics that will have you up and running with your own business without have top work an 80-hour week. Sound good?

We loved ‘ReWork’ because it focusses on creating not only wealth but happiness. Which let’s face it should be the end-game for all of us. ‘ReWork’ uses straight-forward language and techniques that will help you achieve your goals. Whether you’re a first time entrepreneur or a serial protagonist, ‘ReWork’ will take you on a journey that leads to financial success.

This is a different kind of business book aimed at exploring the new reality of business today. If this sounds like your kind of read, we definitely recommend taking the time to flip the pages of ‘ReWork’.

Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook's Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Author: Ekaterina Walter

If you haven’t heard of Muck Zuckerberg or Facebook there’s a reasonable chance you've been under a rock for the past decade. That being said there has to be something you as a first-time entrepreneur can garner from an analysis of how Mark Zuckerberg built one of the largest and most profitable corporate success stories this millennium.

The success of Facebook is based on five principles that all start with “P”. These are the principles of Passion, Purpose, People, Products and Partnerships. If you can understand how these concepts can work for you and your business, you’ll be well on your way to rapidly changing the shape of your business.

We recommend ‘Think Like Zuck’ for people who don’t want to copy what Facebook has done, but learn from their success and apply those successes to their own business model.

Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook

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