11 Business Books We Recommend

September 30, 2020

Eleven titles that share hard-won wisdom from great business minds.

The information golden age has its pros and cons. Yes, there is no shortage of business wisdom in the public sphere. And it’s never been easier to buy a book. But the sheer volume of choice is the downside: Where do you start? And which book is right for your circumstances? 

Fear not. We’ve created a list of the most readable, essential business books and have broken them down by category: 

  • Productivity 
  • Biography 
  • Classics 
  • Starting a Business 
  • Business Books for Women 

Business Books for Productivity 

Eat that Frog! Get the important things done today by Brian Tracy 

A perennial presence on manager’s bookshelves, this classic book tackles the scourge of productivity - procrastination. With 21 methods for being more productive and efficient, this handy tome has been embraced by legions of businesspeople.

Recommended by 
  • Gregor Lawson, co-founder of Morphsuits

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg 

Good habits can apply to a person or a business, and the beauty of an effective habit is that it becomes automatic over time. This well researched and influential book looks at how habit forms our daily and business lives, how to create the right habits and the positive repercussions of this mindset. 

Recommended by 
  • Ryan Hoover, founder of Product Hunt 

Best Business Biographies

Losing my Virginity by Richard Branson 

One of the best known business tycoons of his generation, Branson built his multi-billion fortune in music, aviation and telecoms, among other industries. Losing My Virginity covers his early years building the Virgin brand, with Branson’s trademark humour and candour. 

Recommended by 
  • Nittin Passi, founder and owner of fashion retailer Missguided
  • Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of EasyJet 

Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by John Wood 

John Wood was on vacation from his Microsoft job in Nepal when he discovered his next path in life - improving reading and education standards in impoverished schools. He changed the direction of his life, and now Room to Read has built more than 2,600 libraries. This book shows the several potential paths your life can bring you to, and how to change your own life and those of others.

Recommended by 
  • Tim Ferris, entrepreneur, investor and podcaster 

A Bazaar Life: The Autobiography of David Alliance

David Alliance arrived in Manchester at 18 years old in 1950 with £14 in his pocket. Six years later, he had acquired a textile factory and not long after that turned the loss making business into an international empire. This book covers his remarkable story, peppered with life lessons and business wisdom.

Recommended by 
  • Simon Arora, CEO of B&M 

Classic Business Books 

The One Minute Manager 

Citing behavioral research and case studies, The One Minute Manager is a practical, accessible book for anyone who wants a more efficient, profitable workplace. Like many of the best ideas, most of the management methods suggested in this book are simple to follow and understand.

Recommended by 
  • Daymond John, founder of FUBU and investor on TV’s Shark Tank 

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell 

Renowned essayist Malcolm Gladwell looks at successful people across all fields - from business to sport to music and beyond - to find out what these outliers have in common. Probably the only book on this list to discuss The Beatles, Korean pilots and software billionaires.

Recommended by 
  • Jay Z, rapper and businessman
  • Tony Hsieh, venture capitalist 

Books on Starting a Business 

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries 

As you probably know, there’s no shortage of expenses when setting up your own business. The Lean Startup helps you navigate these choppy waters by outlining potential hazards and how to avoid them. This book will teach you, among other things, how to shorten the product development cycle and run an innovative business. 

Recommended by 
  • Tom Valentine, founder of Secret Escapes  
  • Louise Chun

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Written in clear language and filled with practical advice, Rework challenges some traditional notions of business. It outlines how you can forge a path without depending heavily on investors, how to build a company’s profile without breaking the bank and how to work smarter, not harder.

Recommended by 
  • Mark Cuban, entrepreneur, investor and TV personality 
  • Tory Johnson, founder and CEO of Women for Hire 

Business Books for Women 

Enter Helen: The Invention of Helen Gurley Brown and the Rise of the Modern Single Woman by Brooke Hauser 

Helen Gurley Brown’s memoir looks at how she managed Cosmopolitan magazine, rebranding it into a less frivolous and more bankable brand. It’s a hugely influential business memoir, examining the changing workplace for women and how to rejuvenate a failing business. 

Recommended by
  • Teresa Clark, entrepreneur and former MD of Goldman Sachs 

What Will It Take to Make A Woman President?: Conversations About Women, Leadership and Power

The title of this book is a question that was asked by the author’s young daughter. It’s a collection of interviews and writings from some of the most prominent and eminent female voices of this past century, including Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, and Melissa Etheridge. The discussions with writers, politicians and thought leaders look at feminism and politics through the lens of this provocative question. 

Recommended by 
  • Beyoncé, singer, actress and filmmaker 

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