Great Books Every Entrepreneur Must Read

Estimated read time 7 min read

As a child I grew up in a household where education was greatly appreciated, thoroughly encouraged and when it was necessary even forced. For most of my childhood my mother worked in the academic circles and as a result I developed an affinity for reading at an early age. She noticed my interest in books and before I knew it, it was a condition for my pocket money to keep her informed about which book I was reading, why I was reading it and what I thought about it. Being the enterprising youngster that I was I soon realized the more I read the more pocket money I had, so I read a lot and it is a habit I have carried into my adult life. Now I read not for the pocket money anymore, but because I truly believe that the more I read, the more I will know and the more I know the higher the places I will go.

I shared this story with a group of young aspiring entrepreneurs during one of my talks and I was asked what books I considered “the most enlightening for South African entrepreneurs”. And from the myriad of books that have helped shape who I am today, listed below and in no particular order, was my answer and explanation:

  1. How To Live On 24 Hours A Day by Arnold Bennett.

This was my first book down the entrepreneurial lane. It was recommended to me by my first mentor in 2001. It is a timeless classic that is considered to be amongst the first self-help books ever written and was a best-seller in both England and America in its prime. It remains as useful today as when it was written (over 90 years ago) and offers practical advice on how to make the most of the daily miracle of life, 24 hours. It demonstrates how your time is your own and yours to manage and expand the boundaries of yourself. In the thirty minutes it takes to read, you will be left forever vigilant and will never sit idle again, unless you consciously choose to do so. For entrepreneurs looking for practical life advice to help improve your daily quality of life, you will find no better book than this. Read it, study it and live again.

  1. The Richest Man In Babylon by George Clason.

I found this book to be a great starting item for anyone who is pressed for time and does not want to read a ton of financial books. This inspirational book talks about the importance of thrift, financial planning and personal wealth. It explains the secrets to acquiring money, keeping money and making money earn more money. One of the biggest things this book teaches is that no matter what size your income is, 10% of it is yours to keep through savings. The other great highlight found in this book is that debt is an enemy to conquer, not a necessary evil. I recommend this book for recent graduates and young people looking for solid advice about life, wealth and success. It is not a get-rich-quick book; in fact it is far from it. Unlike recent books where the authors and their motives are soo hard to trust this book is like receiving advice from a wealthy, well-educated story-teller grandfather. Keep in mind the story is set in ancient Babylon so if you want something more contemporary, while learning, try the next book on this list………

  1. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.
    This book tells a tale of two separate people and their life choices. It analyses these choices to come to some type of conclusion on the more appropriate way to think. In the book the author has two people playing the father role in his life. One is his biological father, a professor who does not have a business mind-set. His other father is actually his best friend’s Dad, a successful businessman who teaches him about financial literacy and creating businesses. The book talks about making money work for you and the mind-set you must have to be successful and explodes the myth that you need to earn a high income to be rich. I thought the content was great and thanks to this book I know there was, is and always will be something more to live for beyond conventional employment…
  2. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

This book has been called the “Grand-daddy of All Motivational Literature” and was the first book to address what makes a winner. In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill draws on stories of Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and other millionaires of his generation to illustrate his principles and set the standard for motivational thinking. The book examines the success of many prominent people in the world and through each case study teaches how to think positively, learn from others and become successful. The 13 steps it explains will help entrepreneurs to think differently on their way to accumulating wealth. The lesson here for me was understanding that you have to convince yourself first about success and accumulating riches then decide which steps to take and which to avoid to make it your reality. There are many editions to this book, but I find the original to be the best.

  1. The Ascent Of Money: A Financial History Of The World by Niall Ferguson.

This is one of my favorite books; it chronicles the evolution of the financial system and explores the historic nexus between money, diplomacy, warfare and globalization. I was drawn to it during the economic downturn in 2009 when I was looking to understand the macroeconomic elements that ultimately determine whether businesses succeed or fail in relation to the prevailing economic conditions. It traces the rise of money from the Incas to the credit crunch and with it, an argument for the centrality of finance to all elements of human history.

In the book Ferguson states “Money amplifies our tendency to overreact, to swing from exuberance when things are going well to deep depression when they go wrong”. As entrepreneurs we must just guard firmly as against this tendency by understanding that behind every great historical phenomenon lies a financial secret and that booms and busts are all products of our emotional volatility.

  1. Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner to Corner Office by Zack O’Malley Greenburg

This book is a biography of American rapper and businessman, Sean Carter a.k.a Jay Z (My Icon). It details his road to success in business and music as told by the people who lived it with him – from classmates at Brooklyn’s George Westinghouse High School; to the childhood friend who got him into the drug trade; to the DJ who convinced him to stop dealing and focus on music. This book explicates how Jay-Z started with nothing and with only a few dollars and a dream propelled himself from the bleak streets of Brooklyn to the heights of the music world and beyond. For the lessons contained in this book please read my article on “5 Business Lessons From An Unlikely Source”

As an Entrepreneur you are often too busy juggling endless tasks and wearing multiple business hats so finding time to read can be a monumental task. However I have found that reading is one of the best ways to refine your skills and gain a competitive advantage. The above listed entrepreneur books can change your trajectory and successful take you from idea stage to execution to profit. But remember that books can only guide you because ultimately it is your deeds and determination that will define you. Therefore I encourage you to get started on one of these today if you are serious about pursuing your passion and profit.

Credit – Taken from – (3) 6 Books That Every South African Entrepreneur Ought to Read | LinkedIn

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