10 Business Books to Get Your Idea Off the Ground

Entrepreneurship is a process of thinking, doing, and dreaming. If you’re not in a position to start “doing” right away, or before you quit your day job and dive into your passion full-time without knowing how you’re going to pay your bills, take some time to read from business experts about what it really takes to start and grow a successful business. 

Here are 10 books we recommend everyone check out in our second chance entrepreneurial community. The links will take you to Amazon, but you can also purchase them for a local bookseller or check them out for free at your local library: 

The amusing and enlightening story of four characters who live in a maze and look for cheese to nourish them and make them happy. Cheese is a metaphor for what you want to have in life, for example a good job, a loving relationship, money or possessions, health or spiritual peace of mind. The maze is where you look for what you want, perhaps the organization you work in, or the family or community you live in. The problem is that the cheese keeps moving.

Michael Gerber walks you through the steps in the life of a business—from entrepreneurial infancy through adolescent growing pains to the mature entrepreneurial perspective: the guiding light of all businesses that succeed—and shows how to apply the lessons of franchising to any business, whether or not it is a franchise. Most importantly, Gerber draws the vital, often overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business.

Drawing on the entrepreneurial life lessons Clifton Taulbert learned from his Uncle Cleve, Who Owns the Ice house? chronicles Taulbert’s journey from life in the Mississippi Delta at the height of legal segregation to being recognized by Time magazine as “one of our nation’s most outstanding emerging entrepreneurs.” Who Owns The Ice House? reaches into the past to remind us of the timeless and universal principles that can empower anyone to succeed.

All In Startup is more than just a novel about eschewing temptation and fighting to save a company. It is a lifeline for entrepreneurs who are thinking about launching a new idea or for those who have already started but can’t seem to generate the traction they were expecting. Entrepreneurs who achieve success in the new economy do so using a new “scientific method” of innovation. All In Startup demonstrates why four counterintuitive principles separate successful entrepreneurs from the wanna-preneurs who bounce from idea to idea, unable to generate real revenue.

Daymond John has been practicing the power of broke ever since he started selling his home-sewn t-shirts on the streets of Queens. With a $40 budget, Daymond had to strategize out-of-the-box ways to promote his products. Luckily, desperation breeds innovation, and so he hatched an idea for a creative campaign that eventually launched the FUBU brand into a $6 billion dollar global phenomenon.  But it might not have happened if he hadn’t started out broke – with nothing but hope and a ferocious drive to succeed by any means possible.

The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include: Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness. The Hedgehog Concept: (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence. A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology. The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.

Start With Why asks (and answers) the questions: why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over? People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers had little in common, but they all started with Why. They realized that people won’t truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the Why behind it. 

Donald Miller’s StoryBrand process is a proven solution to the struggle business leaders face when talking about their businesses. This revolutionary method for connecting with customers provides listeners with the ultimate competitive advantage, revealing the secret for helping their customers understand the compelling benefits of using their products, ideas, or services. 

The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.

Entrepreneurship is the ultimate mid-life career change. Startup founder and former venture capitalist Rob Kornblum shows how starting a company in mid-life is not only achievable, but more likely to succeed. Through dozens of interviews with mid-life founders, Kornblum shows: How to discover great ideas for your new business, why great entrepreneurs don’t just follow their passion (and what they do instead), and much more.

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