7 Great Business Books You Must Read

by Jack Sparrow
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Hundreds of great business books come out every year. It’s not possible to read them all, but the best business books attract readers and positive reviews long after their publication dates. 

Here are seven great business books that can help entrepreneurs and leaders at all stages of their careers.

1. Profit First: A Simple System to Transform Any Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine (2014) by Mike Michalowicz

Profitable business owners are sometimes surprised to find money leaves the business almost as quickly as it arrives. This book provides a system for small business owners who want to take charge of their cash and grow a business.

I interviewed Michalowicz in 2019. He told me, “I say, ‘How do I get the same results I’ve always had, if not better, with less money?’ And I start thinking outside the box.”

2. The E Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It (1995) by Michael E. Gerber

Before Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek was The E Myth (1986). The title fooled me at first. Gerber’s book isn’t about running an online business. MORE FROMFORBES ADVISORWho Needs A Business Checking Account?ByEmily Guy Birkencontributor

Instead, Gerber explains how business owners or entrepreneurs of all types can set up a business that runs without their intervention. 

3. The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (1966) by Peter F. Drucker

Published way back in 1966, Drucker’s advice for executives holds true today. It’ll help a busy person accomplish more at work either as an executive or manager. The book also covers how to manage upward and master effective delegation.

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Expect gems like, “Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans,” and, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

This classic business book also pairs nicely with Drucker’s much shorter book published by Harvard Business Review Classics in 2008, titled Managing Oneself.

4. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (2016) by Cal Newport

Knowledge work is tough. It lacks hard edges and can feel endless. What’s more, many of the tools and services clamour for our attention through instant messaging, notifications and endless feeds. 

This book explains what to do about distractions and how to focus on long-term projects. Unlike a lot of other business books, it contains practical advice for creative people too.

Read it for advice like, “If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive—no matter how skilled or talented you are.”

5. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (2001) by David Allen

This is one of the most famous productivity books in recent years. Allen’s work was also a hit in Silicon Valley. Getting Things Done details how to build a system for capturing ideas and working on the right things at the right time. As Allen writes, “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”

Allen also recommends overloaded executives and entrepreneurs review their priorities and workload once a week. This practice, known as a weekly review, will help you focus on what matters during the week ahead.

6. Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All (2011) by Jim Collins

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To be honest, any Jim Collins title belongs in a list like this. He excels at profiling large companies and the decision-makers behind them. 

Some of the companies profiled in his older book From Good to Great (2001) have since disappeared, making this title more relevant today. If you’re serious about running a larger business, Collins’s books are required reading.

Expect gems like, “When you marry operating excellence with innovation, you multiply the value of your creativity.”

This book also pairs nicely with Collins’s more recent written study of about 30 pages titled Turning the Flywheel: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great (2019), which also applies to creative work.

7. The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals (2012) by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling

I put off reading this book for a few years, as I thought it was a derivative of The 7 Habits of the Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Sean’s father, Stephen R. Covey.

In fact, this book is a gem of its own. Read it to discover why most executives and entrepreneurs set lag measures for their goals they’ve no real control over. The author also explains why it’s far better to set lead measures you can influence rather than lag measures that come after the fact.

The author writes, “If you’re not keeping score, you’re just practicing.”

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