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Before You Do Anything! 35 Essential Books For Every Aspiring Entrepreneur

The incredible wealth of knowledge contained in a book cannot be underestimated. The ancient Latin saying, scientia est potestia, “knowledge is power” it as true as it is old. Indeed, it was the lucid Desiderius Erasmus that made the admission, "When I get a little money, I buy books; if any is left, I buy food and clothes."

For every ambitious soul who is preparing to embark on their entrepreneurial venture, here are 35 essential books to get you ahead of the game (in no particular order):

1. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.

Coelho conveys timeless wisdom through the life of a shepherd boy. A reminder to follow one's heart and to always be open to all kinds of messengers in life. Life is certainly a journey filled with peaks and valleys, Coelho reminds readers not to ignore the lessons. 

2. The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss.

One of the most recommended books on escaping the rat-race. Tim shares about how he went from $30K per year and 80 hours per week to $40K per month and 4 hours per week. An interesting look into the options of outsourcing work and creating passive income. 

3. My Philosophy For Successful Living, by Jim Rohn

The mentor of Tony Robbins and Les Brown, Jim Rohn has his most recent works put tougher into this book. The “Idaho farm boy style" of taking complex truths and delivering them in powerful yet simple ways continues to resonate. 

 4. Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuck.

With social media dominating and transforming today’s society, Gary Vaynerchuck has fast become the go-to guy for online success. Having taken his father’s local liquor store from a 4 million dollar business to a 50 million dollar one through social media, he shares his secrets. 

5. The Success Principles, by Jack Canfield.

The man behind the best-selling “Chicken Soup For The Soul” series and Guiness world record holder for having seven books simultaneously on The New Your Times Best Sellers list certainly knows a thing or two about success. He gives 64 success principles in this book. 

6. The Gifts Of Imperfections, by Brené Brown.

While this is not specifically a book for entrepreneurs, it is essential to have a holistic approach to anything in life. This books sets a healthy framework for pursuing any major life change. Brown teaches a healthy approach to personal flaws and how to deal with crippling perfectionism.

7. E-Squared, by Pam Grout.

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Mindset is crucial for success. Physicists continue to be baffled by the mysterious nature of the universe. Human perceptions are often more skewed than we realize. This book is not only a great introduction to the mysterious  relationship between human consciousness and reality but also gives simple experiments that you can try.  

8. The $100 Startup, by Chris Guillebeau.

Chris has never followed the traditional path of employment. He has already visited more than 175 different countries doing what he loves. Chris researched 1,500 successful entrepreneurs that built businesses from nothing- many with less than $100. He compiled the best lessons based off the 50 most intriguing cases.

9. The War Of Art, by Steven Pressfield.

Perhaps one of the greatest books on overcoming obstacles in creative work is this one by Steven Pressfield. In it, he identifies Resistance as the latent enemy that cripples your productivity. Short, but powerful reflections on how to break through.

10The Art Of War, by Sun Tzu.

From external battles to internal battles. This book continues to find its way onto many “must-read” lists. The psychological and strategic lessons that are crucial for winning a war before the battle begins are applicable for the many daily battles you encounter.

11. Mastery, by Robert Greene.

Initially intrigued with the insight from Machiavelli’s The Prince, Robert Greene has devoted much of his writing career to the studying strategies of success. Mastery includes a historical delve into the lives of some of the greatest figures in order to present a modern day construction of how to master life.

12. Let Go, by Pat Flynn.

An inspiring personal account taking readers through Pat’s quick rise in the architecture world as a young graduate, only to hit rock bottom, losing his job in the economic crisis. Facing the unknown, Pat built an enormous online business with a huge podcast following. Pat is very transparent not only with his monthly earnings but also with the steps and tools that helped him succeed. 

13. To Sell Is Human, by Dan H. Pink.

As the title asserts, regardless of what context you are in, you are engaging in sales. It may not be a material product, but you are trying to promote something in order to gain support and an exchange of value. Pink gives practical advice on how to market your message. 

14. Decisive, by Chip & Dan Heath.

Your life is filled with a multitude of choices. The Heath brothers take you backstage to look at some of the psychological reasons why we make certain decisions. A look into the biases and irrationalities that underline our decisions will help to make better ones. 

15. Start With Why, by Simon Sinek.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step, but if you take the wrong first step, you will not get very far. Sinek teaches the importance of getting the right foundation of why you are doing what you plan on doing.

16. Hooked, by Nir Eyal.

Nir takes you through the process of what companies do to build successful customer sales habits- what is it that keeps that customer coming back? Rather than over-spending on advertising, Eyal teaches the techniques to bypass wasted efforts. 

17. The Lean Startup, by Eric Reis.

With an incredible amount of business startups failing, Reis challenges the outdated business models and presents a “validated learning” method more in tune with the current innovative age. 

18. Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg.

Sandberg has been described as one of the most powerful women in business and is a voice for the ever-increasing number of women in leadership positions. There is no doubt about the significant differences in the mindsets of men and women. Sheryl gives practical advice for women and the unique challenges they face. 

19. The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell.

In his intriguing style, Gladwell analyses and dissects the point at which an idea, trend, or social behavior spreads and becomes viral. He unpacks the essential involvement of specific people: ”Connectors, Mavens, and Salespeople," in the dissemination of an idea. 

20. First, Break All The Rules, by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman.

Buckingham and Coffman are two consultants for the Gallup Organization. From a vast study of 80,000 managers in 400 companies, they pull out they keys that set great managers apart. This book is great for stepping into the minds of what great managers do differently. 

21. Mindset, by Carol S. Dweck.

Dr. Carol Dweck is a leading psychologist in the areas of achievement and success. She unpacks two distinct mindsets that have significant implications for overall success in life. Fid out what mindset you possess.

22How To Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie.

The timeless classic released first in 1936 continues to be a hit. The simple strategies and techniques for the context of sales and business relations have proven to be effective for winning people into your way of thinking. 

23. Wooden, by John Wooden and Steve Jamison.

Coach Wooden, remembered for his remarkable 10 national college basketball championships at UCLA, shares his own personal philosophy of success through teachings relevant both on and off the court. 

24. Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, by John C. Maxwell.

A thoroughly practical book not only for those who engage in professional speaking but for everyday communication. To communicate well is crucial for success. Maxwell uncovers some ignored yet crucial elements including the need to be genuine in communication.

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25. The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel & Janet Mills.

Self-limiting beliefs will cripple any ambitious person. This books teaches how to build a solid "personal conduct" in order not to be rocked and shaken by any external obstacles in life. 

26. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey.

Another classic. Beginning with creating a personal paradigm shift in thinking, the first three habits deal with self-mastery, the next three with teamwork and communication, with the final habit looking at a b tying them all together. 

27. Think Big, by Ben Carson.

A practical addition to his best-selling memoir, Gifted Hands. Dr. Ben Carson uses the title Think Big as an acrostic for his own personal success formula that took him from a poor and tumultuous beginning, to being the most celebrated pediatric neurosurgeon int the world. 

28. The Noticer, by Andy Andrews.

There is a reason why the United States Air Force gathered every senior leader station in Europe and the Middle East to hear Andrews speak- he is master storyteller who is able to weave inspiration and motivation into practical life scenarios. This work has been described as a unique blend of fiction, allegory, and inspiration. 

29. Go Pro, by Eric Worre.

Network marketing has been described as the business model of the future. Often mistaken for a pyramid scheme, network marketing is rather the ability to leverage your relationships to promote your product. Great practical guide by Worre with over 25 years of experience. 

30. Go For No! by Andrea Waltz & Richard Fenton.

A very short but powerful read on how to deal with rejection. Change your perceptions and get over that fear that holds so many people back from success.. 

31I Will Teach You To Be Rich, by Ramit Sethi.

The Stanford graduate gives very practical advice on personal finances. Ramit maps the road to where you would like to be, without robbing yourself of lives simple pleasures. He includes word-for-word scripts that he has used in successfully dealing with banks and other institutes. 

32From Good To Great, by Jim Collins.

After lengthy research, Collins and his team narrow down and identify 11 companies that stand out from a survey of 1,435. The burring question: how does a good company become a great company? Start your business off on the right foot with Collins’ insights.

33The Richest Man In Babylon, by George S. Clason.

It is hard to believe a book written in the 1920s could still have so much relevance today. Using entertaining parables, Clason teaches the fundamentals of money and the keys to understanding finances. 

34. Contagious, by Jonah Berger.

An interesting book that breaks down some interesting marketing paradoxes. How does an anti-drug commercial end up increasing drug use, and how do boring videos manage to become viral? Berger gives 6 basic principles centering around the power of social influence in marketing.  

35. Influence, by Robert B. Cialdini.

There is much more at play when a person says “yes” than we realize. Dr. Cialdini takes the reader through the psychological elements that plays into persuasion- both allowing you to become more effective in the art and also how to protect yourself from unwanted persuasion. 

If your favorite book is not listed, go ahead and add it in the comments section!

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