The growth of entrepreneurship over the last couple of years has been staggering; 90,000 new businesses were recorded in the UK in 2020 compared to the previous year.
When I think of the word ‘entrepreneurship’, a series of hyper-Americanised images come to mind; I imagine Steve Jobs creating Apple in his garage and Mark Zuckerberg busily inventing Facebook in his dorm room so his peers at Harvard could connect with each other.
However, when it comes to actually being an entrepreneur, it can be hard to know where to start. It seems like so many of these stories start with an idea in a shed and end with a trip to space. But that isn’t the case for most of the aforementioned 90,000 new businesses mentioned above.
Creating a new business from the ground up can be daunting and scary when you don’t know how to begin. At Melio our online Business and Entrepreneurship course is one of our most popular, with our students learning the ins and outs of the subject under the watchful eye of our expert tutors. Our students come away from this course feeling confident about their inspirations and motivated to get started, however it’s always good to source some extra help where you can.
There are currently so many books on entrepreneurship that you could fill an entire library (and people probably have), but luckily for you, we’ve narrowed down our top ten favourites to help you get started! So sit back, relax, and get your Amazon wish list ready for the next step on your entrepreneurial journey.
“Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius.”
Our first must-have is one of entrepreneurships best startup books, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. Written by Peter Theil (a technology entrepreneur, best known for co-founding PayPal) with Blake Masters in 2015, Zero to One discusses the idea that while it’s easier to copy a model than create a new one, if you’re copying old ideas you aren’t learning anything.
“Every moment in business happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys you aren’t learning from them.”
Clocking in at just over 200 pages and selling over 1.25 million copies worldwide, this book is easy to follow, cohesive and perfect to fit in your bag for when you need some motivation or insight into your new business venture. From this book, you’ll learn many insights and tips for starting a business, including Peter Theil’s law; that a “start-up messed up at its foundation cannot be fixed.”
The endorsements for this book alone merit a look at it with Elon Musk stating that “Peter Theil has built multiple breakthrough companies, Zero to One shows how” and Mark Zuckerberg suggesting how “this book delivers completely new and refreshing ideas on how to create value in the world”. Hey, if it’s good enough for Musk and Zuckerberg, it’s good enough for us.
“Don’t worry about the challenges. Embrace them. Go through them even if they hurt. Tell yourself, there is something to be learned from this experience. You may not fully understand it now, but you will later.”
The next book on our journey to entrepreneurship success is Discover Your True North by Bill George. This bestselling leadership classic is an entrepreneurship management book that any start-up should have on the bookshelf. Hitting the shops in 2007, George based this book around interviews with over 170 leaders, including Indra Nooyi (CEO of Pepsi) and Mike Bloomberg (former Mayor of New York City). Alongside these interviews with leadership tycoons, George shares his own stories and wisdom for how you can become the leader you want to be.
The stories and interviews discussed in this book will not only inspire you to want to kick start your own entrepreneurial start-up, but also empower you to embrace your own leadership skills that you may not have noticed before. For those who may be a little less interested in business, this book will still help you to become a more powerful and assertive individual, whether it’s in your future career or not!
Being able to take a leadership role in any aspect of your life is important; the skills needed to delegate jobs, make decisions and be able to inspire and empower others are those that can be taught and refined. This is a key aspect of what our courses focus on at Melio; the ability to become a more confident, empowered version of yourself!
“If there is any one ‘secret’ of effectiveness, it is concentration. Effective executives do first things first and they do one thing at a time.”
This next book is one of the few Jeff Bezos instructed his senior managers to read (so you know it’s going to be a good one). The Effective Executive, by Peter F. Drucker, published in 1966 is a bonafide classic and definitely one of entrepreneurships best start-up books.
In it, Drucker identifies five talents of effectiveness that can be learned and mastered. These talents include; time management, choosing what to contribute to a particular occupation, where and how to apply your strength to the best effect, setting up the right priorities and finally, knitting them all together is effective decision making.
These talents make up the bulk of the book and Drucker uses these tools to turn new experiences on their head to give new insights and perspectives for budding entrepreneurs. Selling more than 10 million copies, this book is an absolute must have for sharpening up your management skills and getting you ready for your debut in the business world.
Photo credits: amazon.co.uk
“The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.”
One of the most important elements of working in business and becoming an entrepreneur is being able to make informed decisions, as we’ve previously discussed.
Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell written in 2005 focuses on the skill of decision-making. Being able to fine tune this is crucial for all aspects of your life, not just the entrepreneur elements. Making decisions effectively and being able to take all aspects of the decision into account is a transferable skill that will help you as you progress in your future education and beyond!
Blink sells itself as “the power of thinking without thinking” and after reading assures you that you’ll “never think about thinking in the same way again”. Gladwell believes that everyone can hone our instinctive ability to know in an instant, helping us bring out the best version of our thinking selves.
I think everyone should read this book. It's a necessary stepping stone in helping you become a more assertive person and understand how you think and what tools you can use to benefit your life. This is not only one of the best books for entrepreneurship start-ups, but also for improving your management style - everyone wins from reading this book!
“Without action, the best intentions in the world are just that: intentions.”
It really wouldn’t be a list of entrepreneurship books without mentioning The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort. Okay, maybe this isn’t one of the best entrepreneurship start up books, but it’s a brilliant story of the rise and fall of one of America’s most notorious entrepreneurs.
This book dictates, in his own words, how Belfort made millions of dollars a day, and spent it just as fast at night. Perhaps consider this a how not to in entrepreneurial start-ups. If you haven’t seen the film adaptation, we would recommend giving this a watch, for Leo Di Caprio’s starring role if nothing else (although not one to watch for the under 18s!)
This story is a brilliant insight into the world of 90’s Wall Street and Belfort writes it in a tell-all exposé, giving you the ins and outs of the fast moving world he created. Aside from his infamous lifestyle, The Wolf of Wall Street depicts a story of a man who worked his way up from selling slushies as a teenager, to selling stock on Wall Street to then becoming a federal convict by 36; it’s a rollercoaster.
As one of the world's most well known entrepreneurs (admittedly, for not brilliant reasons), giving Belfort’s memoir a read will certainly open your eyes to learn from some of his mistakes, and may even give you a boost of inspiration to take a chance on yourself and your business venture. Say what you will about Belfort, but he certainly was a motivated individual.
“We are prone to overestimate how much we understand about the world and to underestimate the role of chance in events.”
Okay now, back on track, let’s move to a truly fascinating book that features on all of the ‘best entrepreneurship books’ lists, including ours. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman takes you on a journey of the mind and explains the two ways in which we think.
One system is fast and intuitive, emotional and sometimes flippant, the other is slower and more logical and deliberate. These two ways of thinking are keyed into the left and right sides of our brain, and can be both beneficial and detrimental to our decision making, as Kahneman discusses.
This is a great book to pick up after you’ve read Malcom Gladwell’s Blink as both explore the relevance of psychology and the way we make decisions in a way that benefits our entrepreneurial mind.
Drawing on his lifetime of experience as a psychologist, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuition, the benefit of practicing ‘slow thinking’ and not jumping to an impulsive decision (am I the only one who totally does that?). This book teaches you how your two ways of thinking can work together to create an optimum mindset for making decisions.
A huge part of being an entrepreneur, whether it’s a start-up or a decade old business, is being able to make decisions that will best affect your company and the people around it. Being able to learn the psychology behind this skill enables you to be a step ahead of everyone else, feel confident in your decision making ability, and ultimately, drive conversions.
Photo credit: amazon.co.uk
“We must learn what the customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they want.”
Arguably one of the best entrepreneurship start-up books is The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. Okay, it’s a bit of a mouthful but this book discusses the fact that most start-ups fail, but the failure is preventable. Obviously this isn't fool-proof ‘read this book and your business will be the new Apple’, but it does offer entrepreneurs a way to test their vision continuously, to be able to react to curve balls, adapt and adjust their business before it’s too late.
This book disregards the ‘elaborate business plan’ as a waste of time, and teaches entrepreneurs how to proactively assess their business and adjust when necessary, to measure the success not relying on vanity metrics but actual progress. Reading this book before creating your business model will help you move your company directions with ease, altering plans when needed.
I think this is the most important book you could read before starting up your venture, and will definitely inspire you to do so. In this ever changing world, where content is fast coming and going, it’s crucial to be able to be reactive and adapt to whatever comes next. This is true in business and in life generally - and this book teaches you how!
“You have to stretch and grow. And surround yourself not only with talented people whom you can delegate to, but also with good souls. Without grace and kindness, your skills are unimportant to me.”
You may have noticed the book recommendations up to now have been a bit male heavy, but this next one In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice From Over 100 Makers, Artists and Entrepreneurs is an incredible collection of stories from business-driven women, guaranteed to inspire you.
Over 100 incredible women tell how they overcame hurdles, embraced their creativity and drive to become successful in their fields. We hear from tattoo artists, media tycoons, comedians and architects (to name a few) about each of their individual climbs up the entrepreneurial ladder to success.
These incredible stories are sure to motivate you as they’re a perfect example of what can happen when you pursue your passions and follow your dreams. As each woman’s story is so different from the next, this book also luminates how varied this world can be. Every entrepreneur’s journey is like a snowflake; totally unique and different from the rest.
Again, this is a book that I think everyone should read, not just those who need a bit of a motivation kick. Learning other people’s stories and journeys will not only inspire you to embark on your own - but also will teach you some valuable lessons that they have learnt for you!
“Everyone in the world is seeking happiness - and there is one sure way to find it. That is by controlling your thoughts. Happiness doesn’t depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions.”
Dale Carnegie wrote How To Win Friends and Influence People in 1936, and (according to Amazon) is the most famous confidence-boosting book ever published. Quite a claim, but with over 16 million copies sold worldwide, it’s hard to argue with that.
His advice, briefly summed up, will teach you how to;
Make friends easily
Increase your popularity
Improve your persuasive skills
Enable you to win new clients
Become a better speaker
Be able to rally and motivate those around you.
This book stands the test of time, being able to write something in the 1930’s that’s just as relevant today is impressive, and clearly is a book we should all read and take wisdom from.
Networking - that is, being able to communicate effectively and build working relationships is so important, especially if you're working on a start-up business model. And let’s face it, who couldn’t use a little refresh of their communication skills and make a few more friends?
Photo credit: amazon.co.uk
“When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.”
The final book in our series of must have entrepreneurship books to motivate you is Rework: Change the Way You Work Forever by Jason Fried and David Heinemeir Hansson. This book explores a new reality of business building, how things that were impossible just a decade ago are simple now and with that ease, anyone can be in business.
Fried and Hansson explore the idea of being able to start a business on the side of your job, without having to work 80 hour weeks or using up all your savings, and letting your day job provide the money needed to get it off the ground. Similarly to The Lean Startup, Rework dismisses the idea of needing a grandiose business plan or even an office space.
Written in straightforward language and representing an ‘easier is best’ approach, this book is ideal for anyone who is new to the world of entrepreneurship and dreaming of starting something new on their own one day. Whether you’re starting a new venture or taking a risk on an idea, this book is a necessity to have on your bookshelf.
While the fundamentals of business have pretty much remained the same over time (thanks, Dale Carniege), our business world is changing. With the constant rise and fall of new social media platforms, trends affecting what consumers want and worldwide news requiring a reactive business model, it’s never been a better time to scratch up on your entrepreneurial and business skills.
And with Melio, it couldn’t be easier, with our courses fully remote you’re able to learn and attend tutorials from the comfort of your own home.
Our Business and Entrepreneurship course is available to take as a One-on-One course with your own personal tutor for sessions in 10 hour blocks, or as an Academic Online Course - a two week long programme where you’ll work with a small group of like-minded students and one of our expert tutors to meet deadlines and get feedback on your work.