The Entrepreneur's 2020 Summer Reading List

Are you a small business owner? Are you looking for inspiration? External perspectives? Guidance from those who have gone before? We've got some great reads for you to catch up on, whether during the summer -- or anytime! These will offer insight and wisdom from others who have blazed the trail before you.

As the summer sun sets later and later, you will no doubt feel compelled to spend the extra hours of daylight improving your business. As an entrepreneur in the age of the internet, it can feel like a step backward to pick up a book for advice. Still, some of the top CEOs in the world swear by the books that they have read as contingent to their success. Warren Buffett endeavors to read six hours every day. Bill Gates claims to read more than 50 books every year. Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, insists that his most productive time is spent with his nose in a book.

So, without any further ado, let's dive into the business owners' summer reading list!

Best Books For Building Your Business

Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was your business. These books have been carefully selected to offer you guidance as you develop your dream idea.

1. Will It Fly? by Pat Flynn

Will It Fly?

In Will It Fly? author Pat Flynn endeavors to break down the process of developing a successful business plan. Using an airplane as his foundation, Flynn walks aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through every step from Mission Design to All Systems Go. By breaking down each step of the process, entrepreneurs can slow down and analyze the details that comprise a battle-tested business plan.

Targeted Outcome: Readers will explore a series of thought-exercises and practical experiments as they build a competent business plan.

2. Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis

Company of One

In a world where 'bigger is better', Paul Jarvis seeks to deconstruct some of the misleading ideas that have become so prevalent in the business sector. Jarvis makes the argument that business growth means more than business size.

Why You Should Read: Have you fallen prey to the idea that 'bigger is better'? Small business owners can learn how to embrace staying small by prioritizing the exercises and practices employed by Paul Jarvis.

3. The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time by Jim McKelvey

The Innovation Stack

The Innovation Stack was penned by Jim McKelvey, co-founder of the merchant services giant, Square. The Innovation Stack is an exciting look at McKelvey's life, the steps he took toward success, and what it all means in the aftermath. For an inspiring and fresh-off-the-presses new story, give The Innovation Stack a read.

Why You Should Read: In a country with more than 32 million registered businesses, it is important to think outside of the box. Jim McKelvey makes a compelling argument for finding the entrepreneur within rather than conforming to the idea of what an entrepreneur should be.

Best Books For Becoming A Better Leader

When President Harry S. Truman adorned the Oval Office with a sign that read, "The buck stops here", the entire nation knew what he meant. Success as a business owner requires strong leadership from the top. The following books will teach you to embrace and develop the traits necessary to become the leader you always dreamed of.

1. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead was written by the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg. This book has become increasingly important in the era of empowerment and accountability. This book is an at-times frustrating look into what it takes to succeed as a business owner in a male-dominated world.

Why You Should Read: No matter how you identify, Lean In is a startling and accurate look into what it takes to succeed in today's male-dominated society.

2. Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual by Jocko Willink

Leadership Strategy and Tactics

Jocko Willink is an outspoken ex-US Navy SEAL who has never been shy about sharing the wisdom he earned in the military. Similar in tone to Jocko's popular podcast, Leadership Strategy and Tactics takes a no-holds-barred look at what small business owners need to do in order to lead successfully.

Why You Should Read: Readers who like to get to the point and get into the action will adore Jocko's style and tone. Driven by his own ability to overcome adversity, it isn't hard to walk away as a better leader after thumbing through this manual.

3. Always Day One: How the Tech Titans Plan to Stay on Top Forever by Alex Kantrowitz

Always Day One

Jeff Bezos may be a lightning rod of controversy but his business has become undeniably successful. Always Day One offers an insightful look into how tech giants like Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook continue to thrive despite a field brimming with competition.

Why You Should Read: This book teaches business owners to work every day like it is their first day on the job. Using Bezos's own thoughts and words, Always Day One can't help but inspire the small business owner operating within the tech field.

Best Books For Improving Problem Solving Skills

Whether you work in programming or woodworking, your business will face unique challenges in the days to come. These books will provide you with the problem-solving skills necessary to tackle those challenges.

1. Stop Guessing: The 9 Behaviors of Great Problem Solvers by Nat Greene

Stop Guessing

Business owners know that mishandling a problem can cost time, money, and the reputation of a company. In our social media-driven world, the wrong maneuver can cause incalculable harm to a brand. Stop Guessing The 9 Behaviors of Great Problem Solvers seeks to provide clarity by outlining broadly successful concepts rather than niche ideas.

Why You Should Read: Whether you are the owner of a Fortune 500 company or an entrepreneur in your garage, you can benefit from molding your business around these beneficial behaviors. Preventing a problem has always been more affordable than fixing one!

2. Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp


Sometimes big problems can't wait for you to workshop their solutions. Jake Knapp developed Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test Ideas.. as THE go-to manual for answering questions to problems that seem too large to handle.

Why You Should Read: Sprint gives actionable advice that business owners of every size will be able to work with. Practice and easy to apply, this book has been used by start-ups and Fortune 100s alike.

3. Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen


What's better than a fast-acting problem solver? Someone who can prevent issues before they crop up. Dan Heath is a New York Times bestselling author and this is one of his best works.

Why You Should Read: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of maintenance. This book is built on concepts that can be appropriated for every niche,

Best Books For Developing A Healthy Work/Life Balance

The modern workforce is built around the idea that hustling 24/7 is the path to finding success. This mindset can often lead to burnout and other issues at home. Crafting a healthy work/life balance will improve both aspects of your experience. These books will help you get the job done while taking care of life at home.

1. Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life by Marie Kondo

Joy At Work

Marie Kondo is widely-respected and revered for her joy-based approach to organization. This self-help book provides you with an entertaining and insightful look at how you can change your work/life balance by simply changing your office.

Why You Should Read: Marie Kondo is a consultant and tidying expert most well-known for her show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. This is a fun and accessible read that can also change your life.

2. Curating Your Life: Ending the Struggle for Work-Life Balance by Gail Golden

Curating Your Life

Gail Golden makes the argument that how you focus your energy can change how your life manifests. Through Curating Your Life, Gail teaches readers how to focus their energy on concepts that are joyous, meaningful, and doable.

Why You Should Read: Never has it been easier to understand the importance of balancing your work by taking care of your energy. This unique self-help book is brand-new and already helping entrepreneurs and small business owners.

3. 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week by Tiffany Shlain


In a world that prioritized long nights and early mornings, it can be hard to walk away from the office. Tiffany Shlain takes a deep dive into the benefits of taking a day away from screens every week.

Why You Should Read: This is an insightful and humorous look into what it means to step away from the grind to embrace the life that you are living.

Best Books To Motivate and Inspire

At the time of this writing, there are more than 32.5 million registered businesses in the United States. Understanding that you have an uphill battle is not the same as succumbing to the idea. Stay motivated and inspired to tackle your projects with the following well-written books for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.

1. Choose Yourself by James Altucher

Choose Yourself

Business owners don't always get a clean slate from which to build their company. If you have struggled in the past and need a kick in the pants to keep going, Choose Yourself! by James Altucher can be the right read for your summer.

Why You Should Read: James takes a hard look at the struggles and realities that we face in life. He uses this gritty understanding to teach readers the power in choosing to believe in themselves.

2. The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed To Transform Your Life by Hal Elrod

Miracle Morning

Changing your life requires changing your habits. If you are looking to take the next step as a business owner, The Miracle Morning might be the inspiration read that you need. This book details some of the best practices that have been accepted by business leaders around the world.

Why You Should Read: A transformative business requires a transformative mindset. Embracing The Miracle Morning can help to motivate entrepreneurs and inspire business owners.

3. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth


Do you feel like you are talented but still struggle to succeed? Angela Lee Duckworth uses Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance to underline why hard-work and talent must go hand-in-hand. This book is ideal for individuals that need to learn or re-learn how to work hard in an unforgiving world.

Why You Should Read: Naturally talented individuals who struggle with motivation may find this read to be an enlightening one. Grit seeks to change how you look at the tasks before you by prioritizing the two most powerful traits a person can have: passion and perseverance.

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