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Top 10 Best Business Books of All Time

Updated: Sep 26, 2022

I should probably clarify...

These are my top 10 best business books of all time. That is to say, these are the books that had the greatest impact on me. Are there other great business books that are not on this list? Of course! But this is my list; and these are some spectacular books.

Table of Contents

Looking back at my career, I can rightly say these books that played the biggest role in making me the entrepreneur I am today; and these are the books I'm choosing to share with you now.

The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military text that was written in the (approximately) the 5th century B.C. The author, 'Sun-Tzu' or Master Sun was a general, philosopher, writer; and a brilliant military strategist. His masterpiece, the Art of War has had a profound influence on both Eastern and Western philosophy; and is still just as relevant today as it was 2,500 years ago.

That's because the 13 chapters in this book focus more on human nature as it relates to military strategy, but as readers quickly come to understand: the applications of this knowledge are infinite.

This text contains vital lessons for anyone in business, law, & competitive sports; but this book is also a must-read for anyone who's just looking to kick a little ass in life.

My father gave me this book to read when I was about 12 years old and it's remained one of the most influential books I've ever read. This book is #1 because it's relevant to everyone. It may be even more valuable to people who are unemployed and looking to better themselves. The life lessons this book contains are pure gold, straight from the manuscripts of a true genius.

If you buy only one book on this list, let it be this one.

One of my first sales jobs ever was working as a telemarketer selling home improvement work. The company I worked for had impressive incentives to perform and it was all the motivation I needed to begin honing the craft of salesmanship.

I read a number of books on the topic and managed to learn something valuable from every one of them; but How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie was different. This is the book that every other book about salesmanship is based on. Written in 1936, the lessons of this book have endured the test of time.

Unlike what the title may suggest, this book is really about the art of persuasion. It's a how-to manual for delivering a message effectively, and in a way that resonates with people.

Sure, you could use the information in this book to make more friends, but you can also use it to boost your sales, get people to do you favors, meet members of the opposite sex, or parent your children. I've even used Carnegie's methods to get out of speeding tickets; successfully I might add.

This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to be more influential with the people they meet in life. It will teach you how to add gravitas to your message, and to deliver that message in a manner that the listener will be receptive to.

What can I say about this book that a born-again Christian hasn't already said about their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

This book could very easily be at the #1 spot but whereas the previous two books helped me build a foundation, this book was what ultimately made me successful.

I read this book just after opening my very first "real" business. Everything had been going smoothly for the first year or so, but then everything started to fall apart. I tried to 'right the ship' anyway I knew how, but it just wasn't getting the job done. Finally, when I was all but defeated with no hope in sight for my fledgling business, I picked up this book.

It was clear from the first few pages that the author, Michael Gerber, was all too familiar with my predicament; and it was equally clear that he knew exactly what I needed to do to get myself out of the hole I was in.

After describing my situation to a "T", Gerber went on to explain that the basis of the problems I was experiencing wasn't unique at all. Indeed, the mistakes I was making were classic ones. Every other new entrepreneur was going through the same thing I was.

The lessons I took from this book led me to revolutionize the way I was doing business. It literally affected everything. Most importantly, I came to understand business as a craft that needed to be learned and practiced.

Gerber uses the analogy of trying to play tennis against a pro when you've personally never picked up a tennis racquet.

Obviously, it's not going to end well for you.

But if you recognize that tennis is a craft that must be learned and practiced, and you can recognize that there is a way of doing it correctly, suddenly you become much more agreeable to learning the necessary skills.

Gerber attests that the same is true in business. He then goes on to explain business as a craft; detailing the skills needed to succeed and how to apply those skills to build a business that works for you; as opposed to you having to work for your business.

If you don't understand the difference, then this book was written for YOU.

As I continued along the path on my entrepreneurial journey I soon again found myself in a situation I was unprepared for: Managing people.

I came to realize that the role of manager would require a higher degree of emotional intelligence than the roles I had previously held in life, and it would also necessitate that I shift my thinking away from asking myself "How can I get them to do better work for me" to "How can I make sure our mutual interests are aligned."

By helping me develop strategies for answering the second question, this book eliminated the need for asking the first question altogether. The lessons I drew from this book were as important to me in my role as a manager as the first E Myth book was to me in my role as an entrepreneur.

This book is for anyone who finds themselves struggling to manage people. That includes CEOs, day-to-day managers, "big picture" managers, supervisors, team leaders, and foremen.

I first read this book when I was still in high school and it's been extremely influential in developing my own style of leadership when I went into business years later.

In defining what distinguishes "good" companies from "great" companies, Jim Collins seeks to narrow in on the intangible differences that make truly amazing leaders stand out among fierce competition.

The examples of leadership that Collins highlights in the book reveal habits that one might not expect to see from people of such high stature. These include things like eating their lunch out of a brown bag at their desk, working out of modest workspaces, always giving the team credit for shared victories, and being reluctant to take any credit themselves.

I've applied these lessons to my businesses, and to my life in general.

It's helped me become a leader that people actually want to follow and that has paid off in more ways than I can possibly begin to count.

I recommend this book to anyone who isn't content with just being mediocre, or to anyone faced with the task of leadership.

This was another book that was hand-picked for me by my Father. It had been an important book for him and when my first business began to take off he recommended that I read it. No one knows me better than him. He knows my strengths and my weakness, so when he tells me to read a book I usually listen.

I thought I had an idea of the types of things the book would recommend I do if I wanted to form successful habits - wake up early, exercise, etc... But I was completely wrong.

Indeed this book did end up teaching me a lot of things I didn't know. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had already (albeit unknowingly) integrated some of these habits into my daily life, and the rest I've made a point of adopting.

Chapters 1, 2, and 7 were my particular favorites. I also found a tremendous amount of value in how the author explained how internal victories always precede external victories.

This volume is on almost everyone's list of 'Best Business Books' but it is with very good reason. I recommend it for anyone who is trying to accomplish a goal. This includes business professionals, athletes, teachers, or anyone else who finds themselves faced with a difficult task that necessitates the mastery of a discipline in order to achieve.

Hands down, the best book ever written on the subject of negotiation. This book has been widely reproduced and translated into dozens of different languages because the content of this book knows no boundaries or borders. Its appeal is global.

Throughout the book, the authors challenge the assumption that a good deal requires that both parties sacrifice something. Instead, they insist that the best deals are when both parties feel as if they have won without sacrificing anything at all. Their methodology for accomplishing this is astonishingly simple and universally applicable.

The authors provide example after example of instances when their methodology was used successfully to negotiate business deals, international treaties, peace agreements, and more.

It also contains valuable insights that can be applied to almost any situation with fluid parameters.

Whether you're a diplomat discussing the terms for a nuclear disarmament treaty or a 7-year-old trying to find a way to stay up past bedtime - this book will prove relevant and useful.

This is the only book you ever need to read on the subject of customer service.

Seriously. This is all you need to know.

You'll learn how Starbucks has managed to enforce its brand in over 50,000 independently-owned locations while providing legendary customer service and staying true to its corporate values.

What's even more amazing is that their answer to each of these three challenges is the same.

Starbucks has instituted a unique system of accountability whereby the workers are actually empowered to enforce the company standards upon the managers. Furthermore, the Starbucks corporation makes a point of truly living its values.

Their approach is part customer service and part systems engineering with a heavy emphasis on proactive problem-solving. I highly recommend this book for anyone that is seeking to build a brand based on customer relations.

No one understands branding better than Daymond John. He's created dozens of successful clothing labels and has made a fortune by licensing those brands to other manufacturers.

But what are the real differences that separate the high-end brands from the generic labels?

How does a simple name on a product convey values? Emotions? Feelings? Perceptions?

These may seem like abstract concepts but this is a real challenge for anyone who seeks to build a genuine brand and stand out from their competitors.

This book will help you cut through the advertising noise to build a brand that resonates with your intended audience. It's relevant to business owners, product designers, marketers, and even public figures.

Like the title implies, the best brands come from within. They are based on the personal values and reputations of the people who run the organization. They are the manifestation of the standards, ideals, morals, and principles of the minds that build them.

You'll learn to communicate with your customers in a non-verbal manner - "Street cred" as the kids say, that will translate into real sales.

It's hard to articulate one of the most common mistakes that new entrepreneurs make, but this book does a pretty good job.

It seeks to highlight a fallacy and disprove a misconception all at the same time.

Surely anyone who has ever started a small business has had the frustrating experience of trying to lure customers away from other vendors; often with disappointing results. But this experience doesn't seem to apply to other, more seasoned entrepreneurs who (somehow) always manage to be able to find customers who are practically waving their money in the air and begging to be sold a product.

This book outlines a strategy for finding those golden opportunities.

Readers will learn to recognize overly competitive markets for the bloodbaths that they are. Conversely, they will also learn to recognize the attributes that go into making a product successful.

The book is ideal for anyone seeking to find the right business to go into.

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