Our favourite business books

Our favourite business books

Posted: Thu 17th Aug 2023

Ever read a business book you couldn't put down? We have! We pick them up again, we pass them around and today we're sharing our favourites with you.

Find out what's on Enterprise Nation's bookshelf too.

1. Free Agent Nation by Dan Pink

As chosen by Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones (@emmaljones)

"After reading this book – over a decade ago – I went straight out and bought another 10 copies to send to people who I thought would love it too. I loved it so much, in fact, I begged the US-based author to come and speak about the book in the UK, which he did and for which I'll always be grateful!"

"Not only is it beautifully written, but it's a book that is still as relevant today as it was when first published. That's quite a feat for any author and this one got it spot on. It's also the book that inspired me to start Enterprise Nation. Thank you, Dan Pink."

2. The Modern Maverick by Ed Haddon

The Modern Maverick sets out a roadmap for a different way forward. A way that combines purpose and profit. A way that helps you figure out your own definition of success and gives you the courage and tools to pursue it.

It moves beyond a general question around purpose and instead focuses on identifying what you're truly passionate about, what you're uniquely good at, what you can get paid enough for – and how all of that dovetails with what the world needs.

In practice: Enterprise Nation Member of the Month, Danny Matthews, founder of Short Story Ventures and Local Leader for Gloucestershire, clearly puts his money where his mouth is. He has a set of principles that we won't deviate from, truly putting purpose before profit.

3. Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy

As chosen by Enterprise Nation PR and media whiz Liz Slee (@lizziepin)

"The 80/20 rule is true. And it's often the jobs that will make the most difference and earn you the most points that you tend to put off. Well, I do. I am guilty of procrastination.

"This book makes some very, very obvious points. But they are good points, worth making. Also – it's quite a small and unassuming book.  It doesn't take long to read!"

4. Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug

This book purports to be about the rather dry subject of web usability, but its lessons apply to many aspects of business – from planning to copywriting, web design and marketing.

If you come away with nothing more than the title, you'll learn to put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers and start to build a better business because of it.

5. Freakonomics by Stephen J Dubner and Stephen D Levitt

As chosen by Enterprise Nation PR and media whiz Liz Slee (@lizziepin)

"Freakonomics is awesome! It's the chaos theory of economics. The co-authors take conventional economic analysis and apply it to some crazy questions – coming up with some bizarre but equally robust and logical conclusions. There's also a website and blog which keeps things up-to-date."

6. It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden

As chosen by Enterprise Nation chief marketing officer Lorna Bladen (@lornabladen)

"This thought-provoking pocketbook of anecdotes only took me a few minutes to read, but I revisit it often as it never fails to move me with each simple insight into achieving personal and business success.

"Author Paul Arden is a creative genius and makes you think outside the box at times when you might be feeling that you can't achieve the unachievable, you might not have the right qualifications, or it simply can't be done.

"Each page shares a real-life example of how individuals and organisations have made the unthinkable happen with fearless determination and creativity. This is the ideal book to have on your desk if you need a bit of oomph now and again!"

7. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

This authorised account of Apple founder Steve Jobs's life isn't quite as spotless and gleaming as the Apple products we know and love. Jobs comes across as flawed, difficult, petulant even, but, above all, a single-minded visionary.

One of the best examples of this is his dogged insistence on controlling the hardware and software experience for its customers. That was tested when Microsoft started to beat Apple by licensing its software to hardware manufacturers, but Steve's long game and his commitment to quality paid off, when he returned to the company that ousted him and took it to the very top of the business world.

8. Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie

As chosen by Enterprise Nation chief marketing officer Lorna Bladen (@lornabladen)

"TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie leaves out the waffly business jargon in this book and shares a transparent insight into the story behind his successful shoe venture.

"What I love most is that this book truly shows that you don't necessarily need to be an expert in your field when starting a business, because Blake knew very little about fashion or retail before launching TOMS.

"However, he's been able to build it to the success it has today by having a focused vision, building a dedicated team and having a relentless passion for a cause to make the world a better place. Great read if you want to start a business that makes a difference!"

Want some more to add to your reading list?

9. 48-Hour-Start-Up: From Idea to Launch in 1 Weekend by Fraser Doherty

This well-structured and intriguing read details Fraser's journey from selling jam to beer, setting out a solid framework for prospective entrepreneurs to go from concept to production.

10. Entrepreneurial Finance by Simon Hulme and Chris Drew

Financial literacy is one of the keys to a small business owner's success. Available in e-book form, Entrepreneurial Finance is favoured by large numbers of the Enterprise Nation community.

11. Bright Sparks by John Tusa

In Bright Sparks, John explores situations where pioneering leaders in various sectors have overcome challenges to deliver inspired, imaginative and bold initiatives that make a huge impact on business and society.

12. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

Recommended by Enterprise Nation member Martina Sani, founder of The Italian Room

Contagious explores the phenomenon of ideas and products exponentially gaining prominence in popular consciousness.

13. Sacred Commerce: Business as a Path of Awakening by Matthew Engelhart and Terces Engelhart

A favourite of Tim Rundle-Wood, founder of Twoodle

Sacred Commerce will change the way you think about business, using a hearty dose of spirituality.

14. Watertight Marketing: Delivering Long-Term Sales Results by Bryony Thomas

Enterprise Nation member Della Hudson swears by this publication

Is your business haemorrhaging money left, right and centre? Bryony's book looks at plugging those pesky profit leaks.

15. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

A favourite of adviser Minal Patel

Sometimes, it’s those micro-relationships between individuals that can yield the biggest results, which is explained in detail within The Tipping Point.

16. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, Ron McMillan

A classic and highly respected business book, Crucial Conversations teaches entrepreneurs to stay on track when discussions get heated.

17. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Recommended by Enterprise Nation local leader and adviser Daniela Orrego

The Lean Startup teaches entrepreneurs to embrace what their customers really want. Test your vision, adapt and adjust.

18. Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick by Wendy Wood

Last but by no means least, Good Habits, Bad Habits helps people become more resilient in life by identifying changes.

Relevant resources

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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