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Best Business Books of All Time

The quotation that I keep taped to the top of my screen is from Benjamin Franklin: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

BooksSo I’m a big reader. I’ve learned many valuable lessons, tips, and insights from the numerous business books I’ve read over the years. Here’s my personal list of what I think is essential for everyone in business. Some of these books were required reading for my students when I taught a college course on Principles of Entrepreneurship. You’ll see that the books may not strictly be business books, but I’ve found value in them for running my business.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell. According to Amazon, “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate.” Another highly recommended Gladwell book is Outliers: The Story of Success. It showed that it takes 10,000 hours to become great at something (like Bill Gates at programming and the Beatles at performing).

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, by Michael Gerber.  The author demonstrates that businesses thrive because of innovation, quantification, and orchestration, and that with this understanding, a person with technical but few management skills can do well in business.

Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. This book was first published in 1937 but the information rings true today. From his first interview with Andrew Carnegie, he synthesized the secret of achieving the success that you seek.

Rules of the Road: Be the Truck not the Squirrel, by Andrew Sherman. The book, which is a delightful read, covers 12 essential lessons for navigating the road of life, all of which are essential for surviving in business. For example: share the road, happiness is a clean windshield, and don’t fear back roads.

The New One Minute Manager, by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. In a manner of minutes you can plow through the book and learn how to work effectively with people.

The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up, by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham. Based on their numerous columns in Inc. magazine and their personal experiences, the book shows practical examples of what to do in various situations.

A number of my friends and associates have written many valuable business books. I can’t list them all, but here are some really good ones (apologies to those I failed to mention):

Finally, I’d like to recommend one of my books, Smooth Failing: Top Industry Leaders Share Their Secrets for Turning Pain into Profit. The book contains true confessions of very successful people’s mistakes, faux pas, and serious failures, so you won’t have to do the same.


A number of the authors have been guests on my radio show—Michael Gerber, Norm Brodsky, Andrew Sherman, Ken Blanchard, Jim Blasingame, Melinda Emerson, Susan Solovic, and Tim Berry. It’s been my pleasure to know them. It’s been my good fortune to have learned from them.