Are you looking for the best business books of all time? Then, you're in luck...sort of.
There is no shortage of business books. After all, just a search of the phrase "business book" on Amazon nets 20 pages of books. And this doesn't even account for alternative phrases.
But what is a business book exactly, and how can you sift out the fluff and get to the best business books?
Table of Comparison
What Exactly Are Business Books?
When we refer to the best business books in this article, we're referring specifically to books that have been written by successful business leaders or the people who have studied successful people and organizations extensively.
The authors may be successful entrepreneurs or world-renowned business leaders.
Alternatively, the authors may be people like Malcolm Gladwell, a journalist and internationally recognized social scientist who has made studying success and successful people his life's work, and wrote what is called one of the best business books of all time.
Why business books are the bomb
If you're just starting out in business or considering entrepreneurship, what would you be willing to pay for the opportunity to sit down with the brightest minds in the world? I'm talking about people who have achieved optimal success or studied extensively those who have.
Honestly, who wouldn't jump at the chance for this opportunity?
Here's the deal:
For the price of one of the best business books, you can have the wisdom and guidance of these extraordinary people at your fingertips.
What you can learn from the best business books
The subject matter of business books varies widely. They may be as specific as a memoir by a legendary entrepreneur, or as broad as how to advertise effectively for any type of business.
Here's a pro tip:
Don't waste your time reading a book by someone who isn't hugely successful in his own right.
If the author has mediocre success, then what you're going to get from that person is likely mediocre advice. They are not necessarily successful business leaders.
When it comes to the best business books, read only the best of the best. Life is too short and your reading list is probably too long to waste time on mediocrity.
How to use what you learn
We highly recommend making use of all forms of media to read the best business books, and to keep your unique learning style in mind.
If you absorb more knowledge when you hear it, consider audiobooks. If you prefer the written word, get the print book. Do you enjoy reading from a device? Then the e-book is the one you should get.
However, we do have one important tip:
If you read via audiobook or e-book, consider also buying the print copy. The print copy is easier to flip through and take notes. Also, it's easier to go back later and review.
First of all, don't be afraid to mess up your book. Dog-ear the important pages. Also, mark in it and underline the best tips. Most importantly, highlight quotes that you want to remember. Whatever it takes to make the knowledge from the best business books sink in.
Where to buy the best business books
You can find a plethora of business books at used bookstores. These books are usually highly popular, and people read them and then donate them. You can also find used books on Amazon and even eBay.
Alternatively, you may want to buy it new. This is often the best route so that you can mark it up and make it your own. In this case, you can find the books at bookstores, grocery stores, or large retailers. And of course, you can buy them online.
How We Reviewed the Best Business Books
We started by choosing books that had good reviews from actual readers. All the highlighted books scored at least 4.2 out of 5 stars with Amazon customers.
Culling out the chaff and fluff in this way helped us to identify the best business books of all time.
Overall Price Range of Business Books
You'll pay anywhere from $0 (many Kindle books on Amazon are free) to $25 for the best business books, depending on where you buy them.
Shop around to find the best price.
Our Top 20 Favorite Best Business Books of All Time
The number of business books available in this century number in the thousands. As a matter of fact, it seems like everyone who has ever found success in business has written a book about it.
However, there are some that stand out above the rest. We've used our own reading experience and scoured the web to find the best of the best for you. Also, we took into account reading recommendations by successful business leaders.
By comparing great visionary companies in "Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies," Jim Collins and his co-author Jerry Porras, meticulously portray that you can't depend on the same ideas having extraordinary results unless you and your ideas possess specific characteristics.
Here's the scary (and also awesome) part:
According to Collins, there is no right and wrong. What matters is your passion, purpose, values, and vision.
In this book, you'll find detailed examples that are organized to form frameworks of real-world concepts. You can easily use "Built to Last" as a blueprint that can be applied easily by managers and entrepreneurs.
This book has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, and you can buy this book for between $14 and $21.
Ben Horowitz draws on his personal experiences working in Silicon Valley, and on his hard-earned success, in "The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers."
In fact, he is brutally honest about exactly how difficult it is to run and build a successful business. Unlike many success books, this one goes into great detail about the mental battles, difficult moments, and stressful situations that Horowitz faced throughout his entire career.
This book costs between $12 and $25. "The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers" has been rated 4.7 out of 5 stars by Amazon users.
Published in 1936, the Dale Carnegie classic, "How To Win Friends and Influence People," is one of the most recommended business books of all time.
According to Carnegie, the secret to business success is the ability to network with other professionals and build relationships. Although the book puts a lot of emphasis on relationships, the key principle of the book is aimed at teaching business people how to succeed in sales.
This classic has an Amazon rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars and costs between $11 and $23.
This book is a fascinating account of the story of Nike, as told by Nike's creator, Phil Knight.
"Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike" is unique in that it's a very personal memoir of sorts. Therefore, you get to read a first-hand account of the real struggles that go on behind the scenes of growing a company from nothing to a game-changing and iconic brand.
Fun fact about this book:
It's one of Microsoft founder Bill Gates' favorite books.
It costs between $11 and $20 and has an Amazon rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars.
Do you want to start a business unlike any other? Perhaps even create your own industry? Then "Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future" by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel is one of the best business books for you.
Thiel maintains that there are unchartered frontiers that will be explored and new inventions to create. The premise of this book is that doing what others are already doing takes the world from "1 to n," whereas doing something that's never been done before takes the world from "zero to one."
You can buy this book by Peter Thiel for between $14 and $26. Amazon users have rated this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.
In "The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure," Grant Cardone will steer you away from your comfort zone and into taking action. He argues that to achieve extreme success, you have to do more rather than settle for mediocrity.
First, the book outlines the three common degrees of action: retreat, common action, and no action. Then, Cardone goes into the 10X rule: maximum action for achieving massive results.
Cardone reasons that most people get stuck in the first three actions. He teaches how to bust out of those and jump into "Massive Action."
"The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure" costs between $14 and $31, depending on the format, and Amazon users have rated this book 4.6 out of 5 stars.
This classic best-seller by Malcolm Gladwell isn't as much of a business book as the rest of the books on our list. However, the lessons he teaches, if applied to business, can create phenomenal results.
In "Outliers: The Story of Success," Gladwell uses concrete examples to demonstrate how opportunity (being in the right place at the right time and having the right resources) is a huge contributing factor to the success of many people.
Perhaps the most controversial but proven principle of this book Gladwell's position that very few people possess genius or national talent. Rather, most legendary genius worked very very hard -- 10,000 hours or more -- to achieve their mastery.
This book has a 4.6 out of 5 stars rating on Amazon. You can buy "Outliers: The Story of Success" for between $11 and $20.
If you still have an office full of employees who do fairly easy tasks that could be completed by anyone, you're running your business in an outdated manner.
Doing all of those menial tasks yourself instead of focusing on business growth.
In "Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business," Chris Ducker outlines how any business owner, including a lone operator, can outsource many of the tasks that are eating up their time and money.
This book is a comprehensive guide on how to find the perfect online contract staff. Whether it's a marketing specialist, a virtual assistant, or a project manager, you can hire a virtual employee at a fraction of the cost of having someone in-house do the job.
Want to buy this book? It costs between $9 and $23. Here's the best part:
Amazon reviewers have rated Chris Ducker's book 4.8 out of 5 stars.
Drew Eric Whitman wrote the definitive and best-selling book on how to use the secrets of ad agencies to turbocharge sales.
Whitman draws on specific examples and countless studies from the history of advertising to illustrate his points. "Cashvertising: How to Use More than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology to Make Big Money Selling Anything to Anyone" is a short and catchy book and a must-read if you sell anything.
Amazon reviewers have given this book 4.8 out of 5 stars, and you can buy it for between $6 and $10.
Have you ever wished you could learn leadership and discipline from the people who do it better than anyone in the world? Then this book by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, two former Navy SEALs, may be just what you've been looking for.
First, when Willink and Babin returned home from deployment, they created a SEAL leadership training for the new generation of SEAL recruits. Then, in the training, they passed on some of the harsh lessons that they learned in combat. Finally, upon leaving the SEAL Teams, they launched a company so they could teach those principles to business leaders and organizations.
"Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win" is the result of their experience and has positively revolutionized leadership development.
This book is available to buy for between $14 and $20 and has an Amazon rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars.
In this book, M.J. DeMarco outlines how to begin creating wealth at a young age by creating a business. Not only that, but he also believes that anyone can achieve the highest form of wealth and success.
Although its tone may be a bit abrasive to some, "The Millionaire Fastlane: Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime" is chock full of realistic and practical advice for people starting out in entrepreneurship.
M.J. DeMarco's best-seller costs between $7 and $18 and Amazon reviewers have rated it 4.7 out of 5 stars.
In "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success," author and psychologist Carol Dweck examines how various mindsets play into success and failure.
According to Dweck's research, your mindset plays a tremendous role in whether or not you find happiness and success.
The main premise of this book is that to succeed, you need to have a "growth mindset," which gears you towards embracing challenges so that you can grow and learn without fearing failure.
Amazon reviewers have given "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" 4.5 out of 5 stars. This book costs between $7 and $20.
When Timothy Ferriss wrote "The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich," he may not have realized the impact it would have on workers worldwide. Nevertheless, that is exactly what happened.
First, Ferriss lives the digital nomad lifestyle and is a proponent of escaping the 9-5 of the traditional workplace. Second, he'll tell you how to do it.
In this book, Ferriss goes into intricate detail about exactly what anyone who wants to escape the cubicle needs to do.
If you want this book, it costs between $9 and $18, depending on the format you choose. It has received 4.4 out of 5 stars from Amazon reviewers.
Gary Keller has solved the question as to what makes productivity systems and time management fail.
Here's the culprit:
Keller encourages aspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs to narrow their focus to the one thing they do exceptionally well.
"The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Trump Behind Extraordinary Results" is full of mind-boggling realities that can explain why you're not getting the results you want in your personal life or in business.
You'll pay between $10 and $50 for this book. Amazon reviewers have rated it 4.7 out of 5 stars.
Jim Collins and his colleagues studied 28 of the most elite corporations in the world over the course of five years to answer this question:
What separates the merely good companies from great companies?
The result of their study was this book. Correspondingly, this book is considered to be one of the best business books of all time.
This best-seller costs between $14 and $21 and has received 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
In 2008, Eric Ries proposed the "lean startup," but it wasn't until 2011 that he codified his ideas into a book.
The principles of the lean startup are ruthlessly discarding failures and pivoting to new angles as needed.
Marc Andreessen, the billionaire tech investor, cites this as one of his favorite books. Correspondingly, former General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt made it required reading for all of his managers.
This book costs between $13 and $20. Amazon reviewers have rated it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
You can't have a list of the best business books of all time and not include "Think & Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. Arguably, this book was one of the first business books ever written, and certainly the most influential of the 20th century.
Written in 1937, Hill studied and interviewed the biggest names in business during Depression-era America. His end result is an in-depth look at the mindset of people who achieved great wealth.
First, here is the secret that Napoleon Hill uncovered:
The driving force behind all of these successful individuals, great wealth, and success is passion and a strong desire.
You can buy this book for between 49 cents and $10. Amazon reviewers have rated "Think & Grow Rich" 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Robert Kiyosaki had two influential men in his childhood and teen years: his own father and the father of a close friend. He uses the lessons he learned from these men to illustrate how some people are able to create wealth while others remain poor.
In addition to general finance and investing advice, in "Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money - That The Poor And Middle Class Do Not!," Kiyosaki goes into untapped real estate opportunities and how to start a business.
Amazon reviewers have rated this book 4.6 out of 5 stars. You can read Robert Kiyosaki's book for between $4 and $90.
Want a book that received high praise from Steve Jobs, one of the greatest businessmen of all time? Then read "The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business."
Clayton Christensen is a Harvard Business School professor. In this book, he explains that as a business becomes more successful, it becomes increasingly harder to innovate.
Most importantly, this book will help you and your business avoid being disrupted so that you can achieve the ultimate success.
To buy this book, you'll pay between $4 and $50. It has been given 4.3 out of 5 stars by Amazon reviewers.
Godin goes into great detail on how to remain relevant in whatever field you work in. Or, if you're an entrepreneur, whatever industry your business is in.
This little book will teach you how to lead with uniqueness and think of every single day as a work of art.
This book costs between $12 and $45 and has received 4.3 out of 5 stars from Amazon reviewers.
The Best of the Best
Finally, what is the best business book? It depends.
Are you looking to succeed in the business world? Or maybe you want to be the next Peter Thiel and invent something completely new. Whatever your goal is, there's a business book that can help you.
Just remember one thing: don't waste time reading anything but the best business books.