19 Young Entrepreneurs Recommend the Books That Changed Their Lives

By Jordan French Jordan French has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on February 9, 2023

We asked 19 young entrepreneurs to name the book that had the biggest impact on their lives in business. Here are their 19 individual answers, ranging from What It Takes to Be #1 to The Startup Playbook,  to the question, “What book changed your life as a young entrepreneur?”

  • What It Takes to Be #1
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • The Future Is Faster Than You Think
  • The Lean Startup 
  • Rich Dad Poor Dad 
  • The Minimalist Entrepreneur
  • The 4-Hour Workweek 
  • What You See is What You Get 
  • How to Win Friends & Influence People
  • Traction, Get a Grip on Your Business 
  • Primal Leadership
  • First, Break All the Rules
  • Selling Naked
  • Iacocca: an Autobiography
  • Rework
  • Think and Grow Rich 
  • The 80/20 Principle
  • Zero to One
  • The Startup Playbook

What It Takes to Be #1

What It Takes to Be #1, by the son of legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, was literally a game-changing book in my life. As Coach Lombardi himself said, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary,” and that’s the leadership philosophy at the heart of What It Takes to Be #1.

Many people think that success is an entitlement or at least something that should arrive on our doorstep as easily as a package we ordered online. But success isn’t the product of some magical formula; it’s the result of a methodical process! Success won’t come before you put work into bringing it about, and this is something every young entrepreneur must remember.

Linda Scorzo, CEO, Hiring Indicators

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

This book helped me to think differently about how I approached launching and running a business. It taught me the importance of having a clear vision and testing my assumptions before investing too much time or money into any one idea.

I also learned to look for solutions where everyone involved can benefit from the outcome—not just me. And it is a concept that young entrepreneurs should grasp to work for society. Success lies there.

Timothy Woods, Director, Carnivore Style

The Future Is Faster Than You Think

The Future is Faster Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis and Stephen Kotler is not a business book in the classical sense, but it’s difficult for me to imagine a business that won’t change because of technology in the next decade. And this book is a wonderful work that will allow everyone to think about their business from the point of view of resilience to a high-tech future.

The book is like a trailer for what will happen with time, ecology, longevity, and the Internet in the next ten years. It allows you to understand how the mechanism of change works and why the 21st century will accommodate the previous hundred years of technical change. The book doesn’t give a lesson but gives food for thought on how to prepare young entrepreneurs and their businesses for the major challenges of the future.

Tatsiana Kerimova, CEO, Orangesoft

The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries was my reference book when I was a young entrepreneur. The book is based on the idea of the “lean startup,” which is a methodology that emphasizes the importance of rapid experimentation, constant learning, and continuous improvement.

It encourages entrepreneurs to focus on creating a minimum viable product (MVP) and then iterating and refining it based on customer feedback. By applying these principles to my business, I quickly identified and refined my brand’s value proposition, captured market share, and scaled my business, while keeping my costs low.

The book also provides practical tools and techniques that young entrepreneurs can use to validate their ideas and test their assumptions, which helps them create a product or service that meets the needs of their target customers.

Arthur Worsley, Founder, The Art Of Living

Rich Dad Poor Dad

The book Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki changed my life as a young entrepreneur. It’s a classic that I would highly recommend to any budding entrepreneurs out there. The book outlines different ways of making money that weren’t always the usual salary or portfolio-driven investments like stocks and bonds, such as investing in real estate or starting businesses.

It teaches us how to create multiple income streams so we can be financially independent by leveraging our own efforts instead of relying on a 9-to-5 paycheck. In particular, it opened my eyes to an uncommon example of how we can benefit from our strengths and create something meaningful through entrepreneurship—by turning ideas into tangible products or services in order to generate income.

Kate Duske, Editor-in-Chief, Escape Room Data

The Minimalist Entrepreneur

While bootstrapping allows me to grow my business on my own terms, doing so also means taking on all the financial risks myself. Luckily, Lavingia provides a roadmap, guiding new entrepreneurs on how to do more with less.

Sahil Lavingia is the founder and CEO of Gumroad, a platform similar to Etsy but for digital products. When so many start-ups seek venture capital to scale quickly, this book challenges you to think differently about the “whys” of starting a business and what success really means.

Do you want to do what’s in the investors’ best interest or what’s best for your customers? Even if you’re not looking to build a company, Sahil’s core ideas are practical advice for creating a rewarding career.

Daniel Kroytor, Founder and Director, Tailored Pay

The 4-Hour Workweek

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss is the book that really got me into entrepreneurship around age 19 for a few different reasons.

First, Tim Ferriss really makes it clear in an entertaining and easy-to-read way that it is okay to play by different rules than most of the people around you and this can actually offer exceptionally positive results. As a young individual who did not really know any people who chose the entrepreneurial lifestyle, this was a real eye-opener.

Additionally, something that really stands out positively in The 4-Hour Workweek is how clear it becomes that spending your time smartly is crucial, not only for actually achieving the results you desire and making the world a better place but also for keeping your sanity and happiness. This is great for young individuals who likely heard all their lives that you only have to work hard to achieve results.

Matt Claes, Head Coach and Founder, Weight Loss Made Practical

What You See Is What You Get 

What You See Is What You Get: My Autobiography by Alan Sugar is an autobiography that offers a glorious mix of personal and professional life insights; this masterpiece from Alan Sugar stands as testimony to how the extraordinary life of one can offer hundreds of exceptional lessons to so many others.

This book inspired me when I first began exploring the idea of entrepreneurship and continues to drive me each day, and the many stories within these pages are as entertaining as they are insightful. To the young entrepreneur looking for everything from inspiration and direction to reason and courage, this book is just what they need on their journey.

Neil Platt, Director, Emerald Home Improvements

How to Win Friends & Influence People

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a timeless read whether you want to start your own business, climb the corporate ladder, or become a better leader. Carnegie’s principles teach people how to collaborate effectively, provide constructive criticism, be more productive, and more. Young entrepreneurs can learn a lot from Carnegie’s time-tested concepts.

Harry DiFrancesco, CEO, Carda Health

Traction, Get a Grip on Your Business

The book by Gino Wickman is a comprehensive guide to gaining traction in business and seeing life through the eyes of an entrepreneur. It dives into topics such as Vision, People, Data, Issues, and Processes, which are pivotal for an entrepreneur or even someone taking their first steps in business.

It details the Entrepreneurial Operating System, a step-by-step process that helps keep entrepreneurs accountable and maximize their potential. This book is essential to any entrepreneur looking for their first steps or someone who needs guidance on organizing their business.

Karl Robinson, CEO, Logicata

Primal Leadership

I believe the most important book I read as a young entrepreneur was Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Richard E. Boyatzis, and Annie McKee.

This book—co-written by three professionals—covers the importance of using emotional intelligence as a company (and leading the charge on it) and details all relevant talking points one must consider along the way. These three writers have successfully come together to put together a complete guide on leadership using their experience and insight.

For experienced leaders, as well as those who would love to be future leaders, this book can improve their mindset on the idea of leading, improve their ability to lead, and enhance how they think about being the best leader possible. Not only does this book outline important points on being a good leader, but it can actually help you strategize your style so you can become the leader you want to be.

Aaron Winston, Strategy Director, Express Legal Funding

First, Break All the Rules

In business school, we take classes on the basic foundations of leadership, and those rarely deviate. That is why First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham changed my life as a young entrepreneur.

We learn of innovators such as Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos, and though they have many foundational leadership traits, those do not fully explain their success. Buckingham investigated over 80,000 surveys and interviews of business leaders and found that the most successful individuals shared a common entrepreneurial trait of being willing to break all the rules of traditional business thinking.

Through his unique insight, Buckingham showed how taking an unconventional approach and breaking the rules led to the best in innovation. His unusual perspective has served as an inspiration for me and is certainly one of the most impactful books I have had the pleasure of reading.

Mackenzie Whalen, Marketing Director, E1011 Labs

Selling Naked

For every aspiring or early-stage founder, this is an excellent read, written by Jesse Horowitz, with proven strategies for launching a DTC brand and a look at some of the emotional tolls of launching and early growth.

With the influx of startups in the e-commerce marketplace, Jesse serves up tools and insights you can apply immediately to make your path more successful sooner. His candid approach guides you step-by-step through what’s necessary to launch a DTC brand from scratch while offering valuable insights into securing VC investment.

Naked Selling offers solid advice from someone who’s been there and done it in today’s fast-paced marketplace.

Josh Weiss, Founder and CEO, Reggie

Iacocca: an Autobiography

Lee Iacocca tried to join the Army during World War II, but couldn’t because of medical eligibility. So, he attended college and excelled, earning a job offer from Ford and a fellowship at Princeton. Later, he chose the latter after Ford still promised him a job afterward.

He finished his fellowship only to discover that the people who had arranged everything for him had gone off to fight in the war and no one remaining at Ford had heard of him. He convinced someone there to take a chance on him and he rose the chain quickly, only to be let go because of internal jealousy. So, he took over at Chrysler and lifted it from the scrap heap, turning it into a juggernaut. What a story! What an inspiring read!

Juan Pablo Cappello, Co-founder and CEO, Nue Life


Rework, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, shows you a better, faster, and easier way to succeed in business. It is a very easy-to-read playbook with short and sharp chapters on different business-related topics; it is a must-read for every entrepreneur!

The book offers many life-changing ideas for young entrepreneurs, which sometimes seem unusual. Here are my top three:

  1. Keep it simple: The book stresses the importance of simplifying processes, focusing on what is truly essential, and avoiding unnecessary complexity. 
  2. Prioritize action over planning: The book argues entrepreneurs should focus on taking action and making progress rather than getting bogged down in planning and analysis. 
  3. Do less: The book suggests entrepreneurs should focus on doing fewer things, but doing them exceptionally well, instead of trying to do too much at once. Good luck with the story!

Marketa Chalupnikova, Co-founder and COO, Tolgee

Think and Grow Rich

Think and Grow Rich is an inspiring book for young entrepreneurs. Written by Napoleon Hill, it focuses on the power of positive thinking, personal development, and tapping into one’s mental potential to succeed in business.

The book contains concepts such as setting a mission, goal-setting, developing self-discipline, and using visualization to achieve greater success. It also emphasizes the importance of persistence, understanding failure, and the power of habit to live a life of abundance.

I highly recommend this book to any aspiring entrepreneur because it provides invaluable lessons on achieving financial freedom through harnessing one’s potential.

Harman Singh, Director, Cyphere

The 80/20 Principle

The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch taught me the key to being an effective leader. Put simply, 20% of our efforts yield 80% of our results. Koch teaches his readers how to achieve more in less time.

If you’re a budding entrepreneur, this is a vital lesson to learn. You’ll immediately stop wasting time on things that don’t matter and devote your energy to the things that do.

Andrew Meyer, CEO, Arbor

Zero to One

I already started multiple businesses when I read this book. Before, my mentality for starting a business was to be practical. I looked for a saturated market and captured a significant portion of that market away from competitors. I wasn’t unique, and I only followed proven business models. However, after reading Zero to One by Peter Thiel, I was inspired to change my perception.

In this book, Thiel argued that the best opportunities for entrepreneurs lie in creating new markets and technologies, rather than competing in existing ones. The book covers a range of topics, including the importance of creating a monopoly in your market.

Thiel also provided practical tips for raising capital, building a team, and scaling your business. What sets Zero to One apart from other books on entrepreneurship is its emphasis on creating something truly unique and valuable. This is a must-read for any young entrepreneur who has lost hope in pursuing novel ideas.

Jonathan Merry, Founder, Moneyzine

The Startup Playbook

This book, written by David S. Kidder, for me as a thirty-year-old business newbie about to take the leap into the first of many new business ventures, was an eye-opening source of insight into not only the strategies that successful startups employ in the race to the top of their industry but also the thought processes behind those brave enough to take up the challenge.

Rather than just taking a macro-level approach to understanding the start-up industry, the Kidder takes a deep plunge into the murky pool of warrior personalities and their sometimes unorthodox strategies for success.

It gave me an invaluable resource for understanding the mindset that was needed to go this route, as well as practical advice I hadn’t considered.

I still think it’s a comprehensive and invaluable guide to navigating the various stages of a startup in 2023, and I recommend it to any green entrepreneur as I was—well, those who still read.. (SBK should have applied himself, lol).

Dennis Sanders, Founder, Burning Daily

By Jordan French Jordan French has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Jordan French is the Founder and Executive Editor of Grit Daily Group, encompassing Financial Tech Times, Smartech Daily, Transit Tomorrow, BlockTelegraph, Meditech Today, High Net Worth magazine, Luxury Miami magazine, CEO Official magazine, Luxury LA magazine, and flagship outlet, Grit Daily. The champion of live journalism, Grit Daily's team hails from ABC, CBS, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, Fox, PopSugar, SF Chronicle, VentureBeat, Verge, Vice, and Vox. An award-winning journalist, he was on the editorial staff at TheStreet.com and a Fast 50 and Inc. 500-ranked entrepreneur with one sale. Formerly an engineer and intellectual-property attorney, his third company, BeeHex, rose to fame for its "3D printed pizza for astronauts" and is now a military contractor. A prolific investor, he's invested in 50+ early stage startups with 10+ exits through 2023.

Read more

More GD News