Top 9 Business Books to Level Your Venture Up in 2023

man reading book while sat on a sofa

In celebration of World Book Day, Expert Market has prepared a list of the best business books for you to get inspiration, upskill, and lead your venture to new heights in 2023!

We get it: in a multitasking, attention-depleted age, who’s got time to read books anyway? Well, we believe these volumes can bring enough value to your enterprise that they’re worth the effort. We can say so backed by our nearly 15 years of experience covering the market and helping business owners kickstart or upscale their operations.

The books featured here vary wildly in approach and we're confident one of them should click with you: they cover inspirational essays, psychological studies, and how-to guides. However, they all delve into topics entrepreneurs could be benefit from discussing, such as the need to do focus work and the struggle to stand out in crowded markets.

To check our list, as well as some of the main takeaways of our selections, just head below.

man reading book while sat on a sofa
Business books are a great way to find out different techniques or lines of thought that can help your business

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie (1937)

What it’s about – This highly influential book is often called the “grandad” of the business book genre – and for our money, the statement stands. Conversational in style, it’s a behavioural take on human relationships, packed with tips on how to improve yours.

Here’s the gist   To run and grow your business, you need people on your side. If you can skilfully defuse arguments and get your partners and collaborators to back your ideas, you’re one step closer to success.

Why you should read it – This book can help you build the convincing techniques you need to land the constant pitches (to both financiers and potential clients) you make as an entrepreneur. For managers and CEOs, the interpersonal skills presented here can make your operation run smoother, enabling you to deal with internal conflicts in a way that avoids direct arguments, keeping bridges instead of burning them.

Reader's Take

From a management perspective, this book is pure gold. And I can say this because, throughout the months that I invested in reading it, I actually applied many principles at my workplace, and saw the results visibly. Even though this book was written a century ago, and most of the political examples look like just stories without much context, the principles are still relevant in today's time as much as any time before. (sic)

William P.,
- Source: Goodreads

…And here’s the link to buy How to Win Friends and Influence People

2. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It – Michael E. Gerber (1995)

What it’s about – Never mind the title! This book isn’t a guide to ecommerce (the “e” stands for entrepreneurial, not electronic), but rather an overall look into the minutiae of small business running, focusing on the route to becoming big.

Here’s the gist – Big businesses rely on processes, not on people. For your business to grow from a single shop to a multi-location juggernaut, you have to develop it in a way that’s not dependent on you as a leader.

Why you should read it – This one's for the big dreamers out there. Striking the balance of case studies and motivational philosophy, it can equip you with the right mindset to grow your business at scale. It has a very dress-up-for-the-job-you-want approach, with plenty of calls to action.

Reader's Take

I absolutely loved this book and loved the writer's approach. He stresses on the importance of balancing the 3 roles of technician, manager and entrepreneur in any start-up and talks about how most businesses fail as they fail to hold this balance. He then dives deep into the importance of creating an easily-replicable prototype as a cornerstone for success and stresses the importance of building a system-based business rather than a person-based business. (sic)

Louai Al Roumani,
- Source: Goodreads

…And here’s the link to buy The E-Myth Revisited

3. The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses – Eric Ries (2011)

What it’s about – Ries’ book is a how-to guide on developing a testing workflow for new products in a way that fosters creativity and keeps costs down. Anchored in what it calls “validated learning”, it proposes an experimental approach to innovation.

Here’s the gist – A sustainable business model is more important than the most elaborate business plans. Bearing that in mind, effectively testing your potential model is key to any innovative company hoping to crack the market and stay competitive.

Why you should read it – This book is aimed at entrepreneurs who like to learn by doing. While it’s not strictly academic, it packs a well-defined empirical method for you to test potential ideas and products while saving time and money. If you plan on opening a startup, knowing beforehand whether you have a sustainable business or not is precious intel – and the method shown here presents a good way to find this out.

Reader's Take

This book is really well-written: concise, full of up-to-date examples and especially applicable not only to start-ups and business but in our life too. It has educated me on the irrefutable benefits of small-batch work and continuous validated learning, which inspired me greatly since I'm also working at a startup, as an entry product manager. It normally took me 1.5 months to finish a book. This one, 2 weeks. I'd highly recommend this book for product managers of all levels, from both startups and established companies. Really mind-opening. (sic)

Nguyễn Hùng Tuấn,
- Source: Goodreads

…And here’s the link to buy The Lean Startup

4. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Greg McKeown (2014)

What it’s about Essentialism is a treatise on a system that allows you to identify and eliminate the non-essential elements of your daily life. By doing that, you’re likely to give better contributions to what’s important, instead of spreading yourself thin through multitasking.

Here’s the gist – You can’t do it all. Trying to do so is the best way not to give your best shot at anything, or worse, get nothing done at all. By trimming down your to-do list to the bare essentials, what’s left is likely to be better and more fulfilling.

Why you should read it – As a small business owner and entrepreneur, it is likely that you will have to wear many hats, sometimes all at once. This book poses the question: how many of those should you really be wearing? It’s a powerful take on time management, despite not claiming to be a productivity technique. Overall, Essentialism’s quality-over-quantity ethos can make you feel more productive.

Reader's Take

The prime directive is to (a) identify what really matters (b) ditch all the CBNQ (close but not quite) stuff (c) bite down and tear your mission apart like you're a cross between Gandhi and a pitbull with Asperger's syndrome i.e. a big hearted, very strong, very aggressively focused person. Pushing 100 balls forward 1 cm is the booby prize for being a “good multitasker” and that is the exact tragic fate the author is trying to save us all from. Instead, the author is advocating clearly identifying and hyper-focusing on what you do best and what really matters to you, so that you can deliver your highest possible contribution. (sic)

Morgan Blackledge,
- Source: Goodreads

…And here’s the link to buy Essentialism

5. Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future – Peter Thiel and Blake Masters (2015)

What it’s about – This book tackles the problem of standing out in a crowded market. It’s an essay on how to create product value, focusing on innovating and risking it all in search of the next big thing.

Here’s the gist – For your business to go really big, you’ll have to come up with a product that doesn’t exist yet that caters to a need not yet acknowledged. Get brainstorming now!

Why you should read it – If you had your share of sleepless nights wondering what on Earth you could create to disrupt the market, this book is for you. It comes with Thiel’s lived-in experience with innovative companies (PayPal and Facebook among them), giving you insight on the circumstances in which true lightbulb moments happen.

Reader's Take

By incorporating the author's own personal experiences as well as his system of belief, this book provides an interesting analysis over a broad range of topics. To me, this is the first time a start-up was evaluated using these seemingly mutually exclusive indicators: monopoly, creativity, passion, sales, innovation (instead of iteration), founder characteristics etc. (sic)

Tharindu Dissanayake,
- Source: Goodreads

…And here’s the link to buy Zero to One

6. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World – Cal Newport (2016)

What it’s about – This mixture of guide and social commentary proposes ways for you to concentrate on your deliverables while resisting all the distractions in the world fighting for your attention.

Here’s the gist – Without the ability to zone out and focus on your self-development and future plans, you (and your venture) are unlikely to get very far. Overall, you need to fight off distractions to produce your best long-term work.

Why you should read it – Small business owners can be called upon constantly, compromising their ability to do focus work. Even when alone, their phone (and the internet in general) can get in the way. If this scenario feels familiar, this book can help. It also packs valuable insight for creatives, individual entrepreneurs, and pretty much anyone who depends on concentration to deliver projects.

Reader's Take

The practical insights and thought that has gone into this book is well worth your time and energy. Newport has painstakingly crafted a tremendous arguments that proposes we spend more time on work that has greater impact in our lives (and the lives of others) and he also offers some tactical ways to make that happen.As expected, this is a deep read. It's not something that you can just cruise through in one sitting. It requires a lot of thought and mindfulness — it took me almost a month to get through it – but it was well worth the time spent. (sic)

Mike Vardy,
- Source: Goodreads

…And here’s the link to buy Deep Work

7. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance – Angela Duckworth (2016)

What it’s about Grit is a psychological study on the nature of resilience and how it factors in success stories across the board. Bringing various examples and backed with her own academic research, it contains solid intel for all those keen on succeeding.

Here’s the gist – Luck doesn’t cut it and talent doesn’t either. To make it to the top, you’ll need the passion to invest yourself in a goal and the perseverance to see it through, even when times are tough.

Why you should read it – This book endows the never-give-up adage with plenty of research data, and the motivational heft this can give to you as a small business owner warrants the cost of the book. It can also give you inspiration to work on bettering your business everyday – something the author’s research posits as a must for sustainability and growth.

Reader's Take

Duckworth makes the case that in order to persevere with character and excellence, one must also act on their passion and belief in their work. She presents her research succinctly and in layman’s terms. As a professor of mine would say, “even the guy at Walmart would understand.” She also writes persuasively, making me want to develop and grow my own grit. This book taught me that talent is common, but determination and endurance is more valuable when it comes to success. Additionally, it gave practical tools and ways to develop grit, stick with a goal, and practice wisely. (sic)

Ashton Hogue,
- Source: Goodreads

…And here’s the link to buy Grit

8. Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine – Mike Michalowicz (2017)

What it’s about – This is an ingenious one: Michalowicz applies a technique usually reserved for personal finances (set savings aside first) and uses it in a business context to incredible results. Come for the money lesson, stay for the (super useful) banter.

Here’s the gist – Instead of applying the ‘sales – expenses = profit’ formula to your business, try ‘sales – profit = expenses’. This seemingly simple flip can prove crucial to help balance your business’ cash flow and put it on a steady route to growth.

Why you should read it – If your small business has yet to turn a profit despite your best efforts, this book is for you. Michalowicz’s take is practical and comes peppered with real-life examples. Also, for a book that goes into such nitty-gritty detail of small business accounting, it’s a surprisingly humorous read.

Reader's Take

One of the simplest, clearest, and most practical approaches to handling the finances of a business that I've ever read. “Profit First”, just as the name implies, is a straightforward, understandable discipline that — if applied – can completely transform a business, and put it on the path toward managing cash flow to greater — dare I say guaranteed? –profitability. No rocket science here, just basic common sense, and a system that's wonderfully easy to apply and manage. Not only does it give me a whole new paradigm for advising clients in my CPA practice, but I'll be adopting this model for my own business. (sic)

David Huff,
- Source: Goodreads

…And here’s the link to buy Profit First

9. Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too – Gary Vaynerchuk (2018)

What it’s about – An update of Vaynerchuk’s 2009 bestseller Crush It!, this book is about the importance of personal branding and how the internet can help you build it. Packed with examples and inspiration, it’s meant to inspire you to turn your passion into a business.

Here’s the gist – Building a personal brand is one of the best ways to monetise a passion. To do that, social media is your best friend. With charisma and determination, you will have the tools to cut through the noise and reach your audience.

Why you should read it – Vaynerchuk’s style is so easy and energetic, he could probably get you excited over anything. For potential entrepreneurs needing a pep talk to get started, they seldom get better than this. Plus, the book comes with tips to build your profile on specific platforms, which remain useful despite notable omissions because of its age (TikTok being the most obvious).

Reader's Take

I loved this book!! I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to build a personal brand (i.e. everyone in business today)! As someone who built a personal brand into a full time income since 2009, I wish I had this book when I first started out. He does get very intense about “hustle” but I think there's some really good nuggets in there as well. (sic)

Jami Balmet,
- Source: Goodreads

…And here’s the link to buy Crushing It!

Next steps

As you’ve seen, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to book picks and you should be inspired to get reading to help take your business to the next level!

Why stop at your business, though? Good reading can be transformative, and many of the titles we’ve selected contain advice that you can utilise in your personal life, too.

As for us at Expert Market, we’ll be on the lookout for the latest trends and business tips to help you out, irrespective of the size of your bookshelf. See you next time!

Written by:
Lucas Pistilli author headshot photo
Lucas is a Brazilian-born journalist and Expert Market’s go-to writer for all things EPOS systems, merchant accounts, and franking machines. Having covered business, politics and technology for many years, he’s driven by his passion for the written word and his goal to help people make well-informed decisions.