Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.” – John Green

Entrepreneurs are always learning. You might say they are continuous learners, but I like to think of entrepreneurs as smart learners. They can be masters at assessing gaps and identifying what they need to know to succeed.

Books are a great tool for entrepreneurs. For founders just beginning their entrepreneurial journey, books are a way to learn what to do and what not to do from fellow industry professionals who have been there before. For seasoned entrepreneurs, books offer a new way of thinking that inspires innovation and propels growth.

Know an entrepreneur who loves to learn? Give the gift of knowledge this holiday season – here are five books for the entrepreneur in your life.


The Innovator’s Dilemma – Clayton M. Christensen

The Innovator’s Dilemma was cited as one of the most important books about innovation. The book explains how great companies can struggle and, ultimately, fail because they “play by the rules” too closely.

According to the author, “he very decision-making and resource allocation processes that are key to the success of established companies are the very processes that reject disruptive technologies … ”

Sometimes the best way to beat your competition is to study how they operate. Entrepreneur-turned-educator, Steve Blank says entrepreneurs should read books like The Innovator’s Dilemma to learn how to successfully compete against large companies. This book is perfect for entrepreneurs looking for ways to set themselves apart from the competition.


The E-Myth Revisited – Michael E. Gerber

I read the E-Myth over 10 years ago and I’m always thankful that I ran into it at that point and not later in my career” – Matt Cooper, Co-Founder and COO of Swept

In the revised version of this classic, The E-Myth counters common myths and misconceptions about starting a business and being an entrepreneur. According to the author, the “E-Myth” is defined as:

“E-Myth \ ‘e-,’mith\ n 1: the entrepreneurial myth: the myth that most people who start small businesses are entrepreneurs 2: the fatal assumption that an individual who understands the technical work of a business can successfully run a business that does that technical work.”  

Matt Cooper, Co-founder and COO of Swept said The E-Myth was one of the top books every entrepreneur should read. Cooper mentions that one of the most useful frameworks in the book is the idea that everyone has three types of personalities.

The three personalities include:

  • The Entrepreneur (part of someone that is a dreamer with a vision and that can tell a great story);
  • The Manager (part of someone that is proactive, detail-oriented and knows what needs to be done to accomplish goals); and
  • The Technician (part of someone that beams with joy when they are working on their craft – in a business context, think of this personality as the developer or coder).

The E-Myth is a great book for new entrepreneurs. It provides practical advice for building a business and, by understanding the value of the three roles or “personalities” early on, entrepreneurs will be better prepared when it comes time to grow their business.


Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance – Angela Duckworth

Talent is often thought of as a key ingredient for success. However, according to Psychologist and Author of Grit, Angela Duckworth, passion and perseverance are the true indicators of success.  

Grit is defined as the “passion and perseverance for long-term goals.” As the centre theme of the book, Duckworth draws from various stories, including her own, to illustrate how your mindset during times of hardship not talent or luck makes a big difference .

Those familiar to entrepreneurship know there are no linear paths to success, and in fact, it’s the twists and turns on the road to success that teach the most valuable lessons. Grit makes and great gift for entrepreneurs weathering the ups and downs of starting and growing a business.


Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products – Nir Eyal

Ever wonder why some products fail as fast as they launch? Nir Eyal, author of Hooked, explains that products often flop because they fail to encourage users to create new habits.

Think about how many times you check your favourite social media app. Do you consciously think about it, or do you check it out of habit? Hooked explores the ways top companies, such as Twitter, Instagram and more, create habit-forming products.

One of the main takeaways from the book is Eyal’s “Hooked Model”. The four-part model includes a trigger, an action, a reward, and an investment. Eyal suggests that habits grow stronger as a user goes through the series of steps more frequently.

Hooked is ideal for not only startup founders, but also anyone included in the product development process – from product managers and designers, to marketers and developers, and everyone in between.  


Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth – Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

The daunting truth about the startup world is that most startups fail. Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares outlines how may startups – founders and employees included – forget to focus on gaining traction as much as other areas of the business like building a product.

Using a framework that has been adopted by successful founders, including Jimmy Wales from Wikipedia, Alexis Ohanian from Reddit, and Alex Pachikov from Evernote, the book covers tactics and strategies these founders used to build traction. It also offers readers a review of marketing channels that startups can use to get traction and identifies which channels will be key to growth.

Traction makes a perfect gift for entrepreneurs finding it tough to prioritize what truly matters to their business’s success.    

Whether you’re looking to get yourself a gift, or you’re shopping for the special entrepreneur in your life, this list is a great starting point. If your founder friend is super keen and has read all the books on our list, check out these honourable mentions and old favourites:


Honourable Mentions:

Old Favourites:

Still looking for the perfect book for your startup pal? Here are some other book lists that may help:

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