Self help books that top entrepreneurs swear by

Learn from the best of the best: These self help books come with recommendations from expert entrepreneurs.

If you’re ready to get started on a new business or venture, you’re going to want advice from the very best. These entrepreneurs are successful and well-known, but they’re also voracious readers who know exactly what to look for in a self help book. Take a leaf out of the following entrepreneurs' favourite books to get yourself the best possible advice for your new venture.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook
The End of Power by Moisés Naím

The End of Power

It’s not hard to see why Mark Zuckerberg is at the top of the list: CEO, inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist are all titles that can be attributed to him. The important title, however, is reader. Discovering this novel after vowing to read a book every fortnight for his New Year's resolution, Zuckerberg has often spoken about his fondness for The End of Power by Moisés Naím.

The book discusses how power has shifted over time from being possessed by larger authoritative governments and groups to being in the hands of individuals. Though at a glance it doesn’t sound like it would be useful in an entrepreneurial sense, the book addresses the economic and social implications of power and reflects on startup culture by investigating how the individual can hold power given the right strategy.

Jodie Fox, co-founder of Shoes of Prey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

7 habits of effective people

Jodie Fox is one of three co-founders of Shoes of Prey, a website where you can design your own pair of bespoke shoes. Her job is mostly focused on communication and product development, so it’s important that she knows the best ways to not only interact with people, but also keep an eye on the basics.

Fox often recommends The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, a top seller that focuses on principles like integrity, honesty and dignity to help shape a person’s attitude and therefore their business. Building a strong foundation is imperative in the startup world, so lead by example by employing these habits to better work as a company and a team.

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft
Business Adventures by John Brooks

Business Adventures

If you had to ask someone who the top five biggest names in technology were, chances are Bill Gates might get a mention. As a hugely successful businessman, entrepreneur and the richest man in the world, Bill Gates is the kind of person that you trust knows what he’s doing. After being introduced to this book by Warren Buffet in 1991, Bill Gates has consistently recommended Business Adventures by John Brooks.

The book is a collection of essays written in the 60s, but the fundamentals stand the test of time. Brooks emphasises the human aspect of business and stresses the importance of company values. These are common elements that startups thrive on these days, so in actuality, this decades-old book has more relevant insight than you might expect. If the richest man in the world says it helped him, then who are we to question it?

Julie Stevanja, co-founder of Stylerunner
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

The lean start up

Julie Stevanja is most well known for being the brains behind the immense activewear website Stylerunner, but it’s evident that she’s also someone who looks towards the future to maintain her success. So naturally, she turns to the experts.

Having spoken about this book on a number of occasions, Stevanja favours The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, an approach to entrepreneurialism that builds upon sustainable practices and constant movement. It can teach you how to strategise and develop your startup’s vision in order to continue growing and building (both your business's reputation and size).

Ruslan Kogan, founder of
Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner


If you’ve ever Googled an appliance, chances are you’ve come across Ruslan Kogan’s website. Kogan is a gigantic online retailer that stocks everything from televisions through to portable air conditioners. As the founder, Ruslan Kogan needs to have everything under control, and when he needs to learn how to do that from an economic standpoint, he reads.

At its heart, Freakonomics teaches you about the value of incentives and asks you to consider alternative perspectives. It explains how one seemingly small decision can influence a number of other areas (both positively and negatively) and teaches you how to manipulate that to your advantage. If you’re starting a new business or venture, this kind of foresight and perspective can be incredibly useful.

Piera Gelardi, executive creative director and co-founder of Refinery29
Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

Creativity Inc

As executive creative director and co-founder of Refinery29, Piera Gelardi has a lot on her plate, not least of which is trying to keep sight of the spark and the creativity that runs beneath the day-to-day workings of her business. To remind her of the importance of holding onto that creativity, she learnt from one of the most revered creators there is.

Ed Catmull is the current president of Pixar and his book Creativity, Inc. details not only his rise to the top, but also how he explored creativity as a computer scientist in order to turn a business into an icon. The book discusses how Pixar was born and uses the timeline of his career to address issues like taking responsibility, getting the right team together, getting past the fear of failure and learning to broaden your view.

Other recommended titles

  • #Girlboss by Sophie Amoruso
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson
  • How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
  • Pre-suasion by Robert Cialdini
  • You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
  • Do More Faster by David G Cohen and Brad Feld
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
  • The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber
  • Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston
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