The 12 Best Business Books to Read in a Year [2020 Update]

By Chris Craft | Last Updated:  August 24, 2020
This article may contain affiliate links that pay us a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read our affiliate disclaimer.
 
best business books on a stand
Photo by Jeroen den Otter on Unsplash

I love business books. And if you’re reading this, I bet that you love business books too. This article gives you a list of the best business books to read in a year. Read these great business books to grow your business and grow as a business person or entrepreneur.

Whether you want to start a business, improve your business, or you want to be a better team member at work, this list of business books is for you. I hope that you give these books a read or a listen (if audiobooks work better for you) because you should never stop learning as an entrepreneur.

Here are the 13 best business books for you to read. Read one of these per month, take notes, and watch how you will grow as a person. And as a result, your business will grow too!

Start with Why

Start with Why on Audible

By Simon Sinek

This book challenges you to get to the core of your decisions. This skill is crucial for any business leader.

Start with Why also gives great advice for hiring talented individuals who are motivated to be successful.

Key quote:

“Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief – WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?” – Simon Sinek

Purchase Start with Why on Amazon

Built to Sell

Built to Sell on Audible

By John Warrillow

I love how this book teaches you how to scale your business by converting your services into products. It also provides a lot of value in helping you empower your team members to take on core tasks. If you want to grow a business that can be sold, read this book. 

Built to Sell changed my life. In fact, if any of my children express an interest in entrepreneurship, this is the book that I will put into their hands first.

Key quote:

“Don’t be afraid to say no to projects. Prove that you’re serious about specialization by turning down work that falls outside your area of expertise. The more people you say no to, the more referrals you’ll get to people who need your product or service.” – John Warrillow

Purchase Built to Sell on Amazon

Good to Great

Good to Great on Audible

By Jim Collins

Good to Great is a business book classic. The research that went into this book (a five-year study) is excellent. Two big takeaways are to find a singular focus for your business and to make the right hires for your business (get the right people on the bus).

Key quotes:

“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.” – Jim Collins

“The good-to-great leaders never wanted to become larger-than-life heroes. They never aspired to be put on a pedestal or become unreachable icons. They were seemingly ordinary people quietly producing extraordinary results.” – Jim Collins

Purchase Good to Great on Amazon

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People on Audible

By Stephen R. Covey

7 Habits is the ultimate time management classic. This book teaches you the type of activities to do if you want to learn how to be productive and create lasting results in life or business. Equally as important, this book teaches you that you can’t be efficient with people and relationships because they take time, commitment, and intentionality.

Covey introduces his famous time management matrix in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as well. I re-created the matrix below.

Stephen R. Covey's Time Management Matrix - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Whatever you do, stay away from Quadrant 3 activities that are urgent but not important.

Key quotes:

“Start with the end in mind. ” – Stephen R. Covey

“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, ‘I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,’ that person cannot say, ‘I choose otherwise.’” – Stephen R. Covey

Purchase The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People on Amazon

The Personal MBA

The Personal MBA on Audible

By Josh Kaufman

The Personal MBA teaches you the real knowledge that you’ll use in the real world of business, not the theoretical stuff from business school. This book was vital in helping me understand the basics of running my marketing agency in the early days.

Key quote:

“Every successful business (1) creates or provides something of value that (2) other people want or need (3) at a price they’re willing to pay, in a way that (4) satisfies the purchaser’s needs and expectations and (5) provides the business sufficient revenue to make it worthwhile for the owners to continue operation.” – Josh Kaufman

Purchase The Personal MBA on Amazon

How to Win Friends and Influence People

How to Win Friends and Influence People on Audible

By Dale Carnegie

Business ultimately comes down to having good relationships with your team members and customers/clients. How to Win Friends and Influence People helps you have better relationships by becoming more willing to listen to and help others. After all, people do business with people whom they know, like, and trust.

Key quote:

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie 

“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.” – Dale Carnegie

Purchase How to Win Friends and Influence People on Amazon

Deep Work

Deep Work on Audible

By Cal Newport

Deep knowledge work leads us to innovation. Deep Work teaches the importance of focus in a world that’s built to distract you.

Key quote:

“If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive—no matter how skilled or talented you are.” – Cal Newport

Purchase Deep Work on Amazon

Essentialism

Essentialism on Audible

By Greg McKeown

Essentialism is about finding and doing the few things in life that truly matters and letting go of the rest. It encourages you to eliminate non-essentials items and activities from your life. And this will help you prioritize your life’s activities accordingly.

Key quote:

“Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.” – Greg McKeown

Purchase Essentialism on Amazon

The Entrepreneur Mind

The Entrepreneur Mind book

By Kevin D. Johnson

Being an entrepreneur requires an entrepreneur’s mindset. The Entrepreneur Mind inspires you to be bold and innovative with your thoughts and ideas. The book presents 100 essential beliefs, characteristics, and habits of elite entrepreneurs.

Key quote:

“To be an entrepreneur is to think differently.” – Kevin D. Johnson

Purchase The Entrepreneur Mind on Amazon

Profit First

Profit First on Audible

By Mike Michalowicz

Profit First teaches that business growth happens one small win at a time. It’s the New England Patriots approach to business. Stick to the system, complete the easy passes, do your job, and live with the results. Successful businesses don’t wish or wait for one big moment, sale, or customer to save them.

Key quotes:

“All revenue is not the same. If you remove your worst, unprofitable clients and the now-unnecessary costs associated with them, you will see a jump in profitability and a reduction in stress, often within a few weeks. Equally important, you will have more time to pursue and clone your best clients.” – Mike Michalowicz

“A financially healthy company is a result of a series of small daily financial wins, not one big moment. Profitability isn’t an event; it’s a habit.” – Mike Michalowicz

Purchase Profit First on Amazon

Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy on Audible

By W. Chan Kim, Renee Mauborgne

Blue Ocean Strategy coaches you to focus on providing value to your customers and prospects instead of beating the competition. A blue ocean is represented by the clear waters of open opportunities to serve people. A red ocean represents the bloody waters of competition. Which waters would you want to navigate?

Key quote:

“Value innovation requires companies to orient the whole system toward achieving a leap in value for both buyers and themselves.” – W. Chan Kim

Purchase Blue Ocean Strategy on Amazon

The Outsiders

The Outsiders on Audible

By William N. Thorndike, Jr.

Count me in for any business book that’s #1 on Warren Buffet’s recommended reading list. The Outsiders offers corporate finance case studies for businesses lead by unconventional, successful CEOs.

Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, Tom Murphy of Capital Cities, Nick Chabraja of General Dynamics, and Henry Singleton of Teledyne produced excellent compounded annual returns for shareholders. And they did it through discipline and using cash wisely (capital allocation). If you want to learn from these four and four other great business leaders, pick up this book. It’s inspiring!

Key quote:

“Basically, CEOs have five essential choices for deploying capital—investing in existing operations, acquiring other businesses, issuing dividends, paying down debt, or repurchasing stock—and three alternatives for raising it—tapping internal cash flow, issuing debt, or raising equity. Think of these options collectively as a tool kit. Over the long term, returns for shareholders will be determined largely by the decisions a CEO makes in choosing which tools to use (and which to avoid) among these various options. Stated simply, two companies with identical operating results and different approaches to allocating capital will derive two very different long-term outcomes for shareholders.” – William N. Thorndike, Jr.

Purchase The Outsiders on Amazon

Bonus: Proverbs

Wisdom will help you in every area of your life (including business). King Solomon, the author of most of Proverbs, is the wisest earthly king to ever live. Kings and queens from other kingdoms traveled great distances to get his guidance and hear his proverbs.

As for you…seek wisdom and you will find it.

Proverbs of King Solomon

Read and get inspired!

If you read these books, you will grow in knowledge, wisdom, and inspiration. I can’t recommend this best business books list enough. Let me know what you think of the books as you read them while on your business growth path.

And remember entrepreneurs, never stop learning.

Hi! I'm Chris(topher) Craft. I'm a believer, husband of an amazing woman (Wanda), and father of three talented kids (Naomi, Maria, and Elijah). I love writing, learning about God's Hand in History, entrepreneurship, and basketball. Thank you for reading my stuff! ❤️ Connect with me on Twitter @CraftWrites.