The 5 Must-Read Books for Entrepreneurs in 2021

Insaf Ali

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There are many, many great books out there on how to become a better entrepreneur, but most of them really focus on the business side of things. So, for example, how to build a startup, how to take that startup and turn it into a sustainable business, how to take that business and grow and scale it over time.

But for this list, I really want to focus on books that can help you improve yourself as an entrepreneur so that you can get more out of both business and life in general. Let’s dive straight into the list.

Number One — So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

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Many entrepreneurs hold the mistaken belief that the key to success and happiness is to follow your passion. This is incredibly popular advice in the business community, but unfortunately, as explained in the book, most people don’t have an existing passion that naturally lends itself to a promising career or business opportunity.

So, even if you’re able to identify something that you’re truly passionate about that doesn’t necessarily mean pursuing that passion is going to unlock a great business opportunity.

Now, it is true that highly successful people do say that they’re very passionate about what they do and they tend to offer up this advice. But as the author explains, what is most likely going on here is that people accumulate passion as they become more proficient at creating an impact and creating value for people in a specific area.

This would help to explain why people are passionate about all kinds of interesting and weird business opportunities.

So what tends to happen is as they accumulate skills and experience and relationships, they become more and more passionate about exactly what they do.

The idea here is passion isn’t a prerequisite, rather it’s something that slowly builds over time as we develop skills and experience that can create value in the world.

So this book explains why skills are more important than passion when it comes to finding work that you will truly love.

It’s all about identifying rare and valuable skills that you can develop so that over time, you become more passionate and at the same time can create a greater impact in the world and almost certainly be more financially rewarded as a result.

So if you’re interested in taking this approach and challenging the status
quo of following your passion, if you’re genuinely interested in developing rare and valuable skills, then I recommend that you pick up a copy of So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport.

Number Two — Mindset by Carol S. Dweck

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It’s easy to set artificial limitations when it comes to personal growth opportunities. One terrible experience, either early on in life or even later in life, can cause us to create self-limiting beliefs around what we can or cannot do.

So, for example, you might have a terrible experience at some point in your life, and suddenly you conclude that you will never have what it takes to pursue something like creative writing or public speaking or leading other people or any other valuable skill like that that later in life might become obvious would benefit you, but yet, because you had this terrible experience in the past, you may not be interested in pursuing it.

Now, the interesting thing here is that these kinds of beliefs tend to be self-fulfilling because once we decide that we don’t have a natural ability for something like creative writing, well, we’re less likely to pursue opportunities to improve in that area and we’re more likely to spend our time in other areas where we do believe we have a natural ability.

And what this tends to come down to is what’s called a fixed mindset. We can believe that our abilities in any given area are static. In other words, we can’t improve them. We can’t change them.

We either have a natural ability or we don’t have a natural ability.

Now, this book explains how to unlock your full potential by maintaining what’s called a growth mindset.

So, unlike a fixed mindset where we have this idea that our abilities are fixed and that they’re static, a growth mindset embraces the idea that of course, we can improve, we can grow, and we can acquire new skills and new abilities over time.

So it really calls us to rethink certain areas in our life where we may have given up hope or just decided we’re never gonna be able to do that.

And what we wanna do is revisit those areas with a growth mindset.

Now, in my experience, many entrepreneurs have a growth mindset when it comes to many areas in their life. And I would argue that that’s one of the reasons why they became an entrepreneur.

And when they look at business, they tend to think of all the opportunities where they can grow and learn and improve themselves as entrepreneurs.

But even with this mindset being the general approach to many areas of life, it’s still very possible to be maintaining a fixed mindset around certain areas that are kind of considered off-limits.

So, for example, you might have a growth mindset with all kinds of things in your business, but you might’ve decided that writing or public speaking or some other skill like this is the one thing that you just really don’t want to pursue.

You see value in it, you understand that it could benefit you, but because of this fixed mindset in that one area, you just think, “Well, you know what?

That’s one thing that I could never do or I don’t want to do or I don’t want to pursue,” when meanwhile if you did, you know you’d be in a better position.

And deep down you might actually believe that it would be nice to develop that skill, but you’ve already kind of concluded that isn’t possible.

So this book can really help if you have or if you recognize that you have a fixed mindset in certain areas. It can help you realize that, of course, if you really want to improve in a certain area, then you can.

And it includes all kinds of helpful advice, both for maintaining a growth mindset in yourself and also promoting a growth mindset in other people around you. Just a really, really great book that I highly recommend.

Number Three — Atomic Habits by James Clear

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There’s a big difference between having ambitious goals and putting in the time and effort required to actually achieve them.

Now, unfortunately, many entrepreneurs believe that having big goals, big dreams, and especially big ideas are the key to success. They think if they just come up with the right idea, then they will be successful.

But of course, this isn’t true because the best ideas are those that tend to require consistent progress over time in order for them to eventually be achieved.

So it’s just as important, if not more important, that you have a system in place for making consistent daily progress towards achieving your big idea or your big dream.

Now, this book is all about how to build great habits and how to break bad ones. It can help you adjust your daily routine to better support your big ideas and your big dreams as an entrepreneur. This is incredibly important.

And in my opinion, this is arguably the single most important skill that you can develop as an entrepreneur, because if you have the ability to intentionally modify how you spend your time each and every day, then almost anything is possible because you can direct energy towards the things that matter most to you and you can avoid the kinds of distractions that might actually slow you down.

So if you’re interested in pursuing this approach to adjusting your routines in order to be more successful in pursuing your goals and your dreams, then a highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Number Four — Essentialism by Greg McKeown

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We live in a time of incredible abundance, and yet, never before have we had our attention being pulled in so many different directions all at once. And as a result of this, we’re constantly trying to do too much across all of the different areas of our life; from our personal life to our work life and even our social life.

So essentialism is about how to gain greater satisfaction in life through the disciplined pursuit of less. It calls us to be intentional about selecting the few priorities and activities that matter most and discard the rest.

So this isn’t about being more productive or more efficient. It’s about recognizing that if we want to have more satisfaction and more enjoyment in life, and on the work side, if we want to get more done and have a greater impact, then what we must do is prioritize and focus our energy on fewer things and get more enjoyment and satisfaction from those fewer things.

So if you find yourself being pulled in a million different directions, if you’re constantly dissipating your energy over way too many different things in life, then I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Essentialism by Greg McKeown.

Number Five — Ultralearning by Scott H. Young

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Life as an entrepreneur often requires that we pick up new skills and new abilities very quickly. So, for example, in some situations, it may be very beneficial for you to learn how to put together a great sales pitch, how to put on a live presentation, or how to master a new marketing channel.

Of course, in many situations, it really pays to delegate certain responsibilities to other people, to hire people that you need, or to coordinate with others, so that you don’t have to do absolutely everything.

But there are of course certain situations where it very much is worth it for you as the entrepreneur or founder to develop and master a new skill.

Now, Ultralearning is about how to rapidly acquire new skills and new knowledge. It covers nine powerful strategies for how you can learn almost anything much faster than you may have thought possible.

So, if there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn about, something perhaps like artificial intelligence, or augmented reality, or blockchain technology, or anything else that you think would benefit you when it comes to future business opportunities, then a book like this can help you acquire that knowledge and develop related skills faster than you might have thought possible.

But anyway, those are five of the very best self-help books for entrepreneurs to read.

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