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12 books about real life entrepreneurs to read in 2017


2017 may have just begun, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t plan our year of business reading.

 

Below is a list of our favourite books about real life entrepreneurs. Inspirational stories, actionable tips and warnings about what not to do – these books have it all.

 

1. The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley are Changing the World – Brad Stone

No list of entrepreneurs would be complete without a mention of Silicon Valley’s finest disruptors. This book covers the rise of Uber and Airbnb and is especially interesting when covering how the tech giants navigated the regulatory minefields of their respective industries.  

 

2. Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built – Duncan Clark

Alibaba is a Chinese eCommerce giant – in 2014 their $25 billion IPO broke records. Described as a ‘Rockefeller for our time’ Jack Ma built Alibaba from scratch, overcoming failure and intense competition along the way.

 

3. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE – Phil Knight

Started with just $50, Nike is now a multi-billion dollar global powerhouse. This autobiography from the company’s founder tells the story of his meteoric rise, in his own words. Bill Gates describes the book as  ‘A refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. A messy, perilous, and chaotic journey riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice’

 

4. The Kickstarter Handbook: Real-Life Success Stories of Artists, Inventors, and Entrepreneurs – Don Steinberg

Kickstarter is the world’s most famous crowdsourcing platforms and has allowed many budding entrepreneurs to raise enough capital to pursue their dreams. To find out the secret of crowdfunding success, Don Steinberg interviewed dozens of people who have raised at least $100,000 on the platform. Full of actionable tips about crowdsourcing, this book is also a great insight into why some ideas succeed whilst others fail.

 

5. Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson

This is the ultimate Steve Jobs biography, written by a man who had direct access to the business icon. A bestseller, this book builds a rounded picture of Jobs, based on interviews with colleagues, friends and family, as well as the man himself. A brutally honest biography about a man who was as difficult as he was visionary.

 

6. Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way – Richard Branson

You’ve probably already read this classic business tome. Few entrepreneurs have the gift for self-promotion that Richard Branson has. Whilst not quite a rags to riches tail, this book is nevertheless a fascinating account of a meteoric rise through the business world.  

 

7. Wild Company: The Untold Story of Banana Republic – Mel Ziegler

Most of us will know Banana Republic from its current, relatively staid, high street presence, however its backstory is more adventurous than you may expect. This book chronicles the story of two bored journalists who created a fashion sensation based on safari gear and the lure of adventure. The book also covers what happens when you lose control of your company thanks to a larger stakeholder, in this case Gap.

 

8. Start Something That Matters – Blake Mycoskie

If you’ve ever thought about starting a social enterprise, this book may inspire you to take the plunge. Whilst travelling in Argentina, Blake Mycoskie had a stroke of inspiration and started TOMS, a socially conscious for profit that donates a pair of shoes to a child in need in return for every pair bought by a customer. In this book Mycoskie shares the guiding principles that turned TOMS into a global success story.

 

9. A Book About Innocent: Our Story and Some Things We’ve Learned – Innocent

Whether you like or loath Innocent’s cutesy tone of voice, you have to admire their commitment to their brand. This is a user friendly compendium of sage business advice from people that have been there, done that and created a British phenomenon in the process.

 

10. My Story – Jo Malone

From leaving school with no qualifications to building one of the UK’s most successful beauty brands, Jo Malone’s story is certainly inspirational. This autobiography charts her journey to the top, overcoming personal and business setbacks to become a household name.

 

11. Pour Your Heart into it: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time – Howard Schultz

Starbucks can be credited with bringing coffee culture to America. In this book the company’s founder talks about the importance of building a business around core values, such as social responsibility and treating employees well. Central to the ethos of Starbucks is the idea of a ‘third place’ – a space between work and home which the coffee company seeks to fill. The book also covers Starbuck’s enviable history of product innovation, creating a new style of Americanised coffee drinks.

 

12. Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman – Yvon Chouinard

Patagonia are an outdoor brand renowned for their strong social conscience. This book covers Yvon Chouinard’s unconventional journey from climbing in the mountains of California to owning a global business. Different to many of the entrepreneurs on this list, Chouinard didn’t start of with an ambitious aim of conquering the world, instead preferring to balance his business efforts with outdoor adventures. As well as a business story, the book also covers Patagonia’s distinctive environmentalist philosophy.

What books are on your must read list this year? Let us know on Twitter @switchmybiz

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