5 must-read books for every entrepreneur

Rinkel collega Janine
Janine Wilbrink
update: 16 September 2021

Sometimes you come across one of those books where you think: wow. If only I had read that much earlier! You used to think that because it was just such a fun book. Nowadays, you read books that teach you lessons. Life lessons, but also: entrepreneurial lessons.

We have those moments ourselves. And because we would like to share those moments with you, we have put our recommendations on paper. These books will help you grow as a person, but also as an entrepreneur. 

Learn to ask the right questions, or look at something in a different way. Or just that: face a problem you are running into as an entrepreneur and do something about it.

Either way, we'll go through them with you!

We have not put together a 'top 5', so the books are not in order. They are 'just' our recommendations. ;-)

#1: Purple Cow by Seth Godin

Available at: bol.com

A purple cow. Picture yourself driving through the Netherlands, in the countryside, and among all the pied cows and cloth cattle, suddenly see a purple-spotted cow. It catches your eye. You stop the car. You don't believe your eyes: is that real?

That's exactly the point Seth Godin makes in his book "Purple Cow". You have to stand out as an entrepreneur, otherwise you are invisible. Seth Godin writes that you have to put a purple cow in everything you do to stand out.

Make sure you have a product (or business or service) worth marketing. Packed with practical examples, advice and tips to become aware of as an entrepreneur. 

Our colleague Lichelle recommends this book: "It may be an older (some say outdated) book, but Godin gives many useful examples in a short time and takes you back to basics: What makes me really unique? Cast the examples yourself in a modern twist and you'll come up with some more creative catch-ups in no time."

Boek cover van Purple Cow

#2: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Available at: bol.com

No need for a boring 800-page management book you just can't get through? Then we have good news! Shoe Dog is anything but a tough read.

Written by the founder of Nike (then Blue Ribbon Sports), the book is an inspiring biography of the birth of this giant company. From the setbacks, life and entrepreneurial lessons and the journey from a $1200 capital to the multi-million dollar company today.

Phil Knight, an introverted entrepreneur, takes you through his entrepreneurial story, how it went for him. You get an insight into his life and experience the story for yourself.

At least our Jeroen is lyrical about it: he finished the book in one go.

Shoe Dog boek cover

#3: The 80/20 principle by Richard Koch

Available at: bol.com

The 80/20 principle is a scientifically proven principle known as the Pareto principle. This assumes that 80% of all results are caused by 20% of causes. 

It is an analysis tool that organisations, like yours, can use to determine which products offer the highest profits. But it also offers a (new) method of thinking for you as an entrepreneur yourself. Which themes should you focus on and what are the best solutions?

This book takes you through how you can become more effective by focusing on 'the almighty 20%'. In other words: doing the right things with less energy. That is guaranteed to be music to every entrepreneur's ears!

What our colleague Dennis himself says about it: the beauty of this book is that you can also apply it to your private life, not just work. For example, it is more beneficial to focus on a select group of close friends, rather than lots of 'acquaintances'.

Boek cover van het 80/20 principe

#4: Scaling Up: The Growth Formula by Verne Harnish

Available at: bol.com. Also available to borrow from the Online Library.

For anyone who has heard of the Rockefeller Habits. If you implement all the steps in this book correctly, your organisation is going to grow anyway. In fact, that's the promise Verne Harnish makes to you.

While that may not be for everyone, it is a book from which you can get enormous inspiration. How do you set the (right) priorities? How do you accelerate your cash flow? How do you deal with obstacles? How do you set up a strategy for your business? In short, how to make your business scalable.

In other words: an ultimate book for any entrepreneur with high drive and lots of ambition. 

On the first page is a quote from Verne: "This book is for all leaders who are growing their businesses and for the families and teams around them. You are the drivers of our economies and the source of our freedom." 

If that appeals to you, just as it appealed to colleague Jeroen, you should definitely read this book!

Boek cover Scaling Up van Verne Harnish

#5: The Obstacle Is The Road by Ryan Holiday

Available from: bol.com and via Kobo Plus.

Recommended by Janine, a book useful for everyone: from marketer to pilot to CEO.

How do you turn an obstacle, a setback, into an opportunity? If you are driving a car, or cycling, you find the first diversions to get past it anyway. Sometimes it means you only have to swerve to drive past it. Other times you have to take a detour. 

Either way, you shift gears quickly to get to where you need or want to be. So it is with obstacles at your job. 

Ryan Holiday takes you through the stoic philosophy: that which is in the way is the way. It has been applied to all kinds of different problems for more than 2,000 years. From the battlefield to the creation of the first iPhone.

For instance, the book comes up with a "premortem": draw up a document of what can go wrong before you start anything. Many of these things also go wrong. Nevertheless, it ensures that you are prepared and know immediately how to tackle it.

Boek cover van Het Obstakel Is De Weg

Which book is at the top of your list?