American author William S. Burroughs is quoted as saying, "If you’re not growing, you’re dying."

When was the last time you invested time or money into your personal or business development? Thankfully, reading books that improve your mindset, teach you new skills, or allow you to think outside of the box is a great way to become a better version of yourself.

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There’s no better time to curl up in a comfortable armchair with your favorite pet in your lap, drink a cup of tea, and dive into some of the best business books of 2021. (Spoiler alert… some of these books are oldies but goodies).

The Benefits of Reading Business Books

No matter how successful you’ve been in your business or job, how much time you spent in school, or how amazing your team might be, you’re bound to face challenges as you move through your career.

Business books — whether they be about starting a business, leading or managing a business, or improving your business — can help you see the problems ahead and create strategies to overcome them.

Most of these books are written by people who have experienced challenges in the business world and lived to tell about it. Who better to learn from than someone who has already beaten whatever you’re dealing with (or will deal with in the future)?

There are books for every stage of your career, and 2021 saw a number of impressive titles released into the market. Let’s take a look at a few books you may have missed.

Best Business Books for Startups

Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the global economy. Longstanding businesses were forced to shut their doors. Companies had to make do with skeleton crews, and millions of people reevaluated their lives and choices.

If there's any silver lining to the turmoil, it's that all that unrest inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs to bring new solutions to market. Starting a new business has a high failure rate — but with the right books, you can increase your chances of surviving.

1. Trajectory: Startup: Ideation to Product/Market Fit by Dave Parker

best business book trajectory

This book promises to remove the mystery from the startup process. It offers a path to get you from ideation to launch and revenue in six months with easy-to-follow tasks and timeframes.

2. The Minimalist Entrepreneur: How Great Founders Do More with Less by Sahil Lavingia

best business books minimalist entrepreneuer

The Minimalist Entrepreneur is written for a new generation of founders who would rather build great companies than big ones. Lavingia uses his own experience of building his company, Gumroad, to help entrepreneurs make smart investments, manage remote workers and gig workers, develop and release products quickly and successfully, and become profitable.

3. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

business book the lean startup

When you’re first starting out, you might get caught up spending months building your product or service — only to find that no one wants to buy it. The Lean Startup will help you create a product that customers want (and are happy to pay for) quickly by identifying and testing key assumptions early on. Why waste valuable time, energy, and money, when you could avoid the hassle?

Best Business Leadership Books

Whether your title implies it or not, everyone can benefit from learning to be a leader. Leadership isn’t just about managing others, it’s about managing yourself and inspiring those around you to be the best possible versions of themselves.

4. Beyond Happiness: How Authentic Leaders Prioritize Purpose and People for Growth and Impact by Jenn Lim

Named a Top Business Book of 2021 by Forbes, Beyond Happiness draws on the science of happiness to show readers that true happiness comes from living your true purpose. The book is designed to show company leadership how to help individuals align their purpose with the company mission.

5. Trusted Leader: 8 Pillars That Drive Results by David Horsager

best business book trusted leader

Horsager uses his research and experience to teach the Eight Pillars of Trustclarity, compassion, character, competency, commitment, connection, contribution, and consistency. He sees trust as an asset and believes that you lose influence when you don't have it. Readers will learn strategies to increase alignment, overcome attrition, and get clear on their top priorities.

6. Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Real Change by Stacey Abrams

With a mixture of memoir and instruction, Abrams argues that knowing your own passion is the key to success. Minority Leader speaks to anyone who exists beyond the structure of traditional systemic power and encourages them to make a difference.

7. Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success by Gary Vaynerchuk

best business book twelve and a half

For too long, leaders have relied on "hard skills" to make decisions and ignored the importance of emotional intelligence. In his sixth business book, Vaynerchuk focuses on soft skills like self-awareness and curiosity to accelerate business success.

Best Business Management Books

Be the manager you’ve always wanted to work for with these books on business management.

8. Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Difficult People by Renee Evenson

best business book powerful phrases

Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Difficult People promises to create a more harmonious work environment by learning how to deal with difficult personalities — whether they're employees, colleagues, or bosses.

In this book, you’ll learn thirty common personality traits and behaviors, and learn the best phrases to use with each. Evenson also outlines a five-step process for moving from conflict to resolution. This book will help you stay calm and diffuse conflict in the workplace.

9. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo

You’ve been promoted to management… Now what? After struggling as a brand new manager at the age of 25, Zhuo now believes that great managers are made — not born.

This field guide provides insights on what it takes to be a great manager, how to build trust and rapport with your team, what to focus on in the first few months, and how to deal with the increased responsibility. This book is everything Zhuo wishes she knew when she accepted her promotion.

10, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman

best business book multipliers

As a manager, you have two options as to how you’d like to lead your team. You could be the genius that everyone turns to in a bind — or you can unlock the genius in each of your employees.

Multipliers is a Wall Street Journal Bestseller that helps you take the latter approach. Become the manager who makes everyone around them smarter, more capable, and more effective. You can achieve amazing results when you tap into the multiplier mindset.

Best Books on Business Strategy

When was the last time you took a bird’s eye view to your business, got out of the daily grind, and focused on your organization’s strategy?

11. Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know by Adam Grant

What if the most important skill is no longer to think and learn… but to rethink and unlearn? Grant argues that too many of us favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt.

We entertain opinions that make us feel good, rather than ideas that make us think hard. Rather than surrounding yourself with people who agree with our opinions and conclusions, it’s time to look for those who challenge our thought processes. Grant invites us to release the views that no longer serve us and position ourselves for excellence at work.

12. Your Next Five Moves: Master the Art of Business Strategy by Patrick Bet-David

best business book your next five moves

What if you approached business like a grandmaster in chess — anticipating chains of events? Bet-David invites business strategists to plan five moves ahead — the sweet spot of thoughtful strategy and swift action. Readers will learn to master knowing themselves, the ability to reason, building the right team, strategy to scale, and making power plays.

13. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman

best business books four thousand weeks

How’s this for strategy? If you’re lucky, you’ll live to be around 80 years old. That means that you’ve got 4,000 weeks on this earth. Knowing that your time is finite, what will you do with it? How will you spend your days?

Will you cram in as much work as possible — even if it’s not necessary — or will you fill your time with what really matters?This book offers a fresh perspective on how to manage your time, and more importantly, how to strategize your life.

Conclusion

If you’re ready to up your business game and be the best you possible, it’s time to update your reading list and get started. There’s a world of wisdom in these books and it’s yours for the taking.

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Originally published Feb 7, 2022 8:00:00 AM, updated March 25 2022

Topics:

Leadership