The Education of Entrepreneurs (recommended reading list)

When I launched my Business & Entrepreneurship email list a few weeks back, more than 200 people hit reply on the first message I sent them and told me about themselves, their business, and their challenges. In an effort to help, I found myself recommending the same few resources over and over again. Below I’ve listed the cream of the crop.

One warning before you dive in: It can be very easy to slip into procrastination mode with this stuff. You read and watch and listen and consume when really the most important thing you could be doing is taking action. To avoid that trap, pick just one link at a time from below. After following the link and consuming the content, write down one action you’re going to take as a result of that information. Give yourself a deadline. Ask a friend to hold you accountable. Then go do it.

Once you’ve completed that action, reward yourself with something else on this list.

Life fundamentals (most important)



Entrepreneur Mindset

Business Education

Networking and finding clients

Note: All above links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you’re not cool with that, methinks we have trust issues and you should probably stop reading.

Comments are open if you’d like to suggest a few resources that have really helped you.

Last thing: On Tuesday I’ll be dropping the next episode of The Foundations of Entrepreneurship, an interview with Sebastian Marshall about productivity. Not only does Sebastian drop a bunch of great peak performance tips in that interview, but I’ll also be doing a giveaway for email subscribers. Jump on the list below if you’re not signed up already. Once you’re on I’ll also send any of my future business/entrepreneurship content direct to your inbox, and give you a heads up when I publish my monthly finance reports.

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About The Author


    1. Hey Reginald,

      Yeah, sorry about that. I can’t publish to RSS without it going out to my old email list automatically. I can fix it but it will be a couple of weeks at least, until I get the new site ready to go.

      1. Hey Niall, sorry to hear that the RSS feed doesn’t work. Please update us when that is ready! I set up a recipe on IFTTT to push blog feeds to my Pocket so I can read the articles during my break time.

  1. “Note: All above links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you’re not cool with that, methinks we have trust issues and you should probably stop reading.”

    Stealing that.

    This is an awesome list man! I haven’t read the vast majority of these, time to get crackin!

  2. Entrepreneurs “do”.

    Entrepreneur wannabes “read”.

    I know a lot of people who have started their own businesses, mostly B&M, but not one of them is into reading all these self-help/tips/”productivity” books. (including me)

    That’s because there is no formula to life, and there is no formula to entrepreneurship. You try one thing, and if it doesn’t work you try another thing. You use your judgement and common sense to draw conclusions. You ask for feedback on things you’ve done. You look at your schedule to see where you’re wasting time. It’s common sense when you’re actually doing it.

    No book is going to prepare you for it. Soft skills can only be learned through practice and experience, not through reading. But if you waste your time reading a dozen books, you have much less time for actually taking action. Or worse yet, you take all tips and advice, and you’re overwhelmed trying to put together the perfect plan and do nothing.

    My guess is that most people who read these books do so for entertainment and to daydream, not for actually doing something.

    Your intro is the most important thing about this list: it comes down to _action_. Don’t read. Do. If after you start doing something it’s not working, ask for feedback from someone who has done the same thing successfully. Only resort to self-help books as last resort, IMO. Too much time wasted.

    1. Neither extreme is ideal. You’re advocating that people not read at all. That doesn’t seem wise to me. Why make all the mistakes yourself when other people have already made them and wrote about them? A book like The Lean Startup will save most entrepreneurs countless hours of wheel spinning.

      Books are no substitute for taking action, definitely not, but that doesn’t mean they’re useless. I’m pretty sure I’d still be back working 9-to-5 if I hadn’t read several of the books listed above.

  3. Hey Niall,

    I started reading your blog and following you after being directed from Sean’s interview. I think there are much more “gold” for me to dig on your blog but just want to say thank you for all the values you have brought to us so far!

    I completely agree with what you said – sometimes consuming all these books and courses could be another way of procrastinating.

    When it comes to reading (or self learning), I believe there are books about “mindset” that plant and build one’s foundation first before all other strategic and tactical books come in.

    Those are important and I’m glad to see you list some of them down. I know I won’t be where I am today if I didn’t read Rich Dad, Poor Dad at my younger age.

    Once the mindset is built, it’s time to read some “action” type books that teach you the system and step-by-step how-to.

    Then next is the taking action part.

    In my case, the Rich Dad series opened up a whole new world in front of me but at a young age, I wasn’t know what to do exactly. Investment or real estate seems too far for me even that I wanted to change and do something.

    That changed when I read Tim’s 4-hour Workweek. That book is one of the first that inspired me to join the lifestyle entrepreneur path. I was telling myself, “this is the life I wanted to live!” What came after were AONC and others.

    Then I discovered Ramit Sethi and his Earn1K. Last year December I started to build my freelancing side business. It wasn’t a completely smooth process of course, but it’s a moving forward kind. I’ve done more than $1000 worth projects. Some I worked for free some are paid. I know it’s not a lot consider almost a year since I started.

    But hey, consider also I only have 2 to 3 hours a day to work on my business after a long day working. On top of the projects, now I have 2 JV partners who are setting up their publishing company and would want my team to join as part of the businesses. And I have 3 prospects on my list to work on their next projects after I offer values to them. More importantly, I make friends with more like-minded entrepreneurs than 1 year ago.

    Financial wise, after reading Ramit’s stuffs, I’ve saved up half a year reserve fund, switching to work part time at my workplace (with effect on next year Jan because I want to put more time to my business) and getting prepared to quit entirely and travel by June 2014.

    Sorry for a long comment here and it was all about “me”. Lol. But what I want to bring up is this – people like you Niall are changing the world, don’t stop because people like us are joining you. 🙂


  4. heya Niall. I’m reading ‘how to win friends and influence people’ at the moment. very easy concepts but I’m afraid \i have and everyone else do the opposite of these simple suggestions. Well worth a read

  5. Hi Niall 🙂

    Came back to this list as I was looking for suggestion (yeah, you’re bookmarked hehe).

    Would you have any good resources on how to go on developing an app (when you’re not a coding person, obviously)? Anywhere from the process of organizing it, designing it, commissioning it, hosting it, marketing it, etc…? As usual, there’s information overload on Internet, so just thought of checking with you quickly (and putting it here instead of email so others might find it later too :p)

    Thank you!! 😀

    1. Hi Gaelle,

      I don’t have any good recommendations about that myself yet, though in a few months I’ll be going through that process myself. I plan to get most of my information about best practices and how-to from the Foundation (

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