Toop’s Top Ten Books for Business Owners and Entrepreneurs

DJ daniel toop book recommendations

I often get asked by people that are keen to start their own business or freelance. Some because they are young entrepreneurs, others because they have started working in the corporate world and find it wanting.

The thing that annoys me about a lot of these types of posts is that the lists are written as if all books should be read, which I think is a bad idea. I will be writing areas that each covers and a brief synopsis which you could use wherever you are currently on your in your life and business.

Before starting your business 
A Good hard kick in the ass – Rob Adams
Straight to the point.
This is one of those books i have loaned to lots of people as a primer. Unfortunately one of those people never gave it back and I cannot find anyone that sells this anymore. Please let me know if you can find anywhere that stocks it!

Business Model Generation – Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur
Great for getting creative about your business model. Good for people who think visually and physically.

The Lean Startup: Eric Ries
A particular methodology for Tech businesses. Not the only way, but an interesting one.

The E Myth – Michael Gerber
A must read if you’re going to jump into starting your own business. Any of the editions are fine as the core message is the same.

Aesop’s Fables
Universal Truths

Rules for Revolutionaries – Kawasaki
Think Different

The Long Tail – Anderson
The future of endless choice

Bootstrapers Bible
The best summary of what bootstrapping involves

Idea Virus – Seth Godin
Seth’s best work.

Rework – Fried & Hansson
I’m not one of the people that worshop the guys from 37 signals, but this book is good for the simple fact it helps you look at the basic assumptions that you have about how to do business. Then you can choose whether or not it would be a good idea for you to break them.

Self Improvement
The 7 Habits of highly effective people – Stephen Covey

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
Think and Grow Rich – Napolean Hill
The self improvement standards, for good reason. Get the audiobooks and listen to them in the car.

Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
How to create Flow states

Getting Things Done – David Allen
The creator of the GTD movement. Read it all and use the bits that work for you.

Awaken the Giant Within – Anthony Robbins
A good initiation into NLP, read some Richard Bandler after this.

Human Relations (HR)
Gifts Differing – Myers & Myers
Explaination of the Myers-Briggs personality test and Jung’s Theory. Good for getting the best out of different personalities.

Tribal Leadership – Logan et al
Spiral Dynamics – Cowan
Decision making frameworks of different cultures. Tribal Leadership is the business version, Spiral Dynamics goes further down the rabbit hole.

Topgrading – Smart
WHO – Smart & Street
A great methodology for recruitment. WHO is a easily digested process oriented book. Topgrading is the referrence book if you want to go into more details. WHO is the “How”, Topgrading is the “Why”

Job Hunting
What Colour is your parachute – Bolles
The best book on how to find a job, especially if you want to change career. I find a lot of people that want to start in a different field of business than the one they are in will be better served by taking a job for someone else in that field first.


The Elements of Style – Strunk and White
The Chicago Manual of Style – University of Chicago Press
These books are amazing. The English language is hard to get right, but also a thing of beauty. Elements is a great short book to read all the way through. Chicago is a great reference book.

On Writing – Stephen King
Just read it.

Writing Under Pressure – Kaye
Excellent book when you’re at school/university, but still applicable

Comedy Writing Secrets – Helitzer & Shatz
Surprisingly useful

Motorcycle Riding
A Twist of the Wrist – Chandler
Most entrepreneurs I know ride motorcycles at some stage. This might help you keep the rubber on the road.

Starting Strength – Rippetoe
Weight Training fundamentals

The 48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene
Good reference book for when you’re at a crossroads and need to get creative about solutions. Pick it up and have a read to see what creative ideas bubble up.

Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Letters – Warren Buffett
I’ve read a few books by Buffett, but these Letters are better.

The 4 Hour Work Week – Timothy Ferriss
Firstly I want to point out that the title is total bullshit. But that is kind of the point of the book, which sadly most people don’t get. The real meaning is to create a business where you only have to spend 4 hours a week doing things that you DONT like, but in effect working a lot because you enjoy the other 60 hours. Lots of things here to get you thinking.

The Rockafeller Habits – Harnish
The only book you will need for creating Vision and Mission statements as well as planning and how to actually implement n your business with a distinct lack of B.S.

Sales Psychology
Why We Buy – Paco Underhill
The psychology of shopping

Influence / Yes! – Cialdini
Persuasion in action through science

Drive – Pink
What actually motivates people

The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
How businesses create habits in their customers, how to make and break the cycles.

The Sandler Rules
Sales training for people that aren’t natural “salepeople”

Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability – Steve Krug
A great book to show your crew when they think you should have use Flash splash pages for your business website.

Making Things Happen – Berkun
Project management useful in many areas, especially web based work with several stakeholders.

Communication Design – Dan M Brown
Good ideas on who/What/How to design a website and share the reasoning and design with a group of people. Hesistant to put on the list as the author totally fucked up by not putting the documentation promised in the book on to the website.

Web Analytics An Hour a Day – Kaushik
Excellent way to learn about how to improve your website, probably a bit out of date, but his blog contains all the info and more

The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron
A structured way to bring back your creative side

Joel on Software – Spolsky
I don’t write software or manage developers, but there are many parallels in working with artists and on complicated projects

Understanding Comics – McCloud
Amazing book with implications on design of marketing and products

The Design of Everyday Things – Norman
How to design things FOR people

Universal Principles of Design – Lidwell, Holden, Butler
Excellent reference resource when designing for usability, perception and appeal.
Books that are on my reading list, let me know if there are others I should check out:
The Mythical Man Month – Brooks
Man’s Search for Meaning – Victor Frankl
The 3 Laws of Performance – Zaffron & Logan
Makers – Cory Doctorow
Masters of Doom – David Kushner


Pick the top 10 books that could help you the most and buy the books/ebooks and audiobooks now!

Any good books I should know about? Leave me a comment or email me at