Books are a terrific source of inspiration, a distillation of years of wisdom, a constant friend, a flight of the imagination, and also a guide to action. Starting a business from the ground up can be at times lonely, stressful and all-consuming. Take a break and read the advice from successful entrepreneurs who’ve mastered the fields of technology, fashion, retail, real estate and more.
Biographies give a personal look at these successful people’s motivations, successes, failures and lessons learned. Read on to find inspiration in their trials and triumphs.
Here are the 10 must-read biographies of brightest entrepreneurs,
1. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
What began in Steve Jobs’ parents’ garage in the 1970s laid the groundwork for revolutionary innovation in technology. From personal computers to animated films, how we listen to and purchase music, use our phones and even read books,
Jobs left his indelible print on how we communicate, entertain and live. Based on more than 40 interviews with Jobs himself and hundreds more with those who knew him, this no-limits, warts-and-all biography sheds light on a complicated man and his vision for how technology could be.
2. Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson
In Losing My Virginity, Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, shares how his early experiences shaped his later business ventures. When he met with “experts” who advised he not enter an already crowded field, Branson followed his gut, with his trademark slogan, “Oh, screw it. Let’s do it.” Part memoir, part business guide for entrepreneurs, Branson’s belief that customer service reigns supreme is a theme throughout his businesses, from airlines to mobile and beyond.
3. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
Tony Hsieh’s entrepreneurial spirit emerged when he was just nine years old and launched his first business — a worm farm. When that didn’t pan out, he moved on, undeterred, to businesses ranging from publishing a newsletter and selling it to classmates and running garage sales, all before high school. In 1998, at age 24, he sold his company LinkExchange, an online banner advertising program, to Microsoft for $265 million. He joined Zappos shortly after and helped create a company culture that infuses the science of happiness into its business model. That vision statement, to deliver happiness to the world, has drawn new and repeat customers to the site.
4. Idea Man by Paul Allen
In 1974 at 21 years old, Paul Allen teamed up with childhood friend Bill Gates to create programming language for the first personal computer. They worked together since their teens on professional programming jobs, but believed they were the ones who could write the code that, at the time, engineers didn’t believe was possible. The famously private In Idea Man, Allen opens up about the founding of Microsoft, as well as his adventures after he stepped down from the company he helped create (advances in space travel and brain mapping, to name a few).
5. Built from Scratch by Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus
In 1978, Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank were executives who’d just heard the two words that strike fear in the hearts of employees everywhere: You’re fired. Their perspective changed, however, when a friend told them they’d “been kicked in the a** with a golden horseshoe.” The firings, in fact, were a blessing in disguise. Built from Scratch is the inside story of how two determined executives constructed the Home Depot empire from the ground up.
6. Direct from Dell by Michael Dell
Dell founder Michael Dell started his PC company in the same way that many other technology companies begin — in his dorm room at college. With less than $1,000, he built his fledgling company into a powerhouse that transformed the way PCs were manufactured, purchased and delivered.
In Direct from Dell, he tells both the story of the company’s growth and his own management strategies.
7. Pour Your Heart into It by Howard Schultz
Starbucks is known for its ubiquity, but its “shop on every street corner” success didn’t come out of the blue. In Pour Your Heart Into It, CEO Howard Schultz discusses the customer-service principles that made Starbucks a household name. In addition, he shares the wisdom he’s learned and the techniques he’s used to keep Starbucks focused on customer and employee satisfaction, despite its staggering growth.
8. Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch
Jack Welch is the man responsible for building General Electric into a multinational conglomerate that touches everything from lightbulbs to commercial lending and leasing. Straight from the Gut is Welch’s engaging first-hand story, starting with his childhood and moving through his meteoric rise through GE’s ranks. His autobiography discusses his career, business mistakes and successes, all in his trademark, no-nonsense style.
9. Made In America by Sam Walton
Love it or hate it, Walmart is one of the most successful retail businesses in American history. In Made in America, Wal-Mart founder details his company’s growth from a single dime store in Arkansas to the retail giant it is today, describing his successes and mistakes in an approachable, down-home writing style.
10. The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick
Journalist David Kirkpatrick was formerly at ‘Fortune’ magazine, and runs Techonomy Media, a tech-focused conference company. The Facebook Effect profiles Mark Zuckerberg and the meteoric rise of Facebook from a Harvard dorm room to today’s social media giant.