The 5 Best Business Books

Last updated: 30 December 2020. Business, a pursuit which combines knowledge, competence, perseverance and strategy. Being excellent at a business discipline will surely lead to rich rewards, through salary or profit. Being able to lead a multi-disciplinary team can be even more rewarding.

Find our shortlists of the best business books below

In addition to our ranking of the top 5 business books below, I've also curated a few useful shortlists of business books which belong to specific sub-genres which I think you'll love.

With prices ranging from £6 - £25, stocking up on a few of the best business books can deliver the same value as an expensive training course for only a fraction of the cost. They can even be read for free with Amazon's Kindle Unlimited free trial. Click on any title below to see the latest price from Amazon, you'll be shocked at how affordable the most popular titles are. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases which helps to support this site. This does not impact how I compile the list.

Business books about inspirational entrepreneurs

Incredible tales of success from profiles and autobiographies

Elon Musk

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Business books about managing change

Learn from the wisdom of business people who have thrived through change

The best business books about selling more

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Books about how to start a business

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The best business books of all time

Classic and timeliness business books with broad appeal

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My Top 5 Business Books for 2021

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1. From Good to Great - Jim Collins



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"Can a good company become a great one? If so, how?

After a five-year research project, Jim Collins concludes that good to great can and does happen. In this book, he uncovers the underlying variables that enable any type of organisation to make the leap from good to great while other organisations remain only good. Rigorously supported by evidence, his findings are surprising - at times even shocking - to the modern mind.

Good to Great achieves a rare distinction: a management book full of vital ideas that reads as well as a fast-paced novel. It is widely regarded as one of the most important business books ever written."

Who this book is for:

From good to great is a timeliness business classic for managers and leaders of businesses of all sizes. 

Jim Collin's Good to Great is so popular that I've seen it handed out by the stack at business training courses as takeaway material for participants. 

The first business book that anyone needs to read when looking to turn up the dial of performance in their organisation. 



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"In this highly acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Dr. Robert B. Cialdini—the seminal expert in the field of influence and persuasion—explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these principles ethically in business and everyday situations.

You’ll learn the six universal principles of influence and how to use them to become a skilled persuader—and, just as importantly, how to defend yourself against dishonest influence attempts.

Understanding and applying the six principles ethically is cost-free and deceptively easy. Backed by Dr. Cialdini’s 35 years of evidence-based, peer-reviewed scientific research—as well as by a three-year field study on what moves people to change behavior—Influence is a comprehensive guide to using these principles effectively to amplify your ability to change the behavior of others."

Who this book is for:

If you're looking for an insightful book to fulfil your curiosity about psychology and marketing then Influence by Robert Cialdini is the book for you. 

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is an interesting read not only because it provides scientifically grounded advice on how to become more influential (within a market place or any context for that matter).

But it also speaks to us all as consumers too, revealing many of the techniques that even those of us who would consider ourselves as 'marketing-conscious' may still be falling for.   



3. Managing Change - Benard Burnes



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"The aim of this leading textbook is to provide a thorough understanding of the theories, approaches and practice of organisational change.  It critically examines the approaches to change that are on offer, indicates their usefulness and drawbacks and sets them within the broad context of organisational life through the use of real-life examples."

Who this book is for:

Managing Change is the textbook on business change. 

Aimed at students of management at university level, I've featured this title as #3 on my list of the best business books because it provides the most comprehensive overview of organisational change concepts and strategies found in any book. 

Managing change is perhaps the most difficult aspect of being a manager or leader. Change as a habit of creating new rifts and clashes in otherwise efficient and stable departments. It can be the great undoing of much good work, and that's why it's worth studying up on change management as a discipline before you undertake a big change process such as:

  • Rolling out new software
  • Restructuring an organisation's hierachy
  • Rationalising operations
  • Launching into a new market

 

 


4. Elon Musk - Ashlee Vance



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"South African born Elon Musk is the renowned entrepreneur and innovator behind PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity. Musk wants to save our planet; he wants to send citizens into space, to form a colony on Mars; he wants to make money while doing these things; and he wants us all to know about it.

Elon Musk is the Steve Jobs of the present and the future, and for the past twelve months, he has been shadowed by tech reporter, Ashlee Vance. Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of Spacex and Tesla is Shaping our Future is an important, exciting and intelligent account of the real-life Iron Man."

Who this book is for:

Elon Musk is one of the great entrepreneurs of the modern age. Having concquered not just one, but three distinct industries within his short career so far, Elon has built a legion of fans in the process. 

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance is a semi-authorised biography which painstakingly captures the critical periods of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX. 

Discover the shocking secret of how close these enterprises came to collapse, and which of Elon's extreme personality traits have driven his companies to success. 



5. Business Adventures - John Brooks



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"'The best business book I've ever read.' Bill Gates, Wall Street Journal

'The Michael Lewis of his day.' New York Times

What do the $350 million Ford Motor Company disaster known as the Edsel, the fast and incredible rise of Xerox, and the unbelievable scandals at General Electric and Texas Gulf Sulphur have in common? Each is an example of how an iconic company was defined by a particular moment of fame or notoriety.

These notable and fascinating accounts are as relevant today to understanding the intricacies of corporate life as they were when the events happened."

Who this book is for:

As the book now features on its front cover, Bill Gates likes to describe Business Adventures by John Brooks as his favourite business book of all time. Coming from a one-time worlds richest man, that's saying something.

An interesting twist on this anecdote is that Warren Buffet was actually the person who recommended the book to Bill Gates in the first place!

If such a commendation doesn't persuade you to buy this book, then perhaps the 1,500 reviews on Amazon will.



The Financial Expert™ Best Business Book Challenge


Best business books

I challenge you to read one business book per month and see if it revolutionises your investing style!


The Financial Expert™ Best Business Book Challenge is a well-loved feature of this website.

Business books cover an array of topics and I often feel they represent an entire library in their own right. 

There's business fiction, and non-fiction. There's popular and readable titles from business 'celebrities', alongside academic business books from finance professors and those who study business case studies.

From inspirational and uplifting titles, complete with actions and checklists, to revealing exposes, the range of business books will ensure that you could read a totally different business book each month and still have a fantastically varied reading experience for an entire year!

This is what inspired by best business book challenge:

I challenge you to read one business book per month for the next year, and find your new favourite!

It's as simple and rewarding as it sounds. Simply select a few of your favourites which fill you with a sense of anticipation, and begin your first title this week!

Don't wait until a holiday - reading business books is a great way to escape the day-to-day and drift into a parallel universe where personal development is held centre-stage. 

Some guidance

  • I found it helpful to stock up on books for the next few months, so that when a new month rolls around, my next book was my bed-side table asking to be opened!
  • Pick a variety of styles. This will keep the challenge fresh and increase the diversity of opinion. 
  • Pick at least one book that you don't think you would enjoy, this book might be the one that surprises you the most!
  • If you're time-starved, audio books are absolutely fine!

Where to begin?

My list of the best business books above is as good as any place to start, as I have consciously included a mix of different writing and investing styles to ensure that it caters to a wide audience.

Good luck!



What to expect from a business book

The best business books can be divided into many individual sub genres, which we cover in our comprehensive finance book genre list. The most popular are:

Entrepreneurship - Books which advise readers on how to start and grow a business

Management - Books which drive high performance and can boost the career value of readers

Leadership - Inspirational books which offer different mindsets or frameworks to use when setting goals and being visible in an organisation.

Sales & marketing - Books which offer tips and tricks to drive higher product sales and bring success

Finance - Books specialising in the money and figures which drive business. 

What separates the best business books from the rest?

You don't need me to tell you that the business book genre is saturated. It seems like every man and his dog have entered a publisher and produced a paperback about leading change or motivating employees.

The best business books usually have a compelling story to tell. This provides a 'hook' for the reader, and establishes some real-world context for the arguments being put forward.

Where the case study is particularly high-profile, this provides some additional credibility to help the author stand out from the crowd. This was no longer just a fluke or small success story, it was an industry-defining event.

There are thousands of consultants who could pen a title on 'how to increase sales' or 'how to retain staff' without doing much more than regurgitating the same business philosophy they apply in their day-to-day. However, there is only one Tesla. There's only one Apple. Therefore, I do enjoy books which provide insights based on pivotal and game changing business strategies or leaders. 

What's the best business book in the UK?

The UK business book market is particularly buoyant right not. Lockdown in 2020 provided the kick that many authors needed to finally get around to completing their business books and get them ready for market. As a result, we've seen a flood of new titles since. 

The best business books in the UK in my opinion are shown in the shortlists of titles below. I've kept the entry requirements for our main list of the best business books rather than restricting to just a single country. Business is an international, rather than national sport, and therefore I see less value in focusing exclusively on authors from the UK alone, compared to other disciplines such as books about property investment or books about saving tax

The advantage of picking UK business books are that you'll find content which refers to the:

  • Same legal framework (Scotland, England & Wales)
  • Same group of consumers
  • Same political environment
  • Same shared cultural history, which impacts working practices and working culture. 

However, to repeat the point, I wouldn't recommend isolating yourself in a silo of UK business books. Pick up some US entrepreneurship stories, or some intriguing insights into manufacturing in the Far East!