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Part of entrepreneurship is being able to continue your own education. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur still sitting in a 9-to-5, or a full-fledged founder knee-deep in the process, self-education is one of the primary pillars of success. Anyone who wants to build something on his (or her) own knows that in order to actually build the thing, you have to learn how others have built what they’ve built before you.
Related: 20 Books Billionaire Bill Gates Recommends
Reading is one of the best ways to learn.
Sure, there are plenty of other valuable resources (audio, video, etc.) to learn from. But the depth a book provides is unparalleled. Books provide insights that simply can’t be covered in a 30-minute podcast or a video interview with your favorite entrepreneur.
So, if success is on your mind, here’s a solid handful of books you should keep on your desk at all times:
“All In,” by Bill Green
What does it really mean to go “all in” on a venture?
Author Bill Green has made a name for himself as an entrepreneur with an unrivaled level of commitment. From the flea market table he once ran to an eventual massive IPO offering, Green built Wilmar Industries into a $630-million corporation with over 2,300 employees. But, as with any entrepreneurial success story, Green’s achievements were not easily won. In fact, they demanded his full attention.
All in: 101 Real Life Business Lessons for Emerging Entrepreneurs is the culmination of all the hard-earned lessons Green had to learn over the course of his 40-year career. From practical tools for success to humbling stories about his unrelenting work ethic, this book truly offers readers a sense of what it really takes to go from founder of a startup to CEO of a publicly traded company.
“Self-Employed,” by Joel Comm and John Rampton
Everyone has an idea. Everyone wants to work his or her own hours and travel with a “laptop office.” But not everyone has what it takes to be a true entrepreneur.
In Self-Employed: 50 Signs That You Might Be an Entrepreneur, authors Joel Comm and (Entrepreneur contributor) John Rampton pull out 50 different qualities that will help you identify (before you take the leap) whether you have the DNA to be part of the rare breed of self-employed hustlers.
Think of this as your guidebook to the entrepreneur’s lifestyle. These 50 qualities help provide a framework for the sort of day-to-day that is required in order to build something on your own, and help put your journey in perspective.
Related: The 7 Books Every Entrepreneur Needs to Read When They’re Discouraged
So, before you go leaving your 9-to-5, give Self-Employed a read to see whether entrepreneurship is really gor you.
“The Hard Thing About Hard Things,” by Ben Horowitz
How do you run a successful startup? Learn from one of Silicon Valley’s most respected entrepreneurs, Ben Horowitz, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz.
It’s easy to talk about how great building a business can be — once it’s successful — but rarely are people honest about just how difficult the road to success really is. In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Horowitz breaks down the challenges founders and CEOs can (and should) expect when building a company — and gives readers the honest truth about controversial topics, such as firing friends, poaching competitors and knowing when it’s time to cash in and get out.
This is the sort of book you read when things start getting tough, so you can remember that you’re not alone.
“Rich20Something,” by Daniel DiPiazza
Daniel DiPiazza (another Entrepreneur contributor) is the modern day millennial success story. From a typical twentysomething who was bored and unsure of what to do in life, DiPiazza became the founder of multiple businesses, including the wildly popular Rich20Something.com. Now, he’s opening the door and sharing why (and how) he decided to go his own way.
His message is simple: If you don’t like where your life is headed, change it. That’s what he did, and he now has 240,000 followers on Instagram, all of whom look to his page for daily advice, motivation and insight into how to be a successful modern-day entrepreneur.
Rich20Something is about hustle, but it’s also about how to take an idea to conception in a short amount of time. DiPiazza shares his process for ruthlessly prioritizing what you want to do in life, how to focus and remove distractions, and how to hack digital platforms and social media to build an audience for yourself.
“Zero to One,” by Peter Thiel
If you’ve ever wanted a glimpse into the mind of a big-time entrepreneur, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future reveals all. The book is based on Thiel’s talks during his “Computer Science: Startup” class at Stanford Law School in 2012; the book’s theme is the mindset of game-changing founders.
Thiel’s point, which is a lesson many aspiring entrepreneurs need to hear (sooner rather than later) is that the next great founder won’t create another Facebook, or another Google.
Related: 10 Books Every Leader Should Read to Be Successful
Founders that look to replicate do not move the needle from 0 to 1. They merely blend in with the rest, and end up fighting for market share as a result. But the founders that push themselves to do something new, something that hasn’t been done before, are the ones that ultimately forge their own way — and escape the threat of competition.