Recommended Business Books

Many of our entrepreneurs and guest speakers have cited business books as a source of their inspiration during our events. Some have even authored books of their own. Given the influence they've had on their success, we've taken the time to curate a list of those that have been recommended the most:


Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits!
by Greg Crabtree

Simple Numbers can guide you to increased business profitability Take the mystery out of small business finance with this no-frills guide to understanding the numbers that will guide your business out of any financial black hole. Author Greg Crabtree, a successful accountant, small business advisor, and popular presenter, shows you how to use your firm's key financial indicators as a basis for smart business decisions as you grow your firm.
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Finance on a Beermat
by Chris West, Jeff Macklin and Stephen King

Are you afraid of finance? If so, don't worry. You're in good company: many entrepreneurs and small business owners are the same. And now, here is the book for you. Jointly written by Beermat Entrepreneur Chris West and two experienced finance directors, Stephen King and Jeff Macklin, Finance on a Beermat demystifies the whole topic. It shows you how to turn finance from something scary, dull, backward-looking or incomprehensible (sometimes all four!) into a clear, powerful and proactive tool for building businesses.
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The Goal
by Eliyahu M. Goldratt
(Recommended by Graham Sleep, IA Growth)
Alex Rogo is a harried plant manager working ever more desperately to try and improve performance. His factory is rapidly heading for disaster. So is his marriage. He has ninety days to save his plant - or it will be closed by corporate HQ, with hundreds of job losses. It takes a chance meeting with a colleague from student days - Jonah - to help him break out of conventional ways of thinking to see what needs to be done.
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Conscious Capitalism
by John Mackey & Raj Sisodia
(Recommended by Andy Rubin, Pentland Brands)
This book combines the thinking of the founder of Whole Foods and a leading business academic. It helps us all think about the trade-offs that occur in business every day by trying to optimise returns to all stakeholders. It helps us understand that a new balanced scorecard should take into account all stakeholders if we are to build a sustainable world for future generations.
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Let My People Go Surfing
by Yvon Chouinard
(Recommended by Andy Rubin, Pentland Brands)
In his long-awaited memoir, Yvon Chouinard-legendary climber, businessman, environmentalist, and founder of Patagonia Inc. shares the persistence and courage that have gone into being head of one of the most respected and environmentally responsible companies on earth.
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How to Win Friends and Influence People
by Dale Carnegie
(Recommended by Robert Forrester, Vertu Motors)
Millions of people around the world have improved their lives based on the teachings of Dale Carnegie. In How to Win Friends and Influence People, he offers practical advice and techniques, in his exuberant and conversational style, for how to get out of a mental rut and make life more rewarding.
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The Fifth Discipline
by Peter M. Senge
(Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Team Massive Results)
Ostensibly this book is about creating a learning organisation, but its wisdom goes much further than that, particularly regarding simple and complex systems. The author defines five business "disciplines" which help to build "learning organisations". These companies will be the successful ones in the coming decade because of their ability to learn and to absorb new ideas, theories and practices at all employee levels, using them to competitive advantage.
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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
by Steven R. Covey
(Recommended by Robert Forrester, Vertu Motors)
Stephen Covey's book took the self-help market by storm in 1990 and has enjoyed phenomenal sales ever since. With over 15m copies in print, the book has become a classic. Now a touchstone for millions of individuals, as well as for families and businesses, the integrated, principle-centred 7 Habits philosophy has helped people to find solutions to their personal and professional problems, and achieve a life characterised by fairness, integrity, honesty, and dignity.
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The Future Reinvented: Reimagining Life, Society, and Business
by Steve Wells
A guest speaker at our "Future of the Workplace" event, the second book in the Fast Future series explores how our notions of the future are being reinvented. The authors challenge us to reimagine how life, society, key industries, and the conduct of business could be transformed by a combination of radical technological, scientific, social, and economic developments shaping the decade ahead.
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Crucial Conversations: Tools For Talking When Stakes Are High
by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan & Switzler

(Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Team Massive Results)
The first edition of Crucial Conversations exploded onto the scene and revolutionised the way millions of people communicate when stakes are high. This new edition gives you the tools to prepare for high-stakes situations, transform anger and hurt feelings into powerful dialogue, make it safe to talk about almost anything, be persuasive, not abrasive.
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Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
by Jim Collins
(Recommended by Robert Forrester, Vertu Motors)
A blueprint for building organisations, by drawing upon a six-year research project at Stanford University, Collins and Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies and studied each company in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. They examined the companies from their very beginnings to the present day - as start-ups, as midsize companies and as large corporations. Throughout, the authors asked: 'What makes the truly exceptional companies different from other companies?'
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Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? How I Turned Around IBM
by Louis V. Gerstner Jr.
In his frank, direct voice, Gerstner recalls the obstacles he faced when he became CEO of IBM. In what has become one of the great American business stories of our time, within months of joining IBM, Gerstner presented his bold and controversial business strategy which revolutionised the company from within, altering an entire corporate culture, divesting billions of dollars in unneeded assets and transforming IBM from a fractured, process-driven business into a nimble, customer-driven enterprise able to respond quickly to the volatile technology market.
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Work Rules: Insights from Inside Google
by Lazlo Bock
(Recommended by Robert Forrester, Vertu Motors)
A compelling manifesto with the potential to change how we work and live, Work Rules! offers both a philosophy of the new world of work and a blueprint for attracting the most spectacular talent and ensuring the brightest and best prosper. The way we work is changing - are you?
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Team Spirit
by Brendan Hall
(Recommended by Simon Hartley, Be World-class)
At first glance, you may not see how a book with an ocean racing yacht on the cover might help business people. Yes, it is a story of how team spirit won the Clipper Round the World race. However, it is fundamentally about teamwork and leadership, with Brendan Hall sharing his internal wrestles and personal challenges as a leader; his worries, doubts, failures and sleepless nights.
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The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness
by Stephen R. Covey
(Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Team Massive Results)
In the follow up to the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, FDr Covey introduces the four roles of the new leader - modelling, pathfinding, aligning and empowering - and how those qualities can change you and your organisation. He discusses how trust can be lost throughout organisations and how it is imperative that any organisation bring trust back to the company if it is to survive. Covey also shows how to go from what he calls a 'want to' person to a 'can do' person and how doing so can completely transform people and organisations.
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Small Giants
by Bo Burlingham
(Recommended by Simon Hartley, Be World-class)
There are some truly world-class businesses that are not corporations, not listed in the FTSE 250 or global multi-nationals. This book inspires small businesses to be true greats.
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Legacy
by James Kerr
(Recommended repeatedly by guest speakers)
Members of the Forum had the privilege of hearing from James in 2014 when he talked about a unique opportunity to go deep inside the New Zealand rugby All Blacks camp to study the way the best in the world stay on top of their game. His subsequent book, Legacy, has become a must-read business book, sharing the 15 pillars of the team's sporting culture of success that can be transferred to business and leadership.
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The Speed of Trust
by Stephen M.R. Covey
(Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Team Massive Results)
Definitely a life-changing book for Ian personally, the subtitle 'The One Thing That Changes Everything' tells you all you need to know.
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Elite!
by Floyd Woodrow
(Recommended by Simon Hartley, Be World-class)
In Elite!, friend of the Forum Floyd gets right to the heart of leadership and identifies the little things that make a huge difference. He tells a story of two SAS units, operating behind enemy lines in Iraq. Both have very similar missions, with similar resources available. One succeeds, despite encountering some extreme and unexpected challenges. The other fails. What was the one defining difference? Leadership!
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How To Develop Character
by Simon Hartley
The greatest sports teams often recruit people first and players second. They also develop character in people before skills in players. The world's best organisations go beyond teaching skills and knowledge. They know that the challenges of today require personal characteristics such as resilience, tenacity and composure, honesty integrity and courage. In short, they know the importance of having people with the right character.
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The One Minute Manager
by Ken Blanchard
(Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Team Massive Results)
Great for people who don't like reading. It will take 90 minutes cover to cover, but it is a lifetime thick in wisdom. Every manager should read this.
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Scaling Up
by Verne Harnish
The guidebook for the Gazelle coaching in our Scale-up Leader's Academy, Verne Harnish's book is packed full of wisdom, examples, practical tools and exercises you can do with your team to build a clear vision and put the right disciplines in place to make it a reality.
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Selling For Dummies
by Ben Kench
Ben spoke to members of the Entrepreneurs' Forum in 2017 to share advice and give plenty of tips that helped people to improve their sales processes. Reflected in his book, they will help you to generate more leads, win more sales and build your business.
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The Rise and Fall....and Rise Again
by Gerald Ratner
(Recommended by Adrian Cheesman, Demob Job)
Speaking at our Chairman's Dinner in 2019, Gerald Ratner's book charts his phenomenal journey following what should have been an everyday speech at the Institute of Directors in 1991. When the words "total crap" came out of his mouth in connection with a decanter and glasses set sold by his company, H. Samuel, it all turned out slightly different. The Rise and Fall...And Rise Again tells the full story, in Gerald Ratner′s own words, of what lead him to that point at the IoD, the horror of what happened in the immediate aftermath,the fallout and the comeback.
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The Inside Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Growth in Your Business
by Robert Bloom
Robert Bloom has discovered that every enterprise has at least one strategic asset, one existing strength that can form the foundation for future growth. He calls this an Inside Advantage. This strength usually lies unrecognised in an activity the business is currently performing or in a concept or an idea that the business already owns. Finding this hidden potential and becoming well known for it will grow the business.
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Keys to Success
by Sir John Timpson
Sir John Timpson returned to speak to Entrepreneurs' Forum members at our 2018 conference. His previous books include Ask John (Icon, 2014) and High Street Heroes (Icon, 2015), with Keys to Success his most recently published book, which shares 50 secrets from a business maverick who has revolutionised how his firm works with his philosophy of upside-down management.
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The 3x5 Coach
by Dave Baney
(Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Team Massive Results)
Without clear communication, your team may not share your understanding of accountability. They may have entirely different views on their job responsibilities and even why they’re getting paid. This disconnect between managerial and staff opinions can devastate productivity, performance, and team morale. In The 3 x 5 Coach, Dave Baney offers a simple, direct solution to this problem. Baney’s effective methodology will help you to quickly agree on key job accountabilities while establishing objective systems for evaluating employee performance and growth.
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The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the many are smarter than the few
by James Surowiecki
(Recommended by Simon Hartley, Be World-class)
James Surowiecki's book is about the aggregation of information in groups, resulting in decisions that, he argues, are often better than could have been made by any single member of the group. The book presents numerous case studies and anecdotes to illustrate its argument and touches on several fields, primarily economics and psychology.
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Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose
by Tony Hsieh / Zappos

(Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Team Massive Results)
Pay brand-new employees $2,000 to quit; make customer service everyone's responsibility; focus on company culture as the no.1 priority; apply research from the science of happiness to running your business; help employees to grow personally and professionally; seek to change the world; oh, and make money too. It might sound crazy but it's all standard operating procedure at Zappos, the online retailer that's doing over $1bn in gross merchandise sales annually.
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Good to Great 
by Jim Collins
(Repeatedly recommended by many of our guest speakers)
A business must read, after a five-year research project Collins uncovers the underlying variables that enable any type of organisation to make the leap from good to great. Rigorously supported by evidence, his findings are surprising but offer a well-reasoned roadmap to business excellence.
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Making Character First
by Tom Hill & Walter Jenkins
(Recommended by Simon Hartley, Be World Class)
There are very few books that help us understand not only the importance of recruiting and developing character in people but also the process. In this book, Tom Hill describes how he turned around a failing culture in his own manufacturing business by systematically developing character in his team.
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The E-Myth
by Michael Gerber
(Recommended by numerous guest speakers)
Described as "The world's No.1 Small Business Guru", Michael Gerber's instant business classic book, The Entrepreneurial Myth, walks you through the steps in the life of a business - from entrepreneurial infancy through to adolescent growing pains and the mature entrepreneurial perspective. It was voted #1 business book by Inc. 500 CEOs.
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Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence - and How You Can, Too
by Gary Vaynerchuk
(Recommended by Alfie Joey, BBC Radio Newcastle presenter and host of the Forum's Spring conference Together We Can Take on the World)

Four-time New York Times bestselling author Gary Vaynerchuk offers new lessons and inspiration drawn from the experiences of dozens of influencers and entrepreneurs who rejected the predictable corporate path in favor of pursuing their dreams by building thriving businesses and extraordinary personal brands.
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24 Assets: Create a digital, scalable, valuable and fun business that will thrive in a fast changing world
by Daniel Priestley
(Recommended by Ryan Davies, Surge)

In every industry, there are companies that take off. They effortlessly hire talented people, attract loyal customers, create cool products and make lots of money. These companies seem to stand out and scale up quickly with support from investors, partners and the media. Sadly, most companies don’t perform this way. Most entrepreneurs aren’t building anything of value. They work hard, make sacrifices, struggle, dream, plan and strive, but in the end, it doesn’t pay off. This book sets out a method for building a business that becomes a valuable asset. It focuses you on transforming your organisation into something scalable, digital, fun and capable of making an impact.
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We Bought A Zoo
by Benjamin Mee
(Benjamin is guest speaker at our Together We Can Take on the World conference on 9th May)
An amazing true story that has inspired the major Hollywood motion picture this Christmas, to be repackaged for release alongside the film. We Bought a Zoo is about one young family, a broken down zoo, and the wild animals that changed their lives forever. When Ben [played by Damon] and his wife Katherine [played by Johansson] sold their small flat in Primrose Hill, upped sticks with their children and invested their savings into a dilapidated zoo on the edge of Dartmoor, they were prepared for a challenge and a momentous change in all their lives. With over 200 exotic animals to care for – including an African lion, a wolf pack, a Brazilian tapir and a jaguar – Ben’s hands, and those of his wife, children and tiny team of keepers, were full. What they weren’t prepared for was Katherine’s devastating second brain cancer diagnosis. Ben found himself juggling the daunting responsibilities of managing the park’s staff and finances, while holding the bailiffs at bay and caring for his wife. A moving and entertaining story of courage and a family’s attempts to rebuild a zoo, and carry on after Katherine’s tragic death.
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Business Model Generation
by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur
(Recommeded by Graham Sleep from IA Growth)

Business Model Generation is a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers striving to defy outmoded business models and design tomorrow's enterprises. If your organization needs to adapt to harsh new realities, but you don't yet have a strategy that will get you out in front of your competitors, you need Business Model Generation. Co-created by 470 "Business Model Canvas" practitioners from 45 countries, the book features a beautiful, highly visual, 4-color design that takes powerful strategic ideas and tools, and makes them easy to implement in your organization. It explains the most common Business Model patterns, based on concepts from leading business thinkers, and helps you reinterpret them for your own context.
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Will it Make the Boat Go Faster? Olympic-winning Strategies for Success
by Ben Hunt-Davis
Ben had our member gripped with his story of Olympic rowing triumph at our 2015 autumn conference. In his book, he shows you how to use similar strategies to improve your own life. Methods he has been road-testing for 10 years, with clients from all walks of life, so whatever your challenges, whatever your goals, this book is full of ideas that will help you succeed.
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Winning
by Jack Welch
(Recommended by Andy Rubin, Pentland Brands)
As an avid reader and believer in life-long learning, Andy Rubin recommended several great books to the audience when he spoke at one of our events in 2018. Winning he said is simply the best “how to” for running complex businesses written by one of the most effective business leaders we have seen.
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Please note, in the interests of transparency, the books listed on this page are connected to an Amazon Associates account and any purchases made from these links may result in a small payment from Amazon to the Entrepreneurs' Forum. As a not-for-profit organisation, any funds raised will be reinvested to support North East entrepreneurs.