They say your network is your net worth. But what if you don’t have the pedigree and connections of a HBS alum? Well it turns out that you can still get all the knowledge of sitting next to the best business minds in the world on a long haul flight from New York to Shanghai without the price tag. It turns out that these brilliant founders and investors WANT you to know all about their successes and failures and all this information is right at your fingertips. By reading the books that many of these icons write, you can soak up the lessons they share for less than $20 a piece. Whether you are already in business, or just contemplating taking the leap to go out on your own, this list of books for freelancers and entrepreneurs are the must reads that I believe everyone should read to be successful in business and life.
This seminal first work by Tim sets the stage for all his later books, addressing topics from brain hacking to outsourcing yourself. If you haven’t heard about Ferriss yet either this is your first day in entrepreneurship (in which case, welcome!), or you might have been hiding under a rock. The 4-Hour Work Week is considered a how-to manual by thousands of up and coming entrepreneurs and freelancers on how to break out of corporate life and take the leap to jumping out on their own. Tim recounts his own journey to building an online business, then removing himself from the operations entirely to let it run autonomously and allow him the freedom to travel the world. While many argue that doing exactly what he did is not as easy these days, I would argue that even more important than his journey is the eye-opening concepts that he introduces to the reader to show what could be possible. After reading, you’ll never think about business the same way again.
When it comes to working from home (or anywhere, really) fitness can be a touchy subject. Whether you spend your days in a coffee shop, in your pjs at home, or in a cube farm, getting the right amount of exercise can be difficult to maintain a healthy body and mind. When setting out on your entrepreneur/freelancer journey you will have enough obstacles facing you, you don’t need your own body fighting you on the way to success. In this follow up to the 4-Hour Work Week, Tim brings us along for the ride in his attempt to study the best people in world and hack the learning process to achieve remarkable results in the least amount of time possible. By the time you finish reading this book you will have an idea for the right diet and exercise routines that will help you stay fit, without having to spend hours in the gym each day which makes it a must read book for freelancers.
First published in 1937, How to Win Friends and Influence People has gone on to sell 15 million copies and become one of the main stays in every Recommended Reading list around the world. Dale Carnegie was a brilliant businessman who figured out that a little effort in learning social skills could go a long way to helping a persons business interests. Since freelancing requires dealing with people on a daily basis both in marketing yourself and in ongoing fulfillment, it’s worth brushing up on some people skills. Now, since it was written in 1937 the language can be a little dense at times and once in a while Carnegie uses phrases that have fallen out of use in modern english; but the lessons remain true nearly 80 years later. Understanding the other persons point of view and learning how to make people like you, win people over to your way of thinking, and change people without causing offense will never go out of style.
How many people do you know who think of their personal cars as assets? I’d guess quite a few. Often quoted as the most important book in real estate investing, Rich Dad Poor Dad opens the reader to thinking about life in terms of assets and liabilities, and the differences between each. Kiyosaki grew up with the ‘Poor Dad’, working hard and trading time for money just like most of the modern workforce. But one day, he learned that it didn’t have to be like that and set out on a journey that would last his whole life to get off the hamster wheel and live a rich life. Less a manual, and more a mind opening experience that re-educates the reader on what their time is worth and how to go about making money; Rich Dad, Poor Dad will be a book that you will come back to time and time again through your entrepreneurial journey.
Believe in the power of intention or not, this book is good at making you think that maybe there is something to it. More about mindset and less about skills or techniques, Hill opens the mind to the possibility that maybe we can affect the outcome of a situation through our own mindset. Personally, this was the first book that introduced me to the concept of the power of intention and mindset when I used to think it was all hokey and nonsense. I’m not saying that magically now everything is easy and I am successful in everything I do, but opening up to new ideas helps us to grow as people and see other perspectives.
Following on with the last thought, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind is another book about mindset and posits that we are all raised with particular blueprints for our financial futures ingrained in us, but that blueprint is not set in stone and can be changed if you can identify it. The first half of the book is more or less a sales pitch for Eker’s seminars, but the second half has some great actionable advice that anyone who wants to make something of themselves should read, reread, and take to heart. If I had to pick only one book here to recommend this one might just be it.
“You can know everything about marketing, sales, negotiations, stocks, real estate, and the world of finance, but if your blueprint is not set for a high level of success, you will never have a lot of money—and if somehow you do, you will most likely lose it!”
When the rest of the world was busy cashing in on careless VC money in the valley, Vaynerchuk was doing something incredibly unpopular- he built a brick and mortar marketing agency. Over the last several years Gary has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the world of online influence and social networks. When it comes to the details of this book, many are quickly becoming out of date, however the larger guiding principles of the book remain important pillars of building your online strategies. Vaynerchuk has since gone on to write several new books, but if you haven’t read any yet this is the one to start with if you want to build a career that has any interaction with marketing or social media.
“The six rules of outstanding content:
1. It’s native.
2. It doesn’t interrupt.
3. It doesn’t make demands – often.
4. It leverages pop culture.
5. It’s micro.
6. It’s consistent and self-aware.”
What would a good books for freelancers/entrepreneurs list be without something more on the technical end of the spectrum? In this case let’s talk accounting. It’s the one area that matters most and probably the one area that you know nothing about in your business. You may have heard of Mike Michalowics before, he used to be known as the Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and had quite the following in the early 2000’s. Since then he had founded and sold two multi-million dollar companies, wrote a couple books, became an angel investor – then lost it all. Michalowics takes a refreshing and down to earth approach to building businesses the safe way, with cashflow first.
Amy Morin is a psychotherapist who occasionally wrote posts online. As it turns out, one of those posts blew up and became an international sensation. She offers her simple and effective solutions for increasing mental strength and finding happiness and success in life. Being in business is full of ups and downs: from bad clients, to landing massive deals, to losing data at the most inopportune moment; you will have to find what works for you to deal with the rollercoaster that is being an entrepreneur and this read will help you find the tools and techniques that will help.
Remote is a killer book written by one of the founders of 37Signals, best known as the makers of project management software Basecamp, addresses the issues and benefits of running a remote company. The world is more and more moving towards remote workers to fill the gaps in organizations (or for building the entire company) which comes with its own set of challenges. If you are building a company with remote workers, or a remote worker yourself, this books will help to shed some light on the challenges and benefits of the remote economy and why, with a few exceptions, the world will continue to move in that direction.