7 Powerful Books That Inspired Me To Start a Business

Books are a great way to learn from the best thinkers ever alive. Many successful people attribute their most significant turning point in life to having read a good book. It’s true for me and it’s probably true for you too.

One of the books that inspired me to start a business was Adam Khoo‘s Secrets of a Self-Made Millionaire. After I read Adam Khoo’s book I was convinced to leave my dream of becoming a science professor to start a business. If my brother had not shoved the book on my table, I would probably be writing a science journal right now instead of a blog about business.

The impact of a good book is immeasurable. In this article, I want to share with you the top lessons I learned from Adam Khoo’s book and six other books that inspired me to start a business.

Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires, Adam Khoo

Top 3 Lessons

– Don’t be afraid that making a lot of money will make you evil. Money only amplifies who you really are. Evil people will be evil no matter if they are rich or poor.
– You are never too young to start a business.- It’s not wrong to buy things you want with money you earned, as long as you can afford it.
– Money isn’t scarce. You are not making anyone poorer by becoming rich.

Would I recommend it?

The biggest takeaway from reading Adam Khoo’s book was that if I wanted, I can do anything with my life. If I wanted to become an author, I could. If I wanted to build a business empire, I could do that too. This book gave me the courage to try any business idea I had on my mind at 20.

I read this book when I was 20. Before that I had never picked up a single business book in my life. It’s a book I would recommend people just like that. It’s a great starting point but it’s not the book you read to look for deeper insights on business.

Linchpin, Seth Godin

Top 3 Lessons

– Don’t let fear and anxiety force you into mediocrity.
– The only way to always have a job is to make yourself indispensable.
– Anyone can choose to be indispensable.

Would I recommend it?

The most valuable insight I got from reading Linchpin was that it’s possible that for anyone to become irreplaceable if they choose to. This sounds simple but it is hard to do. It involves taking action even when your brain is telling you to just sit still and stay in your comfort zone.

To comply with your brain’s instructions, however, is dangerous. The less risks you take, the more likely you are to become mediocre and replaceable.

If you’ve always struggled with knowing how to become so valuable that you are irreplaceable, I recommend reading Linchpin.

Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson

Top 3 Lessons

– Be obsessed with your business.
– When people tell you it can’t be done, don’t believe them.
– Hire people who are better than you.

Would I recommend it?

Reading biographies like Steve Jobs’ helps you see that even the best and most successful entrepreneurs aren’t perfect and the road to success won’t be smooth-sailing.

Reading this biography also allowed me to gain insights into the mental frameworks that Steve Jobs used to base his decision-making in Apple on.

I recommend reading Steve Job’s biography if you’re a fan of Steve Jobs. If you’re not a big fan of Steve Jobs, pick up a biography of someone you really admire. I can promise you that you will gain a lot more courage to become obsessive with your dreams after learning what your hero is like.

Lean Start-Up, Eric Reiss

Top 3 Lessons

– Your best bet on a business idea is to test it out by building an MVP (minimum viable product).
– Don’t spend all your time and money creating the ‘perfect’ product behind closed doors. It might not be something people want to buy.
– By putting your idea out there you will have a better chance of iterating your product until you come up with the one that people will buy.

Would I recommend it?

As a young college graduate I didn’t have a lot of money to start a business so when I read the Lean Startup, I was truly thankful. It turns out I don’t really need that much money to test most of my ideas.

Over the period of 1.5 years after reading the Lean Startup I tested over 20 ideas I had. These were ideas that were just floating around in my head for around 8 or 10 years.

These were not Facebooks or Twitters but having the courage to test out over 20 MVPs made all the difference in what I know about business today.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to start a business but don’t have a lot of money to spend. I would even encourage you to read it even if you have a lot of money to spend. The Lean Startup method will definitely help you save a lot of money and time.

Four Hour Work-Week, Tim Ferris

Top 3 Lessons

– Outsource the less critical parts of your business so you can focus on the parts that matter most.
– Don’t waste your time on processes that can be automated. Quickly find ways to automate repetitive tasks so you have more time for things you care about.
– Don’t wait until you retire to enjoy life. Have mini vacations.

Would I recommend it?

The Four Hour Work Week (FHWW) isn’t really about working only four hours a week. It’s a manifesto of living. Tim Ferris wrote a book about the lifestyle everyone thinks they would like – working very little and having a lot of money.

This book is for anyone who is thinking of leaving the 9-to-5 to work on ideas they really care about. It doesn’t provide actual solutions to your problems but it does give you insights on what a non-conformative life looks like.

I was inspired by the FHWW to carry out experiments on my body, my relationships and my ideas. I realized after reading FHWW that my genes, my education or my upbringing would never limit me to become somebody truly extraordinary.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Ramit Sethi

Top 3 Lessons

– Automate your finances so you don’t have to think about. The more steps you have to take to make a payment or save money, the less successful you will be at doing it.
– If you want to buy something expensive (like a $20,000 vacation), start saving early. The earlier you save, the less you have to put in on a monthly basis.
– Don’t invest in things you don’t understand, even if your friends tell you you can make a lot of money from it.

Would I recommend it?

Ramit Sethi is my first personal finance teacher. I stumbled upon his blog IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com when I was googling ‘how to write a book’ right after I read Adam Khoo’s book.

Ramit’s materials are engineered to make you take action. Though I Will Teach You To Be Rich is a book about personal finance, I’ve found his methods and mental frameworks useful even when applied to business.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about managing money in an easy to understand way.

Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh

Top 3 Lessons

– Treat your customers like your friends. If you won’t treat yourself or your friends that way, don’t treat your customers that way.
– Be transparent with your employees. If you’re having a hard time, let them know.
– Talk like a human. People will like you more.

Would I recommend it?

I first read Delivering Happiness when I was 23 and it inspired me to start an e-commerce store which quickly became profitable because of our good customer service.

Although I decided not to pursue e-commerce, Delivering Happiness helped me understand how good customer service can make a business more competitive. It’s something that I integrate into any business I build today with good results.

I would recommend it to anyone wanting to start a business or want to become better at customer service. It isn’t the most in depth book on customer service but Tony Hsieh’s passion for ‘delivering happiness’ will inspire you to do the same in your business.


I never regret spending money on books. I consider it an investment with a guaranteed return. While reading hundreds of articles give you a head full of information, reading books allow you to develop deep insights into a topic.

It is with these deep insights that you are able to make the connections that make your personal and business life meaningful. In this age where brevity is often preferred, books still have its place in taking our minds to some of the most interesting places.

This is my list of books that inspired me to start a business. What’s on yours?

Join other smart people who like to read about business

Subscribe and get my weekly newsletter packed with the latest insights about business in Malaysia so you can make smart decisions for yourself.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *