15th Anniversary Countdown: 15 Inspiring Entrepreneurial Books

We are thrilled to announce the celebration of our 15 years as the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. This is a special occasion to acknowledge the ideas that turned into businesses, the entrepreneurs and mentors who turned into family, and the support system who made it all possible. As a member of the CCEI community, we hope you can join us for our celebratory, all-day event on Friday, December 2, 2022, as we acknowledge the past, present, and future of CCEI.

As a countdown to the actual day of the event, weekly blog posts will go out each Friday. These blogs will focus on something (or someone!) important to CCEI and to our history and community.

For our third week, we’d like to touch on 15 entrepreneurial books we highly recommend you read. These 15 books are perfect for entrepreneurs looking to “up their game,” as they are inspirational, business-oriented, and call for personal growth and development. Some of them were even written by our own UConn alum!

While this is only a select few from a large assortment of entrepreneurial books we love, we hope to inspire you to read at least one!

1. Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder

Written by Alexander Osterwalder and published in 2010, this book explains “the most common Business Model patterns, based on concepts from leading business thinkers, and helps one reinterpret them for one’s own context” (Google Books). Osterwalder is a Swiss business theorist, author, speaker, consultant, and entrepreneur, best known for his work on business modeling and the development of the Business Model Canvas (Wikipedia). 

To read, visit https://www.amazon.com/Business-Model-Generation-Visionaries-Challengers/dp/0470876417

2. Everything Is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo

Written by Marie Forleo and published in 2019, this New York Times bestselling book “will retrain your brain to think more creatively and positively in the face of setbacks” by discussing how to personally overcome obstacles despite one’s habits or fears (Google Books). Forleo is an American entrepreneur and founder of Marie Forleo International and MarieTV (Wikipedia). 

To read, visit https://www.amazon.com/Everything-Figureoutable-Marie-Forleo/dp/0525534997

3. Good To Great by Jim Collins

Written by Jim Collins and published in 2001, this book “describes how companies transition from being good companies to great companies, and how most companies fail to make the transition” by comparing eleven companies who seemingly are “great,” and eleven comparable companies who failed to achieve true growth (Wikipedia). Collins is an American researcher, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Business Week best-selling author, speaker and consultant “focused on the subject of business management and company sustainability and growth” (Wikipedia). 

To read, visit https://www.amazon.com/Good-Great-Some-Companies-Others-ebook/dp/B0058DRUV6

4. How I Built This by Guy Raz

Written by Guy Raz and published in 2020, this New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller (based on the NPR podcast) describes “insights and inspiration from the world's top entrepreneurs on how to start, launch, and build a successful venture” (Google Books). The book takes the NPR interviews and builds on how to truly start and find success in a business (Google Books). Raz is an award-winning journalist, award-winning radio host, professor, and former war correspondent (Wikipedia). 

To read, visit https://www.amazon.com/How-Built-This-Unexpected-Entrepreneurs/dp/0358216761

5. Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur by Charlene Walters, MBA, PhD

Written by Charlene Walters, MBA, PhD and published in February of 2021, this book discusses the tools needed to successfully launch and grow a business – while avoiding common mistakes, finding a niche, and building a brand (Google Books). Walters is an author, speaker, TV host, and mentor (Own Your Other). Walters is a UConn alum (BA ‘92, English) and currently serves on the CCEI Advisory Board. She will also be leading a breakout session at our 15th Anniversary Celebration. 

To read, visit https://www.amazon.com/Launch-Your-Inner-Entrepreneur-Creativity/dp/1264259166

6. Made To Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Written and published in 2007 by brothers Chip and Dan Heath, this Business Week bestselling book focuses on the “idea of ‘stickiness’ popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point, seeking to explain what makes an idea or concept memorable or interesting,” while using the acronym S-U-C-C-E-S to signify each characteristic on what makes an idea “sticky” (Wikipedia). Chip Heath is an American academic, professor, and author; and Dan Heath is an American author, speaker, and fellow at Duke University's CASE Center (Wikipedia). 

To read, visit https://www.amazon.com/Made-Stick-Ideas-Survive-Others/dp/1400064287

7. Purple Cow by Seth Godin

Written by Seth Godin and originally published in 2003, this book presents “Godin's personal belief that creative advertising is less effective today because of clutter and advertising avoidance,” advocating instead that companies should “target people who are likely to spread word of mouth about the product” (Wikipedia). Godin is a New York Times bestselling author, former business executive, and was inducted into the American Marketing Association's Marketing Hall of Fame in 2018 (Wikipedia). 

To read, visit https://www.amazon.com/Purple-Cow-New-Transform-Remarkable/dp/1591843170

8. Startup Communities by Brad Feld

Written by Brad Feld and published in 2012, this book focuses on entrepreneurial ecosystems and how they are very quickly “driving innovation and small business energy” (Google Books). It also documents the “buzz, strategy, long-term perspective, and dynamics of building communities of entrepreneurs who can feed off of each other's talent, creativity, and support” (Google Books). Feld is an American entrepreneur, author, blogger, venture capitalist at a firm he started, and serves on multiple nonprofit boards (Wikipedia). 

To read, visit https://www.amazon.com/Startup-Communities-Building-Entrepreneurial-Ecosystem-dp-1119617650/dp/1119617650/ref=dp_ob_image_bk

9. Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Written by Simon Sinek and published in 2009, this book “discusses the significance of leadership and purpose to succeed in life and business” by emphasizing “the importance of taking the risk and going against the status-quo to find solutions to global problems” (Wikipedia). Sinek also highlights the “golden circle,” a theme based on a human’s inspired purpose.  Sinek is an author, businessman, and motivational speaker, being featured on TedTalks several times (Wikipedia). 

To read, visit https://www.amazon.com/Start-Why-Leaders-Inspire-Everyone/dp/1591846447

10. The Art Of The Start by Guy Kawasaki

Written by Guy Kawasaki and published in 2004, this book is an “essential guide for anyone starting anything, from a multinational corporation to a church group” (Google Books). It covers the steps to a successful startup: how to come up with good ideas, get feedback, “how to lead a team to a common vision, and how to grow through evangelizing, socializing, and partnering” (Medium). Kawasaki is an American marketing specialist, author, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist best known for his work at Apple to make the Macintosh computer popular. 

To read, visit https://www.amazon.com/Art-Start-Time-Tested-Battle-Hardened-Starting/dp/1591840562.

11. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Written by Ben Horowitz and published in 2014, this book “analyzes the [entrepreneurial] problems that confront leaders every day,” discussing the knowledge he has gained “developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies” (Google Books). Horowitz uses his love of rap music to amplify his “business lessons with lyrics” (Google Books). Horowitz is a highly-respected American businessman, investor, blogger, author, and co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz (Wikipedia). 

To read, visit https://www.amazon.com/Hard-Thing-About-Things-Building/dp/0062273205

12. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Written by Eric Ries and published in 2011, this book describes Ries’ “lean startup” strategy for startups to prevent failure, which relies on “‘validated learning,’ rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want” (Good Reads). Ries is an American entrepreneur, blogger, and New York Times bestselling author, who has founded a number of successful startups and works with many giant firms to aid in their strategy (Lean Startup Co.). 

To read, visit https://www.amazon.com/Lean-Startup-Entrepreneurs-Continuous-Innovation/dp/0307887898

13. The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Written by Stephen R. Covey and originally published in 1989, this book discusses “an approach to being effective in attaining goals by aligning oneself to what [Covey] calls ‘true north’ principles based on a character ethic that he presents as universal and timeless” (Wikipedia). As the title suggests, he also explains his seven habits needed to achieve highly successful personal and professional change. Covey was an American educator, author, businessman, and keynote speaker, and in 1996, Time magazine named him one of the 25 most influential people (Wikipedia). 

To read, visit https://www.amazon.com/Habits-Highly-Effective-People-Powerful/dp/0743269519

14. Unleash Your Supernova by Nova Lorraine

Written by Nova Lorraine and published in March of 2021, this book discusses entrepreneurial burnout and the keys to overcome it.  Lorraine bridges the gap between creativity and entrepreneurship, “offering action steps to help identify inner strength” to unleash it to achieve [one’s] dreams (Google Books). Lorraine is an author, storyteller, award-winning designer, and founder of Raine Magazine (Nova Lorraine). Lorraine is a UConn alum (BA, Psychology; MA, Clinical Psychology) and currently serves on the CCEI Advisory Board

To read, visit https://www.amazon.com/Unleash-Your-Supernova-Creativity-Burnout/dp/1510763325

15. Zero To One by Peter Thiel

Written by Peter Thiel and published in 2014, this book presents “an optimistic view of the future of progress in America and a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places” (Good Reads). The book mainly focuses on how to create companies that create new things. Thiel is a German-American billionaire entrepreneur, venture capitalist, political activist, and co-founder of PayPal, Palantir Technologies, and Founders Fund (Wikipedia). Thiel was the first outside investor in Facebook and was ranked 297th on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index in 2022 (Wikipedia).

To read, visit https://www.amazon.com/Zero-One-Notes-Startups-Future/dp/0804139296