My Ultimate Reading List for Creative Entrepreneurs 🌈💪
Are you creative? And an (aspiring) entrepreneur? Then these books could be life-changing as they have been for me. I wish I’d have known about them much earlier on in my journey. They are listed in the order I would read them, so starting with Steal Like an Artist, then So Good They Can’t Ignore you, et cetera. Enjoy!
Steal Like an Artist
“10 Things nobody told you about being creative.” A super short read with 10 incredibly valuable lessons for creative individuals and entrepreneurs. Since it’s written by “a writer who draws”, I recommend reading over listening for this one.
So Good They Can't Ignore You
“Why skills trump passion in the quest for work you love.” How to shape your career path by building rare and valuable skills rather than pursuing your passion. This book changed the way I look at my career and finding work I love.
A Whole New Mind
Daniel H. Pink
“Why right-brainers will rule the future.” Creativity is often associated with being right-brained. In a world that seems driven by left-brain thinking, I sometimes feel like I’m at a disadvantage. This book, by the writer of Drive, helped me go all-in on my right-brain skillset.
Tom & David Kelley
“Unleashing the creative potential within us all.” Creative confidence is the belief that everyone is creative, and that creativity isn’t the capacity to draw or compose or sculpt, but a way of approaching the world. This book, by the founder of IDEO and his brother, will help you maximise your creative potential.
“Creative living beyond fear.” This book by the writer of Eat, Pray, Love is such a fun read. Besides that it will be a feast of recognition for any creative person, it answers the question on how to live creatively. It’s the ultimate permission slip many of us need to get out there and just create.
“A fable about following your dream.” While the story in this book is fictional, it’s full of valuable lessons about life and following your dreams. Not every lesson will be obvious, but I’m sure that this book will inspire you to truly follow your own dreams and make the most of your life.
Who Moved My Cheese?
Dr Spencer Johnson
“An amazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life.” The second and final fiction books on this list takes less than an hour to read and it’s about 4 mice, a maze and cheese. You will no doubt recognise yourself in some of the mice and make better choices in life as a result.
How Will You Measure Your Life?
This book helps you figure out how to spend your life feeling both happy and fulfilled. As an entrepreneur you may be tempted to focus on your career, but what about your relationships and personal well-being? This book helps you zoom out and create a life that you truly want. Bonus: there are some great business lessons in this one too!
The War of Art
“Break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles.” What if you feel super inspired to create, but… it just doesn’t happen? This book helps you overcome procrastination and any other form of inner resistance.
The Obstacle is the Way
“The ancient art of turning adversity into advantage.” Taking a Stoic mindset when it comes to problems that both life and business throw at you can be incredibly helpful. In fact, it can enable you to turn any obstacle into an opportunity.
This book is a great follow-up to So Good They Can’t Ignore You. It explains proven steps that famous masters — such as Einstein Darwin and Da Vinci — took to achieve mastery in their field. The steps are simple, yet powerful. But the amazing stories and examples in this book make it one to remember.
Show Your Work!
“10 Ways to share your creativity and get discovered.” The second book by Austin Kleon on this list and possibly my favourite of all. This book is the reason why I started this website and why you’re reading this at all. I love the lessons, the style and the length. I’m sure I’ll keep revisiting it for many years to come.
Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson
This book is all about doing what everyone else isn’t. It’s unconventional business advice, which is right up my alley. There are a lot of lessons in here. Too many maybe. But some will resonate and make you want to take action… your way.
The E-Myth Revisited
Michael E. Gerber
“Why most small businesses don’t work and what to do about it.” The cover may look uninspiring, but this book is actually super fun to read and an absolute must for any entrepreneur. With great stories and examples, it helps you understand the value of building systems — even if your business is small.
The 4-Hour Work Week
“Escape the 9-5, live anywhere and join the new rich.” This book inspired me to look at my time and income differently. Rather than exchanging your hours for money, you can build systems that make money for you. Tim Ferris provides you with the tools and insights to make that happen.
Rich Dad Poor Dad
Robert T. Kiyosaki
“What the rich teach their kids about money – that the poor and middle class do not!” This book helped me realise the importance of investing through a simple story about two dads. It’s great inspiration to start making your money work for you instead of the other way around.
“A simple system to transform any business from cash-eating monster to money-making machine.” As a creative person, I don’t feel driven by profit. Rather, I want to create amazing products and services for my clients. Still, this practical book helped me put the systems in place to focus on money enough to be creative and run a successful business.
“Transform your business by being remarkable.” Even though Seth Godin wrote many great marketing books that are well-worth a read, this is my favourite. It’s not the most actionable book, but the core message resonates so deeply with me that I can’t help but love it. For a long time already, it has inspired me to stand out and go be that “purple cow”.
Own Your Weird
“An oddly effective way for finding happiness in work, life, and love.” This guy wore t-shirts for a living, he sold his last name twice, then he even sold his entire future. He may not have as big a name as some of the writers on this list, but when it comes to being a creative entrepreneur and having your shit together… it’s Jason Zook.
“Why things catch on.” If you want to go one step further than being remarkable, this is a nice book to start with. Jonah analysed hundreds of contagious messages, products and ideas and shares the same 6 “ingredients” that were often at work in all of these. Use them to craft your own contagious content and go viral.
Building a StoryBrand
“Clarify your message so customers will listen.” This books uses the same principles that successful movies and TV shows apply to tell a great story. Being a creative, it feels amazing to think about my businesses in terms of the Lukes, Darth Vaders and Yodas of this world. Tip: if you liked this book, read Donald’s Marketing Made Simple as a more practical follow-up.
“Overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration.” When it comes to creativity, I feel that Pixar is in a league of its own. This book allows you to learn from Pixar’s founder as he explains how they built a company culture that unlocks creativity, which you can apply in your own organisation. It is also a nice lead-in to the final book on this list.
Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography
By far the longest book on here, but also incredibly fascinating. Honest and detailed biographies like this one have the power to inspire us in an entirely different way. This one allows you to get into the mind of one of our generation’s most influential creative entrepreneurs. And the fact that that’s even possible is incredible.