9 Online Business Books You Want To Read

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online business books

Read Books About Online Business!

A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend.  ~Author Unknown

A few years ago, I read a couple of books.  Rich Dad Poor Dad changed my thinking from employee to business owner.  Then, Robert Allen’s Multiple Streams of Income opened my eyes to different ways to add value.

Reading books stretches the mind; keeps us sharp; and introduces us to new concepts and ideas to build our online business.

Recently, I heard a speaker challenging his audience to improve their minds by reading, at least 10 minutes per day, a book that would help them become a better version of themselves.

Likewise, I’m going to challenge you to read one of these online business books to become a better entrepreneur and business owner.  Once you finish reading for the day, list one action you can apply to your business immediately.

This is what Jeremy and Jason from Internet Business Mastery call “just in time learning.”

How I Selected These Online Business Books

Simple.  I thought “Which online business owners do I admire?”, and wondered to myself, “What books have they read, or do they recommend?”

It turns out I’ve read some of these books, while others are on my wish list.

Disclosure: The links to the books below do provide me with a small affiliate commission, through Viglink.

Online Books Recommended by Pat Flynn of the Smart Passive Income Blog

The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

I liked this book.  However, be prepared to read it several times.  He packs a LOT of information into a few pages.  If you read the reviews on Amazon, there are a few detractors.  Overall, however, this book combines the concepts of lifestyle design with practical “how to’s to set up a passive, automated business.

Some reviewers think there is a lot of fluff and little substance.  Others praise it highly.

Read it critically.  Apply the good stuff. Ignore the stuff that doesn’t make sense.

But overall, let it shift your thinking about lifestyle, business, and retirement.

ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income by Darren Rowse. 

Darren’s the real deal.  He’s been around the blogging world for quite a while.  If you want to know how to blog successfully, and monetize your blog, he walks the walk.

Here are twelve things you’ll learn in this book (from a review on Amazon)

1. Why blog is more valuable than just traffic and sales – as you’re your career progresses, you’ll find this invaluable

2. How much money you can realistically expect to earn

3. How to monetize blogs (how to make money) – There’s an in depth discussion on this subject, this chapter alone could save you years of learning.

4. How to get advertisers

5. How blogs can ruin your reputation and what to avoid

6. How to choose the topic for your blog (I already knew most of the stuff here, but this chapter is a must read)

7. How to use your competition to get a leverage

8. How to setup your blog (name, platform, hosting – the works)

9. How to distinguish yourself from other blogs in your niche

10. The 20 types of blog posts (never knew there were so many)

11. How to use comments to build a tribe of followers

12. How to promote your blog

The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

Chris identified 1,500 individuals who started and built businesses earning $50,000 or more with modest investments, often $100 or less.

He shows us how to learn from the 50 most interesting individuals.

From Amazon.com:

Not content to talk in generalities, Chris tells you exactly how many dollars his group of unexpected entrepreneurs required to get their projects up and running; what these individuals did in the first weeks and months to generate significant cash; some of the key mistakes they made along the way, and the crucial insights that made the business stick.  Among Chris’s key principles: if you’re good at one thing, you’re probably good at something else; never teach a man to fish – sell him the fish instead; and in the battle between planning and action, action wins.

Jeremy and Jason from Internet Business Mastery

Jay and Jason at Internet Business Mastery recommended the 4 Hour Work Week as well.

Here are two other books they recommend:

The E Myth Revisited, by Michael Gerber.

An entrepreneur friend of mine recommended the original book to me a few years ago.

Michael Gerber talks about working on the business versus working in the business.  In other words, own the business or it will own you!  He talks in great detail about designing business systems that will work for you while you’re away from the business.  Hence, automation!

Getting Things Done, by David Allen.

While this is not a specific online business book, learning how to manage all the things we need to do for our personal and business lives is crucial.

David Allen makes productivity simple and doable.

Michael Hyatt from MichaelHyatt.com

Michael regularly reviews new books, but these were some of the books on his short list of books that have most influenced him.

Now, Discover Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham.

This book, rooted in positive psychology and the research of Dr. Donald Clifton, Chair of the Research and Education Center, have created a revolutionary way of identifying your top five strengths themes.

Here’s an Amazon.com summary:

At the heart of the book is the Internet-based StrengthsFinder® Profile, the product of a 25-year, multimillion-dollar effort to identify the most prevalent human strengths. The program introduces 34 dominant “themes” with thousands of possible combinations, and reveals how they can best be translated into personal and career success. In developing this program, Gallup has conducted psychological profiles with more than two million individuals to help readers learn how to focus and perfect these themes. So how does it work? This book contains a unique identification number that allows you access to the StrengthsFinder Profile on the Internet. This Web-based interview analyzes your instinctive reactions and immediately presents you with your five most powerful signature themes. Once you know which of the 34 themes — such as Achiever, Activator, Empathy, Futuristic, or Strategic — you lead with, the book will show you how to leverage them for powerful results at three levels: for your own development, for your success as a manager, and for the success of your organization.

Tribes, by Seth Godin.

This now classic book, by Seth Godin, teaches us the importance of actively leading our readers, and fostering community among each other and with ourselves, to the ideas we promote in our online businesses.

This book is on my wish list, I’ll confess.  I’ve read a number of articles talking about the concept of tribes, but I still need to read the raw product.

You are the Message by Roger Ailes

Roger Ailes, past CEO of a couple television networks, argues that we need to deeply understand that who we are speaks just as loudly as the words we speak.

As our online businesses grow, so will our need to communicate effectively through public speaking, video, and podcasting.  Mr. Ailes provides strong strategies to help us communicate effectively.

One of My Own, and A Recommendation

The One Page Business Plan for the Creative Entrepreneur , by Jim Horan.

I’ve spent multiple hours writing a detailed business plan that never got off the ground.  That’s why this book intrigues me so much!  One skeptical reviewer picked this book up at an airport before a plane ride.  By the time the plane ride was over, he had written his own business plan for a product, presented it the next week to his employer, and was greeted by a round of applause!

Simple yet detailed and practical wins in my book.  And the  50 4.4 out of 5 reviews by readers help as well!

My bonus recommendation is that you stop by the Personal MBA blog, dedicated to helping you master the art of business.  Check out his 99 Best Business Books page as well!

photo credit: Buchachon Petthanya

So that brings me to the end of my list.  What online business books do you recommend?  Additionally, what other courses have you found helpful during your online journey?

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  1. says

    Hey Stephen,

    You sure have a great book list here. Some of which I have read. If I had to add I would recommend “Rich Woman” by Kim Kiyosaki and “The Thank You Economy” from Gary Vaynerchuck.

    Reading is important. Although I read more online than I do books, I have about 5 stacked up that I have purchased to read. I usually find time at the end of the day to catch up.


    Donna Merrill recently posted…30 Day ChallengeMy Profile

  2. says

    Hi Stephen,

    You’ve put together a very tempting list of online books. The one that really caught my eye is Now, Discover Your Strengths by Michael Hyatt. I’m going to check this one out. I like the way it is interactive using the web and I can see by identifying strengths then learning how to leverage them. Thanks for sharing!

    Raena Lynn
    Raena Lynn recently posted…Ecolutionary Gangster GardenersMy Profile

    • says

      Hi, Raena! I personally purchased the StrengthsFinder, which I believe is based on the same work that Discover Your Strengths is based on. I loved finding out my top five strengths, and I still think about how I can design my work, both online and offline, around those strengths.
      Steve Borgman recently posted…Do This To Design Your BrandMy Profile

  3. says

    I find it funny when someone tells me that some of my thought process is like Seth Godin… when in actuality I have never visited his site, nor read his books. I learned my ways early from other business owners…. and used them towards online. My dad was in amway when I was a teen and I listend to the tapes on long car trips to conferences…at first without a choice. Then I thought…hey… one day I do want to work for myself so maybe I can learn something. From then on, I read the books, and listened to tapes with much zest.
    Nile recently posted…Caution: Brute Force Attacks Against WordPress SitesMy Profile

  4. says

    Hi Stephen, What a great list and I have not read one of them. I do agree with Raena with ” Discover Your Strengths by Michael Hyatt” Now this is something I would like to do. I do believe I know what my 5 top strengths but not sure what it really means by themes. It would be interesting to go online to his StrengthsFinder Profile and check this all out.

    I do most of my reading online but I have been known to have my librarian find me an occasional good book for her to get for me..

    Thanks for sharing. Chery :)
    Chery Schmidt recently posted…Paying Attention To Yourself And Asking For The BusinessMy Profile

    • says

      Chery, I think you’ll like the book. I personally purchased Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath, which I believe is based on the same research. I found it to be very helpful and encouraging.

  5. says

    I’ve heard of 3 of these books on your list, though I haven’t read any of them yet. Tribes sound like a good one, I’m going to look that one up.

    Thanks for a great list. I know this must have taken you ages to put together for us. Like a lot of the people here, I do a lot of my reading online in the form of blog articles and online magazine posts.
    Anne @ how to build confidence recently posted…Confidence And ForgivenessMy Profile

    • says

      Anne, it’s great to read blog posts and articles, but nothing beats a book at times. And even though I have a Kindle Reader app on my iPad, I still like to go to old fashioned paperback and hardcover books sometimes :)

  6. says

    Stephen—A few years back I was fortunate enough to attend a Robert Kiyoski presentation that he did as a favor to a Pastor friend of his in Mesa, AZ. He had many good ideas and it was an inspirational meeting. As a life-time entrepreneur however, the real “aha” moment was realizing what a revelation it is for most folks to really understand that they have locked their destiny when they have chosen a life time of being someone else’ s employee. Thanks for providing us some good resources!
    Gene Call recently posted…Short Sale Serendipity or God Winks?My Profile

    • says

      Gene, you’re right. Even though entrepreneurship has it’s share of pros and cons, there is nothing like the feeling of knowing that we have the skills to understand what customers need, and that we can design solutions to meet those needs, while being compensated in the process.

  7. says

    you made it.. I did not hear or seen any of the books that you listed above… is that make me ignorant? I answer for you… yes!

    I call my self ignorant every time I find out that I do not know something… now I know about these books and so I retrieve what I say above haha :-)

    Wow, you sure find very interesting topics to write and study a lot… I congratulate you for doing such great job and at the same time help others by supporting them with your knowledge.

    Thanks so much again Steve, very nice list of books to read and educate my self.
    nick catricala recently posted…Difficult situations serve us to improveMy Profile

    • says

      No, Nick, you are showing yourself to be wise by admitting that you have something new to learn. It’s when we think we’ve read and heard everything that we’re our greatest liabilities. I hope you enjoy some of these books, and apply them!

  8. says

    The statement that jumped out at me from all of the wonderful books you recommended is this one:
    “never teach a man to fish – sell him the fish instead.” As an educator (former Professor), for me, it is so satisfying to teach my clients out to do it on their own, “how to fish.” However, when building an online following, it is important to “hook” your potential followers, guide them to think they are going to be taught how to fish – but then they won’t need you. What I have seen is marketers promising to help you build your marketing plan in a weekend, for example, but they only give you enough t8ime for the first few pages – and then you need to take their expensive coaching program to get the complete training.


    Dr. Erica
    Dr. Erica Goodstone recently posted…Who’s Bullying You?My Profile

    • says

      Dr. Erica, I hear what you’re saying. But I also know that we have to value our own services and product offerings. Many people can be overwhelmed if we offer them too much. I don’t think it’s wrong to offer upsells of other products and services that will help them continue to learn. But we have to do balance that with our ethics, is what I hear you saying.

  9. says

    Hey Stephan,
    Most of the books you listed I have not read. I am familiar with “Tribe” though by Seth Godin. I always enjoy coming here to your blog. You put a lot of valuable information in your posts and I really appreciate it. I have picked up some great tips from you as a result of you writing such comprehensive articles… thank you
    Lesly Federici recently posted…Vibrant Dialogue ConnectsMy Profile

  10. says

    This looks like a great list, Steve! I’ve only read one of them, but there are several I’d love to get my hands on. Tribes, and Getting Things Done, for starters. And anything by Michael Hyatt is especially good. Thanks for the ideas!

    Willena Flewelling recently posted…FOCUS on One ThingMy Profile

  11. says

    Hi Stephen, I didn’t like the E-Myth books, and there was a slew of similarly styled books after (or maybe I just noticed them?). Maybe because the work culture in the UK is so different from the US, I found some of the advice and suggestions almost impossible to implement. I did however like Fish! the story of the Seattle fish market and had a fun 6 months implementing ideas based on that book in my workplace.
    Sarah Arrow recently posted…72 Places to promote your Kindle book when it’s freeMy Profile

    • says

      Sarah, very interesting! I remember watching a Fish video when I first started my job at a company I still work at 9 years later. Unfortunately, I don’t remember many of those ideas, but maybe you can remind me :) I think it has to do with making work fun while making it excellent as well.

  12. says

    I love reading blogs like this one, I just need to start getting into reading books online – your list is a great place to start! TY ;)

  13. says

    I read the E-Myth when it came out the first time and it changed my ideas about business forever. The idea of working on my business instead of working in it were revolutionary to me then.

    I used that idea in my career as a school administrator and have taught a number of classes to entrepreneurs using some of those ideas from that book (giving credit of course). I am not a big Seth Godin fan, could be I am just contrary, could be I really just don’t like Squidoo (because I got caught in the Squidoo slap of Ed Dale’s making, but I think that is part of what makes the online world so interesting – differing ideas.
    Michael Shook recently posted…Boston Marathon BombingMy Profile

  14. says


    This is a great list! I’ve read a few of them and almost all of them are on my to-read wishlist on amazon. Thanks for giving me a few more to read-LOL!

    Seriously, I am a big believer that winners read. If we’re not constantly investing in ourselves and growing we’re just standing still. Eventually, we would get run over.

    The same with podcasts. Just because I can’t afford to have Jason, Jeremy, Pat et al as my personal mentors, it does not mean I can’t benefit from their knowledge and be inspired by them on a regular basis.

    Thanks again for putting this together.

    Jeff Jones recently posted…Rebuilding A Blog – The OutlineMy Profile

  15. says

    Great list of books. Crush IT! by Gary Vanurchuck is a must read book.

  16. says

    This is a great list Stephen. I have read 4-Hour Work Week as well and at first I was disappointed. (It was back in my search for a magic pill days) But as I got through the entire thing I learned that its more about being more productive then it is about being lazy. Absolutely love it and would recommend it again and again!!
    Clint Butler recently posted…Make $7,500 A Month or More Selling on AmazonMy Profile

  17. says

    Wow! What a great list of books! Thanks for compiling them all and putting them into one list. I saw a video by Michael Gerber ages ago and he made great points for instance, that most people don’t run their business. For most people the business runs them! Multiple Streams of Income is another great book by Mr. Allen. And I read David Allen’s book on organization as well. And of course, the 4 hour work work by Tim Ferriss. Thanks so much for sharing this great list.
    Jupiter Jim@Thesis Tutorial, Thesis Theme, WordPress Tutorial recently posted…How to Change WordPress ‘admin’ username for Security ReasonsMy Profile

  18. says

    A fantastic selection of books Stephen, I’ve read (or listened to the audio) of some of those. The book showing how to do a one page plan sounds great, most books about planning are so long, and too complex. And, Darren Rowse, as you say is the “real deal”, his book would be good too, I have a couple of his other books and did a course of his years ago.
    Julieanne van Zyl recently posted…Themes for Your WordPress BlogMy Profile

  19. says

    I have the 4 Hour Work Week on my desk, I just borrowed it from the library. Now I’m all excited to start reading it. The Attractor Factor was the first book I’ve read that opened my eyes in the world of abundance and challenged all my limiting beliefs. It’s not exactly a business book but it was the start of my shift into abundance mindset which I believe should be the foundation of everyone wanting to become an entrepreneur.
    Cherrie Bautista recently posted…Wealthy Me! Has LaunchedMy Profile

  20. says

    Stephen, You have put together a really comprehensive collection of books to help all of us be more successful in business. I will be checking out ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income by Darren Rowse and You are the Message by Roger Ailes. Thanks so much for putting this awesome list together!
    Shelley Alexander recently posted…Anti-Aging Pineapple Banana Green SmoothieMy Profile

  21. says

    Great share Stephen. I’ve just published a article on my blog yesterday about the top 10 online business books I read and linked to your this article for more content for my audience.

    Great share and thanks for specifically suggesting the “4 Hour Work Week” and about the Pat Flynn.

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