There is no one formula to become a successful entrepreneur, and there is certainly not a set path. Entrepreneurship is a journey that is full of immense opportunities but also immense challenges.
My path to becoming a founder of a unicorn startup was a winding path. I was raised in Kentucky, in the heartland of America, by a single mother in a union household. My mother and grandparents, who helped raise me, encouraged me to read as much as I could from a young age. I was drawn to business and motivational books, which helped create a positive mindset and provided me with one of the first views into the basics of business.
I was able to scale the first business I founded to unicorn status, a billion-dollar startup. Only 0.1% of companies reach this incredible milestone. The journey was extremely rewarding but filled with many challenges that take a toll on the entrepreneur. That is why you need to be in the right mindset when starting your journey, and as an entrepreneur, you should always look for ways to improve yourself and your business.
Reading many books from a young age allowed me to self-teach the common principles that make people successful in business and helped me dream big when founding my company. Here are five books that inspired and prepared me for the wild ride of scaling a startup from a $10,000 line of credit to going public on the New York Stock Exchange.
‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill
First published in 1937, “Think and Grow Rich” is one of the most influential self-help books of all time. Andrew Carnegie commissioned the author, Napoleon Hill, who spent over 20 years studying successful individuals, including Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, among others. The book outlines 13 principles that can help you achieve wealth and success, such as having a burning desire, having a positive mental attitude and taking massive action.
The book provides valuable insights into the mindset of successful people and the principles they follow. This is the single most important book that shaped my outlook on success, and I encourage everyone to read Think and Grow Rich. Hill’s message is clear: success is attainable for anyone who is willing to follow these principles.
‘The Magic of Thinking Big‘ by David J. Schwartz
My mother always told me to “dream big because it is free.” If you are planning your future, it takes no more effort to dream big. This remains the number one piece of advice I give to aspiring entrepreneurs.
David Schwartz, in The Magic of Thinking Big, teaches you how to think positively, set big goals and take action. It encourages you to believe in yourself and your abilities and to think outside the box. The book provides practical tips and strategies to help you overcome fear and doubt, build confidence and succeed.
‘The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
The author, Norman Vincent Peale, was a minister who believed that faith and positive thinking could help individuals overcome adversity and achieve their goals. Entrepreneurs are met with challenges at every turn when starting their endeavours, the book can help you overcome self-doubt and cut through any negativity to maintain a healthy outlook on life.
‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand
“The Fountainhead” is a novel that explores the concept of individualism and the importance of following one’s own values and beliefs. The book’s protagonist, Howard Roark, is an architect who refuses to compromise his artistic vision, even in the face of opposition from society. Rand’s novel is a reminder that entrepreneurship requires courage and conviction.
Mark Cuban famously said in a 2006 interview with C-Span, “I’ll pick it up when I need motivation, but then if I read too far I get too much motivation, and I get too jittery, so I have to put it down.”
‘The First Billion is the Hardest’ by T. Boone Pickens
The First Billion is the Hardest is a memoir by T. Boone Pickens, an industry titan and one of America’s most successful entrepreneurs. The book provides insights into his business philosophy and the strategies he used to build his empire. Pickens shares his experiences and lessons learned, including his failures and successes.
I was lucky enough to get to know the legendary Boone Pickens. He should serve as an inspiration to all entrepreneurs. He reinvented himself throughout his career and persevered no matter the challenge.
Just as my own unique path led me to success, others can also find their own way forward, inspired by the wisdom of those who have gone through similar experiences. With the right mindset and a strong desire to learn, the world of entrepreneurship isn’t just a goal but a life-changing adventure.