8 of the Best Business Books That Stand the Test of Time

The world of business grows and changes constantly. As soon as you think you have a grip on what’s happening in the market, another innovation booms, another book hits the press, another hashtag fills social media feeds.

The sheer volume of business advice makes trying to glean some insight a real chore. Where should you start when every business and industry leader has something to say? That’s why we researched some of the most foundational business books in print today to make things a little easier.

Whether you are looking for a classic business book that professionals have been reading for decades or something a little more recent that changed the business conversation—read on! These are some of the best business books that will remain important for years to come.

8 Great business books to add to your reading list

1. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't

By Jim Collins

This groundbreaking bestseller began with a five-year study of elite companies that leaped into greatness compared to counterparts that settled at merely “good.” Using tons of data on 28 different companies, the research team pinpointed the surprising factors that made the difference.

The research really sets this business book apart from all the anecdotes and tips out there. Before Amazon was the marketplace behemoth it is now, CEO Jeff Bezos reportedly met with Jim Collins and arranged Amazon’s business structure accordingly. If you haven’t heard—that really worked out for him.

2. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant

By W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

The fabulous metaphor of this business strategy is that some waters are just full of sharks, fighting over the space and filling the water with the blood of their competition. Intense, right?

In so many industries today, that image feels all too apt. Kim and Mauborgne argue that successful businesses find blue oceans, untapped areas of opportunity. Why spend time and energy fighting over scraps when you can make a new corner of the market? While that may be easier said than done, The Blue Ocean Strategy is a perfect read for entrepreneurs and anyone who wants to innovate.

3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

by Stephen R. Covey

Principles of business thinking, leadership and strategy could easily fill a dense, complicated textbook—but this book breaks down seven time-tested habits that can help anyone accomplish their aims. If you feel tired navigating the changing trends in business relations, try this read and focus on the principles of fairness, honesty, and dignity that never go out of style.

Covey’s book has been a cornerstone business book for over 25 years and has inspired countless conferences, workplace strategies and more.

4. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

by Angela Duckworth

What if the thing you most need to succeed in your endeavors isn’t a magic formula, a vault full of cash or an innovative idea no one has thought of yet? Grit posits the theory that anyone can succeed if they blend their passion with good, old-fashioned determination.

This publication became an instant New York Times bestseller in 2016 and inspired tons of conversation in business and education alike. If you feel discouraged in your efforts and are looking for some ideas on how to keep going, this book would be especially perfect for you.

5. Radical Candor

by Kim Scott

This is a great business book for managers or for anyone interested in leading and inspiring people. Radical Candor is (fittingly) about what it sounds like: speaking your mind. However, Scott’s philosophy focuses on more than honesty and clarity. She proposes that bringing your caring, human self to every conversation and forgoing stiff professionalism allows leaders and managers to make their opinions and directions clear in a way that encourages collaboration, challenge and, ultimately, a better workplace. 

Since its publication in 2017, this book has garnered lots of fame and inspired an executive education company that assists organizations with the concepts of Radical Candor. If you are interested in a fresh way to communicate with your employees, coworkers or employers—this one is a great choice!

6. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

 by Cal Newport

So many people divide their working attention among emails, notifications, distractions, project juggling and more. In this book, Newport explores how work (and the human brain) changes when it is uninterrupted. As the benefits of modern technology make many professions more connected and open to distraction, Deep Work offers a refreshing perspective on the productivity possible with true focus.

If you feel your time getting away from you or like you really aren’t accomplishing your potential, this is the book for you.

7. How to Win Friends & Influence People

by Dale Carnegie

A famous and widely recommended business book, this read reminds us that relationships are at the heart of the business world. Expect to see advice about how to make people like you and how to change minds without arousing resentment.

Carnegie’s book was first published in 1936, yet it remains a top recommendation from today’s business leaders nearly a century later. You can’t get more time tested than that!

8. Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

by Liz Wiseman

If you’ve ever worked under a terrible manager, you know all too well how one leader’s behavior can change the workplace. Their immaturity, lack of awareness or poor management damages the productivity and power of those around them. On the other end of that spectrum, certain leaders use their power and intelligence to bolster and support their teams—motivating everyone to push themselves in new ways. Wiseman calls these leaders “multipliers” and offers principles on how to become one.

This book is the result of analyzing 150 different leaders and their diminishing or multiplying impact on those around them. It’s the perfect business book for managers and team leaders.

Doing your own business research

If you are interested in diving deep into any area of business, there’s probably a book out there for you. This industry is just bursting with new ideas and advice for making your dreams a reality. That can certainly be overwhelming, but on the other hand, it’s an exciting indication that the world of business has something for everyone.

Have you thought about pursuing formal education in business? Like so many of these books will tell you, a piece of paper doesn’t make you a great entrepreneur, manager or business owner. But there are fantastic benefits to a business degree that many people never realize. Check out “Should I Get a Business Degree? The Data You Need to Decide” to learn more.

About the author

Brianna Flavin

Brianna is a senior content manager who writes student-focused articles for Rasmussen University. She holds an MFA in poetry and worked as an English Professor before diving into the world of online content. 

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