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The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Updated: February 8, 2016

Interested in starting your own business and don’t know where to start? Do you need some inspiration to jump-start your creativity or promote your ideas? The following books share stories and practical advice from successful entrepreneurs. Some are autobiographical and inspirational while others offer pragmatic advice on how to start and keep a business going.  A number of books in this list also provide systematic approaches to promote original thinking and sharpen your innovative edge. The common theme throughout is that innovation, research, and perseverance are the three keys to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

The art of being unreasonable : lessons in unconventional thinking
Broad, Eli.
Call Number: 338.7 B863

The founder of two successful Fortune 500 companies and a renowned philanthropist, Eli Broad shares how his entrepreneurial instinct and methodical drive helped launch his startup companies. He describes how he overcame obstacles and doubt through a fearless pursuit of his innovative ideas. His unbridled enthusiasm and personal stories are inspirational.

Breakthrough entrepreneurship : the proven framework for building brilliant new businesses
Burgstone, Jon.
Call Number: 658 B957

With inspiration modeled on contemporary entrepreneurs (Zipcar, Google, and others), the authors offer business advice through a series of modules to encourage competence in areas such as idea generation, building credibility, and developing leadership skills.

Disciplined dreaming : a proven system to drive breakthrough creativity
Linkner, Josh, 1970-
Call Number: 658.314 L756

Founder of ePrize and other companies, jazz musician and author, Linkner presents his 5-step system to increase one’s creative abilities, specially tailored for success in business. He also provides a helpful self-assessment test to get you started.

Elon Musk : Tesla, SpaceX, and the quest for a fantastic future
Vance, Ashlee,
Call Number: 338.7 M987Va

Professional journalist Ashlee Vance presents an invigorating and well-researched biography of Elon Musk, a highly innovative and successful entrepreneur, scientist, and investor.  Musk’s current companies are SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and SolarCity. He was formerly involved with PayPal,, and Zip2. Vance spent many hours interviewing Musk and covers his childhood up to his current phenomenal business ventures.


Amoruso, Sophia.
Call Number: 658.31242 A524
Founder and CEO of Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso enthusiastically shares her story of entrepreneurial success and also offers helpful career advice to young women in the workplace. With no college degree and a series of unfulfilling jobs, Sophia decided to link her two passions of buying vintage clothes and photography to launch an eBay store. With dedication and hard work her business eventually outgrew eBay, and she now runs a thriving multi-million dollar online clothing business. She discusses some of her secrets to business success such as knowing your customer, how to get free marketing, and how to use social media to promote a brand and to engage with customers.

Good idea, now what? : how to move ideas to execution
Lee, Charles, 1972-
Call Number: 658.314 L477

Even the best idea needs a serious strategy to make it come to fruition. Lee, CEO of Ideation Consultancy Inc. and a philanthropist, offers a series of pragmatic and engaging stand-alone chapters on various topics (collaboration, branding, hiring, presentations) to promote the execution of creative ideas.

Mommy millionaire : how I turned my kitchen table idea into a million dollars and how you can too!
Lavine, Kim.
Call Number: 658 L412

A well-written and detailed account of how an entrepreneurial mom turned her home-made product into a million dollar business. Lavine gives a wealth of startup advice in a clear and methodical manner which is very helpful for aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those interested in retail.  She offers lots of practical information including trade show tips, pitching ideas, selling on QVC, and working with angel investors.

Red thread thinking : weaving together connections for brilliant ideas and profitable innovation
Kaye, Debra.
Call Number: 658.314 K23

The author describes how to stimulate innovative thinking leading to the creation of a valuable, cutting-edge product.  Her method involves making connections between disparate information that can foster the development of a unique product or service.

Small giants : companies that choose to be great instead of big
Burlingham, Bo.
Call Number: 658 B961

In an era that defines business success as a constant and never-ending drive to expand, the author chronicles 14 successful, privately-held companies that have rejected this philosophy and focused on creating a remarkable product instead. Included are the methods by which these companies have created and nurtured a unique market niche.

Unthink : rediscover your creative genius
Wahl, Erik.
Call Number: 658.314 W136

Wahl, an artist and entrepreneur, makes the case that re-thinking, in the fresh and open way we did as children (curious, enthusiastic, imaginative, fearless), is the best route to start developing and fostering your creativity and problem solving abilities. He provides examples of how freethinking and “play” time have created the space to develop innovative products at companies like Google and 3M. He encourages intuition, spontaneity, provocation, and other methods to promote unconventional thinking.