As a follow-up to our interview with Bill Murphy Jr., the author of “The Intelligent Entrepreneur: How Three Harvard Business School Graduates Learned the 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship,” we asked him which books can teach you how to be an exceptional entrepreneur. Aside from his own excellent book, here, in his own words, are […]
As a follow-up to our interview with Bill Murphy Jr., the author of “The Intelligent Entrepreneur: How Three Harvard Business School Graduates Learned the 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship,” we asked him which books can teach you how to be an exceptional entrepreneur.
Aside from his own excellent book, here, in his own words, are the others Bill recommends:
1. “Shaping the Waves” by Jeffrey L. Cruikshank
The book is about the history of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education at Harvard Business School (HBS). If you take nothing else away from it, remember the definition of entrepreneurship they use at HBS – its single greatest contribution to the field. Entrepreneurship is the “pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.” Fully absorb that phrase, and you’ll feel empowered and liberated, no matter what your current station in life.
2. “The Great Escape” by Paul Brickhill
This book has nothing to do with starting a company, and yet everything to do with entrepreneurship. In 1944, 76 Allied POWs escaped from a German prison camp. They did so despite harsh conditions, despite vigilant guards, and despite being locked up with barely the clothes on their backs. In other words, they pursued a seemingly unreachable goal, without regard to the negligible resources they controlled. (If you don’t have time for the book, watch the 1963 movie.)
3. “Benjamin Franklin” by Walter Isaacson
Entrepreneurship is timeless, and it’s also as fundamental to the USA as democracy. So read about Franklin, inventor, statesman, and the original American entrepreneur. You’ll have a leg up on your competition who aren’t savvy enough to model him as an example. Isaacson’s is one of the best and most accessible one-volume accounts of his life.
4. “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham
Investing and entrepreneurship are opposite sides of the same globe. This book can be a bit opaque, but if you can get through it, you’ll be better equipped to analyze markets and make hard choices as a founder. Besides, Warren Buffett calls it “by far the best book on investing ever written,” so you can rest assured that every serious person you approach to invest in your startup will at least claim to have read it.
5. It’s a tie…
I tried, but I couldn’t limit this to five. It’s important to find inspiration, and I think first-person accounts of entrepreneurs who’ve managed to create great things out of nothing are a great source. The more you read, the more you’ll understand that it’s possible for you, too. There are many out there, but three of my favorites—let’s call them tied for fifth—include “Made in America” by Sam Walton founder of Wal-Mart; “Losing My Virginity, by Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Megastore, Virgin Atlantic, and basically every other company with “Virgin” in its name; and “One Day, All Children,” by Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America.