If you’re motivated to build a business – and life – that you love, you’re already well aware that constant learning is key to moving forward. The urge to continuously seek and digest new information and to grow both personally and professionally is a characteristic common among innovators, entrepreneurs and startup founders. The best, most efficient way to infuse your mind with new ideas that will get you closer to your goals? Good, old-fashioned books.

Many entrepreneurs read multiple books each month to keep their minds hydrated with new information and to reinforce ideas and positive habits they’ve already begun to put in place. Whether you plan to read or listen to books in an audio format while exercising or commuting, the biggest challenge is often not finding the time to make it happen, but having a worthy stack of must-reads on deck and at the ready.

Pulled from over 60 interviews with guests who’ve appeared on the Spirit of 608 podcast, here are 7 business and personal development books recommended by female entrepreneurs specifically for other startup founders and small business owners trying to get an edge – and get ahead. Some are tried and true, while others are just a little bit unexpected.

7 Books Female Entrepreneurs Recommend to Up Your Business Games

Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less by Robert Sutton

Recommended by Who What Wear founder Katherine Power, Sutton’s book was hailed as one of the best business books of the year when it was published in 2014, and it still holds up. Relying on both case studies and academic research, the book dives into the practices and customs successful organizations display over and over again. But many books set out to do that. What makes this one different is its emphasis on examining those practices and customs in companies and organizations that have successfully scaled their businesses. Because it’s one thing to look at how internal systems are functioning and how leadership is meted out across a team during a single moment in the company’s path, but it’s entirely another thing to watch solid systems and high-functioning teams during a period of rapid growth. Those are the times when things threaten to go completely sideways, and this book seeks to bring the wisdom of companies who’ve managed to pull it off to those in the early stages of building their businesses.


Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson

A must-read for any entrepreneur planning to seek outside investment, this book by longtime venture capitalists Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson of Colorado-based firm Foundry Group (and before that, many others) takes the knowledge they’ve built from doing hundreds of venture deals and translates them with early stage entrepreneurs in mind. A favorite read recommended for startup founders by Who What Wear’s Katherine Power and also Candace Widdoes of the Plug and Play Tech Center accelerator, the book does a nice job of covering the basics of fundraising while also diving deeper into the nitty gritty of term sheets and deals. That makes it time well spent whether you’re a business that makes sense for venture capital investment or one that’s likely to be a better fit for other options such as angel investors, private equity or even crowd-funding.


Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

You’ve heard about the power of mindset, but how can you implement a mindset shift not only in your own life, but in the lives of those you manage, coach and lead? Author Carol Dweck dives into an exploration of mindset that goes beyond just what it can do for you on an individual level and discusses how fostering a growth mindset can help create and uncover opportunity for your entire organization, as well as friends and family. Facing new challenges head-on, tolerating failures and embracing the notion that your identity and talents can change over time are themes in this thought-provoking, yet also actionable read recommended by startup founder Lily Xu.


You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

If you like your personal and professional development with a side of bad language and funny cool girl humor, go for this quick and easy read by success coach Jen Sincero. While not solely about business, this book encourages a look at your life as a whole and offers anecdotes, tips and real things you can do to create change and feel motivated to pursue the day-to-day experience you really want. Sure, the underlying message is one that’s pure self-help, but the wit and brash attitude are bold enough to appeal to those who’ve passed by other books in the same category. Adventurous spirits and those with constant wanderlust will also appreciate Sincero’s perspective as a world traveler.


Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message by Tara Mohr

Focused on leadership and success for women, this relatively quick read by success coach Tara Mohr has quickly become a go-to for female entrepreneurs who know there’s more out there for them if they can only gain the confidence and mindset to move towards it. In the tradition of authors like Brene Brown, Mohr is straightforward and accessible while pairing practical tips with more inspirational content and exercises designed to guide you towards deeper thought about actions that may entirely automatic. At its core, the book argues that its possible to step away from limiting factors that hold you back without you even realizing it and embrace bigger, more meaningful and fulfilling roles in life.


Dead on Arrival: How to Avoid the Legal Mistakes That Could Kill Your Start-Up by Roger Royse

As an entrepreneur, you’re not expected to know everything from the start. In fact, failure has become ultra trendy. But what kind of failure exactly? In this book recommended by Models in Tech’s founder Olya Ishchukova, author Roger Royse steps in with an advice-heavy book to help founders avoid early mistakes that will cause failure much farther along – and often at a time when a company has proven its worth to its customers and started generating revenue. Read it to study up on common mistakes founders often make when starting their companies that end up costing them dearly when they seek investment or face acquisition, as well as tips on forming agreements and when to bring in legal counsel.


Little Black Book of Connections: 6.5 Assets for Networking Your Way to Rich Relationships by Jeffrey Gitomer

Building connections with other people is everything, but it’s also one of the most difficult things for busy entrepreneurs to do – especially if you want those connections to be genuine and long-lasting. This book by sales trainer Jeffrey Gitomer has maintained its fan base in the decade since it was first published not only for its insistence that you’ve got to create value first in order to build your network, but also for its wide appeal across industries and businesses. Recommended by Ugly Fly Republic artist and entrepreneur Monai Willet, this book has practical, accessible wisdom for building relationships with people in all aspects of your life, whether you’re trying to gain time and advice from powerful people you aspire to emulate or hoping to improve your relationship with business partners, family or friends.

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Lorraine Sanders is a journalist and founder of the Spirit of 608, a boutique media services firm whose eponymous podcast reaches thousands of listeners each month with interviews featuring women building businesses at the intersection of fashion, entrepreneurship, sustainability + tech. It’s a space she coined FEST, and she’ll tell you it’s the future of fashion. Her stories have been published by Women’s Wear Daily, Fast Company, NPR, USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, Women 2.0, Forbes.com, HarpersBazaar.com and many others.

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