The 10 books listed below are my all-time favorites on the subject of making money.
Over the past 20 years, they’ve been the most important reference points on my journey from financial services professional to entrepreneur, challenging and shaping the way I think about topics like scaling up income, starting a business and creating a satisfying work-life balance.
#1. So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
Best for: Maximizing your career earnings.
A must-read for anyone looking to increase their earning potential, especially if you’re working in a traditional, salary-based career. The book breaks down the common advice to “follow your passion,” teaching you instead to focus on the idea of mastery, using your skills and experience to become an asset in the job market.
Ironically, it’s the path of mastery that leads to not only higher wages but also higher levels of career satisfaction.
It’s a great read if you’re considering changes to your career or are looking for ways to command more money in your current position.
#2. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
Best for: Someone with an idea for a business.
The Lean Startup is a bestseller that helps entrepreneurs journey from the beginning stages of a business idea to acquiring paying customers. It provides an actionable framework for testing your product or service, gathering customer feedback and pivoting as needed.
#3. Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau
Best for: Someone looking for an additional income stream.
An easy read that offers practical advice on selecting a small business or side hustle idea, this book gives you a clear pathway to making your first dollar on your own. It’s a good alternative to some of the heavier reads on this list, especially if you have zero experience building a business or working for yourself.
#4. The Practice by Seth Godin
Best for: Creative entrepreneurs.
The Practice is a brilliant book that helps you merge the creative and entrepreneurial processes. It looks at how to best apply yourself to bring an idea to life, such as developing working systems, honing your ability to focus and execute, and staying motivated.
#5. Influence: Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini
Best for: Learning how to sell and market a product or service.
Ranked on our list of the best business books of all time, Robert Cialdini’s Influence: Science and Practice is a pure classic that explores the psychology of persuasion, along the way highlighting common triggers that can help you market and sell your product or service. It’s also one of the more enjoyable reads on this list, as Cialdini uses real-world examples to show how people can be persuaded to take certain actions.
#6. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
Best for: Someone looking to scale up an existing small business or side hustle.
The E-Myth Revisited examines (and busts) some of the most common myths about entrepreneurship, such as the idea that working hard will lead to success. It also explains how to leverage systems and processes to overcome the mistakes, roadblocks and bottlenecks that often prevent people from taking their business to the next level.
#7. The Personal MBA by Josh Kauffman
Best for: Developing overall business acumen.
Few books teach the principles of running a successful business better than this bestseller, which looks at the core concepts within value creation, value delivery, marketing, sales and finance. It’s a great read if you’re looking to level up your business skills without investing in a graduate degree.
#8. How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis
Best for: Anyone looking to ignite their entrepreneurial passion.
In How to Get Rich, Felix Dennis (who is best known as the founder of Maxim magazine) tells a series of hilarious anecdotes from his own life. The book looks at the best ways to make big money, including investing and launching new businesses, and is a great read if you’re looking for an inspiring story about taking risks and succeeding in business (as told by someone who has actually done it).
#9. Zero to One by Peter Thiel
Best for: Understanding how breakthrough businesses are created.
Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, provides a fresh perspective on how to best create and grow an innovative business based on where the world is moving. Just as importantly, it outlines how to do so with the goal of building a monopoly — i.e., a category of one. While aimed at those looking to build the next big startup, Theil’s ideas are applicable to businesses of any size or scope.
#10. The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
Best for: Local business owners.
If you’re looking for practical tips to help grow a local business, The Ultimate Sales Machine is a must-read. It explores the best practices for doubling sales, such as refining customer service, gathering customer feedback and developing a referral program.
The 10 Best Books on Making Money: Final Thoughts
The first book on making money I read (over 20 years ago) was Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad. I’m sure many of you have read it, as well.
While I have to credit that book for helping inspire me towards a life of entrepreneurship, there are higher-quality books available.
As you can see from the list above, the best books on making money span various topics and genres; whether you’re looking to launch a side hustle or scale your current business, there’s something here for everyone.
So start reading! But more importantly, start putting what you learn into practice sooner rather than later.
Doing your homework is important, and these books can help set you on the right path. But when it comes down to it, making more money — whether in your case that means starting a business, making a big investment, asking for a higher salary or something else — requires taking a concrete first step toward your goal.