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10 Must-Read Books for Entrepreneurial Graduates

Take command of your success with these essential reads.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A new class of graduates are entering the workforce, and many are doing it on their own terms. Unlike previous generations, a large percentage of this "internet generation" are bypassing traditional jobs to start their own business. In fact, almost half of millennials freelanced last year — the highest of any generation.

Related: 10 Books Every Aspiring Millionaire Must Read

If you're unsure of what your next step is or how to get there, here are 10 books to help you take command of your success.

1. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

In my must-read book for entrepreneurs, The Lean Startup, Ries details a "just do it" approach that bypasses traditional processes and management. Two common challenges in scaling a business are knowing whether an idea is worth pursuing and finding the people you need to make it happen quickly. This book shakes up traditional approaches to help you avoid getting stuck in traps.

2. The Non-Technical Founder by Josh MacDonald

What do you do if you've got a great app or other tech idea, but you don't know how to code? Although I have an engineering background, you don't have to know software to build a company in this digital world. In The Non-Technical Founder, MacDonald interviews 20-plus founders of multimillion-dollar software companies who give advice to non-techies on building a product and creating a customer base through social media.

Related: 30 Successful Entrepreneurs Reveal the Books That Changed Their Lives

3. Dear Millennial by Chelann AR Gienger

In my experience, the higher the risk, the higher the potential reward. And the best time to take more risks is early in your career because you usually have more freedom and the least amount to lose. But, if you're not sure what type of business to start, Dear Millennial can help you. It starts by helping you identify your passion.

4. Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk

For a lot of people, putting yourself out there to sell your own brand or your company's can be intimidating, but everyone needs to do it. I'm proof you don't have to be the most extroverted person to succeed, but you do have to work hard and get yourself out there. For example, I set goals for myself every time I go to events around the number of people to meet. The stories and tips in Crushing It help motivate you into action and develop your own approaches.

5. Rise of the Millennial Entrepreneur by Joey Wilkes

Many people only see entrepreneurs after they're successful, which makes it look as if it's an easy journey. I can assure you it's not, but the rewards are worth it. Through his personal stories, the author of Rise of the Millennial Entrepreneur shares tips on creating your own bootstrapped business and teaches how to survive the ups and downs that come with growing a business.

Related: 5 Books to Read Before Starting Your Business

6. Make Trouble by John Waters

Sometimes creating a legacy means pioneering industries, or just doing things differently. But, being on the leading edge can feel lonely or create doubts. In Make Trouble, Waters advises being pragmatic, learning how to stay creative and not fearing rejection. In my opinion, these are great reminders for anyone starting off or needing confirmation that it's alright to zig while others zag.

7. Zero to One by Peter Thiel

When starting my own businesses, I wanted to create something innovative instead of another version of something that's already out there. If you want to do the same, Zero to One shows how to ask the right questions to create products and services that are truly new.

8. Now What?! by Ari King

I recommend Now What?! to anyone who's pressuring themselves to figure out their passion and frustrated they haven't found it yet. In a collection of interviews of everyday people to industry leaders, King shows how the path to success and discovery usually isn't what you expect, and that's ok.

Related: Bill Gates Is Giving Away Free Copies of One of the Most Important Books He's Read to All College Graduates — Here's How to Get Yours

9. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

Catmull is a co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios. In Creativity, Inc., he shares how he developed one of the most creative companies in the world using an insightful management style. Among his insights, I especially appreciate his guidance on creating a safe environment for people to take risks. Too many organizations focus on risk avoidance. Although an informed calibration of efforts is essential, the bolder a business empowers its people to be, the better its results.

10. Grit, by Angela Duckworth

Duckworth, a psychologist, discovered that genius doesn't drive success. Success is fueled by what she calls grit: the combination of passion and long-term perseverance. After the experience of seeing my company go through a merger and leading it through a rebrand, I can tell you she's right. The stories in Grit provide insights and inspiration from people who succeeded through grit.

What will you create?

With technology providing so many tools at your fingertips, it's an exciting time to create your future and the impact you wish to make in this world. It's my hope that the wisdom and encouragement offered in these books helps make your journey more successful and joyful.

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Entrepreneur: Startup

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