25 Lessons for Entrepreneurs From Book Titles

My name is Penny Layne, and I am addicted to books.

I love to read, on almost any topic. I enjoy the pictures that stories can draw in your mind. I love that reading can teach you new ideas, whether fiction or non-fiction. I love books.

Since books, in general, have taught me so much about life, I wondered if there is anything we can learn about entrepreneurship from book titles. I searched bookstores and online lists, seeking book titles that have a life lesson to share, and now I want to share those life lessons with you.

Note: *This article is strictly for fun. The titles used are based solely on the name, and the ideas depicted have nothing to do with the actual story.*

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by [Angelou, Maya]
from Amazon
If you have ever felt caged in a job you hated or felt like what you are doing had no real meaning, you will understand why the caged bird sings. It is when we feel trapped that we are most vocal about our desire for freedom.

It is not a happy song, it is a song of desire for something more, something we think will be better.

The important thing is to hold on to that desire and remember your passion even if you break out. If you want to truly feel freedom you have to remember what the other felt like and be prepared to do whatever you have to do to keep your freedom.

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

The Chosen by [Potok, Chaim]
from Amazon
A calling to entrepreneurship is like being chosen for a task. When we are chosen, it is our duty to strike out and do the task we were chosen for.

Don’t let the fear weigh you down, remember you were chosen for this, you have a duty to yourself to see it through.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Man's Search for Meaning by [Frankl, Viktor E.]
From Amazon
So often that calling is part of our greater search for the meaning of our lives. Don’t be afraid to explore your reason; a search for meaning can lead to great discoveries about yourself and your talents.

The key is not to get so caught up in this exploration that you forget to live your life, or lose your original vision.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

From Amazon

When we strike out, filled with our hopes and dreams, we are also filled with expectations for what this dream will lead to. Make sure your expectations are rooted in what you can give to the world.

When our expectations are purely self-interested, we are more likely to fail because we aren’t paying attention to the bigger picture: Why does what I’m offering matter?

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

From Amazon

The calling to something new can feel just like a call into the wild. This is something you haven’t experienced before, and there is so much to learn. You will not learn everything you need to know right away, and this can make your task feel crazy, but remember even the wild has a pattern.

If you take the time to find a pattern in the wildness around you, your vision can turn into something great and powerful.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

From Amazon

As you go along on your journey, you will have several awakenings if you are willing to learn. Remember, even the seasoned entrepreneurs are learning something new if they want to stay relevant.

With each new awakening, you get a new level of desire. Learn to channel those awakenings into your big picture, and let them drive your passion into something sustainable.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

The Metamorphosis (Modern Library Classics) by [Kafka, Franz]
From Amazon
With each new awakening is a possibility for metamorphosis. As we learn more about our trades, and as the technology continues to rapidly change around us, these new ideas and changes can lead to drastic changes in our business plans.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just don’t get so caught up in changes that you forget the original vision. Before you change with the times, make sure the change is the right move for you.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World by [Huxley, Aldous]
From Amazon
The world of entrepreneurship can definitely be a brave new world for those used to the regular business model. This new world leads to more responsibility and harder work; just accept that point, it is going to require work.

Not only is this new journey a new world, but the platforms and tools change rapidly, creating new horizons. Embrace the new world but, once again, remember your original goals before you get too caught up in the new.

The Odyssey by Homer

The Odyssey (Signet Classics) by [Homer]
From Amazon
Our journeys are just that, an odyssey, always seeking to make it to the goal. The thing is, as you continue, and reach set goals, you will create new ones, continuing your odyssey.

This is the world of running a business, there is always something to strive for. In fact, this is the rule of life in general. Make sure as you strive for new goals you don’t lose the big picture and get off track.

Lost Illusions by Honore De Balzac

Lost Illusions: (Annotated with short biography) by [Balzac, Honoré de]
From Amazon
As you go along, those illusions you had of what this journey would look like are going to fall away, leaving you with a real, lasting journey if you are willing to let the illusions go and hold to the truth.

Just because the illusions are gone does not make the journey any less important or interesting. In fact, the more real your goals and vision become, the more exciting the journey can be.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver (Giver Quartet, Book 1) by [Lowry, Lois]
From Amazon
To be successful, you will need to learn to be a giver. This doesn’t mean just give away your products or services to everybody that comes along, that’s not a viable business plan.

It does mean give of your time to others in your niche, give resources where you are able, give value to your customers. Giving is essential to creating a lasting brand.

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

To the Lighthouse (Annotated) by [Woolf, Virginia]
From Amazon
Always keep your goals in focus. There are all kinds of shiny new ideas out there, and some are worth exploring, but our lighthouse is that original idea, the thing that guides us and keeps us moving forward in the right direction.

Do not lose sight of this lighthouse chasing fake or dimmer lights. Just as the lighthouse guides ships to safety, let your vision guide you to the right goals.

The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling

From Amazon

The internet is a jungle of information that you have to fight through to get to what you need. You will also be fighting in this jungle to get heard over the other voices.

Keep this jungle in mind as you make decisions, and make sure you equip yourself with the necessary tools to come out victorious in that fight. Always be learning and testing the tools to find the ones you need.

The Book Thief Markus Zusak

The Book Thief by [Zusak, Markus]
From Amazon
This is a two-fold lesson. To create something lasting, you will need to borrow or steal from those that have come before you. This doesn’t mean ripping someone else’s work off, but know the work that has come before, use it as a guide, and build on it.

Don’t try to recreate something that doesn’t need to be recreated.

The second part of this is that learning is essential. Be ready to read up on the pertinent information for your market. Know what is available, know what others have to say about. Soak in the lessons that can be learned.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

From Amazon

Remember when you were in school and you would get an essay back with red marks to show mistakes? That is the idea of the scarlet letter; be ready to proof your work and correct mistakes.

To be successful you can’t be bull-headed, unwilling to correct and learn. Accept that you will make mistakes along the way. The scarlet letter is not the end, it’s a chance to grow.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

From Amazon

In any endeavor, you need to get the right balance of sense and sensibility. You need the ability to look at things rationally and be realistic, but you also need the ability to be a dreamer looking to see where things can take you.

The important thing is to strike the right balance to achieve your goals. Be willing to look beyond the horizon and see fun possibilities, to dream big dreams. Also, be willing to scale down if necessary, to hold to small and realistic steps to get you to that dream.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

From Amazon

The ability to dream big dreams does transport us into our own little wonderlands, filled with possibilities and impossibilities. The thing is, some things that have been considered impossibilities in the past have proven possible.

Don’t give up on ideas just because someone thinks it’s impossible. Be ready to explore the wonderland.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

From Amazon

While dreaming and exploring is essential to growing, so is holding to your convictions. Be willing to take yourself seriously or no one else will.

While you explore, keep your goals in mind, hold firm to those things that drive your vision. Don’t be willing to compromise where compromise is unnecessary.

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

From Amazon

A big problem you can find is that people will get out there and start promoting big ideas before they have a real plan, or without offering something worth people’s attention. They create a big to do about nothing.

If you don’t have a clear plan in mind, you don’t have a real direction. If you aren’t adding value, you have nothing. You may be able to market your nothing well and get initial attention, but without having something real, you will lose that attention quickly.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

(yes, I have two Jane Austen books, I am a Jane Austen fan)

Persuasion - Jane Austen: Annotated by [Austen, Jane]
From Amazon
The idea of persuasion is a tricky one. You want to be open to persuasion where it can help you grow and increase your ability to reach your goals.

You don’t want to be so easily persuaded that you give up on something just because one person tells you it isn’t possible, and you don’t want to be the person that changes with every new thing that comes along. The proper attention to persuasion is a balancing act.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Gone with the Wind by [Mitchell, Margaret, Conroy, Pat]
From Amazon
If every new wind can blow you a different direction, you will never accomplish anything. All your goals will blow away with the wind if you can’t learn to stick to something.

This isn’t to say that new things aren’t worth exploring, they definitely are and anyone who has ever been successful has been willing to explore new ideas. The trick is, once again, to remember the ultimate goal as you go exploring.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders by [Hinton, S. E.]
From Amazon
As you go along your journey of entrepreneurship, you will probably feel like an outsider at times, especially as you just start out.

You are going against the traditional ideas, alienating you in some ways from societal norms, but you are not yet established, and don’t have a network of connections in this new world.

Just remember, these things take time, and if you stick with it you will start to build needed relationships.

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

From Amazon

While the entrepreneur life can seem like a war, or at least seem very competitive, remember there are strategies you can use to get your name out there, to make connections with people, and to come to peace with the new world.

Don’t make it all about beating out everyone else, make it about collaboration or understanding, learn how you fit in and make strategies to compliment the market. While it can seem like a war, it is not unconquerable.

A Room With A View by E. M. Forster

From Amazon

This is the dream in the corporate world, to get that great office with a great view. This is still, metaphorically speaking, the goal for an entrepreneur.

You want to have a way to measure success. What does success look like for you? That is your room with a view. That is the thing to strive for. Keep it in mind to help fuel the decisions you make.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island (Penguin Classics) by [Stevenson, Robert Louis]
From Amazon
Okay, being an entrepreneur does not guarantee untold riches, but it can bring you a treasure.

You have the room to be creative; you can make your vision come alive for yourself. This is a treasure to anyone who has ever had their ideas crushed by someone who doesn’t have the same vision as them.

Plus, if you are willing to work, and stick it out through the ups and downs you will at least create a profit for yourself. What better treasure than being able to say, “You see this thing I’ve created? This is how I earn my living.”


Do you have any titles you would add to the list? Let me know your motivational titles in the comments.


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