10 Must-Read Business Books to Level Up Your Business Acumen • The Dumb Passive Income Blog

Some of the world’s most successful people – from Charlie Munger to Elon Musk are habitual learners and voracious readers. Learning new things doesn’t just help us grow in our professional capacity. It also facilitates the growth of our business persona.

If you’re already running a business or are looking to start one, these carefully selected books are excellent sources of inspiration and ideas. Here’s our collection of the top business books out there.

In a hurry? Here are 2 of the very best business books…

Choose Your Own Adventure

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Why Business Books Matter

To put it in a nutshell, business books are typically written by business owners who have already achieved success. These business owners want to share their secrets with the world, and you have the opportunity to take advantage of their generosity!

One of the best ways to learn is by making mistakes. An even better way to learn is by reading about mistakes that others have made so that you won’t have to! Business books fit this mold perfectly. Successful business owners want to share the wisdom and knowledge that they’ve gained after years of learning from their own mistakes. Please take advantage of this willingness to share!

Business Books for Passive Income

Given the many different ways to create and accumulate passive income – owning a business gives you the best chance to earn the most money. Learning about business from others who have successfully started their own businesses is critical. Reading business books written by these types of business owners is the easiest way to access this invaluable information.

If you are going to choose the ‘owning your own business’ path to passive income success – I highly recommend that you read a few books to get started. Or maybe you are already on that path and you need help figuring out a new direction for your business? You will certainly learn a thing or two by reading some of the business books listed here…

Zero to One (Peter Thiel and Blake Masters)

Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

Zero to One is a book that teaches how to build a business from scratch. It is about how to think about the future and what it takes for a company to be successful.

The book was written by Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, and Blake Masters (a former student of Thiel’s). In this book, the authors explore what it takes to create something new and different in a world where competition dominates the landscape.

The book has three sections:

  • The Idea – The first section explores how to build a monopoly business, why competition isn’t always good, and why it’s important to focus on monopolies instead of competing with everyone in your industry.
  • The Team – The second section discusses how to keep your company from becoming complacent and how to avoid stagnation in the marketplace. It also explores ideas on hiring strategies that help companies succeed.
  • The Execution – The third section offers advice on what it takes for an entrepreneur or inventor to be successful in today’s world, including specific advice for students looking for success.

The book provides readers with a set of rules for how to invent disruptive technologies and start successful companies. The book argues that “we live in an age of technological stagnation.” It also advocates thinking about the world from first principles rather than relying on what has worked in the past.


“Progress comes from monopoly, not competition.”

“A new company’s most important strength is new thinking: even more important than nimbleness, small size affords space to think.”

“No one can predict the future exactly, but we know two things: it’s going to be different, and it must be rooted in today’s world.”

The $100 Startup (Chris Guillebeau)

Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

The $100 Startup is an inspirational book that will help you find your own way to make money and live life on your own terms. The author, Chris Guillebeau, has been traveling the world for the past five years and has visited over 100 countries. The author’s story of success is inspiring, but it’s not just an autobiography – it’s a practical guide to building your own small empire.

In this book, Chris Guillebeau provides readers with a blueprint to build their own small businesses. He has started more than 20 businesses in the time he is traveling, and he shares his stories as well as his insights on how to succeed in business.

The $100 Startup is a book about how to start a business with little or no money. This book can help you explore different ways of making money and give you the confidence to do so. It can also be helpful if you are looking for practical advice and ideas to take control of your economic destiny.


“You already have the skills you need – You just have to know where to look.”

“All around the world, ordinary people are opting out of traditional employment and making their own way. Instead of fighting the system, they’re creating their own form of work – usually without much training, and almost always without much money.”

Starting a Business QuickStart Guide (Ken Colwell PhD MBA)

The Simplified Beginner’s Guide to Launching a Successful Small Business, Turning Your Vision into Reality

Starting a Business QuickStart Guide, written by Ken Colwell PhD MBA, is a short and concise guide to starting a business. The book provides an overview of the process and the steps involved in starting a business. It also provides insights on what to do before you start your business, what to do when you start your business and how to grow your business.

It covers topics such as:

  • How to find the value proposition for your business
  • What makes a great opportunity
  • What you need to do before you launch your business
  • How to plan, design, and launch your website
  • How to create an effective marketing strategy for your business
  • How to choose the perfect legal structure for your company (LLC, S Corp, C Corp)

This book will help entrepreneurs who are just starting out with their businesses or those who are looking to grow their current businesses.


“I’ve found time and again that the right mindset is far more important to the success of a new venture than economic factors, airtight intellectual property protection, or killer financial projections.”

“I’ve also seen too many ventures to count that succeeded despite so called “experts” (i.e, me) thinking they had no chance at all. “

“Believe it or not, not all ideas are created equal, and being able to discern the difference between an idea and an opportunity is one of the first steps to getting started on your own entrepreneurial path.”

Twelve and a Half (Gary Vaynerchuk)

Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success

In Twelve and a Half, Gary Vaynerchuk shares his personal story of how he went from selling wine out of his father’s cellar to becoming a multimillionaire entrepreneur and CEO.

He talks about the importance of emotional ingredients, hustle, social media, and the internet in today’s society. He also shares his thoughts on how to be successful in business.

The book is divided into three sections:

  • The first section focuses on Gary’s personal story and the emotional ingredients why he became successful.
  • The second section focuses on real-life scenarios for someone to become successful in today’s society.
  • The third section talks exercises in business and tells readers what they need to do in order to succeed in this new world.

The book also tackles the subjects of family relationships, social media marketing, personal branding, entrepreneurship, leadership, and more.


“One of the biggest points I’m trying to make in this book is that positive emotional ingredients provide more sustainable fuel than negative ones.”

“If you draw energy from gratitude, you’ll find that it lasts much longer than energy drawn from insecurity, anger, or disappointment.”

“When you develop perspective, the timelines you set for your goals naturally shift.”

Buy Buttons (Nick Loper)

The Fast-Track Strategy to Make Extra Money and Start a Business in Your Spare Time

Buy Buttons is a book that teaches the reader how to make money in their spare time and start a business. The author, Nick Loper, has been in the business for over 15 years and he has seen it all. He knows what works and what doesn’t, so this book is filled with his insights on the most effective strategies for making money online.

He provides the reader with income-generating ideas on how to make money online. He also shows readers how to set up their own “buy buttons” to get started online in different areas of income generation.

Loper’s book divides the marketplace into 3 main categories:

  • The Sharing Economy
  • Market Places for Selling Skills
  • Market Places for Selling Physical Products

This is not just any other book for making money. It is very much focused on those who have limited time or resources but still want to earn more than what they are getting now.


“Getting on the first page of Google’s results is hard, but getting on the first page of a niche market is much more attainable. “

“Most people look at their incomes as fixed. There’s even a phrase for it: “I’m on a fixed income.” Baloney!”

The Side Hustle Guide (Bola Sokunbi)

Build a Successful Side Hustle and Increase Your Income

The Side Hustle Guide is a book that provides you with all the information and knowledge you need to start your own side hustle. It is a practical guide for creative people who want to brainstorm business ideas. Readers will learn how to turn their business ideas into a business plan and monetize it.

The author, Bola Sokunbi, is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, finance expert, speaker, podcaster, and influencer. She offers her insights on her platform Clever Finance Girl which she founded in 2015.

This book will help you challenge your fears and get you prepared to win.


“Fear is an indicator that you are outside of your comfort zone – but outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens.”

“Your mindset is like a muscle you have to keep in shape. And as you undertake the journey to building a successful business, this muscle is more important than ever.”

Passive Income with Vending Machines (James Moore)

Step By Step Guide to Starting Your Own Vending Machine Empire

The book Passive Income with Vending Machines teaches you all the things you need to know before getting started, such as what kind of machines to buy, where to find them and, how much they cost, which locations are best for setting up a vending business.

This book also includes detailed information on what it takes to keep your business running smoothly – from stocking machines with inventory and collecting money from customers.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Choose the right location for your vending machines
  • Set up your first machine
  • Get the necessary permits and licenses
  • Start stocking the machine with products that sell well
  • Keep operating costs down

Passive Income with Vending Machines is for people who are looking to start their own vending machine business. It will remove all the guesswork so you’ll know how to start with a small investment and expand to a large network of machines.


“You are looking at a customer’s problems, and then offering a first-class solution to them. It’s kinda simple when you see it like that.”

“I truly believe that knowledge is power, and if you gain it from a great source you can move forward more easily and with added confidence too.”

How to Buy & Run a Small Hotel (Ken Parker)

The Complete Guide to Setting Up and Managing Your Own Hotel, Guesthouse or B&B

How to Buy & Run a Small Hotel is a concise, step-by-step guide for those looking to buy or run a small hotel. It includes information on identifying the right property, financing the purchase, and running the business.

The book will walk readers through every aspect of owning and operating a successful small hotel. Starting with identifying potential properties and financing options, it will then cover how to find staff, manage day-to-day operations, and how to maintain profitability in competitive markets.

The author, Ken Parker is a successful hotelier who has managed to find a niche in the hotel industry. He also shares his personal experiences with managing a small hotel, as well as his thoughts on good hotel management.

He discusses some of the challenges that can be faced by smaller hotels and what they need to do to compete in today’s market. The author asks readers the primary question of whether they have decided to be in the hotel-keeping business.


“But Whatever you do, don’t compare hotel-keeping with retirement – its anything but! “

“You will learn far more about good hotel-keeping by observing those who do it wrong than the other way round!”

Starting an Insurance Agency from Scratch (Kimm Hackett)

How I Went from High School Dropout to Running a Million Dollar Agency in One Year

In Starting an Insurance Agency from Scratch: How I Went from High School Dropout to Running a Million Dollar Agency in One Year, Kimm Hackett shares the knowledge she’s gained and provides step-by-step guidance to help you start your own agency.

This book will strengthen your decision to start an insurance agency from scratch after showing you the pros and cons between a captive and an independent agency. The book provides details about management, costing, and developing a marketing strategy for your agency.

It also includes information on how to find a profitable niche, find a location, retain customers, staff organization, and obtain necessary licenses and insurance.


“I recognized that God blessed me with a gift: A gift to make something out of nothing.”

“I worked hard. As a result of that hard work, every job that I worked at promoted me. “

The Official Get Rich Guide to Information Marketing (Dan Kennedy, Bill Glazer, Robert Skrob)

Build a Million Dollar Business in Just 12 Months

The Official Get Rich Guide to Information Marketing is a book written by Dan Kennedy, Bill Glazer, and Robert Skrob. The book is a guide to the business of information marketing. It covers the basics of creating and delivering information products that sell.

This book is a practical and comprehensive guide to information marketing. It gives you a 9-step process on how to create and sell your own info-business, including what to write about, how to promote it, and how to get it in front of the right prospects.

The authors explain how to create and deliver information products that sell. They provide readers with the knowledge they need to become successful in this field by sharing 29 info-marketers strategies and insights into what it takes to succeed. The 29 examples cover all marketing materials and business documents that can be replicated for optimum success.


“I don’t believe in “get rich quick”, but I do believe it’s entirely possible to “get rich” if you work hard, provide a lot of value to your customers, and are not afraid to ask for money in return for the value you provide.”

“Money doesn’t care what you think about most. Money is attracted to you when you create a business that produces value for paying customers.”

Enter the Book Wormhole

This list of business books is just a small sampling of the hundreds of passive income books available for aspiring entrepreneurs like you (and me). The very best place to get started is this main post on the Dumb Passive Income blog – 31 of the Best Passive Income Books for Timeless Inspiration. I hope you enjoy and I’ll see you on the other side!

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