13 Foundational Books About Starting an Online Business

You don’t need to go to business school to start an online business, but there is a learning curve. Especially since most of us start out as the sole employee: from accounting to website design to copy writing and blog posts, to taking out the trash: we do it all! Luckily, much of what you need to know to become a successful entrepreneur can be found in books. So I decided to round up 13 foundational books about starting an online business. 

Let’s see which books made the list…

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Even though it was originally written over 10 years ago, this book is still relevant and impactful today. In fact, I’d venture to guess that a huge percentage of people who have started (or want to start) an online business did so after reading this book. 

And while the title does draw you in, the fact is, this book is not (just) about reducing your working hours: it’s about increasing the quality of your life. 

I recommend The 4-Hour Work Week as one of the foundational books for starting an online business to any and every budding entrepreneur, as it’s sure to inspire you. 

The original E Myth came out in 1986, which means it’s 25 or so years older than the 4 Hour Work Week. So you may think it’s outdated, but I assure you, it’s not. 

It’s also geared towards people with brick and mortar businesses, so you may think it’s not for you, but I assure you, it is. 

That’s because, in The E Myth Revisited, Michael E. Gerber teaches the very important distinction between working on your business and in your business. The difference between the two means the difference of owning a thriving business you love and basically creating a stifling job for yourself. 

Full disclosure: I have not read this book. But I have taken Ruth’s (much more expensive and in-depth) blogging course, Elite Blog Academy, and this woman is a powerhouse who knows what she’s talking about!

Because of that, I feel fully confident in recommending How to Blog For Profit Without Selling Your Soul as a foundational book for starting a blog. 

I used to roll out of bed, grab a cup of tea and immediately start looking through my emails. Depending on what popped into my inbox overnight, my day could start out on a high (5 new sales!) or a low (that software you’ve depended on for years to help run your business just went under!

With The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs, all that has changed. It teaches you how to set up every single day for success, happiness and health. 

Yes, this is a shameless plug, because Affiliate Marketing the Right Way: How to Make Money Online Authentically and Successfully is my book. 

But I do believe it’s another foundational book, all about affiliate marketing. If you have a blog or online business and you’d like to either monetize it for the first time, or add additional streams of income, I truly believe that affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to do just that, and in this book, I teach you how!

If I were to summarize Rework into one snappy sentence, it would be: this book will teach you, very quickly, how to remove 99% of the b.s. work in your business (which may seem counter intuitive, which is why you’re still doing it!) so you can run a lean, profitable business that actually  makes you happy and fulfilled. 

While Playing Big isn’t just for business owners, I would say it is for just about everyone who wants to grow in their lives and careers/businesses. (Although, fair warning, it does seem to be geared towards women. But I believe some men would benefit from it, too.) 

If you’ve ever suffered from even the slightest bit of imposter syndrome,  Playing Big is a must read. (And if you haven’t experienced that yet, starting and growing your own business will likely take you there!) Learn to actually BE he changes you want to see in the world. 

Launch isn’t about starting your online business, it’s all about how to strategically sell your products online. Don’t have anything to sell yet? No problem! You can still use this powerful formula to sell affiliate products, too!

In fact, if you’ve ever been invited to watch a series of 4 videos over several days, you’ve seen Launch: An Internet Millionaire’s Secret Formula to Sell Almost Anything Online, Build a Business You Love, And Live the Life of Your Dreams in action! (And you probably have — popular and successful business owners all over the Internet are using it… because it works.) 

If you ever feel stuck or stagnated in your business, The Big Leap should be next on your list of books for starting an online business. Actually, you might find it even more impactful as you grow your business. Because in it the author teaches you how to overcome negative reactions when positive things happen to us. And that, as crazy as it sounds, happens to a lot of new entrepreneurs. 

 Not only that, but The Big Leap teaches you about your “zone of genius” and how to work from that space in order to grow your business beyond your woldest dreams. 

One thing we all have to do as affiliate marketers is write sales copy. In fact, we have a lot of writing to do: email newsletters, blog posts, Instagram captions, tweets, and yes, sales pages. 

If you want to learn how to do that in a clear, almost non-salesy (and certainly non-slimy) way that draws your customers to you like a magnet, I highly recommend Building a Story Brand

If you want to create a business and a lifestyle that is 100% you (and allows you to live exactly how you want to) Chillpreneur is for you… with one caveat: Denise Duffield-Thomas is more on the “woo” side of business. She also teaches manifestation — and she teaches it well! I think she’s amazing, and someone who always walks her talk. 

Important note: it doesn’t matter if you’ve started a business yet or not: because Chillpreneur explains that you can make changes to your current business to support the life you desire, too. 

If you’re ready to take “woo” and manifestation to the whole next level, The Illusion of Money: Why Chasing Money Is Stopping You from Receiving It is the book for you. There are so many books on this topic, and I feel like I’ve read all of them (or close!) But this one is probably my favorite so far. 

I will admit, it was hard not to judge this book by its cover: it really doesn’t convey the brilliant balance of humor, poignant stories, and life-changing lessons inside.  If you’re ready to have a better relationship with money, The Illusion of Money is your book. 

There are few entrepreneurs who don’t want to make more money. (Right?!) But as you make more money, you might not know exactly what to do with it. Owning a business, especially an affiliate marketing business with its varying expenses and income from multiple sources, is so different than simply getting a paycheck. 

In Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine you’ll learn four simple principles that can simplify your accounting and make it easier to manage a profitable business, as well as a simple, counter-intuitive cash management solution that will help small businesses achieve instant profitability.

So, tell me: Have you read any or all of the books listed above? Do you think I left any important titles off the list? Please let me know in the comments below…

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