I’ve been on a quest this year to discover, read and listen to as many of the best books related to growing a side hustle as possible—and to extend this search beyond just the same titles and authors you see on every best-seller list.
As an entrepreneur, I’m a big advocate of using books to level up my game for one simple reason: a $20 business book is one of the least expensive crash-course educations you can get today. For the cost of a decent dinner, you can get a book that may change your life.
These books were curated specifically because they’re great for anyone looking to start (and grow) a business while holding onto a full-time job. This means you need to maximize your effectiveness and efficiency with the very limited free time at your disposal.
Now, pulled straight from my list of the best business books of all-time, here are my picks for the essential books you should read if you want to grow your side hustle into a full-time business.
Four-time New York Times best-selling author, Gary Vaynerchuk, is back and on a mission with his brand new book, which already hit Amazon’s #1 best-seller list in social media before launching earlier this year.
In the book, Vaynerchuk offers up new lessons, strategies, tactics and advice that draws from both his own intensified business experience and that of many other entrepreneurs. Topics covered include how to build a powerful personal brand on all the major social networks, building a podcast presence and how to take advantage of other emerging platforms.
2. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
A Wall Street Journal best-seller, this book argues that one of the most valuable skills in the world is becoming increasingly rare: the ability to focus without distraction on a demanding task. Author Cal Newport explains that by mastering this skill, you’ll be able to more effectively process information and deliver better results in less time.
For that reason, this book will help you significantly with doubling down on growing your side hustle, by giving you focused rules to follow and not allowing yourself to get distracted by chasing the wrong opportunities or spending time in ways that don’t help you achieve your most meaningful goals. If you’re spreading yourself too thin and are ready to learn how to eliminate distractions, Deep Work is guaranteed to help you accomplish that.
3. What If It Does Work Out? How a Side Hustle Can Change Your Life by Susie Moore
Author Susie Moore has written this book as a motivator for readers to get pumped up about pursuing the life they really want to live. We all have hobbies, talents and skills which we enjoy, but usually don’t go as far as turning them into a money-making ventures.
In her episode on my podcast, a key point she made about this book is that it’s so easy to think about all the possibilities and then shut yourself down with the question, “What if it doesn’t work out?” Moore asks us to instead consider, “What if it does work out?” Moore wrote this book to motivate you to overcome your fear of failure and doubts about whether or not pursuing your side hustle is the right decision, and gives actionable steps to begin building a profitable side hustle.
4. Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Tim Ferriss
This new book from renowned business author, Tim Ferriss, comes as the culmination of everything he’s worked on over the past decade. From writing some of the most popular life advice books of all time, to launching Apple’s consistently number one-ranked business podcast, Tim has always been a mentor from afar for me.
Tribe of Mentors takes a different approach than most of the books on this list, as this one tackles a wide-range of topics and pulls insights and advice instead from people who’ve been influential mentors to Tim, from the likes of Ray Dalio to Maria Sharapova, Kelly Slater, Tony Hawk, James Altucher, Noah Kagan and others.
5. Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau
“Side Hustle” comes as the fifth wildly successful book for the bestselling author of the seminal “$100 Startup,” Chris Guillebeau. Over the past couple of years, Guillebeau has been researching, connecting with and compiling side hustle stories from hundreds of entrepreneurs who’ve built impressive companies around their day jobs—and this book shares all of the most impactful lessons he’s learned.
Following a step-by-step plan of action, this book is perfect for those just beginning their side hustle journey today. In it, you’ll learn everything from how to brainstorm the right ideas for your own unique interests, to actually getting started with building a product or selling a service, mastering the art of selling and accelerating your progress once you’ve laid a solid foundation for the business.
Debut business author, Jeff Haden, has long been Inc. Magazine’s most popular columnist, and a veteran ghostwriter of dozens of books for high-ranking executives over the years. In this highly counterintuitive (but practical) guide to finding and maintaining real lasting motivation, Haden explains how motivation as we know it is a complete myth.
Haden argues that motivation isn’t a magical formula that we need at the outset of any major change, challenge or endeavor. Rather, that motivation is a result of process, not a cause. If you’ve ever felt let down by self help books and “proven” success strategies, then this book is a must-read that’ll bring you practical advice to stop stalling and start actually working toward your dreams.
7. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
Through their experiences with a SEAL unit in the battlefields of Iraq, authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin learned firsthand that SEAL team leadership training is the best in the world, whether that’s in combat or in business. As an entrepreneur, developing your leadership skills is one of the most important factors in determining the success or failure of your venture—even while you’re running a one-person side hustle that still requires disciplined leadership.
This book takes the lessons these authors learned on the battlefield, and applies them to real-world business situations. Their belief is that the key to successful leadership is taking ownership for everything that happens in the business. There’s nobody else to blame; you take personal responsibility for your failures and reap the rewards when you succeed.
8. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
This book from renowned author, Malcolm Gladwell, lays out his argument that there’s a magic point at which a business idea or movement crosses a threshold of adoption and begins to spread like wildfire. This could be an iPhone app that skyrockets to the top of the App Store charts in one weekend or a brand new shoe company that suddenly takes the world by storm. Why do things like this happen? They cross a tipping point.
Gladwell argues that there are particular personality types that deliberately work to push ideas to this tipping point, and it lays out how you can work to create your own tipping points—or surround yourself with people who are more naturally suited to help make that happen.
9. Startup Opportunities: Know When to Quit Your Day Job by Brad Feld and Dr. Sean Wise
I’m a big believer in never quitting your full-time job to start a business without first validating your idea and having a sustainable income already coming from your business. Authors Sean Wise and Brad Feld elaborate on this conviction in this phenomenal book that teaches you how to validate your idea, then grow your revenue and continue building your business at a manageable pace.
The reality these entrepreneurs and authors have come to see, is that few businesses survive to make it five years, so it’s foolish to risk everything right at the beginning before you have definitive proof that customers are willing to pay for your solution. This book provides realistic advice on which businesses are likely to succeed and which aren’t.
10. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Bestselling author Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter that’s used this book to take us to the edge of scientific discoveries, explain why habits exist and how they can be proactively changed to create positive results in our lives. There’s a reason why it spent more than 60 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list—because its takeaways are incredibly practical and easy to implement toward creating habits to help grow your side hustle in the hours outside of your day job.
Duhigg emphasizes how important habits are to our success, and why they’re the essential keys to achieving meaningful goals. It’s our habits that give us the structure and discipline to exercise regularly, be more productive and continue making progress towards larger life goals. Without good habits, it’s all too easy to give up on your side hustle when the going gets rough.
If you want even more book recommendations to fuel your side hustle growth this year, check out my extensive list of the best business books I’ve ever read.