The Best Business Memoirs

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur ready to make a wave in the business world? Top entrepreneurs weigh in with their best advice on how to turn a $100 start-up into a global corporation.
by Uptime Staff / 2021-10-25

Have you ever wondered how to be successful in business? How to make it big - like, the founder of Amazon or Nike big? For the aspiring entrepreneurs, visionaries, and leaders of tomorrow out there - this one's for you. Here's a guide to just a few of the huge selection of business titles you can use on Uptime to craft yourself your personal MBA.

Any budding business extraordinaire would be remiss without the wisdom of those who've come before them, so, to keep you motivated while building your own strategy for success, we've hand-picked wisdom from the best of the best: the top business memoirs from some of the world’s most highly-respected entrepreneurs. These wide-ranging books cover a wealth of informative anecdotes and are enough to build a handbook, sure to leave you feeling both inspired and informed on how to lead your own company.

1: The Ride Of A Lifetime: Lessons in Creative Leadership Form The CEO Of The Walt Disney Company - Robert Iger

In this comprehensive book, Robert Iger tells of his experience running a team of 200,000 employees for one of the world’s most famous companies. Iger explores the necessary qualities and traits a leader should have, as well as celebrating optimism and drive in the work place. Having built his way it to the very top from nothing, Iger has a refreshing outlook on corporate leadership, his words as (surprisingly) relatable as they are compelling. Iger reminds his readers that in life, there are very few actual geniuses (Steve Jobs being one of them), and that hard work and opportunity are what often lead to the greatest ‘success’ stories. This book aims to teach its readers how to embrace change within the business world whilst simultaneously fostering a creative and trusting working environment. 

quotation marksOne of the most important qualities of a good leader is optimism, a pragmatic enthusiasm for what can be achieved. Even in the face of difficult choices and less than ideal outcomes, an optimistic leader does not yield to pessimism.

Our three main take-aways: 

1: Leaders shouldn’t be afraid to admit to what they do not know. We are all human, and very few of us are geniuses; by admitting that they don’t know everything, leaders make themselves more relatable and will foster better relationships with employees. 

2: The philosophy of treating bad news as a problem he can fix as opposed to something that’s happened to him. 

3: By maintaining a curious spirit, your innovation will flourish. 

Intrigued? You can explore these lessons in more detail by reading up on our The Ride of A Lifetime book summary on Uptime.

2: Shoe Dog: A Memoir - Phil Knight

Describing the story of how Nike, one of the world’s best recognized sporting brands, came to be created, Phil Knight’s memoir is one you won’t be able to put down. In a nutshell, it's a fascinating story of how an ambitious graduate become a multi-millionaire - a story sure to inspire many ambitious young entrepreneurs out there. After graduating, Phil Knight decided to travel around the world. In Japan, his eye was caught by a brand of Japanese sneakers. He was sure that they had potential to sell big back home; after returning to the US and writing a paper on importing sneakers from Japan to America, Phil Knight came up with the idea of launching a sneaker brand. Going on to include anecdotes from his travels around the world and many of the toughest struggles he faced when launching Nike, Knight describes how hard it was to find samples for his initial shoe model even after signing a deal, and offers anecdotes for anyone currently experiencing a similar struggle.

quotation marksYou must forget your limits. You must forget your doubts, your pain, your past.

Shoe Dog's three main takeaways:

1: Don’t spend years planning something never to do it. Fake it until you make it and you will often be surprised by the results.  

2: Failure is one of the most valuable ways to learn life’s lessons. 

2: Life changes constantly; this is something outside of our control. Knight’s philosophy therefore is that we should either learn to live with change, or die. 

Dramatic? When we put it like that, possibly. But underneath these hyperbolic statements, Knight has a whole lot of wisdom to share - to see what we're talking about, have a look at our Shoe Dog book summary on Uptime.

3: The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos And The Age Of Amazon - Brad Stone

In this fascinating 2013 book, journalist Brad Stone documents the rise of Amazon, all the way from its founding in 1994, when Jeff Bezos quit his job on Wall Street to start an online book store. Chronicling much of Jeff Bezos’ life and including many of the founder’s most inspiring tips, Stone’s book functions as part biography, part factual non-fiction, with interviews with Amazon employees interwoven with the nuts and bolts of company statistics. Focusing on Jeff Bezos’ bold, risk-taking philosophy, Stone takes his readers through the world-famous entrepreneur's business strategy, as well as outlining how Bezos eventually created his ‘Everything Store’. 

quotation marksAmazon may be the most beguiling company that ever existed, and it is just getting started. It is both missionary and mercenary.

Our three main take-aways from this book: 

1: By focusing on customers, as opposed to competitors, Bezos was able to build a global dominator. 

2: Bezos decided that Amazon would be a retailer that discovered how to charge less for its products, as opposed to more. 

3: Bezos believes firmly in the idea that often less is more. 

To understand how you can put these ideas into action, and apply them to your everyday life, you can have a look at our The Everything Store book summary on Uptime.

4: The Lean Start-Up - Eric Ries

In this book, Eric Ries posits his views on how to pinpoint exactly it is that your customers are after. Providing a scientific approach to how to manage start-ups, Eric Ries gives hands-on advice that will help you build and maintain a highly successful business structure of your own.

Based on the concepts of lean manufacturing and agile development, including case studies of successful (and un-successful) businesses from the twenty-first century, this book places emphasis on tracking the behavioral patterns of real people (as opposed to asking for opinions from those around you), as well as the importance of launching your business as early as possible.

quotation marksWe must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want.

Three main take-aways: 

1: Providing benefit to a customer should be the number one goal of any business. 

2: In business, it is crucial to ‘build, measure and learn’ as much as possible. Without these components, a business is unlikely to achieve success. 

3: Pivoting a business model can often be the key to success. There are very few entrepreneurs who regret having had to pivot, and most will say that they wish they had done so sooner. 

The success of this book should speak for itself; it's sold over 1 million copies to date, as well as being translated into 30 languages. If your curiosity is piqued, you can take a deep dive into the book's lessons by looking at our 5-minute Knowledge Hack of The Lean Start-Up on Uptime.

Further Reading

If you're still hungry for knowledge, we've got a huge variety of business books - all of them cherry-picked for the app by our team of experts especially because of the strength of their useful, actionable lessons. After all, we want to provide best of the best here.

Business Model Generation - Alexander Osterwalder

The Hard Thing about Hard Things - Ben Horowitz

Zero to One - Peter Thiel

The $100 Startup - Chris Guillebeau

Good to Great - James C. Collins


The lessons from these books have inspired millions of readers. If you feel like you're almost ready to hit the ground running, we've also compiled a collection of the best resources to read while planning out your company's online marketing strategy.  

In short, here's our quick, "In a Nutshell" guide to running your own business:

Recap: tips from the best in business 
  • The business world can’t keep moving without change. Learning to adapt is key. 
  • Listening to your customers is central to running a successful business.
  • Don’t let the fear of starting something mean that you never do. 
  • Don’t let opportunities pass you by. 
  • The importance of optimism in the work place should never be overlooked. 

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