4 essential business books for a novice

"You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for a buck fifty in late charges at the public library." Will Hunting knew what he was talking about.

Not everyone has the time, desire or a small fortune to to get an MBA. But for a fraction of the price, you can get a business education by tapping into successful entrepreneurs and professors' knowledge.

Here are four of the best books to read on navigating the business world and starting your own company.

1. The Portable MBA

For those interested in an MBA but not sure.

The Portable MBA, written by University of Virginia's Darden School of Business professors, covers core business school topics. If you need a bird's eye view of a MBA program or just need a crash course in the basics of business, chapters cover everything from finance, accounting, marketing, economics to ethics, leadership and strategy. An easier read than some MBA books, this is a great place to start if you are interested in business or an MBA.

2. The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win

For those looking at starting a business.

The core of Four Steps to the Epiphany is the base for the Lean Start Up method. Silicon Valley entrepreneur and Stanford professor Steve Blank argues that startups should focus on customer development rather than solely product development. Blank points to several traps that companies fall into causing them to fail. The customer-centric theory is a key point in successfully selling an idea before spending on marketing or scaling. This book is filled with examples, charts and illustrations to show how to turn a startup in to a company.

3. The Personal MBA

For those interested the basics of business.

This is a more in-depth look into business practices, which translates well into real-world application. Broad business concepts like starting a new business and actually running a business are major themes. Learn to evaluate a market, different forms of value, the Iron Law of the market, pricing uncertainty principle and ways to increase revenue. For an added bonus, visit author Josh Kaufman's website for a list of 100 of the best business books and his TEDX talk on the first 20 Hours of an MBA.

4. Bootstrapping

For those starting a business with limited funds.

When your company is not blessed with unlimited funds or an angel investor, bootstrapping is essential to getting started. Bootstrapping or starting a business without external venture capital requires creatively using internal cash flow. Entrepreneurial Mind CEO and co-founder Jeff Cornwall explores thriving on a limited budget through various techniques. The book teaches strict control of finances as well as process efficiency, cash-flow-management, human resources and long-term bootstrapping.

Four More Recommended Reads:

The Lean Start Up by Eric Ries (A student of Steve Blank)

How to Read a Financial Report by John A. Tracy

Getting Things Done by David Allen

Financial Intelligence for Entrepreneurs by Karen Berman and Joe Knight

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