The 8 Best Startup Books to Unleash Your Unstoppable Self

best startup books, Stephanie Holland, The Freedom Philosophy

Starting up is less about what you want to create and much more about who you want to be, how you want to feel, and what kind of impact you want to have.

And typically these sorts of things can’t be found in lists of ‘The 10 best startup books’ that list business books.

The obsession with copying other people’s blueprints and strategies boils my blood, because your path to success is as unique as your eyeball.


I have two tips for finding the best startup books for YOU:

  1. Read the life stories of those whose life, impact and legacy resonate with you deeply on an emotional level.
  2. Read the practical, action-oriented non-fiction that helps you develop personally and spiritually.

Because in the bigger picture, business is simply a tactic for getting what you want.

The real strategy behind entrepreneurial success is something I call LIL: Life. Impact. Legacy.

  1. What life do you want?
  2. What impact do you want to have?
  3. What legacy do you want to leave behind?

THIS is what makes you and you offers truly unique.

“…it should be about every single person in a business taking responsibility to make a difference in everything they do, at work and in their personal lives.” — Richard Branson, Screw Business As Usual


Your life, impact and legacy are strategic imperatives that inform everything from your product & services ideas to your plan, strategy and model.

So how do you go about articulating your life, impact and legacy? How do you figure out what you really want?

You could head into the forest to meditate to figure it out like the author in first book below, or you could read or listen to these 10 books instead!

This ’10 Best Startup Books’ list is a collection that has inspired my own life, impact & legacy over the past decade.

They are about creativity, art, health, wellbeing and an exploration of the Self.

And many other things, too.

They are the books that inspire us to search deep within and discover our passion, purpose, and vision.

They are the books that bring us face to face with our greatest challenges and deepest fears.

They are the books that inspire us to be the best version of ourselves without a lobotomy or botox.

I hope this collection entertains, educates and empowers you in your business, and in your life.

The 8 Best Startup Books

#1: The Surrender Experiments by Michael Singer

It’s true. Michael, the author, goes into the forest to meditate and without coming out goes on to develop a hugely successful construction company and then a multi-million dollar software company.

How’s that for surrendering to the flow of life?!

“My formula for success was very simple: Do whatever is put in front of you with all your heart and soul without regard for personal results. Do the work as though it were given to you by the Universe itself.”

The greatest message in this book is not to go into the forest to meditate, but to notice the voice of resistance as something not to yield to but to side step so that the current of life can guide your life + work to where it needs to go for the greatest impact.

For you and for the world. I now have a guide to my own resistance & what it’s trying to tell me. This is a ridiculously effective tool for my life & work.

Thank you to Andy Drish of The Foundation podcast for the recommendation.

#2: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Just as the tag line suggest, this really is your practical guide to personal freedom.

And you can read it in one sitting just before bed.

The Four Agreements are…

1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.

But it’s really Ruiz’s rendition of each that pierces your broken heart and then regenerates it piece by piece with Self love & respect at it’s core.

I had always been good at showing up relentlessly (Agreement #1) but my heart was definitely broken after a failed book launch & an empty bank account (Agreement #2); my list-building shame was fuelled by the belief that nobody wanted what I had to offer (Agreement #3); and my best just never felt good enough (Agreement #4).

I know know that I’m my most important high-interest investor.

Thank you to Todd Hannula of daCunha podcast for the recommendation.

#3: The Big Leap by Guy Hendricks

As far as I’m concerned this book is the definitive bible on how to be your best Self.

The goal is not to obtain some imaginary ideal; it is to find and fully use our own gifts.

After reading this book you’ll no longer aspire be like your greatest heroes, but rather use their success to inspire your own. Love, success & creativity is your birthright and it’s up to you to enjoy it regardless of what you currently believe to be true and what is possible for you.

Hendricks effectively deals helps us confront our inner — and often destructive — Self talk, values & beliefs, and guides us to smash through these ‘upper limits’.

The biggest block I has was upper omits I never knew existed! Call it mumbo jumbo but as soon as you become aware of what they are, you can achieve your goals and set new ones. This is exactly what they mean by ‘personal development’ – it’s about smashing through your upper limits at every level of your life & work over the course of your lifetime.

The resulting mental and emotional freedom gives you more time & energy to invest in your ideas.

Thank you to Marie Forleo podcast for the recommendation.

#4: Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Not another ‘cheesy’ North American approach to getting rich.

It’s offers a timeless approach for integrating your inner and outer world for inner and outer success.

When you begin to think and grow rich, you will observe that riches begin with a state of mind, with definiteness of purpose, with little or no hard work.

This book changed the way I think about business FOREVER. It may well be the first book in contemporary culture that directly addresses the link between what I call passion, purpose, and vision and entrepreneurship and gave me PERMISSION to bring emotional and spirituality into my products & services, communications & marketing.

At the time of writing the kindle version is $0.99 on Amazon. However I highly recommend a hard copy so you can go crazy with a highlighter.


#5: The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharpe


Tharpe blew me away page after page with her analogies, metaphors and personal stories told with incredible intelligence and candour.

No matter what system you use, I recommend having a goal and putting it in writing.

Addressing many of our weaknesses (bad habits, giving up, etc) by sharing her own fears, failures, challenges, rituals (one being waking at 05:30 each morning for a two hour workout in the gym) and the exercises she teaches her dance students, you’re likely to enjoy the ride with this highly regarded choreographer who teaches us that creativity is a habit, not a talent.

Tharpe is just so damn inspiring. I want to be able to look back when I’m 90 and share my creative habit with others, too.

Thank you to Racheal of The Yogipreneur for the recommendation.

#6: Freedom From The Known by Krishnamurti


This booked changed everything for me. It addressed all my fears + challenges as if he were talking to me directly, helping me realise that so much of how we feel is Universal to us all.

It inspired more flexibility and adaptability in my life & work. After reading it I took action: I created a new business model and launched my coaching brand.

I love the way he addresses fear itself, in particular, as not characterised by the unknown, but by what we fear leaving behind or losing as we venture into the unknown. And his idea about ‘truth’ as something not fixed but as fluid and living:

Truth has no path, and that is the beauty of truth, it is living. A dead thing has a path to it because it is static, but when you see that the truth is something living, moving, which has no resting place…[] then you will also see that this living thing is what you actually are.

His book First and Last Freedom is also one of my favourites. Many of his books are transcriptions of live talks which is likely why it feels as if he’s talking directly to me.


#7: The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff


Years after reading The Tao of Pooh I finally opened the second and it’s message found a home in my heart.

It’s a warm, fuzzy and compassionate look at the power of the Small and a reminder that flexibility determines survival and the degree to which we thrive in life & work.

I had a tendency to rush through everything, even my mediations! But I had to question: What am I rushing for? And I really didn’t know. I was fixed about my way of working, using productivity hacks to enslave me, not free me. But Piglet saved me. Thank you, Piglet!

‘Transforming negative into positive, you work with whatever comes your way.’

Slow down. Take your time Enjoy. Have fun. What’s the rush?

#8: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey


One word review: WOW!

This is another book I’d heard of waaaaay before I got round to reading it. Life… years! And wow. Double wow.

Credited with pioneering the business self-help genre with this books in the late 80s, Steven’s book is still relevant today regardless of the changes in technology.

Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.

What stands out most is his 2×2 matrix to help prioritise your work i.e. stop spending time on Facebook and focus on the core business building activities. (BTW we still don’t get this. What’s it gonna take?!!)

The seventh habit is my favourite: Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. That inspired me the most. I now prioritise sleep, rest, exercise, food and creativity.

This book is worth reading even if you only skim it.

Thank you to Racheal of The Yogipreneur for the recommendation.

Have you read something that expanded you personally or spiritually that you can add to this list of best startup books? Email me and let me know!


Image: Noah Hinton via Unsplash

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