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5 Must-read books for entrepreneurs

Recently, we ran a World Book Day competition. The idea was to get clients to recommend a must-read book that helped to shift their mindset and/or helped them to grow their business.

Bruce Sneddon
Bruce Sneddon
May 25, 2023
World Book Day
World Book Day

At Inospace, we champion a growth mindset and support the practice of leaning on experts and lived experiences to do business better. This is shown clearly in Inospace’s CEO Rael Levitt’s must-read book It Takes A Tsunami, which consequently was the prize for winners of our Book Day competition. These five winners have each recommended a compelling, must-read book, that helped them on their entrepreneurial journey – and walked away with a signed copy of It Takes A Tsunami.  

Below we will explore the five winners' picks (in no specific order), give a summary, and hear from them, as to how these recommendations helped them to grow their mindset – and maybe their must-reads can help others to shift their mindset towards success.

Thokozani Zuma’s must-read is “And Then They Fired Me” by Jannie Mouton

Jannie Mouton is one of South Africa's greatest success stories. He built his business, PSG, after getting fired at age 48 and turned it into a triumphant success worth R61 billion. In this book, he talks openly about what went on behind the scenes – even the most controversial transactions. With typical honesty and humour, Mouton freely shares his business and investment advice.

In Zuma’s own words, they describe the significance of this book in their entrepreneurial journey: “The book taught me about investment, why companies list on the stock exchange and the importance of buying shares at an early age to create generational wealth. At the same time, it highlighted the importance of building a tribe of capable people around you while remaining resilient during the building process. This book inspired me to read other books as it has a recommended list of books to read.”

Laeequah’s must-read is “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki

Rich Dad Poor Dad is Robert's story of growing up with two dads — his real father and the father of his best friend, his "rich dad" — and how both men shaped his thoughts about money and investing. The book explodes the myth that you need to earn a high income to be rich and explains the difference between working for money and having your money work for you.

Laeequah goes on to explain why this particular book had such an impact on her growth mindset: “Generally we are brought up with the misconception that to be successful, we must get an education, get a good stable job, buy a house, and drive a fancy car. These outdated symbols of success are something of the past. Agreed, we all want some form of luxury in life. However,  there are other means of having a good quality of life, without going down the same road generation after generation. The teachings of Robert Kiyosaki do not perhaps fully align with us as South Africans, but his words are there to open your eyes to other opportunities and to rethink how to approach business and life in general. I may not have his successes but I am definitely living a way better quality of life and putting together the building blocks to a successful future.”

Gcebile Ngwenya’s must-read is “Disrupt Yourself Or Be Disrupted” by Nicky Verd

This book provides answers that translate job anxiety and far-future thinking into insights. to help navigate the current and future landscape of industry. In a world where everything is connected, where machines can talk, learn and mimic humans, a world with more graduates than jobs, a world where machines are employable, where performance is at its peak, innovation at its finest, and job loss at its highest. There is only one spot left to disrupt, reinvent, and transform and that is the individual.

To describe her shift in mindset brought on by reading this meaningful book, Nqwenya had this to say: “You know that moment you kick the corner of the table. You see it, however, you still kick it unconsciously. This book is that unconscious kick.  As entrepreneurs, we need to be alert and not unconscious of undeniable truth. The author reminds readers that signs of future work, and the reality of  AI, robotics, etc are already undeniable. We need to adapt before we become redundant in the ‘way we do things’ and not be complacent. The book shifted my mindset from being reactive to a proactive one, and to change, especially on the technology and manufacturing front.”

Chris Le Mesurier’s must-read is “Stoked!” by Chris Bertish

This is the story of how a skinny kid from Kenilworth in Cape Town managed to travel halfway around the world without sponsorship, and then outwit, outsmart, and outperform the world’s best-paid professional athletes on a day that changed his life, and the sport of big-wave surfing, forever.

Le Mesurier gushes with pride and enthusiasm for the life story of Chris Bertish, and in his own words, he says: “Stoked! Is an inspiring true story about courage, determination, and the power of dreams – and never giving up. It explores taking the challenges life throws at you and rising above the ‘water’. Chris Bertish has shredded waves higher than a tsunami and was dunked time and again. But he got up and learned from the experiences, and grew bigger and bigger till he became a champion. Now he still inspires people through incredible feats, like crossing the Atlantic alone on a stand-up board and he gives back to his community through his stories and feats. Can you believe he was ‘just an ordinary’ marketing student in Cape Town in the ’80s/90s? And now, he is an exceptional South African, one to be proud of.”

Denis Venter’s must-read is “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson

In this book, Manson argues that individuals should seek to find meaning through what they find to be important and only engage in values that they can control. Values (such as popularity) that are not under a person's control, are, according to the book, 'bad values'. Furthermore, individuals should strive to replace these uncontrollable values with things they can change, such as punctuality, honesty, or kindness. Meaning can be found when one seeks to create joy in the moment for one's self and those around them.

Venter uses his own words to unpack why this book means so much to him: “I found this book a real eye opener on how to view life. Mark has an amazing way of making sense of this mad world we live in. After reading this book, I realised what was important in my life, what I should care about, and what I should just let go of. A refreshing way of looking at life's achievements, and disappointments.  Definitely, a helpful ‘counterintuitive’ approach to living a better life! The best motivational and inspirational book I have ever read.”

At Inospace, it will always be our goal to give our clients the tools and resources to grow their businesses. This Book Day competition was an impactful example of our community of entrepreneurs coming together to support one another. We thank all the participants who sought to add value to our broader community with their recommendations, and to those who didn’t win this time – there will definitely be other opportunities.