10 Must-Reads for Urban Entrepreneurs


Sure there are countless books that can give you insight on how to be a successful entrepreneur,  but some resonate more than others. Some authors automatically get your attention because you respect who they are and what they’ve accomplished in their lives. Their words inspire you and convince you that you have the greatness within yourself to make your dreams come true. Their personal journeys remind you that you too can come from the most humble beginnings and rise to the greatest heights.

Although there are blogs, tweets and news articles packed with helpful information for you and your business, few things compare to the mentoring and one on one coaching you receive when you dive into a great book. While we’ve compiled brand building book lists for entrepreneurs before, it is our pleasure to highlight these ten books, inspired by urban entrepreneurs, to help you build your business empire.

BrandMakerNews presents the top 10 books for urban entrepreneurs:

Russell Simmons Do You1. Do You: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success, by Russell Simmons. In this book, Russell Simmons encourages you to tap into your entrepreneurial spirit, to keep moving past the hurdles, and to never let outsiders crush your vision. He shares lessons from his life’s journey and offers the secrets that helped him build Def Jam Records, Phat Farm, and Def Comedy Jam-entities that  transcended business to become cultural staples.

2. Success Never Smelled So Sweet, by Lisa Price. By sharing her own story of triumph, Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter, reminds you to keep dreaming, to keep working hard to pursue your passion, and to believe that extraordinary things can (and do) happen to regular people. She started her all-natural line of bath and beauty products in her own kitchen, with $100 in cash, and a passion to follow her heart. Now her multi-million dollar business is unstoppable. This inspiring book explains how she managed to do it all, so that you too can plot your path to greatness.

3. The 50th Law, by 50 Cent and Robert Greene. “Fear creates its own self-fulfilling dynamic- as people give in to it, they lose energy and momentum.” Profound statements like that one… fill the pages of this book to give you the courage to stay strong in the face of fear, and to get beyond the mental blocks that would have you believe that you cannot attain what you really want in life. By highlighting 50 Cent’s story, the book encourages you to be fearless, to seek opportunities in all situations, and to keep moving forward against all odds.

4. The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama. Before he embarked on his improbable journey to the oval office, Barack Obama decided to believe in himself, in his ability to change the world for the better, and in his responsibility to be an advocate for those who needed one. When people discounted him and laughed in his face, he dared to believe that he could (and would) make a difference. This moving story of a young Senator Obama, reminds us that taking uncomfortable yet purposeful steps early on can eventually lead to the greatest places.

5. Expect to Win: 10 Proven Strategies for Thriving in the Workplace, by Carla Harris. One of Wall Street’s most powerful women reveals her pearls of wisdom on how to get ahead in your career.  Regardless of where you are in your professional development, Carla’s tips about being authentic, having mentors, leveraging your voice, and shaping perceptions will help push you to the next level.

6. The. Billion Dollar BET:Robert Johnson, by Brett Pulley. This engaging book chronicles the journey of Robert L. Johnson, a poor black boy from Mississippi who rose to become America’s first black billionaire. Through his willingness to make tough decisions, to withstand criticism, and to negotiate until he got results, Johnson grew the Black Entertainment Television network and created a new blueprint for black capitalism. This book showcases the guts and glory behind his rise to power.

7. The Brand Within,by Daymond John. Nowadays anyone can start a business, but not everyone has what it takes to demand attention and win the hearts and minds of consumers. Daymond John, founder and CEO of the FUBU clothing line, and star of the ABC reality show, Shark Tank, shares the creative branding strategies that propelled his success. This book is a great reminder to think outside of the box, and to build a strong relationship with your audience- in order to grow your business.

8. 32 Ways to Be A Champion in Business, by Earvin Johnson. Magic Johnson, a proven all-star on the basketball court and in the business world gives you a behind the scenes look at how he grew his business empire. His “magic moves” walks you through the steps of creating a business plan, building a brand, financing your company, hiring the right employees, etc… He also shares his passion for growing urban communities through economic development, and uses examples from his T.G.I. Friday’s, Starbucks, and 24 Hour Fitness business ventures to highlight the importance of partnerships.

9. Fabulosity: What it is and How to Get It, by Kimora Lee Simmons. While once upon a time it may have been easy to call Kimora Lee Simmons a trophy wife, this book reminds us that she wasn’t sitting home twirling her hair all day. She traveled the world as a young model, built the Baby Phat brand, established a name for herself in the business world, and went on to become a mogul in her own right. This book reads as a tribute to young women, to encourage them to have confidence in themselves, to rise to the occasion, and to take responsibility for their own happiness. Kimora’s tips, while quite fabulous at times, serve as positive motivators for us all.

10. Outliers: The Story of Success,by Malcolm Gladwell. This book explores the notion that success is not a matter of chance, but rather a series of seized upon opportunities and advantages. Malcolm Gladwell uses examples of “overnight success” stories that were actually years in the making to open our eyes to circumstances that influence our place in the world. He even goes on to articulate how many hours it would take for you to master your craft, and to position yourself to present your expertise to the world. This book takes you inside the matrix to reveal common characteristics of the most accomplished individuals of our time.

Let the profound words of the urban entrepreneurs above inspire you to see possibilities beyond your current situation. Absorb their secrets to success and apply them to your own lives. And don’t forget to take notes along your journey so you can share your pearls of wisdom when you rise to the top!

What other books are must reads for urban entrepreneurs? Share your top picks below…

Be great!


  1. Kimberly Farris
    Posted September 13, 2010 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

    My picks for must reads are Seth Godin’s Tribes and Purple Cow. Also, Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.

    I’m adding several of the books in the post to my To Read list. Thanks.

  2. Sarah Johnson
    Posted September 13, 2010 at 11:40 PM | Permalink

    I’ve already read five of the book on this esteemed list. I will make sure I pick up the others also. I must say though that I’m surprised that The Brand Within by Daymond John isn’t higher on your list. Of the five I have read so far, I thought it was clearly the most helpful for me in building and branding my business.

  3. Posted September 24, 2010 at 1:46 AM | Permalink

    Awesome list. I knew about most of them except the last. will pick it up. Add an amazon affiliate link to your page. ;)

  4. Posted September 24, 2010 at 12:41 PM | Permalink

    I love Carol’s Daughter products! They are a God send for my daughter!! What a great collection as I’m an avid reader. I have tons of books on my night stand including 3 different Obama books! :)

  5. Laila @OnlyLaila
    Posted November 11, 2010 at 3:25 PM | Permalink

    I would also add Cathy Black’s Basic Black and Little Black Book of Success by Brown, Haygood and McLean

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