If you want to carve out a career as an entrepreneur, the following books should help you emerge more confident and unafraid of being a woman with a dream.

Recommended books for women who want to be entrepreneurs

Word on the street is that you want to be an entrepreneur and read up on what makes a successful businesswoman? There are probably truckloads of books in the market suitable for both men and women entrepreneurs, especially those who are at the start of their professional journeys.

Thus, on the bright side, there is no dearth of reading material for you. On the flip side, you cannot go through all of them – and even if that were possible, you should not; to tweak an old saw, too many books spoil the party.

However, there are many titles among that lot that can serve as a motivator or even a template. You do not have to go by the book – if you can excuse a bad pun – but you can surely find insights in them that are right for you.

Keeping that in mind, here is a beginner’s list for you to browse through. The first five titles are by Indian authors, on Indian entrepreneurs, of Indian success stories, in an Indian milieu, and the authors of these books and their subjects are from both sexes. The next three titles are by only women authors – British and American – writing on a subject that is relevant to you: women entrepreneurs and the “glass cliff” they face, irrespective of which part of the world they are from.

Happy reading:


1. Arise, Awake: The Inspiring Stories of 10 Young Entrepreneurs Who Graduated From College Into A Business of Their Own by Rashmi Bansal

An ideal way to begin would be to start reading up on Indian success stories. The issues – both at home, in society at large, and on the work front – which these homegrown entrepreneurs faced will also likely be the ones you will need to grapple with when you start out. 

If that be the case, Arise, Awake by Rashmi Bansal, an IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus could be a starting point. It tells the stories of 10 young entrepreneurs who turned down lucrative placement offers after graduation to chase dreams of their own. In the process, Bansal also highlights the various skills required for success on the business front.

The book is a must-read if you are in college. It is truly inspirational and insightful from an entrepreneurial point of view.

2. Startup Sutra – What the Angels Won’t Tell You About Business and Life by Rohit Prasad

Since we are discussing real-life entrepreneurial success stories in the Indian context, and the Indian context is all about startups these days, here is a book that addresses both issues: Startup Sutra by Rohit Prasad, a professor at Management Development Institute, Gurgaon and an “an academic entrepreneur at heart”. 

This book treads an offbeat trail to bring an entrepreneur’s experiences to you through a conversation. The author and his entrepreneur friend and mentor Moojin discuss the life of Abhishek and Abhinav Sinha, founders of financial services company Eko, subtly leading you through the ups and downs that come with entrepreneurship. 

A must-read, the book fleshes out five sutras – maxims – that the duo feels entrepreneurs should ideally possess, and that you, as an aspiring entrepreneur, should be aware of.

3. Young Turks: Inspiring Stories of Tech Entrepreneurs by Shereen Bhan & Syna Dehnugara 

More on startups and young entrepreneurs is brought to you by Young Turks, co-authored by two financial journalists Shereen Bhan, managing editor at CNBC-TV18, and Syna Dehnugara, the channel’s features editor. 

Bhan’s eponymous show on TV featured entrepreneurs, and the jointly written book does the same, bringing to you captivating stories of 13 tech entrepreneurs, including first-generation enterprisers Sachin and Binny Bansal of Flipkart, Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal of Snapdeal, and Murugavel Janakiraman of Bharat Matrimony.
Delightful anecdotes stud the accounts of how these individuals challenged the world’s tech giants to set up multi-million dollar businesses. If anything can inspire you to take the plunge, these accounts should do it.

4. Dream with your Eyes Open: An Entrepreneurial Journey by Ronnie Screwvala

This is another work by an Indian “author” – who in this case also a highly successful film producer – listed here because

(a) it is the autobiographical account of someone we are all familiar with because of the movies he made. He once also manufactured toothbrushes – UTV-founder Ronnie Screwvala.

(b) it is the story of a first-generation entrepreneur, which is what should interest many of you. 

In Dream with your Eyes Open, Screwvala shares with us the lessons gleaned from two decades of creating businesses – from gaming to a movie studio, not to forget the toothbrush venture – not all of which were successes.
In the bargain, the reader gets a glimpse into what Screwvala identifies as key elements that go into building a successful business:

    •    Long-term vision;
    •    Alertness to opportunities;
    •    Strong team;
    •    Openwork culture;
    •    Research into consumer tastes, and
    •    Recognising that failure is not the end.

5. Storm the Norm by Anisha Motwani 

Moving on from inspirational people to inspirational brands in India is leading innovation expert Anisha Motwani. Her book Storm the Norm talks of 20 brands from various sectors, including businesses such as financial services and travel that were obscure until about two decades ago.

The brands stand out for emerging from nowhere to script anew or rewrite fresh norms for their individual industries, bringing novelty to break into stale markets, achieving breakthroughs, and picking up the pace at the right time to create critical mass.

Motwani, voted one of “50 Most Powerful Women in Indian Business” between 2009-12 by Business Today magazine, apart from winning a clutch of similar recognitions, draws from her deep insight into Indian brands to write a book that is packed with inspiration and is a study in methodology. 

If you dream of creating a standout brand, this is the book for you. 


Moving beyond the Indian shores will bring you to books that talk of success stories abroad – or as is the case in one, failures before success was achieved. This only goes to show that issues that confront the Indian woman are often strikingly similar to those that women entrepreneurs in the developed West deal with.

6. Mistakes I Made At Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting it Wrong edited by Jessica Bacal

Failure is something that most successful people have to contend with. Let us begin with slip-ups; Mistakes I Made at Work, is a collection of essays based on 25 successful women opening up about their toughest on-the-job moments.

Jessica Bacal, who edited the book, is the director of Wurtele Center for Work and Life at Smith College, Massachusetts. At a panel discussion on her work, she realised over the years that successful professional women “rarely told stories that made them vulnerable” – a realisation that prompted her to interview the featured women.

Bacal’s introduction in the book may seem familiar to you: “Women are more likely to get the flak for mistakes, especially in typically ‘male’ roles – this phenomenon is called ‘the glass cliff’ – and studies show that women of colour are even more at risk for being perceived as incompetent. If women are giving themselves tight margins for error, this could easily be seen as self-preservation. The problem is that anyone who wants to innovate, gain recognition, or become a leader will need to take risks and realise that mistakes are inevitable.”

Bacal’s book does not attempt to lay out directives that make women successful entrepreneurs. It is an examination of how 25 women overcame mistakes and adversities to come out on top. It is ideal for women seeking to advance at work, especially for millennials just starting their careers.

7. Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It by Dorie Clark

Have you seen the movie The Holiday, starring Kate Winslet as a writer in a London newspaper? If you have, you would have seen a lot of us in Winslet’s character Iris – a hard-working individual taken for granted by the boss, so much so that when Christmas approaches, it is assumed that Iris will be at the office while the rest go on holidays.

Are you like Iris, believing that if you keep your head down and work hard, you will be recognised for it and be rewarded? Sadly, you may be in for a shock, just like her. Academic, author and marketing strategy consultant Dorie Clark says that to stand out, you have to capitalise on your unique strengths, be heard, and inspire others to follow you. 

And Clark teaches you how to do that in her book Stand Out, which makes it a must-read if you want your ideas to set you apart. The key is to recognise your own value.

8. A Good Time to Be a Girl by Helena Morrissey

If you want to be an entrepreneur, the least you should have is confidence. A Good Time to Be a Girl strives to instil that confidence in you. A manifesto for change, it encourages women to succeed in their own way.

The author, Helena Morrissey, is the CEO of British investment firm Newton Investment Management and is also the founder of the “30% Club” of the UK that campaigns for a minimum of 30% representation of women on the boards of FTSE100 companies.

In her book, Morrissey rejects the premise that women need to change their behaviour to fit a patriarchal mould of the working world. If you want to carve out your own career and want a boost of confidence in embracing workplace differences, this is the book for you. 

Have a look at the 5 challenges faced by women entrepreneurs to understand the steps you should take to help you emerge as a stronger woman and not be afraid because you are one.