Social Entrepreneur Books

12 Insightful Books For Social Entrepreneurs

Social Entrepreneur Books

For many millennials, changemakers and startups, social entrepreneurship has become the career path of choice. Giving back to the world and venturing beyond traditional careers has never been so popular. Social entrepreneurs are a unique breed of individuals who address today’s societal problems with persistence, creativity, and innovation. For many, social entrepreneurship is a calling, one that is exceedingly gratifying but not without its own unique set of challenges.

Part business maverick, social activist, and career cowboy, social entrepreneurs are not only forced to wear many hats but they must also be adaptable to change and stay resilient in the face of adversity. For the social entrepreneur building a successful venture requires a variety of disciplines- business savvy,  a strong set of beliefs and ideas, knowledge about the social issues, creativity, persistence, and determination. Below are 12 books we recommend for today’s social entrepreneur (presented in no particular order).

1. Thinking Fast and Slow by David Kahneman

Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winning psychologist explores how we make decisions and how we assess the world around us. Helpful for the social entrepreneur who needs to think outside the box.

2. Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammad Yunus

Another Nobel Peace prize winner and founder of microcredit financial institution Grameen Bank, Muhammad Yunus discusses how the future evolution of social businesses can change the economy and good of the world on whole

3. Enterprising Nonprofits: A Toolkit for Social Entrepreneurs by J. Gregory Dees

A practical guide on how to adopt successful entrepreneurial behaviors and techniques to overcome the challenges in the field. Dees also specifies on pertinent business techniques that help improve the performance of a non-profit.

4. The Why Cafe by John Strelecky

Published across the world, this 1# bestseller is actually a work of fiction. Strelecky writes of a narrator who goes into a mysterious cafe one day and is forced to ask himself three questions, “Why are you here? Do you fear death? Are you fulfilled?” An inspirational read on how to find purpose of existence living in the western world.

5. Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard

Written by Patagonia founder Yvon Couinard, Yvon traces his own story building his company with environmentally ethical practices in mind. Choinard believes that success is attributed to common sense principles – integrity, no unecessary harm to the environment and providing high quality products to consumers.

6. How to Change The World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein

Bornstein writes about various individuals across the world who made a difference with innovation and determination. He also speaks about the increasing power of the citizen sector and its ability to make change where government programs fall short. An inspirational read that proves individuals can make a difference on a large scale.

7. Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields

By exploring the inner depths of the mind and why we create doubt, Fields discusses practical tips for the aspiring social entrepreneur. These tips include creating anchor routines, exercising NEVER inside a gym, and involving like-minds in creative endeavors. A good book for those who experience doubt in their own life and are interested in self improvement.

8. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

Although intended to be an objective study of human nature, The Tipping Point lends a unique insight into how ideas, trends, and social behaviors suddenly “tip” into mainstream practices. For the social entrepreneur it is a useful guide for understanding why people respond to the things they do and how to make ideas stick with the masses.

9. The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama

Guided by Buddhist principles, these series of interviews with Dr. Howard Cutler have been a source of inspiration for many for its practical and straightforward approach on how to attain happiness. The Dalai Lama discusses different types of fulfillment in work and whether these pursuits will create personal long-term happiness or short-term gratification.

10. Zero to One Peter Thiel

Published in 2014 and geared towards startups, this book is the most current and up-to-date on startups and new businesses today. As social entrepreneurs continue to grow in an ever changing economy, Thiel offers relevant advice for building and sustaining a new company. A good read for the social entrepreneur that is looking for a competitive edge.

11. Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie

The founder of TOM’s talks about movement behind the company’s One for One movement and his message is simple – you don’t have to be rich to help the needy and you don’t have to retire to do what you love. He also writes about the business practices of other successful charitable organizations such as Charity Water and Terra Cycle. A good read for those looking to pursue a similar business model.

12. Screw Business as Usual by Richard Branson

As founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson is known as one of the most successful entrepreneurs out there today. The message of Screw Business as Usual is about bringing meaning to one’s personal life through work and real life strategies that businesses can use to make a positive impact in the world.

Did we miss one? Post your inspirational read below!

angelica olstadAbout the writer

Angelica Olstad is an assistant editor for The Culture-ist. In addition she is also a yogi, musician, and traveler living in Brooklyn, New York and is a regular contributor for MindBodyGreen. Follow: @yogipianist



Feature entrepreneur photo via shutterstock

More Stories
5 Reasons Why Martinique Should Be On Your Bucket List