Building a company from the ground up is one of the hardest things. The odds are against you keeping in mind that 9 out of 10 new businesses fail. The learning curve is substantial as an entrepreneur and at the beginning you will be doing everything (e.g. sales, marketing, development, etc).
For that reason, it is critical to arm yourself with all the necessary information, tools, and advise that will guide you along the way in what is a very challenging journey. In this process you will need to understand and learn very quickly from your mistakes.
This way is not too late to pick yourself back up and keep things moving to reach the finish line.
In this regard, there are a ton of books, and also a ton of noise, and for that reason I wanted to put together a comprehensive list of books that I have seen over and over again having a huge impact on the entrepreneurs that have read them. I actually have read them myself.
However, these are not the type of books that you would just read a few pages. You will be hooked to any of them after you realize their value. If you are not reading these books until the very last page you are not doing yourself, your investors, and your employees a favor. That is how valuable the content inside of them is.
The books below would make a great addition to pack inside your luggage for your holiday plans.
1) The Lean Startup
Written by Eric Ries, this is sort of the bible for new business ventures. Regardless of the business you build, this will teach you the mindset of creating quick “minimum viable products” and using the feedback loop to quickly change your product based on user input.
The theory is practically accepted as truth nowadays, since so many new businesses operate under this methodology. It gets you out of the mindset of “I want the product to be perfect before launching it to the world!” and into “lets make something that barely works then let users tell us how to build the rest”.
The folks at 37 Signals did a wonderful job with this book. It is a really interesting read into corporate counterculture. This company hates meetings and other time-wasters, and offers tons of eclectic/strange but work-changing practices that keep people productive.
It makes fun of the typical hour-long meeting, and dives into the practices of a company that operates with primarily remote employees. An excellent foray into efficiency in the startup workplace.
3) Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
Peter Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley.
Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.
Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine.
Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique.
Zero to One presents at once an optimistic view of the future of progress in America and a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places.
4) Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days
“Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days” is a collection of interviews with founders of famous technology companies about what happened in the very earliest days. These people are celebrities now.
What was it like when they were just a couple friends with an idea? Founders like Steve Wozniak (Apple), Caterina Fake (Flickr), Mitch Kapor (Lotus), Max Levchin (PayPal), and Sabeer Bhatia (Hotmail) tell you in their own words about their surprising and often very funny discoveries as they learned how to build a company.
5) Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0
Once You?re Lucky, Twice You?re Good is the story of the entrepreneurs who learned their lesson from the Internet bust of 2000 and in recent years have created groundbreaking new Web companies.
The second iteration of the dot-coms? dubbed ? Web 2.0?? is all about bringing people together. Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace unite friends online; YouTube lets anyone post videos for the world to see; Digg.com allows Internet users to vote on the most relevant news of the day; Six Apart sells software that enables bloggers to post their viewpoints online; and Slide helps people customize their virtual selves.
Business reporter Sarah Lacy brings to light the entire Web 2.0 scene: the wide-eyed but wary entrepreneurs, the hated venture capitalists, the bloggers fueling the hype, the programmers coding through the night, the twenty-something millionaires, and the Internet ? fan boys? eager for all the promises to come true.
6) The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Startups That Win
The essential book for anyone bringing a product to market, writing a business plan, marketing plan or sales plan. Step-by-step strategy of how to successfully organize sales, marketing and business development for a new product or company.
The book offers insight into what makes some startups successful and leaves others selling off their furniture. Packed with concrete examples, the book will leave you with new skills to organize sales, marketing and your business for success.
7) Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t
How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness? For years, this question preyed on the mind of the author of this book, Jim Collins.
Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great?
After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world’s greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.
Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness — why some companies make the leap and others don’t.
8) Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers
This book introduces startup founders and employees to the “Bullseye Framework,” a five-step process successful companies use to get traction. This framework helps founders find the marketing channel that will be key to unlocking the next stage of growth.
Traction is a guide to getting customers, written for startup founders, marketers, and those interested in how today’s startups grow and get traction. This book shows you how the founders of several of the biggest companies and organizations in the world like Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Alexis Ohanian (Reddit), Paul English (Kayak.com) and Alex Pachikov (Evernote) have built and grown their startups.
The authors interviewed over forty successful founders and researched countless more growth stories to pull out the repeatable tactics and strategies they used to get traction.
9) The Art of Startup Fundraising: Pitching Investors, Negotiating The Deal, And Everything Else Entrepreneurs Need To Know
The Art of Startup Fundraising takes a fresh look at raising money for startups, with a focus on the changing face of startup finance. New regulations are making the old go-to advice less relevant, as startup money is increasingly moving online. These new waters are all but uncharted—and founders need an accessible guide.
This book helps you navigate the online world of startup fundraising with easy-to-follow explanations and expert perspectives on the new digital world of finance. You’ll find tips and tricks on raising money and investing in startups from early stage to growth stage, and develop a clear strategy based on the new realities surrounding today’s startup landscape.
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