Starting a business can be both an exhilarating and frightening task. Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn says, "An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a bridge and builds a plane on his way down." From coming up with an idea to testing product-market fit, finding the right team, and learning how to negotiate, there are many lessons for you to learn along the way. Despite these roadblocks, running a startup can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
The good news is, as an entrepreneur, you're not alone. Many successful people have faced similar obstacles and shared their playbooks for success.
Here are some of the best books for starting a business that I have selected.
I didn't have a lot of entrepreneurs around me when I was growing up. These books have helped me at critical moments throughout my journey and I hope they can help you as well.
Ideas and Getting Started
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
Contrary to what the title says, this book isn't actually about working 4 hours per week. It's about maximizing your per-hour output and designing a business around your ideal lifestyle. This book gave me the courage to quit my day job and become a full-time entrepreneur. I still re-read it every three months.
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
I remember going to bookstores when I was younger with no money and hanging out for hours reading whatever business books I could get my hands on. This book taught me that your choices determine your success. It also taught me that the way to becoming successful was through entrepreneurship and investing. This is a great book for anyone starting out or thinking about entrepreneurship or investing as a path in life.
The Art of The Start by Guy Kawasaki
This was one of the earlier books on entrepreneurship that I read. My biggest takeaway was the concept of launching and then fixing. Many entrepreneurs get stuck in the idea phase endlessly tweaking, trying to make it perfect. But what is really needed to succeed is the ability to launch and fix as you go.
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
Most entrepreneurs struggle because they have the startup process backward. They create a product and then go out and try to find a customer. This method usually doesn't work and ends us wasting a lot of time and money. In the Lean Startup Method, you bring the customer to the front of the process and discover their core problems. You then develop your product (solution) based on real feedback and data from your customers. This discovery process is the part most entrepreneurs skip, but I believe it to be among the most critical toward success.
Hiring and Management
WHO: The A Method For Hiring by Geoff Smart and Randy Street
If you're looking to hire a top-notch team, you need to check this book out. WHO outlines a process for hiring that takes longer than a typical interview. It's designed to get to know the real person behind the resume. After reading this book, you'll discover the differences between an A-player and a B-player. You'll also learn how to screen candidates that are in line with the role you're hiring for.
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
This book was a game changer, especially at the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. I discovered that successful business owners think in terms of processes and systems. They work ON their business instead of IN it. They see their business as the product and focus on making it run like a well-oiled machine.
DotCom Secrets by Russell Brunson
If you're looking into running an online business, this book is for you. You'll discover the concept of Funnel Marketing. Even if you understand bits and pieces of marketing, this book will tie everything together. You'll learn about the Value Ladder, a method that ascends your customers from free value-added products to higher-ticket products and services. There are a lot of templates and scripts to follow in this one.
Launch by Jeff Walker
Launch teaches the art of launching a product. The best marketers are great at creating demand even before they launch. This book teaches that framework and is the process we used to raise over $100K in crowdfunding for our cookie company.
Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon
Many entrepreneurs work like Picasso. They toil in secret until they finally have the "perfect" masterpiece (product) to show the world. But what if you could have seen the creative process of Picasso? What if you saw his sketches and the thought processes behind his art? There is a lot of power in showing your work and learning in public even before you "make it." This book talks about the value of documenting your work and sharing it with your customers.
Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss
This book was written by a former FBI hostage negotiator and is jam-packed with practical advice. Here are a few things I took away from this book:
- He who says the price first loses
- If you have to say the price, always start at a much higher number than you really want. It's called anchoring.
- "How am I supposed to do that?" This is a powerful question that can help you get what you want even in scenarios where it doesn't seem possible.
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
I've grouped this book under mindset because that's where I've gotten the most value from it, but it's helpful across many categories. This book is broken down into Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise. Tim Ferriss is an investor and entrepreneur who hosts the popular podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. He's interviewed some of the world's top performers and this book highlights the notes and key takeaways from those interactions. It's jam-packed with practical tools and advice that you can implement right away.
Solve For Happy: Engineer Your Path to Jou by Mo Gawdat
This book helped me during a critical time in my life. My business was failing and I was questioning my purpose. Mo Gawdat, a top Google Executive, shares his personal story of losing his son during an operation gone wrong. He shares the anger, frustration, and powerlessness he felt at that moment. He then reveals the journey to took toward finding happiness using an analytical and practical approach, like an engineer. This a must-read for anyone seeing fulfillment and purpose in life.
In conclusion, starting a business can be tough, but reading the right books can save you a lot of heartache. These books cover a wide range of areas that are critical to master including mindset, management, and marketing. By learning from those who've already succeeded you'll set yourself up for a greater chance of success. So whether you're just getting started or looking to take your business to the next level, these books are key reading material.
Good luck and keep rockin'!