10 must-read books for startup founders, business owners and entrepreneurs.

books for business owners

It’s often said that readers are leaders. You are what you read, and if your goal is to build a massively successful company where you call the shots, you might want to start by equipping your mind with adequate knowledge to succeed.

There’s so much to read, it can often be overwhelming to know exactly where to start. That’s is why we have compiled a list of ten books recommended by some of the world’s best entrepreneurs and startup founders like Mark Cuban, Steve Jobs etc.

1. The hard thing about hard things.

In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, draws on his own story of founding, running, selling, buying, managing, and investing in technology companies to offer essential advice and practical wisdom for navigating the toughest problems business schools don’t cover.

His blog has garnered a devoted following of millions of readers who have come to rely on him to help them run their businesses. A lifelong rap fan, Horowitz amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favourite songs and tells it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, from cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.

2. The lean startup.

Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.

Eric Ries defines a startup as an organisation dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business.

Also Read: 5 distinguishing traits and attitudes of successful entrepreneurs.

3. Zero to One.

If you want to build a better future, you must believe in secrets. The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One, legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.

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.

4. The founders’ dilemma.

Often downplayed in the excitement of starting up a new business venture is one of the most important decisions entrepreneurs will face: Should they go it alone or bring in cofounders, hires, and investors to help build the business? More than just financial rewards are at stake. Friendships and relationships can suffer. Bad decisions at the inception of a promising venture lay the foundations for its eventual ruin.

The Founder’s Dilemmas is the first book to examine the early decisions by entrepreneurs that can make or break a startup and its team. Drawing on a decade of research, Noam Wasserman reveals the common pitfalls founders face and how to avoid them.

5. Venture Deals.

A must-read book for entrepreneurs. Brad and Jason demystify the overly complex world of term sheets and M&A, cutting through the legalese and focusing on what really matters. Having an educated entrepreneur on the other side of the table means you spend your time negotiating the important issues and ultimately get to the right deal faster.

This book takes the lid off the black box and helps entrepreneurs understand the economics and control provisions of working with a venture partner. Start here if you want to understand venture capital deal structure and strategies.

6. Traction.

This book is ideal for entrepreneurs and someone who runs a privately held business and has hit the ceiling. Don’t let common problems run you and your business. Get a grip and gain control with the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS).

Inside Traction, you’ll discover simple yet powerful ways to run your company with more focus, growth and enjoyment. Based on years of real-world implementation, the EOS is a practical method for achieving the business success you have always envisioned.

7. ReWork.

Most business books give you the same old advice: Write a business plan, study the competition, seek investors, yadda yadda. Rework shows you a better, faster, easier way to succeed in business.

Read it and you’ll know why plans are actually harmful, why you don’t need outside investors, and why you’re better off ignoring the competition. The truth is, you need less than you think. You don’t need to be a workaholic. You don’t need to staff up. You don’t need to waste time on paperwork or meetings. You don’t even need an office. Those are all just excuses. What you really need to do is stop talking and start working.

Also Read: How to Maintain Work-Life Balance.

8. Founder at work.

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.

Where did they get the ideas that made them rich? How did they convince investors to back them? What went wrong, and how did they recover?

9. The four steps to the epiphany.

The Four Steps to the Epiphany launched the Lean Startup approach to new ventures. It was the first book to offer that startups are not smaller versions of large companies and that new ventures are different than existing ones. Startups search for business models while existing companies execute them.

The book offers the practical and proven four-step Customer Development process for search and offers insight into what makes some startups successful and leaves others selling off their furniture. Rather than blindly execute a plan, The Four Steps helps uncover flaws in product and business plans and correct them before they become costly. Rapid iteration, customer feedback, testing your assumptions are all explained in this book.

If your organisation is starting a new venture, and you’re thinking how to successfully organise sales, marketing and business development you need The Four Steps to the Epiphany.

10. The $100 Startup.

You don’t need an MBA, a business plan or even employees. All you need is a product or service that springs from what you love to do anyway, people willing to pay, and a way to get paid.

In ancient times, people who were dissatisfied with their lives dreamed of finding magic lamps, buried treasure, or streets paved with gold. Today, we know that it’s up to us to change our lives. And the best part is, if we change our own life, we can help others change theirs. This remarkable book will start you on your way.

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