A lot of people want to be an entrepreneur, but they’re just not sure how and where to start.
After all, starting up a business is not easy, and taking the first step can be daunting—some don’t even know what the first step is!
But what we often forget is that even the most successful entrepreneurs in the world today all started the same way. So if you’re still figuring out how to transform a business idea into a thriving empire, then you’ll need a lot of help.
That’s why we asked 14 business experts to recommend the best startup books that will help pave the way to your success.
The most recommended books are:
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
- Zero to One Notes on Start-Ups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel, Blake Masters
This book has something that few business books have – credibility. Mr. Horowitz speaks from experience versus theory.
He walks you through real-life examples and why he often had to go down paths that no one would have recommended.
Some of the now famous topics in this book includes the definition of a good product manager and the difference between a peace time CEO and a war time CEO.
Although some of the best gems relate to how you should think as an entrepreneur.
Make a hard decision, focus on the critical few items, embrace the struggle, be courageous, and create a courageous company.
Jeff talks about raising money from someone who has both been an entrepreneur and a VC.
An example of an insight Jeff provides is that he would rather bang his head against a wall for a year than take money from a VC that is known to be hard to work with. A simple message that many need to learn the hard way.
Although I have yet to find the perfect, all-in-one book on raising money, Jeff Bussgang does a good job of articulating what to expect before, during and after you engage with a VC.
This interaction is one that you want to prepare for, and reading this book helps!
An excellent book that explains how to innovate your business model without either destroying your newco or your core business.
Why most truly innovative ideas never see the light of day and how long it really takes for a new business model to add meaningful revenue.
One of the more interesting insights was that we need to stop trying to figure out what kinds of products people are trying to buy and instead work out what they are trying to get done.
Another was why larger companies struggle to reinvent themselves. Hint, if you are an established incumbent it is likely that your current cost structure will need to be reinvented along with your product/service.
The hardest thing about entrepreneurship and startups is prioritization. There are too many things to do and too little time.
Traction lays out a concrete system for building a business. It helps you identify important business priorities and how to execute.
I’ve seen tremendous growth in my business as we’ve adopted Traction’s methods.
Startups can flounder after initial adoption. How do you get past the early adopters to mainstream market success?
Crossing the Chasm outlines a technology adoption curve. It helps you identify which customers should be priorities and how to gain broader adoption.
An entrepreneur sole job is to communicate. The Copywriter’s Handbook distills effective communication across various mediums.
It gives concrete steps and tips on improving your messaging so that it resonates. You can read it cover to cover or use it as an anthology of wisdom when crafting important messages. It has helped me in all facets of my business.
Owner, Highwater Standard
Gary is a firm believer in the “hustle mentality” and that your hustle should match your ambitions – there’s just no way around that.
In this book, he specifically talks about how to build a strong personal brand and why it’s so important to building a successful business.
He offers both theoretical and tactical advice on how to become one of the big names on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the others.
Founder & CEO, Monetize More
My inspiration to start a location independent business with the 80/20 principal and automate as much as possible came from this book.
Four Hour Work Week is the bible for digital nomads since it was the first of its kind.
It introduced counter-intuitive ideas that started the digital nomad movement. People started questioning the rat race because of this book.
All of a sudden, commuting, working endless hours and dealing with office politics just to save enough for a retirement wasn’t necessarily the best option.
Four Hour Work Week foretold a better option.
This has been a game changer book that has taught me how to be a better negotiator, leader, communicator and empathize with team members, partners and third parties.
It has been so good, we initiated an internal MonetizeMore seminar just about the teachings of this book.
As a result, internal communication has improved, our sales performance has spiked and customer empathy has grown.
These are all key improvements that have led to MonetizeMore’s growth in 2018. I even use some of the communication strategies in my personal relationships.
I never realized how important and powerful empathetic communication can be.
Shawn Breyer – Owner, Breyer Home Buyers
Darren doesn’t provide you with motivational content and fluff in this book. He acknowledges that entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster and that a majority of people fail at it.
However, with the acknowledgments, he teaches the reader how to thrive against each of the odds that you are going to face when starting and running your own business.
He teaches you how to sell more easily, how to recruit a great team to scale up, how to be a great leader, how to scale your business, and how to face your fears.
If you want to get into the realm of entrepreneurship, but are unsure how to handle the ups and downs, this book will teach you how to develop yourself and your business to withstand those rollercoaster rides.
Owner, Dependable Homebuyers
The best startup book I’ve read is “Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less” by Sam Carpenter.
It focuses on the importance of developing written procedures for all the critical operations in your startup.
This insight was critical to our startup as we began to address the complexities of bringing on employees.
By reading this book we were able to draft procedure documents that allowed us to spend less time training new employees and more time growing the company.
Owner, American Striping Company
Full disclosure, I wrote the book. How I Stripe a Parking Lot, 24 Years, By Myself. Third Edition.
When you’re broke, it has nothing to do with money. You sit at the edge of your bed and question every decision you ever made. That was me in 1992. Not now. And, I’d like to help.
In every city, nationwide, there are individuals who only need a real, practical idea.
How I Stripe a Parking Lot is written in a casual form, as if you’re across the table, this book will save you years of trial and error.
Co-owner and COO, RIZKNOWS LLC
One book that I found extremely riveting was ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers’ by Ben Horowitz.
The author is a co-founder of one of the most successful venture capital firms in history so suffice to say he definitely knows what he’s talking about when it comes to business and startups.
What I like most about the book is that he openly states there’s no secret formula for success. Instead, he discusses the lessons you can learn from past failures and how you can apply those examples in the future to solve problems and avoid issues
Overall, the book has definitely helped me with my own business. It gave me new perspectives on past mistakes and really helped shape how I view new issues that arise.
Co-Founder, Galactic Fed
If you’re thinking of starting a business/company, this book will come very handy. If you’re a CEO of a small company with 10+ employees, read this book.
You will learn hear how there is really “no shortcuts to knowledge”.
This book is about how Ben (the author) and his friends got through all the hard times, making it through, and making the biggest decisions – it’s their journey to success.
You will be reminded by this book that when things go bad, you have to accept it because that’s the way it should go.
My favorite quote from the book: “Embrace the struggle.”
This book is easy to read. This book will make you realize that you have actually been thinking about startup processes all your life without knowing it.
In this book, Peter talks about creating new technologies, the ones you only dream or think about, but never acted upon – which will bring out revolutionary change.
This book is highly recommended by Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. This one is an ultimate entrepreneur bible.
My favorite quote from the book: “In a world of scarce resources, globalization without new technology is unsustainable.”
This book provides significant factors about how you can start your own business without blowing your funds and/or resources.
I learned a basic but really important concept from this book. It’s that you can’t assume you know what your customers want. You have to ask them what they want and how they want it to be solved.
My favorite quote from the book: “We must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want.”
Director of Digital Marketing, MLT Group – Creative Solutions
It’s a great startup book because it goes against the grain and gives unique advice for startups.
Here are some of the best concepts from the book:
- Competition is bad – Thiel argues against the typical advice that competition is healthy. He says that “competition destroys profits,” and that businesses should seek o become “monopolies” – not through coercion, but through superior technology, branding, and creating a large gap with a competitive advantage
- Definite optimism – His advice on planning goes against the “Minimum Viable Product” concept from books like the Lean Startup. He cites founders like Steve Jobs who built businesses and product lines through long-term concrete plans over years. Jobs used this process to create the iPod, iPhone, and iPad
- Vertical progress – Most companies try to go from “one to N” meaning they make incremental “horizontal” progress on established products. Successful startups, Thiel argues, the great companies of the future will go from “zero to one,” meaning they will create brand new technologies that revolutionize or create new industries
The book reads more like a philosophical treatise instead of a typical business book. It will teach you to expand your vision and level of thinking to create a world-class business instead of another “me too” startup.
First up we have the 4-hour work week. This book is an incredible tool when it comes to automating various aspects of your business and freeing up as much of your time as possible.
It covers everything from automating emails to eliminating those monotonous tasks.
The books core focus is to help start-ups build out a solid business foundation before they consider taking the leap into entrepreneurship.
This is achieved by implementing a three-step process that focuses in on the following key areas.
- D is for definition: This step allows entrepreneurs to really drill down into why they do what they do. By establishing a set of business motivations, it allows entrepreneurs to build out a set process within their business.
- E is for elimination: The next step is all about eliminating the various tasks within the process that was defined in the first step. This is designed to free up as much time as possible for small businesses.
- A is for automation: The final step is to automate any of the tasks that are left over by outsourcing the work. I have found that this book provides some great tips for how to effectively outsource business processes right down to managing emails.
This one a bit of an oldie but its core messages still ring true when it comes to marketing your start-up online and growing out your digital footprint.
This book covers in depth the various digital content options that you can use to grow your business online.
The New Rules of Marketing and PR allows small businesses to develop a clear content management strategy for their businesses by stepping through the process of developing a content management system and detailing a process for how they can best leverage that system to maximize their digital footprint.
This book is a must-have for any budding entrepreneur.
Last up on our list we have an eBook designed to help small businesses develop out their digital launch platforms. This book covers everything from building out your online community to developing a time efficient content workflow.
Facebook marketing builds on content marketing fundamentals and details an in-depth process of how social media can be used to maximize the exposure of your content management strategy.
This is achieved by putting in place a clearly defined social media strategy that is designed to take as little time as possible out of your day by using a list of free to use graphic design software’s.
Financial Coach, Perfection Hangover
Jen Sincero, multi-millionaire and author of ‘You are a Badass at Making Money’, wasn’t always “rollin’ in the dough”.
She used to live in a garage and even shoplifted to make ends meet. In fact, she was broke until she reached her 40’s and after reading nearly every self-help book under the sun and hiring a life coach, she started her company and got her life together.
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes a good startup book?
A good startup book should be well-researched, well-written, and contain actionable advice and tips to apply to your business. It should also be engaging, easy to read and offer a unique perspective and insight you won’t find anywhere else. A good business startup book should also be relevant and up-to-date, reflecting the industry’s current state and addressing the challenges and opportunities entrepreneurs face today.
What are some of the most essential topics in startup books?
Startup books can cover a wide range of topics, including business strategy, market analysis, product development, marketing, fundraising, and management. They often include case studies, real-world examples of successful startups, and tips and advice from experienced entrepreneurs. Whether you’re looking to build a successful business from the ground up or take your existing business to the next level, there’s likely a startup book that can help.
Can business startup books be used for business planning?
Many business startup books contain practical advice and templates for creating a business plan. They can be a great resource for entrepreneurs who are developing their business idea and creating a plan to put them into action. However, remember that every business is unique, and one book may not cover all aspects of your business. Consider seeking additional resources and the advice of a business mentor or advisor if needed.
Can startup books help me network with other entrepreneurs?
Startup books won’t directly help you network with other entrepreneurs. Instead, they can provide valuable insight and knowledge that you can use to connect with others in the startup community. Consider joining a local entrepreneur group or attending startup events. This is where you can share your knowledge and connect with like-minded people interested in starting and growing a business.
Is there a difference between startup books for first-time and experienced entrepreneurs?
Yes, there are startup books specifically targeted toward first-time entrepreneurs and others geared toward experienced entrepreneurs. If you are just starting out, look for books that provide a comprehensive overview of the startup process and offer practical advice on how to get started. If you are an experienced entrepreneur, you may want to look for books that provide more advanced strategies and cover specific topics relevant to your business.
Are there any disadvantages to reading startup books?
While there are many benefits to reading books on business startups, you should keep in mind that they may not cover every aspect of your business. Also, the information in a book can become outdated over time, so it’s important to keep up with the latest developments in the startup industry. Consider seeking additional resources and seeking the advice of a business mentor or advisor if needed.
Can startup books help me with finances and accounting?
Many books for startups contain information on how to manage your business finances and accounting. They can give you tips on creating a budget, tracking expenses, and making smart financial decisions. Whether you’re just starting out or want to improve your financial skills, a startup book can be valuable.
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