Whether you’ve only just started entertaining the idea of building your own startup, or you’re deep into your journey, these are the five books that every entrepreneur needs to read. These books cover a wide range of topics, everything from refining your idea to increasing your day-to-day productivity.
You might find that you’ll learn something new, or even have one of your pre-existing notions challenged. Rather than trying to navigate the business world on your own, studying a range of perspectives can help you to learn from other people’s experiences and mistakes.
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“Zero to One” by Peter Thiel
Perhaps you don’t know him by name, but Peter Thiel is co-founder of PayPal, Palantir Technologies and Founders Fund. He suggests that if you create more of what already exists, you’re going from one to “n.” However, what you want to be doing with a startup is going from 0 to 1, creating something that doesn’t already exist.
“Zero to One” is ideal for those entrepreneurs who are looking to refine their business idea. Thiel goes into detail about what innovation is and how you should innovate in today’s technology-driven world. The book also discusses the type of people you should have on your team, how to deliver your product, where to put your focus and more.
“The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries
“The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries discusses ideas that have disrupted how the business world understands entrepreneurship and innovation. Ries is known for co-founding IMVU, a service that allows people to send instant messages using avatars. The book explains why and how startups can be more agile instead of being hyper-focused on elaborate business plans.
If you’re hoping to learn about how to manage people, innovation and growth in your startup, “The Lean Startup” is an ideal read for you. Rather than focusing on generating the perfect business idea, Ries intelligently talks about how to make the most of capital and human resources to be constantly innovating in your business.
“The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz
Ben Horowitz is the co-founder of a venture capital firm called Andreessen Horowitz. His book, “The Hard Thing About Hard Things,” offers advice on how to navigate the real and raw hardships that come with managing a startup. Horowitz shares a range of different anecdotes based on his experience in building companies from the ground up.
You’ll enjoy “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” if you’re looking for actual solutions to common problems entrepreneurs face. Instead of just presenting theories and ideas, Horowitz digs deeper to provide tips on how to navigate your business in a variety of different scenarios.
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey
An oldie but a goodie, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” was published over 30 years ago, and the book is a classic for those interested in self-help. While it’s not necessarily a startup-focused book, the lessons within it are highly applicable to entrepreneurs.
As the title suggests, it’s an ideal read if you’re hoping to build habits that allow you to become a more effective person. The book provides real tools and concepts that you can implement in your everyday life and in managing your startup. Hopefully, you’ll glean some tips from this book to become more productive and focused, within your business and your life.
“Originals” by Adam Grant
Unlike the other authors who’ve come from business backgrounds, Adam Grant comes from an organizational psychology background. Despite this, the book goes through a range of different anecdotes and studies from the world of business, as well as politics, sports and entertainment.
“Originals” is for the non-conformists, those hoping to go against what we know as the norm. Grant explains how rejecting the status quo can ultimately improve it. One of the stories he shares in the book tells the story of an entrepreneur who pitches his business idea by first giving the reasons why you shouldn’t invest in his startup.
No matter where you are on your entrepreneurial journey, and no matter what challenges you hope to overcome, you’re bound to find a book to guide you in the right direction.
Some honorable mentions that didn’t make the top five list, but might pique your interest include:
- “Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies,” by Chris Yeh and Reid Hoffman
- “Start Your Own Business: The Only Startup Book You’ll Ever Need,” by the Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc.
- “Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It… and Why the Rest Don’t” by Verne Harnish
- “The Startup J-Curve: The Six Steps to Entrepreneurial Success” by Howard Love