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30+ Best Startup Books for Entrepreneurs to Avoid Major Pitfalls

January 2, 2020

15 Min Read
best startup books
Reading Time: 15 minutes

Every nine out of 10 startups fail in their first year.

Avoiding this fate may be hard, but not impossible. Certainly not when you are armed with the knowledge from these 30 best startup books for entrepreneurs.

As you might know from the countless lists of tips and tricks about startup survivability, reading is one of the easiest and fastest ways of learning from the experiences of others. The only problem is that too many books come out and you as a startup owner have limited time to decide which are the best startup books to read.

To make things easy for you, I decided to find the best books about startups and entrepreneurship. This is a growing list, so bookmark this article and come back in a couple of months to check out the new startup books on the list.

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Innovation Books

Zero to One

Zero To One- Peter Thiel

Author: Peter Thiel with Blake Masters

Category: Innovation

Peter Thiel takes an unconventional approach to building startups. The common approach is to iterate the same idea and launch it to a different market segment. The usual ideas tend to be about the next WhatsApp, Facebook, or a “new and better” Microsoft.

In his book Zero to One, Peter says these clones already exist in the market and making a new clone won’t take you further up the innovation ladder. When people repeat the ideas, they take the innovation level from one to ‘N’. But doing something that isn’t done before takes the world from zero to one.

The Innovator’s Dilemma

The innovator's dilemma cover

Author: Clayton M. Christensen

Category: Innovation

The Innovator’s Dilemma is one of the best books for entrepreneurs as it changed the state of corporate America. Surprising, isn’t that? It simply asked:

‘Why do businesses fail even after doing everything right?’

And explains the answer…

It has remained a best seller for over a decade and is written especially for entrepreneurs, managers, and CEOs, sharing wisdom and warnings for businesses.

Founders at Work

Founders at Work

Author: Jessica Livingston

Category: Innovation

The game runners at Apple, Microsoft, Google, and even Whatsapp were just a bunch of folks like you. Today, they are founders of multi-billion dollar companies.

What led to this change? How did they manage to convince investors to back their ideas? Did they make any mistakes? If so, how did they recover? Founders At Work is a collection of interviews with the founders of top tech companies that answer these questions.

Crossing the Chasm

Crossing the Chasm

Author: Geoffrey A. Moore and

Category: Innovation

Want to read the bible for bringing tech products to progressively larger markets? Crossing the Chasm is the book for you. It provides new insights into the realities of high-tech marketing with special emphasis on the internet. The book is a must-read for anyone with a stake in the world’s most exciting marketplaces.

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Screw it, Let’s do it

Scrw It Let's Do it

Author:  Richard Branson

Category: Innovation

Sir Richard Branson is the CEO of Virgin group of companies. He heads more than 400 companies and in this book, he reveals his secrets, of life and business. If there is one lesson that he wants you to learn by reading Screw it Let’s do it, it is: If you believe it can be done, try and try again until you can do it. It is undoubtedly, one of the best books about startup and entrepreneurship.

Start Something That Matters

Start Something That Matters

Author: Joan Salge Blake

Category: Innovation

Learn from a man who never worn shoes but started the fastest-growing footwear company. Blake Mycoskie shares his story of how he build a multi-billion company in less than ten years and brought a new business model of success in his book: Start Something That Matters.

Never Too Late to Startup

Never too late to Startup

Author: Rob Kornblum

Category: Innovation

Is it even possible to break free from the corporate race? – Most employees in the middle of the career often think this $100M question.

Never Too Late to Startup by venture capitalist Rob Kornblum is one of the best books for entrepreneurs as it answers the above question by interviewing a dozen mid-life founders. It is a great business book for an entrepreneur that tells how you can find a great idea, how to lower the risk of starting a business, and how to get ideal co-founders for your business.

Team Management Books

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

Creativity Inc

Author: Ed Catmull

Category: Team management

Ed Catmull has been associated with Pixar throughout his career. He knows firsthand how to grow a newly launched animation studio into an instantly-recognized global brand by embedding creativity within the company’s culture. During his tenure, Pixar launched some of the most popular movies including Toy Story, Incredibles, Monsters Inc. and many others.

In the book Creativity, Inc, Catmull writes about creative strategies that you can add to your organizational structure through simple changes and create goals that bring all the employees on a unified path to success.

Good to Great

Good to Great

Author: James C. Collins

Category: Team Management

Good to Great reveals why are some companies achieve greatness in the long-term while others don’t. Are there any special characteristics that lead to this kind of growth? Jim Collins answers these questions in a compelling way by connecting the successes of previous companies and analyzing their traits.

Start with Why

Start with Why

Author: Simon Sinek

Category: Team Management

Why some organizations are more innovative than others? What is common among their managers? The book ‘Start with Why’ answers these and other questions through examples from the past. It analyzes the personality of Steve Jobs, Martin Luther, and Wright Brothers, highlighting the similarities in the personalities that eventually lead to success.

SuperBosses

Super Bosses

Author: Sydney Finkelstein

Category: Team Management

What do football coach Bill Walsh, restaurateur Alice Walter, and tech CEO Larry Ellison have in common? How were they consistently successful in their respective industries?

The answer is… by finding, nurturing, and leading great people.

Superbosses explores the personalities of the world’s most effective bosses and how they motivate and inspire others. Their talent doesn’t just make them successful, or robust organization builders, but what Finkelstein calls ‘Super bosses.’

Product Management Books

The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup

Author: Eric Ries

Category: Product Management

Most startups fail when they focus more on the ‘other stuff’ rather than the company profits. The other stuff includes flash marketing strategies like too much customer care, team fortification and market-competitive employee compensation (even with little money in the bank).

Eric Ries gives examples of how to avoid all the common mistakes that wipe the startup’s budget and start the downward spiral of the business in his book The Lean Startup.

Hooked

Hooked

Author: Nir Eyal

Category: Product Management

Why some products skyrocket while others fail? What habits make people successful and what drown them? Nir Eyal answers these and many other questions in Hooked. The book is an explanation of Hook Model, a four-step process that simplifies the recipes of retaining customers.

The E-Myth Revisited

The E-Myth Revisited

Author: Michael E.  Gerber

Category: Product Management

Michael Gerber is considered the number one guru for small businesses. In this book, he teaches how to dispel the myths that surround a small business and ways to make them profitable. The book: The E-Myth Revisited further sheds light on why franchising will be a better option and why you need to avail it.

Finally, it explains one overlooked difference between working in the business and working on the business.

The $100 Startup

The $100 Startup

Author: Chris Guillebeau

Category: Product Management

Want to lead a life full of adventure, meaning, and purpose while earning a good living? The $100 Startup is for you. It shows how to travel around the world while earning a consistent living and supporting your life and journey.

There are many people like Chris Guillebeau who have found ways to opt out of the traditional web of employment that surrounds us. They pursue a meaningful life after finding a perfect blend of passion and consistent income. And, it isn’t dependent on the work you do on regular basis. He describes how to start small with your venture and take the real plunge when you are sure it will be successful.

The Power of Broke

The Power Of broke

Author: Daymond John and Daniel Paisner

Category: Product Management

Daymon John started from a $40 budget selling home-sewn shirts on the streets. Today he is one of the most prominent investors and the founder of Shark Tank, real-life American investment show. John shares his own story of how he had to think of an out-of-the-box idea to create a campaign that will eventually lead to the sale of his shirts and how that same thinking made him a successful entrepreneur of the 21st century. His inspiring story is in this book called The Power of Broke

How to Transform Your Ideas into Software Products

How to Transform Your Ideas into Software Products

Author: Poornima Vijayashanker

Category: Product Management

How to make people pay for the products even before they are built? This book tells people how to build sellable products by turning their passion into a living. Poornima Vijayashanker shows the right roadmap for launching a winning software product.

The Startup Owner’s Manual

The Startup Owner's Manual

Author: Steve Blank

Category: Product Management

If you ever wanted a toolkit for launching a startup, The Startup Owner’s Manual is the go-to book for you. The book features proven processes of business modeling and customer development to build scalable companies.

It further sheds light on creative strategies that can help find the product-market fit and grow customer-base using any possible means.

Running Lean

Running Lean

Author: Ash Maurya

Category: Product Management

We are building more products than ever and most of them fail. This doesn’t happen because we can’t compete but because we waste money on the wrong products. Running Lean tells us about a systematic process for quickly vetting the product ideas and working on those that truly matter.

Growth Hacking Books

Explosive Growth: A Few Things I Learned While Growing My Startup To 100 Million Users & Losing $78 Million Kindle Edition

Explosive growth

Author: Cliff Lerner

Category: Growth Hacking

Have you ever invested $75 million on your startup and then lost most of it while trying to grow and scale your business? And, then suddenly your startup’s stock prices soared and then you sold it for a HUGE profit? For Cliff, life has been a roller coaster ride. And he has explained about it all in his startup book ‘Explosive growth’.

This startup book is a real gem for all store owners who would like to know the life of an entrepreneur. Cliff advises that the startup journey is filled with ups and downs and one startup founder should be prepared for all that before he/she walks that path.

Undoubtedly, Explosive Growth is a best-seller on Amazon. It combines storytelling with genius growth tactics that a startup founder would need to overcome whatever may come in this path. It wouldn’t be wrong to call it an entrepreneur’s guide book for anyone who would want to step-up their game and take their growth to the next level.

What you will learn in this startup ebook:

– How to get EXPLOSIVE GROWTH

– What is a REMARKABLE PRODUCT and how to create one?

– Only THREE METRICS that can be a game-changer for your business

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

The Checklist Manifesto

Author: Atul Gawande

Category: Growth Hacking

We always strive for betterment. Better education, better skill-set, better job, better income… and we still fail. Atul Gawande makes a compelling argument stating that we can do better using the simplest methods, and simplest skill sets.

He calls it the ‘checklist.’

Through analogies, inspirational stories, and thought-provoking incidences in his book he narrates how checklists can help us improve, bring about a striking change in our mindset, life, and the field of work. And that going for ‘better’ isn’t always necessary.

The Four Steps to the Epiphany

Four_Steps_To_The_Epiphany

Author: Steve Blank

Category: Growth Hacking

The Four Steps to the Epiphany offers a practical four-step solution for streamlining customer development process for startups. It is the first book that launched the Lean Startup approach for new ventures. The startups CEOs should realize that they are not smaller versions of large companies. Rather, they operate under a very different business model. The book presents concrete examples on how to take your startup to the next level, and what approaches should be taken for that purpose.

Traction

Traction

Auhtor: Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

Category: Growth Hacking

Indeed one of the best books for entrepreneurs!

Most startups don’t fail because they can’t build a successful product. They fail because they can’t get traction. Traction isn’t about how well marketed a startup is, but how many customers it is acquiring on a regular basis, or if free, how many users.

Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares share their experiences of building a successful company. They say it isn’t about how cleverly you market or how much money you raise, but how much you can grow. Traction ensures that you are on the right path.

The 7 Day Startup

The 7 Day Startup

Author: Dan Norris

Category: Growth Hacking

Ever heard of sustainable cash flowing business that was just made in seven days? Dan Norris did and he reveals his secrets in the 7-Day Startup book.

Dan’s business is now worth $400,000 and bringing recurring revenue.

The Third Wave

The Third Wave

Author: Steve Case

Category: Growth Hacking

The Third Wave is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller that provides a compelling roadmap for understanding the technological changes in our economy. It also provides ways in which businesses can successfully tap into these strategies to become more profitable.

Steve Case is the co-founder of AOL, the first internet company to go public in early 1990s. He provides insights on the importance of entrepreneurship and charts a path for future innovators. It is considered as one of the best books on entrepreneurship.

The Art of the Start

The Art of the Start

Author: Guy Kawasaki

Category: Growth Hacking

Starting a business, or starting a new branch of the same business? The Art of the Start is your guide to starting things right. Guy Kawasaki documents the whole journey in a simple way while highlighting the important aspects of business

Fund Management Books

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

The Hard Things About The Hard Things

Author: Ben Horowitz

Category: Fund Management

Ben Horowitz, the co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz shares the insights gained from developing, managing, and selling tech companies. The book The Hard Things About Hard Things is based on his blog where he advices leaders through the insights he gained during his career. In the book, Horowitz discusses the right time to take decisions like job slashing, selling a company, making big changes in the structure, and provides answers to other managerial problems.

Will it Fly?

Will it Fly

Author: Thomas K. McKnight

Category: Fund Management

Before investing a single dime ask ‘will it fly?’

Find out the 44 key elements required for a business to become successful. These 44 key elements were studied from 200 businesses at the time of their launch and provided to you in the shape of a well-written book called Will it Fly. This is a must-read book for investors, VC firms, and stakeholders who invest in new startups.

Venture Deals

VENTURE DEALS

Author: Brad Feld

Category: Fund Management

Each new generation of entrepreneurs is keenly interested in knowing how venture deals work so that they can gather more investments for their startups by pitching it the right way. But no one can understand it better than the people who are already involved in it.

In all the versions of Venture Deals, Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson share essential elements of the venture capitalism. Both have more than 20 years of experience in the field and have been involved in hundreds of venture capital financing.

Mastering the VC Game

Mastering the VC game

Author: Jeffrey Bussgang

Category: Fund Management

Pitching your startup to the investors for the first time? Learn how to prepare the perfect pitch and stay confident during your pitching session. The book, Mastering the VC Game provides practical advice gathered from interviews with a dozen of successful entrepreneurs and VCs.

The Power of Habit

The Power of Habit

Author: Charles Duhigg

Category: Productivity

One amongst the many best entrepreneurship books “The Power of Habit” reveals how we can transform our businesses and our lives by changing a few behavior patterns in our lives. Business experts call it the ‘essential manual for business and success.’ It takes the reader from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the middle of Civil Rights movement to the sidelines of NFL.

Business Books

Warren Buffet – a man who requires no introduction once said, “The best investment you can make is an investment in yourself. The more you learn, the more you earn.” There are many ways to learn and enlarge your world. Love of books is the best of all.

The best business books train your imagination to think big. Reading is to mind what exercise is to the body. The more you read, the more you’ll know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go. There are 4 business books I believe every entrepreneur must read in order to expand their horizons and scale their business effectively. They are:

The 4-Hour Workweek

4 hour work week startup book

Author: Tim Ferris

Category: Business

The best way to describe the author Tim Ferris is that he’s a digital Indiana Jones. The 4-hour workweek was the book which put him in the limelight. His book is a documentation of how Tim removed himself from his own organization in order to learn and travel the world.

The 80/20 rule or the Pareto principle is given quite an importance in this book. Most people measure productivity by the time they spend working. However, that’s not a good indicator. Tim suggests we should be more effective rather than being efficient. To do so, we must focus and execute 20% of our tasks that can get 80% of the results.

It is one of the best business books for entrepreneurs and you must get your hands on it as soon as possible.

2. Success Is in Your Sphere: Leverage the Power of Relationships to Achieve Your Business Goals

Success Is in Your Sphere best startup book

Author: Zvi Band

Category: Business

This book for businesses is written by Zvi Band is a step-by-step guide on how you can leverage the power of relationships to your business’ best advantage.

In his book, the author states that the most cost-effective and high-return strategy to new, recurring, or referral business is via the existing professional network which doesn’t comprise your social media “friends” or “connections”.

The best value this book provides is the Capital strategy of relationship-building tactics. The Capital strategy refers to:

Consistency: Develop healthy habits to build stronger relationships

Aggregate: Build a database of your professional circle

Prioritize: Order based on who can help

Investigate: Collect information on the most important ones

Timely Engagement: Design a steady outreach flow

Adding Value: Offer more than simple follow-ups

Leverage: Execute more effectively

3. Game-Time Decision Making: High-Scoring Business Strategies from the Biggest Names in Sports

Game-Time Decision Making Business Book

Author: David Meltzer

Category: Business

This book by David Meltzer will help you make your business decisions with the same confidence as one of the world’s best sports coaches. During pressure, great coaches remain focused, confident, and completely in charge of their roster. They always win because they have a strong command over their decision-making process. This business book will help you through the process of:

  • Compiling a pro team with diverse skillsets
  • Building a positive mindset that holds the power to overwhelm your competition
  • Developing a strong sense of awareness of “the playing field”
  • Not making the same mistake twice by learning from failures
  • Strategizing your business for both offensive and defensive approaches

4. Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen

Building a StoryBrand best business book

Author: Donald Miller

Category: Business

Donald Miller – New York Times best-selling author shares the seven universal elements of powerful stories in his book to teach how you can improve your methods to connect with your customers and grow your businesses.

His process is a proven solution to the struggle many businessmen face. His revolutionary method of connecting with customers offers the ultimate competitive advantage. It reveals the secret of helping customers comprehend the compelling benefits of using your products.

Despite whether you’re a director of a multibillion-dollar company or the owner of a fresh startup, this business book will change the way how you portray yourself and the unique value you can offer to your customers.

Which one should you read first?

It would be difficult to choose one single book to read from this list of the best books for entrepreneurs because every next book is full of information. Therefore, we have categorized each one. Ask yourself what is the major problem your startup is facing? And then, choose books related to that area for reading.

If you want to read books about ‘startup marketing’ specifically, then we have also compiled a list of best startup marketing books in a separate post.

We hope you liked this list of best startup books. If you did, then share it with your friends who are struggling with their startups.

Share your opinion in the comment section. COMMENT NOW

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Arsalan Sajid

Arsalan, a Digital Marketer by profession, works as a Startup Community Manager at Cloudways. He loves all things entrepreneurial and wakes up every day with the desire to enable the dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs through his work!

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