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7 Start-up Books for Founders

Start up books for business founders

Scrolling through the collections of the best start-up books online, you’ll probably see the same titles repeated repeatedly in every list.

Let me guess the most frequently mentioned:

  • Start With Why by Simon Sinek
  • Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters
  • The Lean Start-up by Eric Ries

Indeed, it’s a trio of the most popular books on entrepreneurship and business growth.

This article is an exception, however. It contains seven less recognized but not less helpful books for business leaders who want to succeed in their start-ups.

These are the must-read start-up books by company owners and managers that can help you lead your teams to daily success and eliminate common mistakes when launching and running a business.

Mistake Is a Good Teacher for Start-up Founders; Book Is the Best One

Books can give you more than you can imagine.

For example, Elon Musk, co-founder of six start-ups, including Tesla and SpaceX, taught himself rocket science by reading books. He practically memorized them and could quote passages by heart.

J. D. Meier, Director of Innovation & Sustainability, Industry Solutions at Microsoft, shares 25 books that changed his life and taught him about management, high performance, risk-taking, etc.

Whether you’d like to read a book to sip inspiration for your start-up, develop your leadership skills, or create an actionable business strategy, you can do that right now.

7 Best Start-up Books for Every Entrepreneur and Business Founder

Propel your start-up to greater heights with any or all of the following reads.

One Hour Strategy by Mark North

Author: Mark North – Professor in the Business Department at Florida International University

Year: 2017

Short overview

Don’t have time for strategic business planning?

Strategy is made simple and quick in this book. Of course, it will take you a bit more than one hour, but it’s worth it. Mark North comprehensively explains a SWOT analysis and enumerates several practical action steps for your business plan.

One Hour Strategy is the second title in his four-book series Logical Business.

Leader’s commentary

The book is recommended by Gerald Lombardo, CEO of cauZmik :

“Reading One Hour Strategy is a must if you are eager to map out and visualize your business ideas to see them clearly.

One of the shortest books for start-up entrepreneurs, in just 110 pages, it helps to blaze a trail for your business in no time. There are also some bonus chapters that you may find useful too. They contain the steps of creating effective checklists, presenting your strategy to others, reviewing, and making adjustments to your strategic plan.”

Start-up Success by Gordon Daugherty

Author: Gordon Daugherty – computer scientist, investor, start-up advisor, and creator of Shockwave Innovations

Year: 2019

Short overview

It takes practically nothing to come up with a good start-up idea.

It takes a lot to find money to get started.

In Start-up Success, Gordon Daugherty teaches you the art of fundraising. He strategizes the fundraiser’s journey to the fullest. This start-up book is packed with valuable hacks for raising funds.

Leader’s commentary

The book is recommended by Zach Leonard, President of Gembah:

 “This is a handbook for those start-up founders who choose to fundraise. It’s a personal choice, but sometimes it’s a must-do for start-ups to survive.

Gordon Daugherty provides an all-encompassing toolkit to raise funds for business. His insights on convertible securities and interaction with investors were particularly useful for me.”

The Minimalist Entrepreneur by Sahil Lavingia

Author: Sahil Lavinia – Founder of Gumroad

Year: 2021

Short overview

The book’s subtitle is self-explanatory: How Great Founders Do More with Less.

Here’s what minimalist entrepreneurs should do, according to Lavingia:

  • Chase profitability, not unicorns
  • Concentrate on authentic and long-term relationships with customers
  • Build only the essentials and automate or outsource the rest
  • Educate people while selling
  • Open up about their failures and successes
  • Practice mindful business growth
  • Hire the like-minded people

Guiding you on each step, the author shows how to “build the house you want to live in.”

Leader’s commentary

The book is recommended by Mark Pierce, CEO of Cloud Peak Law Group

“The book’s ideas resonated with me greatly. Sahil Lavingia reminded me that any founder or C-suite leader is a creator in the first place.

Although The Minimalist Entrepreneur is a short read on start-up management, it has huge potential to motivate founders and direct them to self-sustainability. Specifically, it’s oriented on tech start-ups, but it can become a pocketbook for virtually any business creator.”

Start-up Money Made Easy by Maria Aspan

Author: Maria Aspan – an award-winning magazine writer and editor-at-large at Inc.

Year: 2019

Short overview

Can you manage your start-up money well?

Even if you have no doubts about it, you know that mistakes are inevitable. That’s why, when it comes to finances, you should be ready to avert the most dangerous situations and avoid pitfalls.

That’s what this guide is about. It will address all the financial concerns: from getting your business off the ground to offering attractive salaries and employee benefits.

Leader’s commentary

The book is recommended by Shawn Plummer, CEO of The Annuity Expert:

“The Inc.’s editorial team made the impossible in this book. It’s the best financial primer for start-ups.

Not without a good reason, Maria Aspan calls finance ‘the broccoli of running a business.’ At first glance, it nourishes businesses. At the same time, it often boils down to a floppy and pointless pile if addressed improperly. The author also  reveals the #1 start-up destroyer – cash flow issues.”

Surviving a Start-up by Steven Hoffman

Author: Steven Hoffman – CEO of Founders Space, the leading start-up accelerator in the world

Year: 2021

Short overview

How should you navigate the start-up’s minefields?

The author demonstrates the practical strategies that work and tells you what you should do exactly to bootstrap a business, approach recruitment, and scale up.

You’ll come across some illustrative examples of such companies as:

  • WhatsApp
  • Zendesk
  • Samsung
  • Casper
  • Oculus VR and others

Leader’s commentary

The book is recommended by Stephan Baldwin, Founder of Assisted Living:

“If you want to know how smart founders maximize success and minimize risks, this should be your go-to book.

It can help you to prepare for unpredictable obstacles and embrace the chaos of running a company. Aside from that, you should write your own rules because the existing ones can’t be universal for every entrepreneur. I entirely agree with the author on this matter and develop the Ancient Language Institute relying on our specific needs and unique approaches to teaching languages.”

Building Great Start-up Teams by Dean Hume

Author: Dean Hume – software developer and blogger

Year: 2016

Short overview

Did you know that with over 25,000 new tech jobs appearing every year in London, merely 2,400 students choose tech-specific courses?

Dean Hume explains what it means for tech start-ups and opens your eyes to the ever-changing landscape of recruitment, not only in the technology sector.

He leads you through the four stages of recruiting:

  • Planning
  • Attracting
  • Selecting
  • Retaining

If you want to hire a team smoothly in today’s digital era, grab this book.

Leader’s commentary

The book is recommended by Jesse Hanson, Content Manager at Online Solitaire & World of Card Games:

“Need a deep insider’s perspective on start-up team building? Dean Hume, a tech lead and game developer at Microsoft, gives you just that.

It’s also an insightful read on start-up culture as a concept and as a practical implementation in the company. It isn’t only about pizza Wednesdays or board game Fridays. It’s formed out of the collective attitudes and beliefs of your employees. Reading this book will help you to build the greatest company culture for your start-up.

Happy teams = better products.

This formula from the book is engraved in my mind now.”

Start-up: Thirty-Six Lessons from Company Founders and CEOs by Tim Jackson

Author: Tim Jackson – CEO Coach at Walking Ventures

Year: 2020

Short overview

How can you lower the cost of trial and error in business?

By reading these 36 how-tos and taking action.

Tim Jackson starts with the importance of co-founders and CEOs for a start-up and ends with time management hacks. In between, he instructs you on raising funds, hiring and firing at scale, creating your company’s mission statement, managing teams, negotiating salaries, etc.

Leader’s commentary

The book is recommended by Jason Alvarez-Cohen, CEO of Popl:

“It tops my list of books about start-ups. Why? Because it prepares a business owner or co-founder for literally anything: qualifying investors, closing the work-ethic gap, implementing OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), escaping the email jail, and many more!

It has become my tablebook for building an online business, recruiting highly-skilled professionals, and delivering the best e-learning content for our target audience.”

And Some More Start-ups Books

Love reading?

Here are some more start-up books for founders & entrepreneurs:

Hopefully, these books will quench your hunger.

They will also assist you in kickstarting your business and driving it to success.

And since I started this article with reference to The Lean Start-up by Eric Ries, let me finish it with one of my favorite quotes from this book:

“Reading is good; action is better.”

James, CEO Cavelo
recovery start up
Plant growing out of a pile of cash representing Start up Capital

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