A couple of years ago, I began an interest in starting my own business. I had heard of some great books that might help me learn about about entrepreneurship so I bought my first one, "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries. Since then, I've been through 29 books ranging from business models to marketing to web design. These are my favorites.
The book that started the whole "lean" startup movement. Steve Blank defines the Customer Development process in this book, which became the basis of "lean" business development and can be applied across all industries, from manufacturing to the web. It proposes that companies use the scientific method to formulate business model hypotheses which must be proven if the company wishes to move forward and scale its marketing efforts.
In this book, Blank focuses on the first two steps of Customer Development: Customer Discovery and Customer Validation. The Startup Owner's Manual expands on Steve's first book, The Four Steps to the Epiphany by concentrating on an early company's strategy for getting to product-market fit.
A checklist of specific tasks to complete when starting a business. This book gives you tools and methods to perform each step and help you create a successful business. With Aulet's 24 step framework, entrepreneurs now have a step-by-step guide for creating a startup that understands its customers.
This book takes Eric Ries' "Lean Startup" and puts into into simple, actionable steps. My favorite part of this book was the section on customer interviews, where Maurya lays out how you should go about conducting a customer interview, what questions to ask, and what subtle signs to look for in their behavior. Excellent read.
As a student of Steve Blank, Eric Ries noticed similarities between Blank's teachings and the Japanese auto manufacturing industry. Toyota's production system is a great model for lean startups to follow in that it maximizes quality while simultaneously eliminating waste. Ries applies Customer Development to the software industry in this book to lay out one of the most influential ideas in the "lean" movement.
Peter Thiel is the founder of Paypal and one of the first investors in Facebook. I'd say he knows a little something about starting a business, wouldn't you? In this book, which is more philosophical in nature than technical, Thiel explains that you should always strive to be a monopoly - not only for your own company but for the good of the market (and the world over). Monopolies drive innovation and cause major upgrades to the world we live in.
I found this book very interesting and eye-opening. I don't have a psychology background so this book was almost 100% learning for me, and boy did I enjoy it! In it, you learn about human behavior and how we are basically forced into a decision without even knowing it. After reading each tactic, you immediately recognize what happened and wonder how you could have missed it! I highly recommend this one for anyone, not just for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Ryan Holiday works for major clients, drumming up media buzz for them in unorthodox but highly effective ways. In this book, he shares many of his methods which, no surprise, are underhanded and dirty. The book mainly focuses on how blogs, on a pinched budget of time and money, skip the fact-checking process and go straight to publishing mode. He explains how blogs feed off each other, spreading potentially false information like wildfire through the blogosphere. Definitely an eye-opening experience so pick this book up if you get a chance and prepare to be educated.
I learned so much about the human brain in this Pulitzer Prize finalist. Carr explains how our brains adapt to certain activities, making certain actions easier and more rewarding. This includes our consumption of information on the web. More and more, we are becoming accustomed to getting our information quickly and efficiently which is leading to a shift from learning through books and long exposure to learning on 140-character blurbs and tiny bits of information at a time.
This book is about garnering the support of a social following for your cause. It explains how a combination of focus, grabbing attention, engagement, and a call to action is unstoppable when deployed as a social media campaign. With real world examples and excellent readability, you will run through this book quickly and will enjoy it!
A staple in modern marketing, Moore teaches us about the four different customer types: early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. He explains that there is a considerable gap (or chasm) between the early adopters (those who are enthusiastic about your products) and the early majority. The book proposes a strategy for crossing that gap and entering mainstream market space with a plan. Very informative!
In this book, Kim proposes strategies and tools for creating new markets for your business. He (and coauthor Renee Mauborgne) studies the companies that create great leaps in value by creating "blue oceans" of uncontested market space. This makes competition irrelevant and creates value for the company as well as the consumer. A must-read in the world of marketing.
Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah, David Meerman Scott
This book explains how consumers are becoming more and more resistant to traditional advertising, such as billboards, TV commercials, cold-calls, etc.. The best way to reach customers now is by providing value. Give them something compelling, something that makes their lives easier or makes them feel better and you've won them over. Inbound Marketing preaches this and explains why it's effective - a great read.
A case study of viral companies over the course of the past half-century, this book tells the great stories of success fueled by viral growth. It explains viral coefficient and reviews strategies on how to maximize it. A fun read, it definitely got me thinking about how to create my own viral loop.
The is a must-read for all web designers. It teaches you all the crucial methods of designing a digital product. Steve Krug's bestseller makes you keep your designs simple while providing maximum value to the end user.
Another excellent read for designers, this gorgeous book describes methods for designing excellent pages, digital and non-digital. A slough of graphics on almost ever page help demonstrate the tactics outlined in the text. I find myself always going back this book to flip through its pages for inspiration!
Hands down the most informative book on digital design I've ever read. Short and to the point, Robin shows you the design basics in very easy to understand print and great supplementing images. While this book may not offer anything to an experienced designer, a novice will benefit greatly from its pages.
This book will change the way you view the environment you live in. Norman explains why products are designed the way they are and why a lot of them are designed poorly. Honestly, I've never thought about the design of a door before reading this book but I do now, and I also know why it's important to do so! I highly recommend this one for anyone who is interested in the world around them.
An excellent book on user retention for digital products. Eyal proposes the "Hook Model" which provides you with a framework for guiding a user's experience from the first time they interact with your product to the moment they are "hooked" on it. This book suggests that you can get users to keep coming back to your product by prompting them at the right moment with the right message and the right call to action. And once you've found the perfect investment a user can put into your product, you've got them hooked! An excellent, informative read!
Made to Stick explains how ideas of various sources with various messages "stick" in our minds. Why do we remember some advertisements but not others? This book answers this question and teaches you how to craft your own messages to "stick" in people's minds.
Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup
This book focuses on marketing a small, bootstrapped software startup. It takes into account the latest "lean" principles and assumes you won't be acquiring investment funding. Walling provides a step-by-step guide from testing your product idea to getting your first customers.
Following the success story of Facebook, this book walks you through the trials and tribulations a typical web company will face on its journey to IPO. I purchased this book not expecting much (I think the title could use some work to make it sound less gimmicky) but I was pleasantly surprised! I couldn't put it down! It gives us dreamers all the high-level information we want to hear about what owning a blockbuster company will be like.
This is one of my favorite books! If you go to work every day from 9 - 5, have a boss, and live an average (or below average) lifestyle, reading this book will change your life. You will never return to the original, status quo mindset you had before. That's because MJ DeMarco, self made millionaire, shares the painfully obvious (but socially shunned) facts of life. He explains how the 9 - 5 job never leads anywhere, how a paycheck is like cocaine, and the 401k you've been contributing to won't even help you out after you've finally worked enough to use it! DeMarco is brutally honest in his writing and doesn't hold any punches, which you may find difficult at times while reading. But the goal is to kick you in the rear end and spark your new journey to enlightenment. Read this...don't ask questions, just read it!
Felix Dennis (RIP) describes his rags-to-riches story and explains how you can do the same. Written in the same vein as one of my other recommendations, The Millionaire Fastlane, Dennis' honest, humorous approach to self-help will keep you turning the pages. I really enjoyed this book!