An Entrepreneurial Journey in Books

AN ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY IN BOOKS

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.
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The Four Steps to the Epiphany

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Steve Blank

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.

The Startup Owner's Manual

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Steve Blank

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.

Disciplined Entrepreneurship

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Bill Aulet

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.

Business Model Generation

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Alexander Osterwalder

An easy to understand, visual guide for creating a business model. This book introduces the Business Model Canvas, which is a tool for quickly and efficiently defining your business.

Running Lean

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Ash Maurya

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.

The Lean Startup

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Eric Ries

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.

Zero to One

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Peter Thiel

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.

Influence - The Psychology of Persuasion

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Robert B. Cialdini

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.

Trust Me, I'm Lying

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Ryan Holiday

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.

The Shallows

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Nicholas Carr

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.

The Dragonfly Effect

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Jennifer Aker, Andy Smith

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!

Crossing the Chasm

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Geoffrey A. Moore

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!

Blue Ocean Strategy

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W. Chan Kim

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.

Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers

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Gabriel Weinburg, Justin Mares

This book is a must read for any startup company. It outlines many of the top marketing techniques used in the modern age and puts forth a framework to use in building a successful campaign.

Inbound Marketing

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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.

Viral Loop

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Adam L. Penenberg

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.

Don't Make Me Think

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Steve Krug

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.

Above the Fold

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Brian Miller

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!

The Non-Designer's Design Book

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Robin Williams

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.

The Design of Everyday Things

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Don Norman

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.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

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Nir Eyal

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

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Chip & Dan Heath

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

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Rob Walling

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.

How to Create the Next Facebook

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Tom Taulli

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.

The Millionaire Fastlane

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MJ DeMarco

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!

How to Get Rich

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Felix Dennis

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!

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