10 Books Every New Entrepreneur Should Read
In a digital world, it’s the norm to source knowledge from podcasts, YouTube videos, a quick blog post or the occasional TedTalk. In fact, it’s convenient — so convenient that many of us don’t take the time to pick up a book anymore. As a result, there’s a lot of great business knowledge that stays stuck in between the pages.
Did you know that some of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time are avid readers? Take Warren Buffet for example. He said that reading 500 pages a day was the key to his success — “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.”
Most of us don’t have the bandwidth to read that much a day, but there’s a lesson to be learned in this:
Reading expands your knowledge base, gives you exposure to new ideas and changes your modes of thinking.
Of course, with millions of entrepreneurship and business books out there, just figuring out where to start can be a challenge in and of itself. Just sifting through reviews to discern quality from fluff is a task in and of itself. With that in mind, the startup insurance company, Embroker, put together a guide of the best startup books broken down into three categories: growth hacking and scaling, books to read before pitching VCs, and entrepreneurship and startup stories.
Here are ten books from their guide that should go on your reading list.
1. If You’re in a Dogfight, Become a Cat!
In this book Columbia University professor, Leonard Sherman, discusses how businesses often find themselves trapped in a competitive dogfight, scratching and clawing for market share with products consumers view as largely undifferentiated.
Sherman talks about how businesses can differentiate themselves by continuously renewing their distinctive strategies to compete on their own terms — e.g. becoming a “cat.”
Who it’s geared towards: A wide range of audiences ranging from MBA students to upper management.
Author, Shane Snow, covers the commonly asked question “How do some startups go from zero to billions in a matter of months?”
In 277 pages, Snow analyzes the lives of people and companies that do incredible things in an implausibly short amount of time, highlighting topics like how to hack the corporate ladder, why every entrepreneur needs a mentor, and the value of negative feedback.
Who it’s geared towards: Innovators and founders
3. Bargaining for Advantage
At its core this is your go-to guide for learning how to negotiate. While the author, G. Richard Shell, breaks down negotiation into an easy-to-understand process that any founder can apply to their startup’s negotiations, these lessons can also be applied to advancing your career, negotiating a raise and more.
The book dives into the six foundations of bargaining: style, goals and expectations, standards and norms, relationships, the other party’s interests, and leverage. Combined, Shell, explains how these elements make up effective negotiation and how to put them into action.
Who it’s geared towards: Leadership, professionals, founders
4. The Art of the Pitch
The Art of the Pitch has long been praised as a guide to persuasion and presentation skills that win businesses.
Author Peter Coughter uses an engaging and humorous narrative to present the tools he designed to help advertising and marketing professionals develop persuasive presentations. It’s a must read for anyone who wants to learn how to effectively deliver a presentation, whether it’s your 9-5 job or you’re a founder who’s preparing to pitch venture capitalists.
Who it’s geared towards: Entrepreneurs, founders, business professionals
5. The Power of Broke
For all the Shark Tank fans out there, this one’s for you. “The Power of Broke” by Daymond John how being broke can actually be your greatest competitive advantage as an entrepreneur.
He also covers lessons from dozens of entrepreneurial hustle stories including some behind the scenes insight from the show Shark Tank.
Who it’s geared towards: Founders, entrepreneurs and anyone on the hustle
6. Radical Candor
In Radical Candor, Kim Scott offers up a framework for bosses and managers to improve their feedback by both caring personally and challenging directly at the same time. Essentially, this is about finding the sweet spot between aggressive management styles and pushover bosses.
Learn how to be a successful manager by retaining humanity, teaching employees to find meaning in their jobs, and creating an environment where people both love their work and their colleagues.
Who it’s geared towards: Founders, management, employees
Authors Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson outline why cookie-cutter business plans and traditional advice can actually harm your startup. They challenge the premise that business is a one-size-fits-all approach.
So if you’re looking for a way to shake things up at your business and acquire some counterintuitive ideas that will provoke the status quo, this is a must read.
Who it’s geared towards: Entrepreneurs, MBA student, marketing teams
8. The Hard Thing About Hard Things
The Hard Thing About Hard Things goes beyond the excitement of launching a startup. In fact, it addresses the brutal truth about how hard it is to actually run one. Author Ben Horowitz tackles the real problems and challenges entrepreneurs face, from startup and personal hardships to moral dilemmas.
This is a great read. Especially if you’re feeling alone in the trenches with your business, while offering real life scenarios for how to address the everyday business challenges that arise.
Who it’s geared towards: Founders, entrepreneurs
9. The Checklist Manifesto
Even the most expert entrepreneurs struggle to master the tasks they face. No matter how much they strive to be better. In the Checklist Manifesto, author, Atul Gawande makes a compelling argument for using checklists to work through some of the most complicated business scenarios
In doing so, he helps entrepreneurs make the most of their skill sets and simplify their processes.
Who it’s geared towards: Entrepreneurs, business professionals
10. Business Model Generation
Business Model Generation uses research backed methods to help companies devise great strategic plans for a successful future. It highlights all the factors that determine the success and failure of businesses today.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur launching a startup or a business owner who has hit a stagnant point in a competitive environment, this a good read to help you identify problems and shake up the current processes.
Who it’s geared towards: Entrepreneurs, founder business owners
Ready . . . Set . . . Read!
If you’re getting ready to launch your own business, preparation is essential. An important part of that is absorbing the wisdom of successful professionals. So pick up some of your favorites we’ve recommended at Amazon and settle in for a weekend of enlightenment.