The Top 20 Books That Every Startup Founder Should Read

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The Top 20 Books That Every Startup Founder Should Read

The Top 20 Books That Every Startup Founder Should Read

Being a startup founder, hardly you have time to start looking for the best working books, reading reviews of all, and figuring out which would help you to succeed in the vast business world.

Either you are or planning to be a startup founder or you’ are an entrepreneur with experience, you should never stop your upgrading and development. The best way to get new and authentic information is through a book.

So, here is a list of The Top 20 Books That Every Startup Founder Should Read. All these books are often written and recommended by successful entrepreneurs. By following their insights on the results and setbacks, you can too lead your startup to success.

There is no alternative that if you want to learn more, you have to read more.

As there is no perfect idea, nor any perfect book for the sure success, but it’s you who apply them uniquely and get the unexpected results. Yet these books can inspire, explain, and suggest you.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get dive into the elixir of The Top 20 Books That Every Startup Founder Should Read.

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”

-Henry David Thoreau

1. Creativity Inc.

Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull

The author Ed Catmull is the co-founder of Pixar Animation and currently the President of both Pixar and Disney Animation.

In this book Creativity Inc., he tells the story of Pixar from his own perspective as the founder and President of the company. Here he’s given insights into the challenges of growth and change by ensuring that organization and product truly reflect the values of the company.

Here you can learn the ideas and techniques that made the company so profitable and popular. You’ll get the inspiration and tactics for your own work environment by learning how it’s done regarding Pixar. There are so many unconventional leadership and management styles. But they can be effective for you as it was for them.

Worth Reading Post- 11 Inspiring Success Stories: From Rest to Best

2. Zero to One

Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

Actually, the book is compiled from the notes of a startup course by Peter Thiel. He has been a powerhouse in the entrepreneurial space for decades and had a close friendship with President Trump.

Here he begins with the contrarian assertion that it’s the age of technological stagnation and we’re highly distracted by shiny mobile devices. Though information technology has improved rapidly, there is no practical reason why progress is limited to computers or Silicon Valley.

According to him, progress can be achieved in any industry or business. But the most important skill that every leader must master is learning to think for yourself.

The notes were revised and reformed for a larger number of audience by covering the idea of progressive thinking. He encourages the readers not to reinvent old business ideas and jump to the next realm of invention.

3. The Lean Startup

How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

The author Eric Ries himself used those Lean Startup principles to grow his own company, IMVU. He scaled it from a fledgling startup to a business with an annual turnover of $50 million.

In this book, you’ll quickly get to learn what your customers really want and can adapt based on the results. Thus, you can do this before you run out of money.

The Lean Startup approach is the idea of doing away with elaborate business plans. If this intrigues you, you may want to read Eric Ries tell-all book about this theory. It focuses on lessons learned from lean manufacturing and covers topics such as rapid scientific experimentation, shortened development cycles, and measuring actual progress.

This may help companies shift direction smoothly, without cumbersome framework reworking. The author posits that treating their startup like an experiment makes more sense.

4. The $100 StartUp

Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau

The author believes that you should be able to make a living by following your own passions. In his book the $100 Startup, he details how he achieved this dream, and guides you the same.

This book is composed of the concept of having a smaller investment. Just like $100 and utilizing it in the very best way to fund your entrepreneurial project. If you are planning to open a small business with a simple business plan, this is something that may interest you.

5. The Checklist Manifesto

How to get things right by Atul Gawande

Though, it is human nature. As we always strive for the betterment. A better education, better skill-set, better opportunity, better job, better income… and better many more. But still, we fail. Atul Gawande made a compelling argument in the book stating that we can do better using the simplest methods with the simplest skill sets.

Through the numerous analogies, thoughts, inspirational stories, and thought-provoking incidences in his book. The author narrates how checklists can help us to improve better. It brings out a striking change in our mindset, life, perspective, and the field of work. And that craving for ‘better’ isn’t always gonna work.

6. Explosive Growth

A Few Things I Learned While Growing To 100 Million Users – And Losing $78 Million by Cliff Lerner

This narrative by the author Cliff Lerner gives you a playbook on Lerner’s experience being the founder of a popular online dating startup.

He explained here how he handled explosive growth, startup life, setbacks, and entrepreneurship in general.

This compelling and inspiring book provides you a step-by-step playbook to achieve explosive growth, combining lively and hilarious storytelling, proven tactics with numerous case-studies. This aims to help your startup achieve explosive growth.

By considering his perspectives and startup insights, you can even learn from some of his mistakes too.

7. The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz

Ben Horowitz brings shares his knowledge in the book The Hard Thing About Hard Things. One of the most advice-heavy books. In the opinion of some readers say this book is almost like having a startup mentor to help you make the crucial decisions for your business to reach the top.

Ben gives you foundational advice regarding building and running a startup. As most of these topics are either not being covered in the standard business school curriculum.

They include development, management, investments, selling, buying, supervision, and any more. It’s an easy to read approach that’s filled with lots of expert advice based on the author’s own experiences.

8. Hooked

How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

If you’re a startup founder and want to understand and acknowledge the engaging users. If so, then this one is for you. The book Hooked outlines how emotions can drive one’s behavior, and how to get users hooked. This is one of the major secrets discussed in this book.

The premise involves building a Hook Model that eventually creates a viral loop. The book is mainly focused on app development and social strategy, but still, it can also help startups struggling with general product development.

9. Founders at Work

Stories of Startups’ Early Days by Jessica Livingston

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

What led them to this change? How did they manage to convince investors for their ideas? Did they make it some mistakes? If yes, how did they recover from those?

Founders at Work is a kind of collection of interviews with the founders of top tech companies answering these questions to guide the path for new startups.

10. The Four Steps to the Epiphany

Successful strategies for products that win by Steve Blank

This classic book, The Four Steps to the Epiphany is indispensable for startups and new corporate ventures too. Steve Blank guides you through his 4-step process of customer development.

The book offers a handful of instructions on how to go about customers, conversions, sales, and marketing. It helps you in building your company at different stages of your business.

These steps will also help you to uncover flaws in business plans and products before they become costly mistakes of your career.

11. The E-Myth Revisited

Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber

The book, the E-Myth, by Michael Gerber, is one of the highly recommended books for people who want to start a business. Believe me, if you’re planning to start your own business, you must read this book at least once.

Might be the writing style is not that engaging. The E-Myth Revisited guides you with the steps you should take when creating a new business or startup.

Gerber’s insight in this book, helps you grow your business in productive and unpredictable ways.

12. Crossing the Chasm

Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore

If you want to read the bible for bringing tech products to excessively larger markets? Crossing the Chasm is the right book for you.

The book provides you the new insights into the realities of high-tech marketing involving the special emphasis on the internet. It is a must-read for everyone with a stake in the world’s most exciting marketplaces.

This is one of the highly recommended books for every founder. The book goes well beyond the classic theory and challenging the fundamental idea by introducing the ‘chasm’.

13. Start Something That Matters

By Blake Mycoskie

It can be the highest motivation for any startup with a less budget to learn from a man who’ve never worn shoes but started the fastest-growing footwear company.

Blake Mycoskie shares his own experiences of how he built a multi-billion company in less than just ten years. Thus, he has brought a new business model of success in the book: Start Something That Matters.

Yeah, the concept is simple but so powerful. In the case of TOMS, they give a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair of shoes they sell.  One for one.

I’m too a huge fan of this concept of social business. As it for-profit business where the main goal of the company is not to put money in the pockets of the shareholders, but rather to make the world a better and beautiful place.

14. The 7 Day Startup

You Don’t Learn Until You Launch by Dan Norris

The author Dan Norris reveals his secrets of sustainable cash flowing business that was just made in seven days, in his book the 7-Day Startup.

Dan Norris believed that it takes a long time and a lot of money to build any startup.  But he tried something different and got results.

In his book, Norris explains how a series of business failures by following the traditional advice concerning launching a business made him question its logic.

Being frustrated by these traditional methods, he tried something unique and different. He focused on making money by eliminating waste and set a deadline of 1 week to launch a new business idea.

That business was WP Curve, which is a WordPress technical support subscription service that allows unlimited WordPress support. The WPCurve became a roaring success.

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

15. The Startup Owner’s Manual

The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

Having clear and easy explanations with clear outlines and instructions, this book may be a good option for you to get a start.

It contains almost everything you need to know to build your company. It includes nine deadly sins that can destroy the chances of your success, business model canvas for startup hypotheses, and lets you identify them. Thus, you can apply customer development methods to bring concepts to life.

The book also includes checklists, graphs, charts, infographics, and diagrams to help scale your company and profits to the top. The book works best if you want to start a business but don’t know how to start first.

16. Never Too Late to Startup

How Mid-Life Entrepreneurs Create Wealth, Freedom & Purpose by Rob Kornblum

Is it possible to break free from the corporate race?

Most of the employees at the beginning and in the middle of the career often think this the $100M question.

The book Never Too Late to Startup by venture capitalist Rob Kornblum is one of the best books for entrepreneurs or startups. The book answers the above question by interviewing more than a dozen of mid-life founders.

This book proved to be a great business book for entrepreneurs who seek the answer of how you can find a great idea, how you can lower the risk of starting a business, and how you can get ideal co-founders for your business.

17. The Third Wave

The classic study of tomorrow by Alvin Toffler

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

Here the insights on the importance of entrepreneurship are provided and a roadmap for future innovators. It is considered to be one of the best books on entrepreneurship.

18. The 4-Hour Workweek

Escape 9-5, live anywhere and join the reach by Timothy Ferriss

The book, 4-hour workweek is a documentation of how Timothy escaped himself from his own organization in order to learn and travel the whole world. This book put him in the limelight.

In this book, the Pareto principle or the 80/20 rule, is given importance. Most people measure productivity by the amount of time they spend working.  But, that’s not a good indicator. The author suggests that we should be more effective rather than being efficient.  For this, we need to focus and execute 20% of our tasks, in order to get 80% of the results.

I found it to be one of the best business books for entrepreneurs and you too should dive through it at least once.

19. Success Is in Your Sphere

Leverage the Power of Relationships to Achieve Your Business Goals by Zvi Band

The book Success is in Your Sphere is a step-by-step guide on how you can leverage the power of relationships to your business’s best advantage.

Here the author has revealed that the most cost-effective and high-return strategy to new, referral, or recurring business is through your existing professional network which won’t comprise your social media friends, followers, or connections.

The book provides the best value in the Capital strategy of relationship-building tactics. Those are:

  1. Consistency: Developing healthy habits to build stronger relationships.
  2. Aggregate: Building a database of the professional circle.
  3. Prioritize: Ordering on the basis of who can help.
  4. Investigate: Collecting information on the most important things.
  5. Timely Engagement: Designing a steady outreach flow.
  6. Adding Value: Offering more than simple follow-ups.
  7. Leverage: Executing more effectively.

20. Building a StoryBrand

Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller

The author shares the seven universal elements of powerful stories in his book Building a StoryBrand to teach how you can improve your methods to connect with your customers and grow your businesses even further.

His process is considered to be a solution to the struggle many businessmen usually face. His revolutionary method of connecting with customers provides the ultimate competitive advantage itself. The secret of helping customers understand the compelling benefits of using your products has been revealed in it.

Whether you’re an owner of a multibillion-dollar company or the founder of a fresh startup. This business book is definitely going to change the way you’re presenting yourself and the value you can offer to your customers.


  1. Dear publisher, it is an awesome post containing all the awesome books. I have read two of them Lean Startup and Zero to one. Thanks for sharing the lovely post. My favorites are Perennial Seller and millionaire success habits.


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