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The Complete Startup Reading List

Launching a startup is no small feat; if you’ve got one in the works, surely you know there’s plenty of hard work and a very real possibility of failure ahead of you. But you can stack the odds in your favor by taking advantage of all of the great resources available to startups these days, including a vast library of helpful readings. We’ve compiled this list to share what we believe to be some of the most important books for startups of any kind. We encourage you to check them out, and note any of your favorites we may have left out in the comments.
  1. Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur

    If you’re stuck in a corporate job you hate, Pamela Slim’s book offers some encouragement for breaking free and creating your own startup. Find helpful advice and support for making a transition from corporate slave to successful entrepreneur.
  2. Startup Weekend: How to Take a Company from Concept to Creation in 54 Hours

    If you want to get on the fast track to realizing your startup dream, Startup Weekend has some great advice. Check out this book to learn about the successful strategies that have helped other startups get off the ground in record time.
  3. Rework

    This business book stands traditional advice on its head, explaining why plans are harmful, as are outside investors, and even why you should just ignore your competition. Save your time, energy, and resources by taking the different path to success that’s outlined in Rework.
  4. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t

    At the very beginning, it’s not always clear whether or not your startup is going to take off, but this book attempts to identify some of the hallmarks of companies that make the leap into success. Read Good to Great to find out about some of the most important determinants of greatness that you need to put to work in your startup.
  5. The Tipping Point

    Malcolm Gladwell’s book offers an exploration on how ideas, trends, and products reach a tipping point to find success. Be sure to check out this book for insight into how you can successfully sell your product or idea.
  6. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant

    This book explains how success can come from finding your “blue ocean”: a market space that’s previously been untapped, and is ready to take on growth. Read Blue Ocean Strategy to find out how you can identify your own blue ocean and skip the hassle of crowded markets.
  7. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

    What makes companies truly outstanding and strong enough to last the test of time? Built to Last answers that question, examining some of the most visionary companies of our time to find out what makes them tick and continue to prosper, sharing lessons that you can put to work in your startup.
  8. Startups Open Sourced

    Get inspired by the interviews of 33 startup founders in this book, as they discuss how everything got started. From choosing cofounders to raising capital to overcoming failure, there are lessons for startups every step of the way in this book.
  9. Start Small Finish Big: Fifteen Key Lessons to Start and Run Your Own Successful Business

    Author Fred DeLuca shares his experience as the young founder of the Subway restaurant chain, highlighting the most important principles for starting a small business. Read along to find inspiration as well as instruction for getting started.
  10. The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business

    Clayton Christensen’s book explains how companies miss out on potential new waves of innovation, and explains how startups can take advantage of “disruptive innovation.” Some of the lessons include: times when you should not listen to customers and when you should go after smaller markets instead of larger ones.
  11. Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model

    Getting to Plan B encourages startups to realize that business plans often change, and in fact, your success as a startup depends on your ability to do just that. Read this book to find out how to stress test your Plan A and reconfigure it for success.
  12. Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works

    Running Lean aims to help startups avoid the waste of time, money, and effort of creating the wrong product. Find out how to find a problem worth solving, continually test your product, and know when to change course.
  13. Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup

    Based on lessons from the TechStars mentorship startup program, this book offers practical advice for getting your startup off the ground. Discussions include fundraising, work-life balance, and even legal issues.
  14. So You Want To Be An Entrepreneur: How to decide if starting a business is really for you

    The startup life certainly sounds exciting from afar, but once it becomes a reality for you, it might not seem so glamorous. So You Want To Be An Entrepreneur explains what it’s really like before you make the leap, and how you can give yourself the best chance of success as an entrepreneur.
  15. Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days

    Just like Startups Open Sourced, Founders at Work offers an inside look into how famous startups got off the ground. Read the interviews of founders to see what it was like when they were just friends with a lot of hope and a few great ideas.
  16. My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley

    Ben Casnocha has incredible insight into making a business work. He began his career as an entrepreneur at the age of 12, and has learned many lessons since then, which he gladly shares in this book. Read My Start-Up Life to find wisdom from Casnocha, his mentors, clients, and fellow entrepreneurs when it comes to launching a startup of your very own.
  17. The Thank You Economy

    Gary Vaynerchuk’s book discusses the “empowerment of the common consumer” and how businesses can take advantage of this opportunity. Read this book to find out how you can make caring about your customers central to your startup’s success.
  18. Mastering the VC Game: A Venture Capital Insider Reveals How to Get from Start-Up to IPO on Your Terms

    If you’re afraid of bringing in investors and watching your startup run away from you, Mastering the VC Game can offer some useful advice. Read this book to find out how to create a successful partnership that works well for all parties involved.
  19. The Monk and the Riddle: The Art of Creating a Life While Making a Living

    It can be difficult to find a balance between work and life when you’re trying to get a startup off the ground. For help in finding that balance, The Monk and the Riddle offers an effective guide for making your work meaningful and fulfilling, not just profitable.
  20. Lucky or Smart?: Fifty Pages for the First-Time Entrepreneur

    Some successful startups are lucky, some of them are smart. But author Bo Peabody says that most are just smart enough to know when they are lucky. Learn from his experiences to know how to make the most out of lucky situations in your startup.
  21. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

    Is your idea bound to create success, or shrivel up and die? Find out what makes ideas “sticky” and apply the principles of making ideas stickier.
  22. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

    This book presents the idea that instead of taking on wildly uncertain ventures, startups can create a system that allows them to test, adapt, and adjust their vision on a continual basis. Learn about lessons in experimentation, shortened product development cycles, and “validated learning” in The Lean Startup.
  23. The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products That Win

    For anyone developing a product, consider this guidebook. You’ll learn about the essential steps for successfully organizing a business based around a new product, as well as insight into what builds both success and failure in a business.
  24. The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything

    Venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki’s book offers a basic manual for getting started in any type of business. A particular strength of this book is Kawasaki’s insight into raising capital and interviewing employees.
  This article was first posted in Online MBA.

This is an article contributed to Young Upstarts and published or republished here with permission. All rights of this work belong to the authors named in the article above.

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