In this day and age, it has become increasingly difficult to sift through saturated reading list recommendations and formulaic how-to pieces, which claim to inspire and evoke an innovative approach for success in the start-up realm.
Over the past three months, I have read approximately 30 entrepreneurial/start-up works that were all critically acclaimed, hand selected by innovative CEOs, or curated by top business blogs.
I have come to realize that many of these books are redundant, dry and favor their marketing dollars and cover page to the content within. Subsequently, I found it quite vital to list those that have altered my perception about entrepreneurs, induced a deep fire within and truly impacted my life. Enjoy!
“Rework” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
“Rework” completely debunks the dogma, which first-time entrepreneurs buy into upon starting a business. Forget business plans, outside investors, staffing assumptions and tedious step-by-step processes; this book instead provides an innovative and incredibly profound approach for finding a niche, cutting the fat and delivering a product or service.
“The Start-Up Playbook” by David S. Kidder
In “The Start-Up Playbook,” Kidder interviews hundreds of glorified founders asking them about their path to success and how they managed to build their multi-million (or billion) dollar enterprises. The book is divided into mini chapters and offers invaluable advice on how to avoid pitfalls, scale responsibly, develop quality products, find innovative solutions and target the right audience.
“Trust Me, I’m Lying” by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the Director of Marketing for American Apparel and was the key strategist behind bestselling authors Tucker Max and Robert Greene. His devious and incredibly powerful methods of manipulating blogs, newspapers and the media have demonstrated his keen ability to build multi-million dollar viral marketing campaigns. He has revolutionized guerrilla marketing and breaks down the necessary components to replicate his success in “Trust Me, I’m Lying.”
“Tribes” by Seth Godin
“Tribes” is an invigorating quick read that delves into the importance of developing and leading tribes. Whether it is an Internet start-up, an activist group, or simply a shared hobby, the ability to bring large groups of people together has been instrumental in all revolutionary successes throughout time. Godin champions the inception of passionate tribes and how individuals now, more than ever, can come together by leveraging the power of the Internet.
“Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh
In “Delivering Happiness,” Hsieh discusses his experience quitting Oracle and founding both LinkExchange and Zappos. While most people would buy their own yacht and retire after a 240 million-dollar acquisition from Microsoft, Hsieh decides to double down on the service-oriented Zappos and almost loses everything in the process. His story has become folklore in the start-up world, and I highly suggest reading and re-reading this piece.
“Made To Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
“Made To Stick” is a powerful recipe for developing ideas, products and marketing campaigns that truly stick with the mind of the consumer. Their SUCCES(s) theory is quite persuasive and serves as a great checklist when starting your business. The Heath brothers convey the importance of using Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional Stories and how this process fundamentally results in a viral product.
“The $100 Startup” by Chris Guillebeau
“The $100 Startup” is a great read for those of you still unsure about what type of venture you want to pursue. Chris follows the life of accidental entrepreneurs who tend to start their businesses with under $100. From online Etsy stars to mattress distributors, this book is a unique approach on starting a small business and truly bootstrapping.
“Steal Like An Artist” by Austin Kleon
In “Steal Like An Artist,” Kleon crafts a beautiful, design oriented, profound perspective on how to take advantage of great ideas and make them your own. Keep in mind that he does not simply advocate stealing great work; rather, this easy read illustrates how to steal creatively, while still remaining true to your own ideas and innovations.
“Start Something That Matters” by Blake Mycoskie
In this engaging piece, Mycoskie discusses the inception of Tom’s Shoes and how a quick trip to Argentina resulted in the revolutionary business model of One for One. He strongly advocates the importance of the double bottom line and creating a business that is both profitable and socially responsible. I strongly recommend this book, as it is both eye opening and builds perspective for any budding entrepreneur.
“The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell
In this highly respected classic, Gladwell portrays the process in which an idea, trend, or social behavior reaches a certain trigger and becomes a viral sensation. For anyone trying to develop an innovative marketing campaign, create word of mouth buzz, or simply trying to stand out in the saturated space of both tech and consumer-oriented start-ups, this is a must read.