These days most of us default to gaining information from podcasts, YouTube videos, social media, maybe a blog post or the occasional TedTalk. But there are some topics that need more than a quick 5 minute read or easy-to-digest video. If you want exposure to new ideas and more diverse knowledge, then picking up a book is important — especially when it comes to building a startup business.
In fact, some of the busiest and most successful people make the time to read.
When asked about the keys to success, Warren Buffett stated that he reads 500 pages every day — “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” It’s true, most of us won’t (don’t have the time to) tackle 500 pages a day, but he’s not alone in that sentiment.
Mark Cuban reads about 3 hours a day, explaining the value he finds in devoting time to books. “I feel like if I put in enough time consuming all the information available, particularly with the net making it so readily available, I can get an advantage in any technology business.”
Bill gates, the richest man in the world, read 50 books a year — that’s roughly one book a week. Elon Musk even taught himself to build rockets by reading.
You get the point. Reading is essential for entrepreneurs, especially for those looking to build a successful business. Of course, with millions of entrepreneurship and business books available to us, where do you even start? Not to mention it can take time to sift through reviews to discern quality from fluff.
Knowing this, the startup insurance company, Embroker, put together a guide of the best startup books to help point you in the right direction. These are specifically broken up into three categories: growth hacking and scaling, books to read before pitching VCs, and entrepreneurship and startup stories.
Growth Hacking Books
If you’re like most founders, scaling your business is top of mind. In other words, mastering marketing, product development, sales, and other areas are crucial in growth hacking. Books like Smartcuts by Shane Snow analyzes how some highly successful startups go from zero to billions in a matter of months. Additionally, this book shows how innovators and icons make strides by working smarter, not harder.
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries discusses a new, global approach that’s changing the way companies are built and new products are launched — lean startups. He’s advice looks at shortening product development cycles and overall how to build a company that’s more capitally efficient so you can stay ahead of your competitors.
Books to Read Before Pitching VCs
If you’re at the stage of where you need to raise capital (beyond what you’ve bootstrapped), then knowing how to pitch venture capitalists is a crucial component of moving the needle for your business.
Books like Venture Deals is an exhaustive guide that covers everything founders need to know about achieving successful funding, including how to understand venture capital deal structures and strategies.
Mastering the VC Game is written by a founder and venture capitalist, Jeffery Bussgang, who shares his experiences from both sides of the table. He teaches you how to choose the right investors and VC partners that will work with your vision while offering high-level insights and practical advice from some of the most successful players in the VC game.
Entrepreneurship and Startup Stories
Oftentimes, there are lessons to be learned from the stories of other startups. If anything, reading these can be encouraging to let you know you’ve not in the trenches alone. This section speaks to books that cover the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things is another book that addresses the brutal truth about how hard it can be to run a startup. From real problems and challenges entrepreneurs face to startup and personal hardships that happen during the process, author Ben Horowitz tackles these topics by pulling from his personal experiences.
Startupland is Mikkel Svane and Carlye Adler’s unconventional story of founding Zendesk in a Copenhagen loft, how they left secure jobs to start something of their own, and the company’s journey to launching on the NYSE. It’s a relatable story of risking it all and going for broke.
To learn what other books are in this reading guide, who the books are geared towards and important lessons from each, check out this full startup book list.