Small Business & Startups

Top 5 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read

By August 28, 2015 No Comments
top books for entrepreneurs
One of the most common traits among leaders is that most of them are very well read.  Some studies show that the top CEOs read up to 60 books each year.  While I’m not reading as much as most of these leaders, I am trying my best to be as well read as I can as I have found that it not only spurs creative ideas for my business, but it also serves as a mental fitness and relaxation method.  When my reading habits are good, I have better ideas and sleep better at night.  When I’m switching out TV or social media for reading, I feel less rested and have less clarity of thought.  So I thought I’d share five books that have been important to me that I think other entrepreneurs would benefit from reading.

Top Books for Entrepreneurs

“Good To Great” – Jim Collins: This has been the book that I’ve leaned on most during my business career.  The insights and examples are incredibly clear and I love the amount of research and data that is used to support Collins’ points.  The most helpful part of the book for me, personally, was learning that the great leaders were not the ego-driven celebrity CEOs, but the more humble team-driven leaders.  This concept was instrumental in building my confidence in knowing that I can be an effective leader without trying to make myself into something that I’m not.
“The Innovators Dilemma” – Clay Christensen: Every entrepreneur and startup uses the term “disruption” as part of their daily language.  And this book is where that term originated.  Christensen is a long-time and much-beloved professor at HBS, who wrote this book almost 20 years and while some of the examples may be a bit dated, they’re still incredibly relevant today.  As entrepreneurs, we can feel over-matched by much larger competitors, but Christensen’s book will help you see where we, as smaller startups, have some distinct advantages over our larger rivals in creating disruptive technology.  Also, check out Christensen’s Ted Talk on “How Will You Measure Your Life?”…. great stuff.
“The 4-Hour Work Week” – Tim Ferriss: Just for full disclosure, I’m a big Tim Ferriss fanboi.  I listen to his podcast every week, I’ve watched his new TV series, and I subscribe to his email newsletter (and I normally despise that stuff).  And it all started with “The 4-Hour Work Week”.  Don’t let the title fool you, as the book is really about hyper-productivity and not about slacking off.  As entrepreneurs, all of us are looking to squeeze more productivity out of finite amounts of time and I promise this book will help you think of new ways to do exactly that in your business.  Really fun and informative read that will motivate you to be scrappier.
“The Four Steps To The Epiphany” – Steve Blank: Like Clay Christensen, Blank is an amazing professor at an amazing university (Stanford), that I’m not smart enough to get into.  Thankfully these guys write books and put out great content.  Blank, and guys like Eric Ries, helped introduce the concept of the “lean startup” to the rest of the world proving that you didn’t have to spend massive amounts of capital to get ideas off the ground and operating as sustainable companies.  What this book taught me most was to have the courage to “get out of the building” and get obsessive about customer development.  The cost of spending 6 months to build a product without any customer feedback is MUCH higher than the cost of a customer telling you that they wouldn’t buy a product that you haven’t built yet.
“Predictable Revenue” – Aaron Ross: I had heard of Ross’ book from friends of mine that were founders of SaaS startups, but I initially made the mistake of thinking that it wasn’t applicable to a business like ours that wasn’t a software company.  After reading the book, however, I saw numerous possibilities to make improvements to our sales function.  Most notably, the book helped me to become extremely focused on making sales a repeatable process where we “fed ourselves” (through consistent inside sales deal flow) instead of “begging from others” (waiting on referral partners to tee up deals for us).  This book really helped spark a passion in me for building a better sales function….so much so that I even got to speak at the Rainmaker Conference this past year!  Very cool for a guy who knew almost nothing about building a sales function a year before.
I hope this list of books will be helpful to some of you other entrepreneurs out there.  If you find yourself feeling short of time to read, think about multi-tasking and listening to audio books while you’re commuting or working out as a way to get a few more books “read”.  You can also find free ebooks on many topics, like ours that helps you scale your growing startup into a Tech Empire. I’d love to hear more of your favorites so that I can add them to my reading list, so please comment below with your favorite books. 

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