No book can replace the real experience of managing your own company; however there are several lessons that are worth learning ahead of time. I often joke with my colleagues that I earned my “street MBA” via the business book section of Amazon.com. You can learn a tremendous amount simply by studying the leaders in your industry that have succeeded before you. The following book recommendations offer a starting point to help guide you through your entrepreneurial journey.
Becoming a Category of One
By Joe Calloway
Becoming a Category of One reveals how extraordinary companies succeed, and offers you the tools and ideas to help your business emulate their success. Packed with real case studies and personal reflections from successful business leaders, it helps you apply the best practices of the best companies to set yourself apart from your competitors and turn your business into a market leader.
Jason says: This book was instrumental in helping me identify new markets for Shoutlet. While every one of our competitors began to offer the same functions, we chose a different path. This book is uplifting and insightful. Use it for when you need to find your competitive edge.
It’s Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be: The World’s Best Selling Book
By Paul Arden
It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be is a handbook to make the unthinkable thinkable, and the impossible possible. The world’s top advertising guru, Paul Arden, offers up his wisdom on issues as diverse as problem solving, responding to a brief, communicating, playing your cards right, making mistakes and creativity, all notions that can be applied to aspects of modern life. This book provides a unique insight into the world of advertising into easy-to-digest, bite-sized spreads.
Jason says: I’ve made this book a required read for many new employees. My favorite takeaway is that most people don’t realize that the current job they are in could be the one that makes them famous. It teaches you to master your current role through a series of inspirational stories from the late Paul Arden, former Creative Director of one of the world’s leading advertising agencies. Use this book if you are searching for meaning in your current job.
Think and Grow Rich
By Napoleon Hill
Think and Grow Rich is a must for anyone wanting to improve their lives and their positive thinking. There have been more millionaires and indeed, billionaires, who have made their fortunes as a result of reading this success classic than any other book every printed. This is a true masterpiece with the fundamentals of the Success philosophy.
Jason says: I tell the “three feet from gold” story in this book all of the time to friends, employees, and other entrepreneurs. In this book you’ll discover that many people give up on their dreams due to a what is often a short-term setback. The stories in this book will give you confidence enough to stick with it as you’re probably only “three feet from gold.”
Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition
By W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
Written by the business world’s new gurus, Blue Ocean Strategy continues to challenge everything you thought you knew about competing in today’s crowded market place. Based on a study of 150 strategic moves spanning more than a hundred years and thirty industries, authors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne argue that lasting success comes from creating ‘blue oceans': untapped new market spaces ripe from growth. And the business world has caught on – companies around the world are skipping the bloody red oceans of rivals and creating their very own blue oceans.
Jason says: This book is a much more scientific take on the above Becoming a Category of One. It’s written by a couple Harvard professors, and I found it to be a dry read; but it is also very effective in helping to define your competitive differentiators. Often the answers are right in front of you, and this book will help you find them.
By Jason Fried
Rework shows you a better, faster, easier way to succeed in business. Read it and you’ll know why plans are actually harmful, why you don’t need outside investors, and why you’re better off ignoring the competition. The truth is, you need less than you think. You don’t need to be a workaholic. You don’t need to staff up. You don’t need to waste time on paperwork or meetings. You don’t even need an office. Those are all just excuses. What you really need to do is stop talking and start working. This book shows you the way. You’ll learn how to be more productive, how to get exposure without breaking the bank, and tons more counterintuitive ideas that will inspire and provoke you.
Jason says: This book proves that you can create a successful company without an endless supply of resources. I used this book with my product development team to help them continue to think like a startup as we grew. Read this before you go out to get a big round of funding, and it will humble you.
The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything
By Guy Kawasaki
A new product, a new service, a new company, a new division, a new organization, a new anything—where there’s a will, here’s the way. It begins with a dream that just won’t quit, the once-in-a-lifetime thunderbolt of pure inspiration, the obsession, the world-beater, the killer app, the next big thing. Everyone who wants to make the world a better place becomes possessed by a grand idea. But what does it take to turn your idea into action? Whether you are an entrepreneur, intrapreneur, or not-for-profit crusader, there’s no shortage of advice available on issues such as writing a business plan, recruiting, raising capital, and branding. In fact, there are so many books, articles, and Web sites that many startups get bogged down to the point of paralysis. Or else they focus on the wrong priorities and go broke before they discover their mistakes.
Jason says: This book taught me how to create a cadence to get our company marching to the same beat. I learned about mantras and the importance of communication in a fast growing company. Use this book to help create meaning for your company.
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
By Daniel H. Pink
Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake, says Daniel H. Pink (author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others). In this provocative and persuasive new book, he asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction-at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does—and how that affects every aspect of life. He examines the three elements of true motivation—autonomy, mastery, and purpose-and offers smart and surprising techniques for putting these into action in a unique book that will change how we think and transform how we live.
Jason says: This book changed the way I manage employees. A mid-level manager I was used to doing the tasks for my employees. As I became a CEO that strategy was no longer an option. Use this book to teach you how to empower your employees to become the extraordinary thought leaders that they are capable of becoming. Most people thrive on solving challenges. This book will show you how to lead your employees to greatness.
What is the best startup related book that you would recommend?