As a startup founder or B2B entrepreneur, your ability to out-learn and out-pace the competition is one of your main competitive advantages.
Here are 15 books I wish I’d read before my first startup:
- Behind the Cloud – Marc Benioff
The founder of Salesforce helped create SaaS and the Cloud as we know it. Not only is Behind the Cloud a great book on guerilla marketing and B2B, it’s also really entertaining.
- Blue Ocean Strategy – W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne
A great book on positioning, Blue Ocean Strategy introduced the concepts of « Red Oceans » for competitive markets and « Blue Oceans » for re-segmented markets.
- Crossing the Chasm – Geoffrey Moore
This is a must for B2B tech entrepreneurs. The ideas in Crossing the Chasm have been adopted by several entrepreneurial frameworks like The Lean Startup and Lean B2B.
- Don’t Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability – Steve Krug
Certainly the most accessible and entertaining book on product usability out there. A good read with enough depth to help guide quite a few important product decisions.
- Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days – Jessica Livingston
Interviews with some of the leading tech entrepreneurs written by one of the co-founders of Y-Combinator. Inspiring.
- Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products – Nir Eyal, Ryan Hoover
The book you want to read if you’re working on product engagement. Nir Eyal came up with the best definition for the habit-forming « Hooks » in most popular products. The ‘Trigger » Action » Variable Reward » Investment’ loop is an important idea for product design.
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert Cialdini
As much as Influence is a great book for sales, it’s also a great book for negotiation, marketing and any other kind of customer interaction. Influence is an important book.
- The Lean Startup – Eric Ries
The book that changed the way startups are built (and kick-started the Lean Startup movement). Unless you’re planning to go old-school and read Taiichi Ohno’s Toyota Production System, this is the first book you should read on « Lean ».
- Lean Analytics – Alistair Croll, Benjamin Yoskovitz
A great complement to The Lean Startup, Lean Analytics has brought us the idea of The One Metric That Matters, a key analytics concept for anyone interested in scaling a tech startup.
- Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die – Chip Heath, Dan Heath
A book on virality, but also communications. How do we communicate ideas simply to create word of mouth? Well-worth reading if you haven’t.
- Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions – Dan Ariely
Fascinating book on social experiments that can be leveraged for marketing purpose. This book will teach you a lot.
- The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
A « Black Swan » is an unexpected outcome that changes our definition of what is plausible. Although this book is not the easiest to read, it will help you understand probabilities, the laws of the market and venture capitalists. Well-worth the effort.
- The Innovator’s Dilemma – Clay M. Christensen
A book on disruptions, incumbents and finding opportunities for new products. You’ve certainly heard of the milkshake story from this book.
- The White Tiger: A Novel – Aravind Adiga
As the title says, this book is a novel. Through a series of letters written to the Chinese prime minister, we discover a fascinating Indian entrepreneur. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s worth reading.
- Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers – Gabriel Weinberg, Justin Mares
Although Traction is a little thin on tactical marketing insights, its framework is a great way to challenge your marketing channel assumptions and find the right marketing strategy for your business.
How about you? What are your must-read books for B2B entrepreneurs?
I hope you find as much value reading these books as I have.
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