As startup founders or B2B entrepreneurs, our ability to out-learn and out-pace the competition is one of our main competitive advantages.
15 Startup Books I wish I’d Read Before my First Startup:
- Behind the Cloud – Marc Benioff
The founder of Salesforce helped create Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and the Cloud as we know it. Not only is Behind the Cloud a great book on guerilla marketing and B2B entrepreneurship, it’s also very 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-read for B2B 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 on the market. A good read with enough depth to help guide quite a few important product management decisions.
- Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days – Jessica Livingston
Interviews with some of the leading (and most successful) tech entrepreneurs written by one of the co-founders of Y-Combinator. Founders at Work is one of the best books on startups.
- Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products – Nir Eyal, Ryan Hoover
The book you want to read if you work 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 framework 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 get 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”. The Lean Startup is also one of the best selling startup books.
- 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 never took the time to read this great book.
- Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions – Dan Ariely
Fascinating book on social experiments that can be leveraged for growth marketing. You’ll learn a lot from this book.
- 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 investment.
- The Innovator’s Dilemma – Clay M. Christensen
A book on disruption, incumbents, and finding new opportunities for products. You’ve certainly heard of the milkshake story from this startup 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 this book is really worth reading. The author takes us on a crazy ride.
- Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers – Gabriel Weinberg, Justin Mares
Although Traction is a little thin in terms of tactical marketing insights, its framework is a great way to challenge your company’s marketing channel assumptions and find the right marketing strategy for your business.
How about you? What are your must-read startup books for B2B founders? What are the best books for startup entrepreneurs? Tweet at @LeanB2B.
I hope you find as much value reading the best startup books as I have.
More on Startup Books
- The 9 Best Innovation Books for Innovators, Entrepreneurs & Intrapreneurs
- Why B2B Founders Need to Read Crossing the Chasm Before Starting Up
- 24 Things You Can Learn Reading Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want
⚡⚡ Enjoyed this content? I go into way more detail on this subject in Lean B2B. It covers the ins and outs of finding traction in the market for B2B products. Check it out »
Download the First 6 Chapters for Free
This sampler covers the differences between B2B and Business-to-Customer (B2C) product-market validation, shows you how to define your vision for success, find early adopters, select market opportunities and assess a venture's risk. Download The First 6 Chapters Today »