7 Business Books Every Company Founder Should Read
If you’re new to running your own business you’ve probably asked yourself “what do I need to know to create a successful company?”. Well, you’re not alone.
The experience of people creating companies has never been so diverse, yet most company founders unite under a single problem – they don’t start with the knowledge to create a successful company.
This is true whether you’re a teenager starting a business from your MacBook, or a seasoned engineer exploiting a new technology. Creating and growing your own business takes a special set of skills which few build during their career, therefore, it’s natural that most start with gaps in there knowledge.
As a founder, you’ve got an awesome job, but also a really hard job. The spark of inspiration which calls most entrepreneurs to arms is only the catalyst. Once you’re committed to turning your idea into a commercial opportunity the hard work starts. You have to build a product, generate demand, create a team, lead a team and keep the cash pumping. It’s like juggling with knives – which is fine if you’re expecting to juggle with knives.
In an ideal world, you would hire experts in every area of business to help you navigate the chasms of failure which lay between your idea and commercial success. This isn’t realistic for most founders. So what can you do?
There is one simple answer; listen to the people who have done it before you. Immerse yourself in books created by the people who have achieved the success you’re striving for.
There is no shortage of books claiming to hold the answer to business success. I know this because I’ve read many of them. Here are my recommendations for the top books every company founder should read.
by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
If you’ve spent your career in a corporate environment, prepare to have your mind blown by Rework.
Published in 2010 by digital entrepreneurs, Fried and Heinemeier Hansson, Rework is closer to a manifesto for change, rather than a business advice book.
Rework argues business planning can be harmful, outside investment is unnecessary, competition is there to be ignored, meetings are a waste of time and companies don’t need a physical office. What is important is to stop talking and get things done.
The key takeaway from Rework is to think and act differently. It is about being proactive and getting stuff done with as little money as possible.
By Michael E. Gerber
In the first months of starting my company, a business Advisor handed me a book and told me to read it before doing anything else. That book was The Emyth by Michael E. Gerber.
Luckily, the advice was spot on, The Emyth is a cornerstone of entrepreneurialism and should be a right of passage for all new company founders. It provides startups with a predictable roadmap for success, but more valuable is the reality check it provides through myth busting.
You’ll come away from The Emyth with a real-world understanding of what it takes to build a successful company.
Crossing the Chasm
By Geoffrey A. Moore
Many startups experience a similar pattern of customer growth. The first spurt of customer jump on board with relative ease, yet scaling to a large market can be disproportionately difficult, time-consuming and expensive.
Born out of the early tech startup industry, Geoffrey A Moore introduces the theory of the chasm in Crossing the Chasm. He introduces the Adoption Life Cycle – which begins with innovators and moves through to the laggards – and there is a vast chasm between each. The challenge for innovators and marketers is to reduce the chasm that exists between each segment of the life cycle to accelerate adoption across every segment.
You’ll come away from Crossing the Chasm with a thorough understanding of the customer lifecycle and methods for accelerating adoption.
By Nir Eyal
Hooked by Air Eyal dives into what makes some products great, while others fail. It is not so much a book about products, but how people engage with products and how to build habit-forming behaviour into the fabric of your product. Nir Eyal outlines the 4-step Hook Model used by many companies to get user hooked on their product.
When you put this book down, you’ll have an understanding of how you can build products that get people hooked.
The Checklist Manifesto
By Atul Gawande
Anyone who has worked with me will appreciate my love for processes and checklists, The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande is the driver of my obsession.
Every industry and profession is becoming more complex, we train longer and specialise further, yet we still fail. The Checklist Manifesto explores the cause of failure, putting forward a strong case for the adoption of a simple solution – the checklist. Gawande brings the checklist concept to life using case studies from the most critical situations in medicine and disaster recovery, arguing that the more expert your role, the more compelling the requirement for a checklist.
You’ll come away from this book with an appreciation for the power of a checklist. You’ll have ideas about how checklists can be applied in your company to increase quality, improve the experience and reduce the risk of failure.
By Seth Godin
Purple Cow by Seth Godin will challenge you to rethink what your marketing is saying about your product. Godin’s mantra is you are either remarkable or invisible.
Using real-world examples from Dyson and Starbucks, Godin reveals how many of the traditional marketing formulas which are still widely adopted are no longer fit for purpose. Godin provides a blueprint for success by creating products that are worth making in the first place.
You’ll come away from Purple Cow inspired to make brave decisions about your product and marketing.
Start with Why
By Simon Sinek
Start With Why by Simon Sinek explores why some people and companies are more innovative, influential and successful than others.
When researching some of the world’s greatest leaders, people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Steve Jobs, Sinek discovered great leaders think, communicate and act in the same way – they start with why. Starting with Why enabled these leaders to inspire the people around them and to achieve remarkable things.
You’ll come away from Start with Why with a clear vision of what it takes to inspire and lead people in the most effective way to achieve business success.