The minute you decide to launch your own startup is probably the most optimistic of the most of the ensuing minutes that follow. Soon the optimism is replaced by fear, doubt, and dread. Not to sound too dark or pessimistic, but those three negative emotions can indeed set in on someone who decided to act on a bright idea for his or her first startup.
There are, however, ways to fight those dreadful feelings before they consume a startup. The most beneficial way – in my opinion – is by being prepared, on a macro level. This simply means understanding what you are getting yourself into, and possessing more of the knowledge and know-how than you previously would have had.
My favorite way of preparing for something is by reading a ton on the subject I’m tackling. Any form of research works – encyclopedias, research papers, old newspaper articles, or blog posts. But when it comes to startups, outside of real life experience, there are some awesome must-read books which can offer something very usable for any startup founder. Here are five awesome books:
How to Win Friends and Influence People in Business by Dale Carnegie
This first one might come off as corny because every business school has it as required reading, but the startup world includes a lot of business, hence the importance of How to Win Friends and Influence People in Business by Dale Carnegie. Though one might think that this book is outdated since it was published in 1936, it has become an evergreen source of knowledge for anyone entering the business world. And though the nature of business has changed a bit, human interaction has not. Imagine a random startup founder walking into a meeting with VCs having read this book versus having not. I’ll put my money on the man or woman who read this book any day of the week.
The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson
The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson is a classic must-read. In an age of apps and devices, this book provides an incredible backdrop to the information age that we live in. It goes into the story of how the commuters and ultimately the Internet were essentially created. I believe that anyone working in the startup world could immensely benefit from this book because it offers a great background into the original innovation of which we are all trying to tap into today. The Innovators is the type of book which can leave you extremely inspired, and would likely spur anyone to improve their existing startup ideas or processes.
Zero to One by Peter Thiel
The most recent book that I read was actually the most in-demand startup book out there right now: Zero to One by Peter Thiel. Though many people know Thiel for his famous implorations of students to drop out of college and start working, he has written a very high level and focused book. The chapters are broken down in a sort of historical method, but offer cutting edge advice, giving the reader the feeling that he or she has the ability, and the responsibility, to be different and change a part of the world. It is impossible to read this book and not be immensely inspired. For more awesome stuff from Thiel, check out this awesome interview which taps into some of Zero to One’s concepts.
The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
Okay, now onto the practical. The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesse, by Eric Ries is a phenomenally practical book for anyone looking for tactical advice and real life examples. This book contains just the right amount of technical information as well as interesting stories to keep any reader both informed and entertained. I recommend this book to anyone who is already inspired, and is looking for solid, strategic advice on his or her startup situation. Though this book may not answer anyone’s specific startup question (most books cannot), it can certainly point you in the right direction.
The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha
On the surface, I would recommend any book written by the founder of America’s leading professional network site. But LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman has written an extraordinary guide on how to approach any business, with Ben Casnocha, titled The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career. This book is less about practical advice, and more about overarching ways to think and possibly unleash your entrepreneurial spirit. For anyone with a startup idea that is still bubbling, this book will literally force you into action.