A Comprehensive Guide to Startup Books: Part 2

August 30, 2013

2:39 pm

Yesterday, we presented Part 1 of our Comprehensive Guide to Startup Books, but we’re not done yet. Here’s Part 2 of the list we’ve compliled of the best startup books around, according to entrepreneures themselves.

Mastering the VC Game: A Venture Capital Insider Reveals How to Get from Start-up to IPO on Your Terms

By: Jeffrey Bussgang
Topics Covered: Funding, Business Planning/Strategy
A great entry-point for discovering the relationship between venture capital firms and startups. It offers a pretty unique insight – considering Bussgang’s involvement with both sides of the fence – and looks into the respective motivations for VCs and entrepreneurs.

Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation

By: Frans Johansson
Topics Covered: Innovation
The “Medici effect” refers to the nascence of innovations that takes place at “intersections” – the points at which different fields converge. Johansson explores intersections in business, science, art, and politics, and provides examples on how entrepreneurs can find them and turn ideas into innovations. A great example on how crossing disciplines breeds creativity and innovative startup ideas.

The Method Method: Seven Obsessions That Helped Our Scrappy Start-up Turn an Industry Upside Down

By: Eric Ryan, Adam Lowry
Topics Covered: Innovation, Management, Implementation, Product Design
Using examples from their own company, Method, this startup book provides some really good insight on the ups and downs of startups. Ryan and Lowry talk about how they built their brand and company to compete against industry giants, and opine that their seven company principles can benefit others hoping to start their own companies.

The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses

By: Amar V. Bhide
Topics Covered: Business Planning, Management, Economics
Looks at the role and influence of entrepreneurs from an economic point of view. Bhide writes on the origins of new businesses (opportunities entrepreneurs pursue, problems they face, traits and skills they require, and their social and economic contributions), as well as the evolution of small businesses into large enterprises.

Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow

By: Chip Conley
Topics Covered: Management, Overall Startup Guide, Company Culture
The CEO and founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, the second largest operator of boutique hotels in the United States, describes how he used Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to save his company from bankruptcy after 9/11 and the dot-com bubble burst. Conley offers instructional stories and advice to entrepreneurs on how this hierarchy of needs can be applied to employees, investors, and customers.

Pleased, but not Satisfied

By: David L. Sokol
Topics Covered: Overall Startup Guide, Management
The former chairman of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company (a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway) essentially writes on his philosophy of how to create and manage a successful business. Among other things, he talks about the importance of having core principles, and the necessity to have a detailed plan to ensure proper budgeting, goal setting, and execution.

The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field

By: Mike Michalowicz
Topics Covered: Business Growth, Business Strategy
A super-accessible and humorous book that’s gotten praise from other authors on this list (Micael Gerber, Guy Kawasaki, and Seth Godin). Michalowicz offers great advice on how to take your company from being stagnant to a sustainable, growing organization. A good read for startups that feel as if they’ve hit a plateau.

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

By: Seth Godin
Topics Covered: Marketing, Innovation
A classic bestseller that talks about innovating the strategies through which you market your company and products. In Purple Cow, Godin places a particular emphasis on innovators and early adopters, and creating products that would appear to be most worthy to those consumers.

Raising Venture Capital for the Serious Entrepreneur

By: Dermot Berkery
Topics Covered: Business Planning/Strategy, Funding
Not recommended as a first read or introduction to venture capital. That being said, it’s a highly-rated and -recommended book on the VC evaluation process (from your business plan to how they structure terms of agreement). It also includes term sheet exercises to test your understanding of financial situations that companies face.

The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself

By: John Jantsch
Topics Covered: Customer Relations, Sales, Marketing
The Referral Engine has received high praise from the likes of Tony Hsieh, so you know it’s good. A particularly great resource for new startups with a small consumer base, the book covers ways for you to create a referral system for your business (so, you know, your startup can survive).


By: Jason Fried, David Henemeier Hansson
Topics Covered: Management, Overall Startup Guide, Company Culture
The book offers insight into the ways 37signals has continued to remain successful. Overall a great, concise book for business advice, whether you’re working on building a startup or working for a large company (and are hoping to escape one day). Additionally, you can read some great posts from their blog, Signal vs. Noise.

Rules for Revolutionaries: The Capitalist Manifesto for Creating and Marketing New Products and Services

By: Guy Kawasaki with Michele Moreno
Topics Covered: Innovation, Competition, Product Strategy, Marketing
Less of a how-to manual than it is a how-to-think guide. Particularly, it looks at how to think innovatively to create revolutionary products and services, including insights from such companies as Amazon, Dell, and Microsoft. With chapters like “Eat Like a Bird, Poop Like an Elephant,” Kawasaki imparts wisdom without sacrificing humor.

Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works

By: Ash Maurya
Topics Covered: Lean Startup Method, Business Planning, Product Strategy, Overall Startup Guide
Serves as a practical, how-to guide to applying the lean startup method, written specifically for (although not limited to) software and Internet startups. Maurya goes into actual strategies with which to approach aspects of the lean method, such as specific ways to take your current product or business idea and shape it into the right product/business.

Slicing Pie – Funding Your Business Without Funds

By: Mike Moyer
Topics Covered: Equity Split, Funding
Here’s the reality: differences in opinion will lead to some startups having to overcome breakups between founders. Moyer offers a framework for a dynamic, responsive equity split – because, you know, the equity conversation is an awkward, but important one.

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

By: Simon Sinek
Topics Covered: Management, Company Culture
Best known for his TED talk on how great leaders inspire action, Sinek makes a case for companies to have a clear WHY as their underlying principle for doing business. Entrepreneurs get too caught up in the details of WHAT they want to do and HOW they plan to get it done, that they’ll sometimes lose track of the WHY (why does our company exist? Why am I doing this?) which – he argues – is the driving principle for motivating yourself and the people around you.

The Startup Game: Inside the Partnership Between Venture Capitalists and Entrepreneurs

By: William H. Draper
Topics Covered: Funding
Written by a well-regarded and long-running venture capitalist, The Startup Game offers a lot of industry knowledge on VC through Bill Draper’s semi-autobiographical account. This startup book will help potential founders learn more about the key traits VCs look for, understand the relationship between VCs and entrepreneurs, and grasp the startup space in general.

The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company

By: Steve Blank, Bob Dorf
Topics Covered: Overall Startup Guide, Business Planning
At over 600 pages, this is a very comprehensive guide [textbook] for entrepreneurs to build lasting companies. It looks further into Blank’s “Customer Development” method, covered in The Four Steps to the Epiphany. Despite the length, it gets high reviews and praise from startup founders.

Transformative Entrepreneurs: How Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Muhammad Yunus, and Other Innovators Succeeded

By: Jeffrey A. Harris
Topics Covered: Management, Innovation, Business Strategy
Offers a historical perspective of entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs and Walt Disney, as well as an account of how they transformed ideas into successful ventures. It’s a well-researched study of business growth and the entrepreneurial process, and why it takes more than a good idea to grow a successful company.

Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist

By: Brad Feld, Jason Mendelson
Topics Covered: Funding, Venture Capital, Business Planning
Written by two prominent VCs at the Foundry Group, this book is a fantastic primer on deal structure, how venture capital firms operate, and Silicon Valley’s ethos. It covers everything you need to know about funding and acquisitions, and the responsibilities, motivations, and common pitfalls that occur on both sides of the deal.

Who Moved My Cheese?

By: Spencer Johnson, Kenneth H. Blanchard
Topics Covered: Management
Written in the style of a parable, the book tells the story of two mice and two little people who live in a maze, and one day are faced with the sudden change that someone has moved their cheese. Basically, it talks about the inevitability of change and how you can’t do anything to prevent it from happening. Essential takeaway: anticipate change, monitor changes when they occur, and adapt to those changes – lessons highly applicable to the dynamic startup ecosystem.

What Every Angel Investor Wants You to Know: An Insider Reveals How to Get Smart Funding for Your Billion-Dollar Idea

By: Brian Cohen, John Kador
Topics Covered: Business Planning/Strategy, Funding
Brian S. Cohen, chairman of New York Angels, is an active angel investor in the NYC startup community, having invested in companies like Pinterest. Cohen outlines the key points that angel investors look for in the decision process and how to avoid common mistakes startup entrepreneurs make. What’s great is that he also lists specific resources on where and how to contact angel investors.

World of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking

By: Andy Sernovitz
Topics Covered:
Marketing, Brand Strategy
Sernovitz previously taught word-of-mouth marketing at Northwestern and Internet entrepreneurship at Wharton. He currently leads SocialMedia.org and WordofMouth.org. This book serves mostly as an introduction to marketing strategy in the virally networked age.

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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