Thursday, October 20, 2011

Startup Books

One of our local founders asked me what books he should read as he and his co-founder jump off the startup cliff and into the river of poorly conceived metaphors.
For me, a lot of these books have a few great lines and ideas that stick with you, but the best part of reading them is the number of ideas and amount of energy you get as you think about your own vision. 


This list is off the top of my head--I've missed a bunch in the past ten years. 
  • Eric Ries, Lean Startup. I haven't read it yet, having lived the gist of it, but I'll get it today. I hope it lives up to the hype.
  • TechStars: Do More Faster
  • Guy Kawasaki The Art of the Start, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy. I like to read Guy because he's a fun voice who nails evangelism.
  • Crossing the Chasm (I'd read the condensed version of this).
  • Innovator's Solution. Read this instead of the Innovator's Dilemma; that book is summarized in the first chapters; more targeted toward corporate innovation but contains some good stuff.
  • Seth Godin's Purple Cow. Short, good for sparking ideas. Nothing ground-breaking but a fun read. 
  • Influence --I'm just reading this now. If you can find a condensed version or thorough review, you'll get to the core. 
  • Steve Blank's book. I haven't read it, but I've read a bunch of his blog posts on Customer Development. Really great stuff. 
  • The Tipping Point. This is a great read, but I don't know whether you can architect a tipping point for your business, but you can definitely design parts of it into your product. You can certainly understand the dynamics of virality and the personality types through this book. 
  • Back of the NapkinSolving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures. To sell your startup you need to develop and tell stories--about yourself, your market, your customer, your products. This is a really great book for anyone--with drawing talent or not--for learning how to simply represent those stories. 
I've read a ton more, but I can't remember the titles. These are the ones that stick out as helpful. 
None of these will give you the answers you need (except, I suspect, Steve Blank's book). The point is to spark thoughts about your own startup. 


Fundamentally, your success depends on execution, and a lot of that is about repetition: number of calls you make, people you meet, impressions you get, emails you send, etc. 
And a lot of it is about your personality--you commitment to your cause and the people you depend on, your ethics, your principles, your true voice.  


There's at least one other you should read, but it's not about startups. The Power of Personal Accountability: Achieve What Matters to You, by Mark Samuel. It's not out on Kindle, but it looks like a recycled version is coming out in hard copy next Spring. 
I'll add mine to the list soon :) What have I missed? Tell me in the comments.

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