9 Books to Read before starting a Startup/Business

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Books are by far the most affordable and structured way to get advice before starting a startup/business. A variety of books touch on a spectrum of problems one might encounter when starting a business. One might read a book about optimizing their development cycle when starting out small. Or how to build appropriate features at a low cost. Or financial instruments to take advantage of, on each step. Moreover, a lot of these authors are business magnates and one can really learn from their experience. But only reading books about general business might not completely assist you to assess markets in various sectors but the inspiration & advice you receive is indispensable. These are 9 of the best books to read before starting a startup/business.

1. Rocket Man: Elon Musk In His Own Words, edited by Jessica Easto

2020 might not have been the best year for everyone but it certainly was a phenomenal year for Elon Musk. Stepping into 2021 stands Elon Musk at $209 billion.

The 49-year-old CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, started his career as an entrepreneur and engineer when he founded X.com (now PayPal), making him a millionaire in his 20s. 

Musk started 2020 worth about $27 billion, barely in the top 50 of the richest people.

Then, what owed to such exponential success on his part?

Rocket Man: Elon Musk In His Own Words, is a book where the man himself talks about how his vision led him to global prominence.

A single compilation of the most insightful, thought-provoking ideas and quotes from the entrepreneurial engineer, provide an intimate and direct look into Silicon Valley’s most ambitious industrialist. Comprising thoughts on business, innovation, engineering, technology, space, electric vehicles, entrepreneurship, life lessons, and more, make this book a must-read.

“Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up. “

Elon Musk

2. The Art of the Start 2.0: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything, by Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki, another Silicon Valley venture capitalist, distils his decades of experience into one single book as a better and more comprehensive version of the original de-facto book on business, The Art of the Start.

With the new digital era, even more so after the pandemic, Mr. Kawasaki’s insights on democratizing social media for business serves beneficial to individuals starting a startup/business now. Guy Kawasaki stresses on topics such as cloud computing, crowd-funding & social media advertising but in doing so portrays not the science but the Art of Business.

“Entrepreneur is a state of mind, not a job title.”

Guy Kawasaki, The Art of the Start

3. Zero to One: Notes on Startups or How to Build the Future, by Peter Thiel & Blake Masters

Zero to One by Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, zeros in on the significant issue of technological stagnation. Being a co-founder of a venture capital firm that has launched companies like SpaceX and Airbnb, he voices his concern through this book. His concern regarding innovations improving our way but not implementing new ways.

He urges every leader to start to think for themselves. To relatively escape competition by making unique innovations in their industry or area of business. Encouraging every reader towards an optimistic future, making it significant on your list of books to read before starting a startup/business.

“The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd, but to think for yourself.”

Peter Thiel

4. Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill


Thinking acts as the central idea of this book. Take the example of every great business leader that ever existed. They all started with an idea, a dream, working persistently on which, it materialized into a fortune. A burning desire, definite action, unstoppable conviction & conquering one’s fears are in Napoleon Hill’s views the pillars to building a business for oneself.

“A quitter never wins. A winner never quits.”

Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

5. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, by Eric Ries

Based on his real-life shortcomings, Eric Ries introduces people to modern entrepreneurial management. This New York Times bestseller invokes all budding entrepreneurs to fashion their thinking towards target customers. According to him, designing an MVP (minimum viable product) is the first step towards optimizing a better market fit.

The relevance of the Five Whys Process in business has been established in this book.  A book of paramount importance, having sold more than a million copies, one you should read.

“We must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want.”

Eric Ries, The Lean Startup

6. Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street, by John Brooks

This business classic written by longtime New Yorker contributor, financial specialist, John Brooks is an insightful and engaging look into the corporate and financial life in America.

His reportage and critical detail about the rise of Xerox, Piggly Wiggly, the Ford Edsel fiasco, the General Electric and Texas Gulf Sulphur scandals  teaches lessons about people . The way people act, what makes them thrive and flounder, and what wickedness they make use of when left to their own devices. And how exactly a new businessman should never fall to these levels.

‘The best business book I’ve ever read.’

Bill Gates, Wall Street Journal

7. Steve Jobs, by Walter Issacson

A riveting book about the searing intense personality of creative entrepreneur, Steve Jobs, whose passion and dedication revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing. Written on his request, this self-titled book contains the unvarnished views of his friends, colleagues, family, competitors and the man himself, to help readers comprehend what shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

Steve Jobs

8. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Issacson

A small business owner in the years leading up to the American Revolution who became one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. Benjamin Franklin was a man of various shades but his entrepreneurial skills are unheard of. Being a successful owner of a printing business shaped him to become the statesman he became. A book about greatness, his best-selling biography one that will inspire you to read this with other books to read before starting a startup/business.

9. The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup, by Noam T. Wasserman

The American academic from Harvard Business school has written a book, first of its kind, scrutinizing the dilemmas that founders of various businesses have had. Everyone can learn a lot from the mistakes of founders and arm against applying the same when they start a business. He highlights the need at each step to strike a careful balance between controlling the startup and attracting the best resources to grow it, and demonstrates why the easy short-term choice is often the most perilous in the long term.

“IT’S UNFORTUNATE BUT TRUE: IF ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS A BATTLE, most casualties stem from friendly fire or self-inflicted wounds.”

Noam T. Wasserman, The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup

What to read after “9 Books to Read before starting a Startup/Business”: https://geekatoms.com/2021/01/09/what-is-your-will-to-power/


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