When I started my journey in entrepreneurship a while ago I didn't know much about what was possible or how I should go about doing some things, however I had these sort of intuition that built up from trying stuff out.
What I came to realize is that most of the ideas I had from experience where in fact already well stated in some sort of well-regarded entrepreneurship book.
Reading some or all of these books will give you a serious head-start in whatever you are trying to build and allow you to broaden your horizon!
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses:
This book is a very simple read and taught me that cycling through hypothesis/learning is way more important than doing the most perfect thing right off the bat.
As a technical person that loves technology, I couldn’t understand why the tech was not at the forefront of every business discussion.
This book, with the clear example of bold tests that were done with real users, showed me exactly why a focus on building a product before understanding what the users will think of the product is a bad idea.
Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business
This book helped me make sense of how to structure my company once it has scaled past the founders. I’m at something like the sixth read cover to cover.
There is a lot of useful information and practical guidelines to use in order to really get a solid structure that make sense for the next growth phase.
It also helped create a sense of calm when thinking about the future because it increases your awareness of what will come next.
Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs
I read this book before reading Traction, however there are a lot of similarities between the OKR goal structure and the Rock goal structure from Traction. The basic idea is that you have limited time to work on goals/projects, so work on the most impactful ones and ditch the rest.
The idea of simply not thinking about the low priority objectives really creates a sense of space in your head. Knowing exactly what to focus on and having the liberty to think about how to get there also helped create an ultra-collaborative structure.
I use the OKR system in my personal life too. It really helps me reassure myself that I’m on the right path and allow me to say no to opportunities that pop up throughout year that are not aligned with my objectives.
Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams
This was a very enjoyable read. It talks about a facet of software engineering that is often not taken into consideration, which is the people factor. I absolutely love the straight to the point organic writing style that the authors use.
Lots of examples are given and there is a significant supplementation of statistics along their argumentation that really help gauge what non conventional changes to implement.
DRIVE: The surprising truth about what motivates us
Drive is very closely related to Peopleware in the subject it addresses. Both of them help in figuring out how to create a work environment that is purposeful and that drive people to give their fullest.
I’ve learned a great deal about how much “carrot and stick” kind of reward/punishment comes into play in the traditional workplace and how it's not the optimal way to increase motivation.
It also allowed me to understand how I can push myself to accomplish my goals in a purposeful manner without having to bribe and trick myself.
Effective DevOps: Building a Culture of Collaboration, Affinity, and Tooling at Scale
This book is an extensive introduction to DevOps culture and is a good handbook to keep to consult when you're unsure about a certain aspect or situation.
It was the book that introduced me in more depth to that way of thinking and got me to really understand it more than on the surface level. It had some very neat examples of how all of the DevOps concepts tie up in the real world.
However, it’s quite a lengthy book. It is meant to be consulted in a non-linear fashion. I recommend keeping a copy at hand if you manage a technological team to get some ideas about what to do in a given situation.
The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win
I read the Phoenix Project a while after having read Effective DevOps. Effective DevOps gave me a deeper understanding of the movement, but it’s the Phoenix Project that really made everything “click”.
It’s a novel, but explained in such an organic way that it could have been a biography. I read the whole thing in 2 days over the summer as I was very engaged with the protagonist's struggle with inefficient process and “impossible” goals to meet.
After reading it I felt way more confident that the changes I was making to my organization were the right ones.
If I had one book to give to a non-tech manager to make them understand how to make a tech department fail and how to make it thrive, it would be this one.
Designing Data-Intensive Applications
This book was so densely packed with information gained from working with very difficult problems that you probably need to re-read it from time to time while you also work on difficult problems.
I’ve learned a lot, both in the inner design of the behemoths of the internet and how much these behemoths were built by facing a constant stream of problems.
The sheer amount of tradeoffs, learning, and ambiguity that takes place in systems at huge scale was staggering. It helped me prepare and better react when I hit various problems in my tiny (in comparison) systems I’d been building.
Likewise, this is the kind of book that should be read periodically while building something that is in the process of scaling.
Forge Your Future with Open Source: Build Your Skills. Build Your Network. Build the Future of Technology
This book is one that really helped me better structure my remote company so we could hit our business objectives and help our employees feel productive and happy.
I drew a lot of inspiration from how open source projects were structured and made quite a lot of changes in that sense. It also helped me understand and appreciate a bit more about how open source projects work.
Principles by Ray Dalio
This is an incredible book with an insane amount of tips from a successful entrepreneur in the financial sector.
The amount of useful content in there is staggering and will require multiple reads in order to extract it all. If you are looking for new ideas to make your organization more efficient, better at problem solving, or stimulate growth, it's a must!
Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
A very beautiful book by the late CEO of Zappos. It's a humble book filled with good learning and takeaways by Tony Hsieh in his entrepreneurial journey.
The most important part here is the focus on making sure that the culture was right, as he had two main company successes in his career: One with LinkExchange that had no focus on the culture and another one with Zappos which was heavily invested in it.
The latter is arguably the stronger business.
Growth Hacker Marketing
Very short and interesting read! The book is great because it's straight to the point and give you a good visual of how a lean way of working would look like applied to the Marketing side of your business.
This is kinda important because as soon as you get into the part where you want to market whatever you've built, the potential cost you will have to pay start to grow astronomically.
Especially if you are spraying and praying. The main focus should be to first getting to product market fit (which is easier said than done haha).
Once this is achieved you should tweak (cheaply) how you are able to get more customer leveraging your product. This turns your product a marketing machine!
I will be updating this post from time to time with new content!
Also, don't hesitate to ping me at firstname.lastname@example.org if there is a particular book you would recommend!