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Books for the budding startup or entrepreneur

Updated on July 24, 2012

Starting a business can be scary, it can be a rollercoaster of emotion, it can be daunting. Luckily, people have done it before you and have shared their thoughts in many many books. Here are a pick of them that I found really useful. From advice on how to market through to controversial ideas on outsourcing the mundane to virtual assistants, all these books have given me hints and tips and best practices to use for my own business. Hopefully they will help you on your journey to becoming an entrepreneur, or at the very least, give you an interesting read and something to think about.

Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim
Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim

Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim

Pamela Slim is a self-employed trainer for large corporations. During her decade of teaching in these companies, she found that many of the best employees dreamed of quitting their jobs and starting their own businesses. So she started a blog called Escape from Cubicle Nation to share her advice and experiences. Her blog began to grow and gain popularity and people began to write to her with questions and stories. She expanded and interviewed some of the brightest and best entrepreneurs on a range of topics.

Escape from Cubicle Nation draws on her best work and presents you with all the facts and information that you need to take into accoutn before quitting your cubicle for your dream. From the nitty gritty of the financials to the emotional rollercoaster that starting your own business will send you on.

Business Stripped Bare by Richard Branson
Business Stripped Bare by Richard Branson

Business Stripped Bare by Richard Branson

A man who needs no introduction, Sir Richard Branson is a brilliant entrepreneur and business man. In Business Stripped Bare you can read about his business from the inside out and learn how to succeed. Branson has built eight billion-dollar companies from scratch in very different business sectors and has unique and valuable advice to anyone wanting to make a go of building their own business.

The Lean Startup by Eric Reis
The Lean Startup by Eric Reis

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Ries is something of a legend among tech startups and his book The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to CReate Radically Successful Businesses is a must read. The idea behind the lean startup is to capitalise on the fact that as a start up, you are small, without industrial inertia and can pivot on a dime. Embrace change and don't be afraid to test and experiment. The book presens some very counter-intuitive practices to shorten product development cycles and actually measure your progress properly. Also covered is how to find out what customers really want so that your startup can be truly agile and change directions when need be. The Lean Startup, in a way, throws out the large business plan model of starting a company for a fluid and contiuosly changing business plan which allows you to adapt, innovate and thrive.

The Startup Game by William Drapper
The Startup Game by William Drapper

The Startup Game: Inside the Partnership between Venture Capitalists and Entrepreneurs by William H Draper

If you end up taking venture capital to fund your business, this book is crucial. Draper is one of the venture capitalists who noticed the huge potential of Skype, Hotmail and others and he presents firsthand accounts of the success of these companies. Draper shares in his book how best to evaluate innovative ideas and notes that political leadership can create real opportunity in business.

The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss

Tim Ferriss is the master of the hack and in his New York Times bestseller he reveals how to hack making money and enjoy your life, indulging in mini-retirements. He covers a wide range of topics from setting up simple web pages to assess your ideas and test the market before sinking any funding into it through to how to outsource your boring life admin to overseas virtual assistants. How to travel the world without quitting your job and eliminate 50% of your work in 48 hours using the Pareto principle. Tim Ferriss is a firm believer in doing lifestyle experiments. He eschews common wisdom and takes the approach of actually testing out theories rather than talking and never doing. He also covers a low information diet which is very usefull when you really want to get things done. Can you really work only 4 hours a week and still maintain your lifestyle? Read this book to find out!

Permission Marketing by Seth Godin
Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers by Seth Godin

You have to love this book for the cover alone! Seth's smiling forehead :)

Seth Godin really understand social marketing and media and if you are starting up, you need to as well. In this book Seth explains how to craft your marketing messages so that potential customers will accept it rather than turn a blind eye to it. He is vocal against traditional marketing that he calls "Interruption Marketing" - things like cold calls that interupt your family dinner, or commercials that burst into your favourite TV show. This type of marketing just annoys people. Using Permission Marketing gives the consumers incentives to accept your advertising. This in turn leads to a long term relationship with customers who are then more likely to trust you and recommend you to their social network.

Start small, Stay small by Rob Walling
Start small, Stay small by Rob Walling

Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup by Rob Walling

A step by step guide to launching your self-funded startup, Start Small, Stay Small is an essential book if you are a small code shop. The book is essentially a blueprint to getting off the ground with no investment and the book intentionally steers clear of anything to do with creating "a pitch", securing funding or how to woo investors. Instead it assumes that have little investment money and you don't have 70 hours a week to slave away in the hopes of striking it rich. The book does however focus on marketing. Something most web developers are terrible at. The technical aspects are not covered in this book - it assumes you know how to write code, but this book looks at honing and testing your idea before you sink hours into building it.

Getting Real by 37signals
Getting Real by 37signals

Getting Real: The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application by Jason Fried, Heinemeier David Hansson and Matthew Linderman

This is one of my all time favourite books.

37signals is an amazing company with amazing products. This book is their playbook in a way. It is packeh with simple insights and controversial points of view that have held the company in good stead. Using the principles in this book, 37signals has successfully launched five web-based applications and release the Ruby on Rails web development framework to the world with no outside funding and only 7 people in the company. Truly an inspirational book. Be warned though, some of their advice is not for the feint of heart and David Heinemeier Hansson is know for his controversial and outspoken opinions.


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