11 must-read books before you start your entrepreneurial journey

Entrepreneurship is tough. That’s why most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. I believe that the best you can do before starting your business is to prepare by learning how others succeeded and what mistakes they made so you can avoid them. Most business books give you the same old advice, made by theoreticians or more lucky than skilled entrepreneurs.

These are the books I wish I had read before I started my career path as an entrepreneur. Each of them will probably bring something new into a way you will manage your future business:

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

Comment: lean and agile management practice is becoming a new paradigm for management in business. This book is a must-read for those who want to start a business. The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.

2. Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit For Entrepreneurs by Norm Brodsky, Bo Burlingham

Comment: Excellent toolset of rules and heuristics to apply when starting a new venture. The author created a comprehensive guide for anyone running a small business but valuable also for managers in larger organisations.

3. Rework by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson

Comment: Tons more counterintuitive ideas that will inspire and provoke you, excellent addition to Lean Startup principles.

4. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by James C. Collins

Comment: The book about value and thinking long-term. It helps with building your company DNA and rethink your strategic decision making process. Based on research on couple of consistently performing companies.

5. Winning by Jack Welch, Suzy Welch

Comment: The book is split into three main sections. The first looks inside the company, from leadership to picking winners to making change happen. The second section looks outside, mostly at the competition. The next (for me most valuable) section of the book is about managing your career—from finding the right job to achieving work-life balance.

6. Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck: What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur and Build a Great Business by Anthony K. Tjan, Richard J. Harrington, Tsun-Yan Hsieh

Comment: Great book mostly about soft skills and some other soft things connected with being an entrepreneur. It will help you understand which traits to “dial up” or “dial down” to realize your full potential

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

Comment: Interesting book about technology and innovation. Not too long, straight forward, make you think. Will help you decide in what industry should you compete and how to build a competitive advantage.

8. Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan, Charles Burck

Comment: The book about one of the most crucial process in a startup – execution. It is a bit too long but still shows universal thruths and basics for getting things done in a business.

9. The Breakthrough Company: How Everyday Companies Become Extraordinary Performers by Keith R. Mcfarland

Comment: Research-driven (7000 company – sample) practical wisdom about when to step-down as CEO to reach maximum potential of business, how to bet on scalling business, how to surround your company with networks of outside resources.

10. Rhythm: How to Achieve Breakthrough Execution and Accelerate Growth by Patrick Thean

Comment: Extremaly practical toolset how to establish repetitive management process in your business and align strategic goals with operational KPIs.

11. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz

Comment: The author is brutally honest about how hard it is to run a business but also recommend how to handle the problems.


Piotr Smolen, CEO & Managing Partner at Data Ventures

Submit a project

Turn your great business ideas into reality.