“He who knows only his own generation remains forever a child.”

Those were the words written above the library at my alma mater, and while they rang true at university, they have proven exceptionally true in the startup environment. Launching a startup is largely an exercise in trial error, and regardless of how much experience one has, its always advisable to keep learning and seeking the advice of those who came before you.

Often, entrepreneurs become jaded after their first successful launch, and assume that all other entrepreneurial endeavors will follow the same path. In doing so, they limit themselves greatly in their ability to respond creatively when things don’t go as planned, and more importantly, fall behind in an industry where it pays to be well-read.
The difference between failure and success in the startup ecosystem often comes down to an
entrepreneur’s willingness to keep learning about their constantly changing environment, and as such, its advisable to read as much as possible to stay up-to-date. We spoke with 12 successful startup founders and asked what book all entrepreneurs should read and why. Here’s what they said.

1. Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain

A book I would recommend would be “Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain: How I Went from
Gang Member to Multimillionaire” by Ryan Blair (Author) and Don Yaeger (Contributor). It’s an inspiring read about Mr. Blair’s struggles as a youth to his successes as an adult. It outlines the benefits of finding the right mentors, working through tough times, and not accepting failure as an excuse to not succeed.

Tim Nichols, ExactDrive

2. Creating Value With CO-STAR

“Creating value with CO-STAR” by Gyorffy & Friedman. You will understand that business and innovation is about creating value. Straight forward, easy to use, and opens horizons.

Matthias Muller, SustainabilityCompass

3. Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers

The most influential book that I have read as an entrepreneur is “Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers” by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares. It is a fantastic book that encompasses many of the struggles that every entrepreneur will go through when starting their business. Getting that first paying customer is a challenge to most start-ups, but finding the channels in which a company can gain sustainable traction for their business is another story.

This book outlines the variety of channels there are for gaining traction for your business, and shares various experiences by entrepreneurs using these avenues for their companies.

Dennis Lutsky, Monitr

4. Outliers: The Story of Success

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. He talks about the concept of 10,000 hours. In order to become a master you must work at it for 10,000 hours….hopefully this puts into perspective how hard it is to be an entrepreneur.

Jim Alvarez, AuctionsByCellular

5. The e-Myth

The e-Myth by Michael Gerber. It offers practical advice on how to systematize aspects of the business and separate out “working on the business” and “working in the business”. It forces the reader to think about their business as a “franchise”, as in a self-operating company that can be sold without the owner having to do everything. In my last startup, I had a hard time extricating myself from the day-to-day running of the company. That was not good, and I served as a major bottleneck. After working with Gerber’s principles, things improved. Also, The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss has great ideas for automation.

David Wachs, Handwrytten

6. Venture Deals

Venture Deals by Brad Feld is great because most entrepreneurs need to at one point negotiate and advocate for themselves. The book provides a fantastic foundation for being able to do so.

Charles Walter, Rokk3r Labs

7. Like A Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You In Business School

Richard Branson’s book Like A Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You In Business School because it uniquely re-frames business as an “adventure in creative problem solving”, a notion which really stuck with me.

Cameron Mclain, ChallengeMeClub

8. The Startup Manual

Steve Blank’s “The Startup Manual: The step-by-step Guide for building a great company”, the title says it all, and one of the few books that lives up to its lofty claims.

Ian Naylor, AppInstitute

9. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

All the entrepreneurs should read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Because time is all you have and while being an entrepreneur your time vanishes instantly. These habits are so powerful, simple and can generate a huge leverage if they are respected.

Valentin Radu, Marketizator

10. Mastering the Rockefeller Habits

Mastering the Rockefeller Habits and Lean Startup. Both give you the business chops needed to start and grow a company. Both shed insight on proven methodologies that you can adopt to get your business off the ground faster.

Zack Hanebrink, MassageBook

11.The Lean Entrepreneur

The Lean Entrepreneur, written by Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits, does an incredible job of moving past the myth that all entrepreneurs must be Steve Jobs. It also helps entrepreneurs prepare for change and growth, which could be a hard hurdle for most.

Cameron Jonsson, ReachandAcquire

12. Any Book by Gary Vaynerchuck

I recommend any book by Gary Vaynerchuck for those of you just starting your journey into becoming an entrepreneur. Gary really sets us all straight on how knowledge and a want to communicate that knowledge into value led marketing is a great formula for success.

RJ Sturt, TNU

Comment below and share with us what books you read as an entrepreneur.

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