“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”

-Henry David Thoreau

It’s no secret that if you want to learn more, you have to read more. As a startup founder, you don’t have the time to start looking for books, reading reviews, and figuring out which will help you succeed in the business world.

In this post, we’ve made a list of the top 11 books to read. These books are often written or recommended by entrepreneurs and by following their insights can help you lead your startup to success.


This New York Times Bestseller and award-winning book was written by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. They provided an easy and practical solution to what the Economist calls “the single biggest problem in business today”. The main error small business owners focus on is the “what”, they tend to ignore the “who”, this book goes into detail about why the “who” is so important.

who book cover - best books for startups

Creativity Inc. 

By Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace is a fascinating in-depth look into the world of Pixar. Named one of the best books of 2014 by The Huffington Post, Financial Times, Success, Inc., and the Library Journal, Creativity Inc. will give you insight into what it takes to continuously break the mold to persistently create amazing things.

Creativity INC book cover - best books for sturups

Zero to One

Written by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters stems based on a course about startups that Thiel taught at Stanford in 2012. Zero to One is the meticulous notes of one student (Blake Masters), revised for a wider audience. Recommended by such entrepreneurs as Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, Zero to One will challenge the way you think and force you to answer questions that will help push your startup forward.

Zero to One book cover - best startup books

The Lean Startup

This book is by Eric Ries begins with the experience of Ries himself has with “sitting in a dorm” and “inventing the future”. His premise is that startups can organize the development of their product in a much better way than they currently are. They should do this by treating their startup like an experiment. This book comes highly recommended by WiseStamp’s co-founder Josh Avnery and many other startup entrepreneurs.

The Lean Startup book cover - top books for startups

The Checklist Manifesto

This book by Atul Gawande is perhaps told from a medical surgeon’s point of view, but it applies to professionals in any field. Gawande’s claims that failing in the modern world is more of a result of “ineptitude” because of ignorance or not knowing enough.

He suggests that in our complex world even experts require checklists and that this checklist can vastly improve results. This book is valuable for its assertions but is also beautifully written and offers some fun vignettes. According to Business Insider, Jack Dorsey includes The Checklist Manifesto in a welcome kit he gives to all new employees.

The Checklist Manifesto book cover - best books to read for startup managers

Built To Sell

John Warrillow shares the top tips for small business owners at each stage of their business. The book dedicates each chapter to creating a unique product, setting up processes and building teams, and automating your business. Learn how to create value and agile business that adapts accordingly.

Built To Sell book cover - top books for strartups

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

This book by Ben Horowitz is about Ben’s journey to success. While he doesn’t impart any secret formula, he does share details of his struggle. Understanding the need to separate facts from perception and the understanding that “there are no short-cuts to knowledge” are two important lessons that can be found in this important book.

Horowitz shares profound insights into what it takes to build a successful startup and he does it with tremendous flair, making this book such a reading delight.

The hard thing about hard things - top books for startups


Hooked by Nir Eyal should be required reading for all startup founders looking to build a product that will heavily engage users. Understanding how our emotions play a major role in driving our behavior is one of the more fascinating discussions in the book. If it is properly applied to a product, a new habit can be formed and with it a potential startup success..

Hooked book cover - best UX books for startups

The Four Steps to the Epiphany

Steve Blank takes the reader through a tough but necessary read that will teach you that products are an illusion of startup success. Blank will then go on to impart the most fundamental question a startup founder can ask himself – “where are the customers?”.

This informative and valuable book will provide you with concrete examples and skills that will give you insight into the sales and marketing required to build a successful startup.

The Four Steps to the Epiphany book cover - top books for startup founders

The E-Myth Revisited 

The book by Michael E. Gerber was written to help startups develop predictably and productively. It dispels many myths entrepreneurs have about building a business and provides them with powerful insights that will help them through the stages of infancy and adolescence to maturity.

It is both an entertaining read and a valuable guide that will help startup founders understand that building a business is a never-ending quest to learn more and be more.

The E-Myth Revisited book cover - must read books for startups

The $100 StartUp

Written by Chris Guillebeau is an easy-to-read book filled with inspiring stories of entrepreneurs who have found ways to turn their life’s passions into income. Perhaps aimed at small businesses, it motivates big ones to think creatively, encouraging them to push beyond their limits.

The $100 StartUp book cover - best managerial startup books


The most important lesson when reading startup business books is to forget what you think you know and be open to gaining further insight. Try and relate your business to the context of the book.

Find the connection between what is said and what you have been applying to your own business. Here it is, The best books to read to push your business forward! Don’t miss out on the chance to channel your uttermost creative self in the business world.