The 9 Best Books Every Startup Founder Should Read

“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

“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 what books you need to read to help you succeed. In this post, I’ve made a list of the 9 best books. These books are often written or recommended by entrepreneurs and following their insight will help you lead your startup to success.

1. 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



2. Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters stems from a course about startups that Thiel taught in 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


3. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries begins with the experiences Ries himself has “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 do and that 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.



4. The Checklist Manifesto 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” than because of ignorance or not knowing enough. He suggests that in our complex world even experts require checklists and that these 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.


5. The Hard Thing About Hard Things 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.


6. Hooked by Nir Eyal should be a 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 behaviour 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.


7. The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank is 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.



8. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber was written to help startups develop in a predictable and productive way. 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 through adolescence to maturity. It is both an entertaining read and valuable guide that will help startup founders understand that building a business is a never-ending quest to learn more and be more.



9. The $100 StartUp 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.


What books have made a profound impact on your startup and the way you do business? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.