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Building a Startup? Read These 5 Books First.

If there is one thing I’ve learned about running a small business is that there is always a new set of challenges that you are facing. Most of the time you don’t have a phone a friend or a life line that has been there before to help you navigate what you are going through. The one thing I’ve found as a cheap and quick way to learn from others is through books. These are a few great books that will help you no matter your stage of business.

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future By Chris Guillebeau

The $100 Startup

In preparing to write this book, Chris identified 1,500 individuals who have built businesses earning $50,000 or more from a modest investment (in many cases, $100 or less), and from that group he’s chosen to focus on the 50 most intriguing case studies.  In nearly all cases, people with no special skills discovered aspects of their personal passions that could be monetized, and were able to restructure their lives in ways that gave them greater freedom and fulfillment.

Why I liked it: There is no complex financials or secret sauce to get started. He shows how you can get a service based business started quickly and without a lot of money.

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) By Hal Elrod

The Miracle Morning

What if you could miraculously wake up tomorrow and any—or every area of your life was transformed? What would be different? Would you be happier? Healthier? More successful? In better shape? Would you have more energy? Less Stress? More Money? Better relationships? Which of your problems would be solved?

Why I liked it: Hal walks you through setting the stage for success happens in your morning routine. This isn’t a key to your success is to get up at 5am and work 18 hour days, it shows that taking a well planned hour in the am is more beneficial than you would think.

Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz

Profit First

Conventional accounting uses the logical (albeit, flawed) formula: Sales – Expenses = Profit. The problem is, businesses are run by humans, and humans aren’t always logical. Mike teaches us to look at the formula as Sales – Profit = Expenses. Just as the most effective weight loss strategy is to limit portions by using smaller plates, Mike shows that by taking profit first and apportioning only what remains for expenses, entrepreneurs will transform their businesses from cash-eating monsters to profitable cash cows. 

Why I liked it: It is almost the bumper bowling version of managing your finances. By having separate accounts you are able to have a quick visual of where your money is going. 

Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days By Jake Knapp


Entrepreneurs and leaders face big questions every day: What’s the most important place to focus your effort, and how do you start? What will your idea look like in real life? How many meetings and discussions does it take before you can be sure you have the right solution?

Now there’s a surefire way to answer these important questions: the sprint. Designer Jake Knapp created the five-day process at Google, where sprints were used on everything from Google Search to Google X. 

Why I liked it: Sprint teaches you to slow down and have a solid plan before running into making something that no one cares about.

The Hard Things About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

The Hard Things About Hard Things

Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, offers essential advice on building and running a startup, practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover, based on his popular ben’s blog.

While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he’s gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.

Why I liked it:  Ben has real experience in the advice and he’s been there as an investor as well as an operator. Plus most chapters start with a lyric from a hip hop song, not something you’d expect from Ben Horowitz. (Which is especially interesting if you’ve got the audio book)

So there you have it, there a ton of great books and resources out there. These are just a few of my favorite for early stage businesses, what do you recommend I read next?

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