10 lesser-known (or not) books you must read before starting a business

All entrepreneurs make mistakes. Quite often mistakes lead to wasted opportunities, time and even money. But in fact, mistakes are part of the excitement of doing it. Otherwise it would just be a dull and easy exercise. Anybody would be able to do it. Knowing that you are outsmarting the challenges is a huge thrill and motivation for entrepreneurs.

There is no recipe for success. No checklist you can blindly follow to be a successful entrepreneur. This does not mean that being an entrepreneur is about taking a leap of faith and hoping for the best. It is not guesswork. It is a mindset. A skillset. Previous experience and knowledge can help.

Besides personal experience and learning, huge value can be created from the failures and learning of others. Books are an amazing resource for this. The best thing about it is that, compared to other learning alternatives (i.e. formal education), it is extremely cheap.

I would like to share with you a list of books that helped me being better at my job as innovation consultant. The learnings in these books are useful for entrepreneurs but also, and based on my personal experience, for big and multinational organisations wanting to be more innovative.

1. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

This book guides you through the different stages a startup goes through. It details a go-getter approach which differs from traditional approaches. From identifying which opportunities are worth pursuing to finding the right people for your team, this book helps you learn how to avoid getting stuck in typical traps.



2. The Non-Technical Founder by Josh MacDonald

What if you have an amazing tech idea that you want to explore, but have no idea how to code? Nowadays, there is no need to know software to start a business. This book condenses advices from over twenty founders of multimillion software companies for non-technical people.

3. The Founder’s Dilemmas by Noam Wasserman

This book is based on research done at Princeton. It focuses on helping entrepreneurs avoiding common mistakes that can have huge negative effects on a business. The book is particularly interesting for unexperienced entrepreneurs as it familiarizes the reader with business structures. It uses easily recognizable examples, which makes it entertaining as well.

4. Surge by Matt Kane, Steve Garguilo and Sergiy Skoryk

Many of us are extremely passionate about specific ideas but we do not act on them. We tend to wait for the perfect timing or opportunity. This book delves into strategies helping people bring ideas to life instead of waiting for an idyllic moment that will never happen. It covers issues such as dealing with anxiety, fears and the feeling of being overwhelmed.

5. The Peter Principle by Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull

Things go wrong sooner or later. But why? This book addresses the issue of incompetence and how staffing can make or break a business. This topic is relevant for all business owners across industries, levels of experience and maturity.



6. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz

The author’s remarkable career as a hostage negotiator and later as an award-winning teacher in the world’s most prestigious business schools is, most definitely a huge sell for this book. It approaches the negotiation process as a set of irrational and emotional responses. This book takes emotional intelligence and intuition to the next level.

7. Zero to One by Peter Thiel

This book is for people that are starting a business and want to create something truly innovative and disruptive, rather than an incremental innovation or improved version of something already out there. It helps in learning the right questions to ask in order to create new offerings.

8. Grit by Angela Duckworth

This book explores the qualities leading to success and point out that genius plays a very small role in outstanding achievements. It is an extremely personal and insightful read on what people think during the process of failure. Grit, a combination of passion and perseverance, not talent or luck, fuels success.


9. Start with Why by Simon Sinek

This book is based on the famous TED Talk by Simon Sinek. It shows that the most influential leaders of the world think, communicate and act in the same way. Interestingly enough, it is the exact opposite way in which most people do. The Golden Circle is the framework provided upon which leaders can inspire, lead and build organization.

10. Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau

What if you could easily create new income without giving up the security of a full-time job? This book shows you how to launch a side business in less than a month. The so-called side hustle. I particularly like this book because it is exactly how I ended up following a career in innovation. It all started as a side hustle (I actually called my first company Hack & Hustle).