Top 10 Books for Entrepreneurs to Read this Summer
This summer, get away, but stay up-to-date — and be ready to move your business forward when you get back. Discover the latest insights and lessons that will take you one step closer toward turning the vision for your company into reality.
When most people think of summer, imagery of beaches, sunshine, margaritas, and barbecues typically come to mind. And while many of us will, at some point, enjoy those things this summer, the truth is that entrepreneurs — even if they do take a vacation — can never really afford to totally escape from their business.
After all, founding and managing a startup is often a 24/7 gig, and the challenge of constantly discovering new ideas, learning new techniques, and improving existing processes is ongoing. Then, there’s the common feeling of anxiety that entrepreneurs suffer when they do take a breather: If I take a break, will that give my competition an opportunity to catch up?
Fortunately, there’s another common summer activity that entrepreneurs can partake in that will allow them to step away from their business for a moment and engage in the kind of learning that pushes their growing enterprise to the next level: Read a great book.
Need some recommendations? The 10 books listed below provide critical insight, advice, and ideas on topics ranging from business model generation and scalability, to lean analytics. Whether you choose to digest them on a beach chair with a Mai Tai close by or on your couch after another 16-hour workday is, of course, totally up to you.
Top 10 Books for Entrepreneurs to Read this Summer
| 1) Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur|
While many startup and expansion-stage companies have already developed a business model, this guidebook from Osterwalder, a serial entrepreneur, and Pigneur, a Swiss professor, can help you refine and perfect it. Co-created by business model experts from around the world, the book features innovative techniques from leading businesses like 3M and Deloitte that encourage entrepreneurs to challenge the accepted rules of business model design.
| 2) The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf|
Building and scaling a startup technology company isn’t easy (one needs only look at startup failure rates to see that). But if anyone would know which steps to take to build a great business, it’s Blank and Dorf. Combined, the two authors have more than 70 years of experience in growing startup businesses, which makes the lessons they share from booms — and busts — incredibly worthwhile. In the end, the book is an absolute must-read for entrepreneurs hoping to build a bigger (and better) business.
| 3) The Art of Scalability: Scalable Web Architecture, Processes, and Organizations for the Modern Enterprise by Martin L. Abbott and Michael T. Fisher|
Very few entrepreneurs start a business with the hope of halting its growth and keeping it small. Rather, scaling their companies into big corporations (with equally big profits) is typically the end goal. In this book, AKF Partners founders Abbott and Fisher cover everything entrepreneurs must do to build infrastructures that allow growing businesses to systematically overcome common obstacles to scalability.
| 4) The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business by Rita Gunther McGrath|
Chances are that you’ve had experts, consultants, advisors, and investors hammer into your brain how critical it is to develop and leverage a sustainable competitive advantage. In this book, McGrath, a Columbia Business School professor, argues that it’s time to forget about that increasingly irrelevant idea and instead focus on a new playbook based on the notion of transient competitive advantage. Ultimately, McGrath writes, that will help you compete and win today.
| 5) The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup by Noam Wasserman|
As many entrepreneurs know all too well, there are numerous pitfalls that can undermine a startup as it begins to scale. Should the business hire a dedicated sales team? Bring on cofounders? Seek outside investment to accelerate growth? Wasserman, a Harvard Business School professor, explores these issues in this Amazon bestseller, warning of the decisions that often lay the foundation for eventual ruin.
| 6) The Lean Entrepreneur: How Visionaries Create Products, Innovate with New Ventures, and Disrupt Markets by Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits|
Last summer, we featured Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup on our summer reading list for entrepreneurs — and for good reason. Ries’s book was an absolute home run in the startup community and was widely praised by entrepreneurs and critics alike. This summer, you can build on Ries’s ideas by diving into Cooper and Vlaskovits’s bestseller, which explores the “Myth of the Visionary” and explains why you’re not the visionary you think you are — yet.
| 7) Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskowitz|
Building on the “lean” theme, this detailed resource highlights the value of measuring and analyzing key data as your business grows. As serial entrepreneurs Croll and Yoskowitz show, lean analytics can help you identify problems quicker, find customers more efficiently, and focus on the initiatives, processes, and opportunities that matter most to a scaling company. The book features more than 30 case studies and features insight from over 100 entrepreneurs and investors.
| 8) Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan that Works by Ash Maurya|
Okay, one last book in the realm of the Lean Startup. In Running Lean, Maurya explains why the concept of the Lean Startup is so critical to innovation, walking readers through a strategy for achieving product/market fit and maximizing your efforts. Ultimately, the founder and CEO of two technology companies delivers a resource that acclaimed entrepreneur and investor Brad Feld says is a “must read” for any entrepreneur intent on founding a company or adopting the Lean Startup approach.
| 9) Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City by Brad Feld|
Speaking of Feld, how could we leave one of the entrepreneurial rock star’s newest books off our summer reading list? The second in a series of four books about creating, running, and managing a startup company, Feld documents the sometimes complex dynamics of building communities of entrepreneurs in places other than Silicon Valley. With more than 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur and investor, Feld’s book provides practical advice that will help entrepreneurs in virtually any city build a healthy, mutually beneficial entrepreneurial ecosystem.
| 10) Nail It then Scale It: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating and Managing Breakthrough Innovation by Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom|
When most entrepreneurs create a business, they do so knowing that, at a minimum, more than 70 percent of startups fail. What’s the reason for such a high flame out rate? According to Furr and Ahlstrom, it’s not that entrepreneurs do the wrong things – it’s that they do the right things in the wrong order. In this book, Furr, a BYU professor and Stanford University PhD, and Ahlstrom, a well-known entrepreneur and investor, deliver a methodology for perpetual innovation that’s based on pattern recognition of timeless innovation principles and practices.
What books are you reading this summer?