It’s a harsh reality: Unless you’re already dialed into an elite insider’s club of successful entrepreneurs thanks to career or educational associations, people who want to journey from great idea to world-class product or service are already working at a distinct disadvantage.
IncBuilders was founded to level that playing field with a set of tools to help those outside that walled garden make their business ideas succeed.
The most important tool of all is knowledge, much of which is contained within some outstanding books on the startup journey.
We’d like to share a selection of reading that will help you understand key concepts about creating a business — and communicate your goals to others who can help you succeed.
The IncBuilders team assembled seven books that will help you build a strong intellectual foundation for your startup. Please join us in the comments below by suggesting your own favorite books about entrepreneurship!
1. The Richest Man in Babylon (George S. Clason)
This volume provides the basic financial blueprint for acquiring wealth. Paying yourself first or putting aside 10% of your income each paycheck for investment purposes is incredibly important to thinking long term and becoming financially independent.
This 10% is a minimum one should set aside and should be invested to grow one’s wealth, whether the instrument you choose is stocks; real estate; self-development — or entrepreneurship.
2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen R. Covey)
A self-help classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People describes a process to hone your focus and approach to life.
The book introduces the concept of a paradigm shift that starts with steps to achieve self-mastery: focusing on your reactions, principles, and where you’re putting your efforts. Once you’ve gained independence, you can succeed with interdependence, or co-operative relationships.
Seeking to understand others and promote a win-win atmosphere builds harmony and a community where talents can flourish — an essential environment for a startup.
3. Think and Grow Rich (Napoleon Hill, Arthur R. Pell)
The result of 25 years of research in collaboration with more than 500 distinguished men of great wealth, who proved by their own achievements that this philosophy is practical. Think and Grow Rich provides the reader with 13 principles in the form of a “Philosophy of Achievement.”
The book asserts that desire, faith, and persistence can propel you to great heights if you can suppress negative thoughts and focus on long-term goals.
4. The One Thing (Gary Keller and Jay Papasan)
By nature, entrepreneurs get new ideas all the time; they juggle multiple ideas, shift priorities, get excited and distracted quite easily. The One Thing urges you to rein in those impulses, since success in life comes when you do one thing better than anyone else. (Tiger Woods wouldn’t be Tiger Woods if he did 10 things above average, but none of them extraordinarily.)
This book explains how your conscious mind can only perform one thing at a time, and multitasking is a myth. This seemingly simple and generally accepted rule is completely overlooked in our lives. This book will change your life and show you how you can achieve extraordinary results by doing one small thing at a time.
5. The Lean Startup (Eric Ries)
“How can we build a sustainable organization under extreme uncertainty and resource constraints?” Ries answers this question in his book by describing a product development framework called Lean Startup that focuses on failing fast and learning fast. In order to run a business, you need to build a product that people want, feasible to build — and viable for the long term so that you don’t go broke.
The Lean Startup framework considers all decisions as Build-Measure-Learn loops to validate our hypothesis early and smartly. Whether you are an entrepreneur laying foundations of your own business or responsible for innovation at a big organization, The Lean Startup is a must read.
6. Zero to One (Peter Thiel)
Peter Thiel has courted controversy throughout his career, but there’s no denying he’s one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs and investors in tech today. With Zero to One, Thiel challenges some basic assumptions about innovation — specifically, that competition spurs more creativity and that first movers have an advantage in the market.
The road to success, Thiel contends, is to create a unique value proposition of value to users — and then move to monopolize the market for it.
7. Slicing Pie (Mike Moyer)
You”ve had a “eureka” moment. You’ve got a vision of the Next Big Thing — and you realize you can’t do it alone. You’ve spoken with your friends and families, attended events, and connected with some smart folks who can help you launch your startup.
How can you make it fair for everyone involved? If you tell someone you will only give them 5% of equity, will they put in 10% worth of effort? What if someone loses interest and quits after the project starts? How about if a shareholder dies with 25% of equity and now it’s transferred to her husband who never shows up? Enter Slicing Pie with a remarkably fair and simple equity model for early-stage companies — especially those without a lot of cash.
The elevator pitch: Your equity in the company changes based on how and what you contribute. Gone are the days when your co-founder doesn’t do what he promised, and gone are the days when someone keeps 80% of the company just because that person came up with the idea.