There are hundreds of thousands of books about business available today, which can make it tough to cut through the noise to find those that actually provide actionable advice. From great reads for startup CEOs to books about the importance of team building and psychology, we’re sharing a few of our favorites:
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
It’s an unfortunate fact that 80 percent of startups fail, but Ries believes that many of them don’t have to. When writing, he considers that a majority of failed companies don’t have the surplus time, money or manpower to complete extensive A/B testing and other market research strategies — so he offers advice about how to reduce product development cycles, find out what customers really want, and adapt to the marketplace before resources run out.
Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock
There’s a reason why this book landed on both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best Seller lists. A company is only as good as the talent it attracts and keeps, so Bock offers an in-depth explanation for a proper manager-employee relationship. Furthermore, he lists the exact qualities to look for when adding members to a team and explains the importance of finding balance between encouraging creativity and maintaining structure. Google is consistently rated one of the best places to work, and the insights shared here make it easy to understand why.
The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World by David Kirkpatrick
How did a student create one of the fastest growing companies of all time, completely transforming the Internet and how humans interact online? Here, veteran technology reporter Kirkpatrick offers a detailed history of Facebook and how it became the incredible company that it is today. This impressive, inside story speaks to why Facebook was started, the company’s early missteps, power of uncompromised vision, struggle between growth versus profit, and what’s next.
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
It’s a well-known fact that it’s easier and more cost-effective to keep a customer than acquire a new one. Eyal takes this concept a step further by exploring intriguing questions such as: why do some products get mass attention while others just flop? What makes a product so addictive that the customer can’t put it down? Is there a pattern as to how technologies hook us? Based on years of research, experience and consultations, Eyal is able to share smart findings along with practical, actionable steps for building a successful product.
Hot Seat: The Startup CEO Guidebook by Dan Shapiro
One of the best ways to learn is by example, and Shapiro’s book is chock-full of summaries that cover companies with varying degrees of success. Vividly explained are the five stages of a startup CEO, how to finish with respect to board members, staying loyal to a management team, and tips for maintaining financial security. As one reviewer wrote, “The thing that sets Dan’s writing apart from other startup books/blogs is his focus on translating his experiences (across several different types companies) into actionable advice for other entrepreneurs.”
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.” We’ve all heard the popular phrase “mind over matter,” and Dweck builds on this age old theory that with the right mindset, you can change your internal dialogue from being judgmental to helping one to grow; from praising talent to acknowledging hard work. Many have deemed this a must-read for anyone in a leadership position (including managers, teachers, parents and even CEOs).
Hackers And Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age by Paul Graham
Graham takes the unique approach of drawing on historical events and examples to explore what he calls, “an intellectual Wild West” in this series of essays. As computers swiftly take over our lives, Graham discusses the roles of programmers, hackers, and software designers and how they will forever change how we think and live. While you may disagree on some of his views on life, it will certainly get you thinking.
The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki
In the 1980s, Kawasaki helped shape Apple into one of the greatest companies of the century. As founder and CEO of Garage Technology Ventures, he has field-tested his ideas with dozens of entrepreneurial companies. With the incredible experience and success to back up his theories (presented with humor and real-world savvy), Kawasaki brings an arsenal of ideas to equip any business owner for potential challenges.
Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel
Theil started PayPal in 1998, led it as CEO, and took it public in 2002 — establishing a new era of fast and secure online commerce. Here, Theil shares his personal insights and anecdotes while raising important questions for budding entrepreneurs, including: Is now the right time to start your particular business? Will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 years into the future? Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product? Are you starting with a big share of a small market? With strong ideas and principles to help build the foundation of any business, Thiel’s advice shouldn’t be missed.
The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field by Mike Michalowicz
If you want a simple, cut-to-the-chase approach to launching a startup, this is it. Michalowicz explains his path to success in just three simple steps: 1) Plant the right seeds by identifying the thing you do better than anyone else and focus all of your attention, money, and time on figuring out how to grow your company doing it; 2) Weed out the loser customers that waste your time and invest in the customers that add the most value and provide the best opportunities for sustained growth; and 3) Nurture the winners by focusing on how you can make their wishes come true and deliver on every single promise.
About our contributor // Christina Morales is a freelance writer specializing in creating online marketing content. Her dream is to one day rule the world with just an iPad, a case of Cherry Coke, Twizzlers, and a glue gun.