Inspiration · Ideation

What are the books every entrepreneur should read?

Benjamin Bertelsen MSc in Digital Innovation & Management

September 15th, 2016

Apparently Elon Musk used to read 2 books per day… Not sure how much of that is true but reality has kicked in for me and I know there is a lot to read to continue my self development. With that being said, I was wondering if you could recommend me the must read books for founders.

Calvin C.S.C.S Health and Wellness Educator

September 15th, 2016

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business by Ben Horowitz

Alan McNab Board Member and Managing Director, Arista Networks Ltd

September 15th, 2016

Justin beat me to it, those are my favorites...I'll have to read The Machine.  
I would add Good to Great (Collins)

Alejandro Cremades Author of The Art of Startup Fundraising & Serial Entrepreneur

September 15th, 2016

1) The Lean Startup
2) Rework
3) How to Win Friends and Influence People
4) Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
5) Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days
6) Mastering the VC Game: A Venture Capital Insider Reveals How To Get from Start-up to IPO on Your Terms
7) Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist
8) Startup CEO: How To Build a Company To Success
9) The Entrepreneur's Guide To Business Law
10) Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0
11) The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Startups That Win
12) High Tech Startup: The Complete Handbook for Creating Successful New High Tech Companies
13) Do More Faster: Techstars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup
14) Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don't
15) The Start-Up of  You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career
16) Raising Venture Capital for the Serious Entrepreneur
17) Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers
18) The CEO Tighttrope: How to Master the Balancing Act of a Successful CEO
19) The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything
20) The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
21) Built to Last: Successful Habits of  Visionary Companies
22) Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
23) Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
24) Crush It!: Why Now Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion
25) The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs
26) The Paypal Wars: Battles with Ebay, the Media, the Mafia, and the Rest of Planet Earth
27) The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Mae a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future
28) The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About it
29) Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to Plan That
30) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Justin Roff-Marsh

September 15th, 2016

The Goal (Goldratt)
Crossing the Chasm (Moore)
22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (Ries)
The Machine (me!)

Christopher Whipple Animatronics Engineer at Hasbro

September 15th, 2016

Hi Benjamin, 

I too have been reading quite a bit lately. My father is an author and has been giving me a lot of his research material to read as of late. He focuses more on management of existing companies rather than entrepreneurship, but there are some great parallels and tips and tricks for early companies. Here is a list of some of the recent books that I have read, including some that were required reading from my Masters degree program.

Innovators Dilemma:

Heart Smarts Guts Luck:

Think and Grow Rich:

Good To Great:

We Are Market Basket:

And my father's book (sorry for the shameless plug) : ACT Now or Fail

Lastly, this is the next book I will be reading, recommended by a CEO I met recently:

Smartest Places On Earth:

Good luck and happy reading!


Inne Have Co-owner, designer, web/game/app development

September 15th, 2016

Hi Benjamin, The best resource I’ve found was the following: Good luck! Feel free to ask me for more ;-) Cheers, and my best greetings from the Nerherlands, Inne ten Have

Irwin Stein Very experienced (40 years) corporate,securities and real estate attorney.

September 15th, 2016

From the books recommended there is a divergence of opinion about what you need to know. You can read the feel good stories about other entrepreneurs and their success; those that offer "how to" start a company in 10 easy lessons or those that actually offer some insight and  depth. For the latter I recommend The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business by Ben Horowitz. You won't find what you really need to know, how to hone your fundamental accounting, marketing and managerial skills, in any of them. 

Shel Horowitz I help organizations thrive by building social transformation into your products, your services, and your marketing

September 15th, 2016

I'm an "addicted reader." While I don't read as many as Elon Musk, I did read 89 books in 2015.

So far, no one has mentioned any of my top choices--which skew heavily toward books that examine business' role in protecting and improving the environment (a great role for startups)--as well as books on how to be a better marketer:
  • The Success Principles, by Jack Canfield and Janet Switzer--the ONLY self-help book I ever recommend.
  • Biomimicry by Janine Benyus--a look at how we can model nature in our engineering. You might want to start with her TED talk, which is a lot easier to follow.
  • Cradle to Cradle, by McDonough and Michael Braungart--one of the earliest works on achieving zero waste
  • Ethical Markets by Hazel Henderson--terrific introduction to the diverse world of socially conscious entrepreneurship
  • The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid by C.K. Prahalad AND Buisness Solution to Poverty by Paul Polak and Mal Warwich--two books that demonstrate how business can make a great profit serving the most needy: really cool stuff like solar-powered LED lanterns that remove a fire hazard, remove toxics exposure, provide direct and indirect economic benefits to their customers, and make a very nice profit
  • And of course my own 10th book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World: a primer on how business can turn hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance at a profit, with examples ranging from solopreneurs to Fortune 50. If this is of interest, you might start by watching my TED talk, "Impossible is a Dare" (only 15 minutes):

Nigel Dessau Chief Marketing Officer at Wellsmith, LLC

September 15th, 2016

Also, look for books that fit the business you are building. I am currently listening to The Membership Economy by Robbie Kellman Baxter - useful if that the type of business you are into. Also, if we are into some self-promotion, my book, Become a 21st Century Executive, maybe useful for helping people who are looking to build a career in the business world. Especially if you have never managed people. 

Alexander Bierling Developing the world's Proximal Internet with Hugleberry Corp. in Brooklyn.

September 15th, 2016

Hi Ben, I've been reading some very helpful books for startups over the summer. You can find my blogpost with some comments here: