Four must-have books for entrepreneurs

The literary market is flush with books that aim to inspire entrepreneurs, tell the story of successful startups and let readers in on the secrets of those who made it big. From the practical to the absurd, there’s a lot out there. We have compiled a short list of highly regarded startup literature that would do any entrepreneur, from the beginner to the seasoned, well to have on their shelf.

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1, Nail It, Then Scale It by Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom

In Nail It, Then Scale It, Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom examine why some entrepreneurs fail while others succeed, and introduce step-by-step how to execute a venture successfully: Nail the Customer Plan, Nail the Solution, Nail the Go-to-Market Strategy, Nail the Business Model, and then Scale It. The book uses real world examples to illustrate the importance of pivoting strategies based on outcome, instead of clinging to the “facts” laid out in a business plan.

In the traditional startup, an entrepreneur has an idea, writes a business plan, and then tries to execute on that business plan. The problem with this approach is that although the number, milestones and strategy that went into the business plan were product of thoughtful effort, they were still best guesses at the time. But as soon as guesses get written down, rather quickly they get turned into facts. (159-106)


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2. The Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur

With The Business Model Generation, Osterwalder and Pignuer introduced the revolutionary business model canvas. The canvas changed the common notion that a traditional business plan is the be-all, end-all path to success. While a traditional business plan will only be successful when applied to the specific sets of circumstances it is tailored towards, the business model canvas operates on hypothesis and allows for founders to pivot in one area (ie, customer relationships) based on another (ie, key activities). The book utilizes visuals to give readers with the most elementary levels of business knowledge a full understanding of how to execute strategies in the most practical way.


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3. Disciplined Entrepreneurship, 24 Steps to  Successful Startup by Bill Aulet

Aulet addresses the false and widely held impression that successful entrepreneurs became so out of sheer luck, illuminating in this comprehensive, 24 step guide how successful products are created. The book aims to pull together strategies presented in other regarded resources and instruct readers as to which steps in the process it is most appropriate to implement those strategies.

The third myth is that there is an entrepreneurship gene, that certain people are genetically predisposed for success in starting companies. As the cartoon at the beginning of this chapter suggests, such a physical gene has not and will not be found. Some believe personality traits like flamboyance or boldness are correlated with successful entrepreneurship, but that line of thought is misguided. Instead, there are real skills that increase the odds of success, such as people management, sales skills and the topic of this book, product conception and delivery/ (page 3)


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4. The Startup Owners Manual by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

This is not a Saturday afternoon reader. In the opening section titled How to Read This Book,  the authors emphasize that this book is not to be read, but it be used. This tome is meant not meant to inspire you, but to serve as a comprehensive guide throughout the whole startup process. It kicks off with a chapter titled The Path to Disaster: A Startup is Not a Small Version of a Big Company and leads the user through customer development, customer discovery, business model hypothesis, and customer validation. There is an extensive glossary, a detailed index,  and over 40 checklists to help users determine how they can best utilize the book’s resources based on where they are in the process.


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