Life as an entrepreneur can be both fulfilling and challenging. The unfortunate reality is that many businesses fail within a few short years of being started. And even those that succeed often face tough challenges along the journey to profitability.
Fortunately, we now have access to great resources that make it easier than ever to adopt best practices and avoid common mistakes. In doing so, we can increase our odds for success and unlock opportunities to achieve better results. So, let’s explore ten of the best entrepreneur books that can help you along the way.
Note, none of these books are required to become an entrepreneur. You can start a business and accomplish great things without reading any of them. But, you’ll likely spend a lot of time rediscovering things that others have already solved for you. So think of these books as shortcuts that can save you time, energy, and money.
1. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
Entrepreneurs often make the mistake of investing heavily into an idea without first taking the time to validate it. Only later do they discover that the concept was fatally flawed or needs significant refinement. This outcome is often the result of inaccurate assumptions being made by the entrepreneur or founding team.
This book presents an alternative approach that can increase your odds for success. It stresses the importance of identifying early assumptions in the product or business model. And it provides tools and frameworks for testing those assumptions as quickly and as inexpensively as possible.
Startups that follow this approach can make consistent progress towards a great product, a great marketing model, and a sustainable business.
2. Traction by Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares
The most common reason why startups fail is due to a lack of customers. Most can build a product or service of some kind. But, many fail to generate enough interest from the market to build a sustainable business.
This book calls on startups to split their time 50/50 between product development and nurturing early customers. This approach makes it easier to gather early feedback, increasing the likelihood of eventually achieving customer traction.
Much of the content focuses on exploring 19 marketing channels that you can use to attract customers. However, the book also covers a simple framework for identifying the most promising opportunities for your particular business.
3. Sprint by Jake Knapp
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when developing a new product or service. Multiple challenges often come up at the same time, and it can be tricky to keep things moving forward. Especially if you’re also trying to conserve resources at the same time.
This book covers Google Ventures’ unique five-day sprint process. It’s a powerful approach for addressing critical issues by creating rapid prototypes and testing ideas with potential customers. In my opinion, it’s the perfect compliment to The Lean Startup because it offers excellent tools and tactics for testing product ideas.
4. The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick
Entrepreneurs often attempt to validate their business ideas by talking with friends, family, or potential customers. Unfortunately, this approach often results in misleading feedback because people have a natural desire to be supportive. And their passive encouragement can often be misinterpreted as genuine interest or validation.
This book explains how to properly talk with potential customers. It can help you ask the right questions in the right way to get honest and useful information. And it can help you avoid misleading feedback that could send you in the wrong direction.
In my opinion, this is one of the very best books for entrepreneurs to read, especially for those that are early in the startup journey or are looking to build a new product.
5. Start At The End by Matt Wallaert
The unfortunate reality is that many products fail to have a meaningful impact on the world. Even of those that sell well, many end up buried in a closet or a desk drawer, never being used as intended. And this lack of usage impacts customer reviews, word-of-mouth referrals, and repeat business in the future.
This book is about creating products that customers will actually use. It starts with helping you clarify how you want customers to use your solution. And then, it explains how to design it to increase the likelihood of high customer engagement.
6. Building A StoryBrand by Donald Miller
It’s not enough to have a great product, service, or idea. Entrepreneurs must also be able to communicate it’s value to generate sales. Otherwise, potential customers may reject the offer simply because they do not understand it.
This book explains how to clarify your message so customers will listen. In doing so, you’ll make it easier for people to make an informed decision, and you’ll increase the likelihood that your idea will spread through word-of-mouth referral. That’s because it’s easier for people to talk about a clear and well-communicated idea.
7. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries & Jack Trout
Entrepreneurs often struggle to have their business or brand stand out in the market. Even if their products and services are truly unique, it can be challenging to help customers understand how they differ from alternative options.
This book can help you position your brand as the preferred choice in its niche. The authors explain the value of dominating a product category in the minds of customers. And they provide several strategies for achieving this powerful market position.
The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. You can learn more by reviewing my book summary of The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing.
8. Contagious by Jonah Berger
Word-of-mouth is arguably the most powerful marketing opportunity for entrepreneurs today. It can have a massive impact on the long-term growth of a business. Therefore, it’s critical to find ways to boost customer referrals for your products and services.
This book covers six powerful strategies for increasing word-of-mouth referral. And it covers many practical examples of how other businesses are using these methods to spread the word about what they do. You can apply each of the strategies individually or combine them for an even more significant effect.
9. Hooked by Nir Eyal
Many businesses spend a small fortune promoting repeat usage of their products over time. The approach is common among subscription-based products and those that generate strong word-of-mouth referrals or repeat purchases.
Unfortunately, this kind of marketing can become a significant expense. So, businesses must choose between maximizing customer value or reducing marketing costs. And sometimes, this can feel like a lose-lose situation.
This book offers an alternative approach. It explains how to help customers build habits around using your product or service. That way, they continue to engage with your solution without the need for expensive marketing campaigns.
10. Crossing The Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore
Entrepreneurs often struggle to have their ideas appeal to mainstream customers. They may find some success with passionate early adopters, but this doesn’t always translate into success with the lucrative mainstream market. And without reaching that market, they miss out on the vast majority of potential profit.
This book explains how to successfully market and sell disruptive products. The insights can be applied to any idea that fundamentally involves having customers change their habits or behaviors to adopt it. So, if your solution breaks with the industry’s norms, this book should be at the top of your reading list.
Beyond The Best Entrepreneur Books
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