No 1 "must read" for startup founder. Could you point just one?


If you could recommend just ONE, most important book, blog post or any other reading for startup founder - what would it be?

Books Recommendations

asked Feb 4 '10 at 05:54
Pawel A
191 points

18 Answers


Founders at Work provides a lot of perspectives from different successful start up founders. It's entertaining but also has a lot of useful wisdom.

answered Feb 4 '10 at 07:35
Brian Deterling
984 points


"The Four Steps to the Epiphany" -- Steven Blank.

Excellent advice for starting a tech company: How to discover who your customers really are and to create a repeatable sales process for them.

answered Feb 4 '10 at 09:45
749 points
  • +1. In think the Lean Startup movement is brilliant, and one of the very best things to happen on the startup scene in the last decade. Having said that, the original book by Steve is ... badly edited, full of long and hard to read 'chain of thought' passages. Reading the book is a must, but IMHO one also has to read blogs and see video casts to really get it. – Jesper Mortensen 14 years ago
  • Yup. Customer driven development will save you a lot of time and money. – Ian 14 years ago
  • Steve just announced a new book, "Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost" on Amazon and his blog – Rs Holman 14 years ago


I think the biggest challenge starting up is managing your time. The 4-Hour Workweek is one of the best resources for time management that I have ever found. In it, you will learn to focus on the following:

"Is it worth doing?

Will it matter in the long haul?

What was my impact?"

answered Feb 4 '10 at 06:32
Kc Enhance A Colour
121 points
  • I have to agree here. People dismiss the book as being gimmicky, but it's a life changer. – Sparagi 14 years ago


Well, since you asked :), let me plug my own book that came out in July:
The Web Startup Success Guide ( )

The publisher, Apress, makes Chapter 6: Social Media and your Startup available free at:

answered Feb 4 '10 at 06:04
Bob Walsh
2,620 points
  • I own both this book and his prior effort (MicroISVs), and they are must haves. The Web Startup Success Guide is a good mix of strategies, relevent interviews, and discussions of available tools and resources. -e- – Ev Conrad 14 years ago


I think Guy Kawasaki's Art of the Start is the one I would recommend.

answered Feb 4 '10 at 06:15
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points


Paul Graham's essays - try

What Start-ups are Really Like or

How to Start a Start Up I think all his essays are required reading.

answered Feb 11 '10 at 23:45
Rs Holman
596 points
  • The essays are good, but you should really be plugging the book "Hackers and Painters" as that's what the question asked. Essentially the book is a collection of Paul Graham's essays, so you can either read them online, or buy the book for offline reading. – Daemin 14 years ago


For me hands down it's Guy Kawasaki's book "Reality Check". It gives an excellent, easy to digest overview of all things startup. From there you can dive into great books taking you deeper into any particular area. But this gives a great overview.

answered Feb 4 '10 at 06:03
4,214 points
  • I really don't care for Guy's snotty know-it-all demeanor... but the book has some golden truths in it. I own it and it is one of the 5 books I give to students I mentor. – Apollo Sinkevicius 14 years ago
  • I agree 100% re: Guy. Personally not my cup of tea. But I think the book has lots of good information. – Chris 14 years ago


Hands down, Bo Peabody's "Lucky or Smart". This book is rocket fuel for the serial entrepreneur.

I loved it so much, I wrote this review.

answered Feb 4 '10 at 06:26
346 points


I personally really dig Jim Collin's Good to Great. I think it's a really important piece (although I seldom hear people attribute that book to building startups).

answered Feb 11 '10 at 13:53
G Rex
683 points


Getting Real If you are web-based startup...the book for the rest of us....

answered Feb 13 '10 at 01:55
Chris Dansie
491 points
  • IMHO that book is really opiniated. – Jpartogi 14 years ago
  • Opinionated, but still has a ton of great stuff about lean design, and is a pretty quick read with less abstractions and more real takeaways. – Frederick Cook 14 years ago

1 I read Art of the Start and gave it to four clients (serial entrepreneurs) as Christmas gifts. Consensus was 3 out of 4 stars.

answered Mar 25 '10 at 03:45
Sharon Drew
957 points


Clayton Christensen "The innovators Dilemma"

answered Feb 4 '10 at 06:34
Thom Pete
1,296 points


Sorry got to go two answers on you. Art of the Start is good at getting you motivated and confident around an idea and E Myth is excellent in getting you focused on being a smart and effective business owner. Some of the other books are decent, but I prefer those that closer to entrpreneurship and making it happen. You should be reading Harvard Business Review & Inc magazine as well. Those are awesome real-time lessons in success and failure and will get the fire going and your brain working overtime. Good luck.

answered Feb 16 '10 at 11:46
Jason Hilliard
21 points
  • I agree with all of your recommendations. – Sharon Drew 14 years ago


Even though it's not explicitly about startup live and starting a business I would recommend getting "The Black Swan, The impact of the highly improbable ". I've found it to be an interesting read and quite motivating.

(Note I'm using the author's Amazon link as found on his website.)

answered Feb 12 '10 at 00:52
323 points


Uhmn, I'm late to this party.

A off-beat and to some perhaps provocative choice: "Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure " by Jerry Kaplan. It details life on the inside of GO, a venture capital backed startup with huge ambitions. It has a sombre, sad tone most of the time -- GO computer went bankrupt. The book begins with the bankruptcy auction, and then goes on to detail the journey.

If you after reading this book still think "I want to try!", then you're truly an entrepreneur at heart.

And you're motivated to prep before launching, i.e. read some of the other fine books already mentioned here.

answered Feb 6 '10 at 20:39
Jesper Mortensen
15,292 points


The "E" Myth Revisted by Michael Gerber. Great read and a roadmap to success.

answered Feb 13 '10 at 04:25
Tommy Jaye
231 points


I agree with most of the books mentioned above, two of my favorites are definitely The Art of the Start and Founders at Work.

I will add to this list the book Go BIG or Go HOME by Wil Schroter, it is easy to read and I love the examples it provides.

answered Mar 24 '10 at 13:00
4,815 points


Dale Carnegies "How to win friends and Influence People".

For blog post I'd have to say check out Mark Suster's blog Both Sides of the Table

answered Feb 4 '10 at 10:19
Eric Amzalag
818 points

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