Books for Entrepreneurs
I got the same question a few times after posting Results-Centric Product Design: “what books is this taught in?”.
Well, it isn’t. Not ones I know anyways (reply if you do).
It did get me thinking what books would I recommend to entrepreneurs. I enjoy reading good “professional” books. There is just a very small number of good ones.
if you want a great post about non-business-books-must-read for entrepreneurs, you should check out Fred Wilsons Books for Entrepreneurs post. It’s definitely different.
Tried sorting these in the order of how much it was different, useful, thought provoking, yada-yada-yada. YMMV. I actually bought 5 copies of each, and I’m giving them out to entrepreneurs I meet.
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity (by David Allen): A true life changer. There are so many useless “self improvement” and “habit changing” books, but GTD has almost become a cult amongst followers. There are concrete, easy to implement (hard to follow, of course) tips & tricks that make a difference, combined with higher level concepts that make sense. Start writing everything into a single list. Categorize by contexts in which your attention could be useful (don’t look at tasks requiring Internet while on a plane). Do any task requiring less than 2 minutes immediately (reduce your task backlog so your mind will be free to focus on the important ones), and more.
- The One Minute Manager (by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson): Define your expectations, look for positive feedback you can give, provide negative feedback quickly. Yes, simple – but rarely implemented well.
- Crossing the Chasm (by Geoffrey A. Moore): A true oldie, but surprisingly relevant still. Deals with the question of how do you move from a customer based comprised of early adopters to the mainstream. Too often we forget that many of the “techcrunch” companies have not yet crossed that threshold (Quora, anyone?).
- The Innovators Dilemma (by Clayton M. Christensen): The short, distorted version of this by me: big companies have all the advantages, but they have tunnel vision into markets that can “move the needle” for them. If you have a great new technology that could change an industry, select a small market where the big guys won’t want / be able to / have an advantage in competing with you. Then you can use that to leverage your way into revolutionizing the entire industry. Go easy on the talkbacks here.
- Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story (by Jerry Weissman): Do you dread those presentations where in the best case, the presenter is reading each slide and at worse, you go ahead and read it yourself, wondering why in the world did you go to the presentation? I do. The base toolbox of this book is figuring out who is your audience, thinking WIIFT (What’s in it for them), what is the point B you want people to get to by the end of the presentation and (probably the biggest change for me) not thinking in slide terms but in content, and only then structuring it into a series of slides. Another great resource for improving your presentation style is Guy Kawasaki’s “The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint“
- Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (by Tom DeMarco and Timothy R. Lister): How do you manage teams to be able to deliver on projects… almost on time, figuring out the major issue is humans, not processes.
While writing it, I added a few books I have been meaning to read for a while to my shopping cart. If you happen to have a strong opinion of them, don’t be shy.
- High Output Management: consistently recommended by Ben Horowitz of Opsware/a16z
- Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming
- Founders at Work
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive