These 67 books teach Entrepreneurship better than a Harvard MBA !!!

In today’s day and age if you’re not constantly learning, trying new things and evolving, existing knowledge becomes redundant pretty soon and eventually you.

Greater knowledge comes only from 2 things — Conversations with people smarter than you and reading books from people smarter than you.

Though the former is fun and always a better option, it’s not always a possibility.I admit I would love to sit with Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos and debate ideas with them but then I don’t know them or rather honest — they don’t know me!!

So, we get to doing the next best thing — Read their books and know how they think and then superimpose and internally hold a conversation about how would Elon have handled my own situation if he were in my shoes. And Voila! we have new ideas or better ones.

So dear world, without further delay, I’m sharing a list of books that me and my fellow entrepreneur friends from across the globe swear by.

P.S.- I’ve tried to categorise them into cohorts to make it easier for you to follow on where you want to begin reading!!

PRODUCT

These books are great for those who are currently at the product stage of entrepreneurship or wanting to better the product proposition.

1. Sprint: How to solve big problem and test new ideas in 5 days

Authors: Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, Brad Kowitz

Sprint: Photo Credit — GoodReads

The Book provides a remarkable five-day process which guides you to use design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers for solving tough problems.

2. Age of Platform

Author: Phil Simon

The Age of The Platform: Photo Credit- Amazon

I can’t describe this book better that how SmallBiztrends did “It is the kind of book you must read if you want to better understand the Internet and how your company can fit into it and create a business model to profit from it.

3. The lean startup

Author: Eric Ries

The lean Startup: Photo Credit- GoodReads

This excellent book teaches you how to increase capital efficiency of companies and how to harness human creativity to its highest potential. Difficult concepts like validated learning and vanity metrics, are explained in simple and easy to follow words.

4. About Face

Authors: Alan Cooper, Robert Reiman, David Cronin

About Face: Photo Credit — GoodReads

This amazing book talks about design. This book is in essence a comprehensive guide that takes design into account along with the worldwide shift to smartphones and tablets.

5. Winning with Data

Author: Tomas Tunguz, Frank Bien

Winning with Data: Photo Credit — GoodReads

Winning with Data talks in detail about Data and how to succeed in a data driven world. It discusses how to adapt organizations to leverage big data to maximum effect.

6. Hooked

Author: Nir Eyal

Hooked, Photo Credit-Amazon

This is a wonderful book for people who want to learn or refine the “art of selling products” . The book discusses stories of various successful products and the strategy that led to their success. strategies. Easy to follow and read this book is also a great weekend read!

7. Lean analytics

Author: Alistair Croll

Lean Analytics, Photo Credit- GoodReads

This is an excellent book in a case study format (more than 30) for idea validation, deciding initial strategy on finding the right customer segment, what to build and how to monetize your idea.

8. The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide by

Author: Leah Buley

The User Experience Team of One, Photo Credit- GodReads

So, I am a man driven by great user design. When designing the UX for the Alore CRM tool I built I obsessed with UX a lot. During that time I ensured everybody in the tech and UI/UX team had read this book and understood it !!

9. 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

Author: Susan Wienschenk

100 Things every designer needs to know, Photo Credit- Amazon

This book helps explain to the tech and design team what catches attention, engage consumers and customers on websites, apps and products. This book is a great culmination of psychology meets technology.

10. Dealing with Darwin: How Great Companies Innovate at Every Phase of Their Evolution

Author: Geoffrey Moore

Dealing With Darwin, Photo Credit- Amazon

This book talks about innovation in execution to reproduce an existing product or service to boost productivity. In hundred plus examples he discusses concepts like re producing commodity products or customized services.

11. The Four steps of Epiphany

Author: Steve Blank

The Four Steps To The Epiphany, Photo Credit: Amazon

Amazon describes this book well — “The Four steps of Epiphany offers practical and proven four-step Customer Development process for search and offers insight into what makes some startups successful and leaves others selling off their furniture”

12. Product Design for the Web: Principles of Designing and Releasing Web Products

Author: Randy J. Hunt

Product Design for the Web, Photo Credit — GoodReads

This book by the creative director of Etsy, wonderfully discusses what a product designer must keep in mind to create a wowing and seamless user experience and make the user want to visit your website again and again and again.

LEADERSHIP & MOTIVATION

The following cluster of books are my all time favourite recommendations to anyone in need of inspiration or guidance on leadership

13. The hard things about hard things

Author: Ben Horowitz

The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Photo Credit — Amazon

Experienced entrepreneur Ben Horowitz discusses what really it is to be a startup founder and run a business beyond the jazz and glitz outsiders perceive it to be. Ben talks about examples from his own life when entrepreneurs are faced with making tough decisions like firing a friend , handling smart bad employees etc.

14. Good to Great

Author: James Collins

Good To Great, Photo Credit- Amazon

This insightful book is a great read to understand why some companies fail and why others succeed wildly. It discusses and compares companies that succeeded and that didn’t to what difference lies between them. The comparative narration helps you self asses often where you’re going wrong or right.

15. Giant of an enterprise

Author: Richard S Tedlow

Giants of Enterprise, Photo Credit- Amazon

Harvard Business School professor Richard Tedlow discusses the lives of nineteen and twentieth century biggies like George Eastman, Charles Revson, Sam Walton , Henry Ford — and what led them to greatness.

16. Resolve and Fortitude

Author: Joachim Kempin

Resolve and Fortitude, Photo Credit- Amazon

This is a book written by ex-Microsoft employee Joachim Kempin who was also called “Microsofts secret power broker”. It discusses how Microsoft became what it did in the eighties and nineties and how things shaped up and why. A little heavy for a weekend read though.

17. One Click

Author: Richard Brandt

One Click, Photo Credit- Amazon

The author charts Billionaire business titan Jeff Bezos’s rise from a regular computer geek to modern day world- changing entrepreneur.

18. Multipliers: How best leaders get the best out of everyone

Author: Liz Wiseman

Multipliers, Photo Credit- GoodReads

This book discusses leadership in a completely relatable format- Why some leaders drive you to insanity yet others motivate and inspire you that you’d jump into the ocean with them if need be.

19. Pacman

Author: Gary Poole

Pacman, Photo Credit- Amazon

The book is an un-put-down-able read about Boxing star Manny Pacquiao and discusses his story from humble beginnings in The Philippines to be the sports legend he is today.

20. Autobiography of a Yogi ( I have given this to everyone I’ve employed)

Author: Paramahansa Yogananda

Autobiography of a Yogi, Photo Credit — Amazon

As I read on Amazon about this — “This book is a spiritual treasury that helps you understand the meaning of life”. This is also a book I present all my employees when they join Alore, in the hope that one day one or more lesson(s) will guide them through a sticky wicket.

21. Business adventures

Author: John Brookes

Business Adventures, Photo Credit — Amazon

In astounding and insightful detail, the author walks us through twelve story like formats of business analysis of companies from Wall Street.

22. The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company

Author: Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

The Startup Owners Manual, Photo Credit — GoodReads

The book covers various learnings of Do’s and don’ts from the extensive research by the authors of the startup world. The book is a step-by-step, detailed reference guide for building a successful and scalable startup.

23. Superbosses

Author: Sydney Finkelstein

Superbosses, Photo Credit — Amazon

This book is a great guide on how to be a great leader and how to manage people without even them realizing they’re being managed. This tells us how to inspire people to be productive and give their 100% at work.

24. Tribal Leadership Revised Edition: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organisation

Author: Dave Logan, John King & Halee Fischer-Wright

Tribal Leadership, Photo Credit — Amazon

This amazing book discusses why people tend to form groups and cohorts (20–150 people) where everyone knows everyone. It teaches managers to observe and assess what the tribes(groups) under his command are, what they’re motivations are and how to propel them to greatness by compensating their weaknesses and fuelling their strengths.

25. Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders

Author: David Marquet.

Turn the Ship around, Photo Credit- GoodReads

The book discusses an alternate approach to leadership where a US Navy officer discusses of handing control to subordinates and creating junior leaders rather than employees who are mere followers. It teaches every employee to take responsibility for their actions and helps managers to train employees to do so.

CULTURE:

Company Culture is something I am a stickler about. It’s the true north of our existence and I often write about it. You can read an article I wrote on our company culture here.

In addition to my own thoughts, the following is a list of books that helped me reach and decide what our company culture must be.

26. The score takes care of itself

Author: Bill Walsh

The score takes care of itself, Photo credit- Amazon

Okay I bought this book because is aw a video of Jack Dorsey recommending it and boy! was I happy that I did!! While this book talks more about leadership, it also talks in length about building teams and habits. It talks about creating a bunch of people, united by a culture sacred to them and how that culture fuels them to greatness

27. So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

Author: Cal Newport

So Good they cant ignore you, Photo credit- Amazon

This is an excellent counter argument to the adage” Do what you love” — It talks about how you can end up loving what you do. The author talks about how “passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before”

28. Delivering happiness

Author: Tony Hsieh

Delivering Happiness, Photo credit- Amazon

The genius Tony Hsieh talks about his journey with zappos and how business is second to customer service where the whole company is responsible for it and not just a certain department.

29. The power of habit

Author: Charles Duhigg

The power of Habit, Photo Credit — Amazon

This is more about why you should always try to solve problems for users and not your own problems ( while making products)

30. The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything. . . Fast!

Author: Josh Kaufman

The first 20 hours, Photo Credit — Amazon

The author talks about how one can learn anything like a pro in twenty hours. He discusses 4 key things:

• Focus energy on acquiring key skill sets
 • Eliminate obstacles and discover critical tools
 • Create rapid feedback loops
 • Work against the clock to get better fast

31. Grit: The power of passion and perseverance

Author: Angela Duckworth

GRIT, Photo credit- GoodReads

Grit matters more than talent in entrepreneurship. Please read this book on the authors formula for Grit to help anyone to become grittier, focusing on six key factors: hope, effort, precision, passion, ritual and prioritisation.

32. In the plex

Author: Steven Levy

In The Plex- Photo Credit — GoodReads

Veteran technology reporter Steven Levy shares his research on Google and how it really works in the most simple and insightful way possible. Levy reveals the success of Google lies in its engineering mind-set and adoption of such Internet values as speed, openness, experimentation, and risk taking.

33. Shoe dog

Author: Phil Knight

Shoe Dog — Photo Credit- Amazon

Nike founder Phil Knight who generally prefers to stay low key, talks about his story in this memoir. From how he started Nike at age 24 with a loan of 50 GBP from his dad to today. Great read for a weekend !

34.Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Author: Carol S Dweck

Mindset- Photo credit- Amazon

This book is about changing mindset to a growth mindset. What I loved most about the book is the part where the author discusses — talents and brains often get in the way of an individual’s development. Being one of the most ignored aspects, a person’s mindset is an important factor that affects personal development

Productivity

I believe in productivity as much as I believe in breathing. The following is the list of books that revolutionise how you look at each day and its output.

35. The Checklist Manifesto: How to get things right.

Author: Atul Gawande

The Checklist Manifesto, Photo Credit, Amazon

Checklists are most people’s go-to tool to start an activity. From grocery shopping to pre-take off procedure, checklists are the best. In this book Atul Gawande points out exactly how important (sometimes life-saving) a checklist can be using real life incidents as examples.

36. Pomodoro Technique

Author: Staffan Noteberg

Pomodoro Technique, Photo Credit- Amazon

A popular book with a neat trick to increase productivity, especially for those with a necessity for multi-tasking. A method to organize your time and increase efficiency with nothing more than a stopwatch and a piece of paper.

37. The Happiness Advantage

Author: Shawn Achor

The Happiness Advantage, Photo Credit- Amazon

Work hard, be successful, hence be happy. The traditional notion on how to achieve happiness does not hold any water according to recent studies. Moreover, they seem to point towards the idea that from happiness comes success and not the other way around. Shawn Achor in this book illustrates the 7 principles behind this theory.

38. Four Hour work week

Author: Timmothy Ferriss

The 4-Hour work week , Photo Credit — Amazon

This book is definitely a life changing read. Timmothy Ferriss delves in to the idea that 80% of our productivity is done in 20% of our time and that 80% of our time is lost on the other 20% of productivity. He shows us a way to streamline our time management and increase the time we get for ourselves

39. Rework

Author: Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson

Rework, Photo Credit- Amazon

A brilliant playbook for people who want to start something of their own. It’s an easy read that can help inspire you to rework the way you work. It teaches you to be successful in business by doing everything better, faster, easier.

40. Four Seconds: All the Time You Need to Stop Counter-Productive Habits and Get the Results You Want

Author: Peter Bergman

Four Seconds, Photo Credit- Amazon

Peter Bregman, in his book, tells us that all we need to do in this lightning paced world today is to pause for 4 seconds and rethink your next move. This way you can get rid of almost all of your counter-productive habits.

41. Driven to distraction at work: How to focus and be more productive

Author: Edward M Hallowell

Driven to distraction at work, Photo Credit- Amazon

Hallowell points out the kinds of distractions one might face at their work place, essentially cutting down on their productivity. He also tells us how to get rid these distractions and thus maximize productivity. In today’s world where distractions are many this book is definitely a must read

MARKETING

Every startup must have only two roles — to innovate and to market that innovation!!

42. Priceless: The Hidden Psychology of Value

Author: William Poundstone

Priceless, Photo Credit- Amazon

This is an insightful book on interpreting the psychology about pricing and how consumers see it. Eg a tee shirt of $100 might sound expensive bu one for $99.99 would feel like a great deal !

43. Everything is Bullshit

Author: Priceonomics

Everything is Bullshit, Photo Credit- Amazon

This book brilliantly discusses how anything can be commercialised and monetized. For e.g. Why do diamond rings signify engagement when engagements happened even when diamonds weren’t mined. It’s about how you market your product to make it indispensable.

44. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

Author: Jack Trout and AL Ries

Positioning: The battle for your mind, Photo Credit- Amazon

This is an excellent read on product positioning!

45. Tested Advertising Methods

Author: John Caples

Tested Advertising methods, Photo Credit- Amazon

Great book for copywriters and marketers. The author shares almost 30 ways to write great headlines because as he himself sums it “If the headline is poor, the copy will not be read”

46. Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers

Author: Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares

Traction, Photo Credit- Amazon

This is a book for every marketer. The book discusses how traction is important and discusses many ways to achieve so and how — e.g. Viral Marketing, Public Relations (PR), community building, content marketing etc.

47. Speak Human: Out market the Big Guys by Getting Personal

Author: Eric Karjalouto

Speak Human, Photo Credit- Amazon

This is a delightful book for marketers dealing with the art of effective marketing communication with the consumers

48. Eating the big fish

Author: Adam Morgan

Eating the big fish, Photo Credit- Amazon

The book’s subtitle explains it all — “How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded”

SALES

Can any product reach the market on its own unless someone sold it to them! ?! The following are some books I was recommended by established senior entrepreneurs and Venture capitalists and some I stumbled upon and would recommend for a reading.

49. To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others

Author: Daniel Pink

To sell is human, Photo Credit- Amazon

With brilliant counterintuitive insights, the author talks about ABC- Always be Closing. The author describes 6 successors to the elevator pitch, the 3 rules for understanding another’s perspective, the 5 frames that can make a message clearer and more persuasive etc.in great detail in this book.

50. Predictable Revenue

Author: Aaron Ross & MaryLou Tyler

Predictable Revenue, Photo Credit- Amazon

I recommend this book to everyone in my office. Silly story but you know what — I didn’t hire my sales manager till the time he had read it, understood it and debated it with me. It’s true. That’s how much I love this book!!

This amazing book has all the answers you need to know how to go about building predictable, repeatable and scalable revenues. Written by Marylou Tyler and Aaron Ross — the guy who helped Salesforce.com’s build its $100 million sales machine

51. Sell or be sold

Author: Grant Cardone

Sell or be Sold, Photo Credit- Amazon

In this awesome book the author, sales expert Grant Cardone tells you how to ace every sale and shares techniques on how to sell in a number of channels and shorten sales cycle for higher productivity.

52. The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to Go from $0 to $100 Million

Author: Mark Roberge

The Sales acceleration Formula, Photo Credit- Amazon

This is an excellent, excellent, excellent, book on scaling a business and scaling sales!

53. Hacking sales

Author: Max Altschuler

Hacking Sales, Photo Credit- Amazon

This book tells you how to use technology and innovative techniques to create a streamlined process in sales. From customer profiling, personas creation, STP, getting referrals etc, this book has something to guide you become better at everything in sales.

54. Little red book on selling

Author: Jeffrey Gitomer

Little Red Book of Selling, Photo Credit- Amazon

Wonderful read on understanding sales from the customers vantage point –“Why do customers buy !!?!”

55. If you are not first, you are last

Author: Grant Cardone

If you’re not first, you’re last, Photo Credit- Amazon

Maverick sales guru shares unmissable insights in this book on successfully achieving market domination.

Miscellaneous

The following is a mixed bag of books one must read on inspiring entrepreneurs and

56. Steve Jobs

Author: Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs,, Photo Credit- Amazon

A perfect read for startup founders and regular readers alike to fire up their belly on what they could achieve if they tried!

57. Elon Musk

Author: Ashlee Vance

Elon Musk, Photo Credit- Amazon

Does this guy need an introduction in startup circles? This book on him is “UNMISSABLE”. Great read over a weekend to walk in his shoes of how he came about PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX and Solarcity etc.

Also a great inspiration to fire up for a long workweek ahead

58. Burning Entrepreneur

Author: Brad Feld

Burning Entrepreneur, Photo Credit- Amazon

59. Escobar: The Inside Story of Pablo Escobar, the World’s Most Powerful Criminal

Author: Roberto Escobar

Escobar, Photo Credit- Amazon

No, I don’t idolise him or aim to be a drug lord but the book provides a great insight into how a single man handled a $30 Billion business in the cut-throat environment and how he inspired his employees to insane levels of loyalty and service.

60. Hatching Twitter

Author: Nick Bilton

Hatching Twitter, Photo Credit- Amazon

As Amazon describes it better than I could — “ HATCHING TWITTER is a blistering drama of betrayed friendships and high-stakes power struggles. A business story like no other, it will shock, expose and inspire.”

61. Things a little bird told me

Author: Biz Stone

Things a little bird told me, Photo Credit- Amazon

Ex -Google employee and Twitter co-founder talks about his life and career and tells us how opportunities can be manufactured and empathy leads to success.

62. Lean In

Author: Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In, Photo Credit- Amazon

I recommend this book to all women and especially the men because this book helps you understand and be empathetic to the work-life balance struggles of women employees. Women undoubtedly are more creative and providing them with a better work environment has proven to bring in great productivity.

63. Chief Customer Officer 2.0

Author: Jeanne Bliss

Chief Customer Officer 2.0, Photo Credit- Amazon

The book is a great guide on how to be better customer driven and embed five competencies into how your company develops products, goes to market, enables and rewards people, and conducts annual planning.

64. Dream with your eyes open

Author: Ronnie Screwala

Dream with your eyes open, Photo Credit- Amazon

The book written by UTV founder and Indian media industry pioneer Ronnie Screwala, is an insider’s account of what it takes to start, build and scale businesses in India.

65. Websites that convert

Author: Steve Davis

Coaching Websites that Convert, Photo Credit- Amazon

This book is a treasury pf easy to implement website hacks to increase website traffic and increase visibility in Google organic search.

66. The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, by Kevin Kelly

Author: Kevin Kelly

The Inevitable, Photo credit- Amazon

This book provides great guidance to startup founders and professionals alike on where their business, or life is heading. It talks about what to invent, where to work and invest and importantly how to better reach customers.

67. Open

Author: Andre Agassi

Open, Photo Credit- GoodReads

This is a stunningly good book on the ace tennis star’s life and teaches many life lessons- personal, professional and teaches you subtly how to handle life’s ups and downs.Well this was my list !! Hope you liked something in there that you’re excited to read !!

Feel free to comment below on what good books I may have missed out and they need to be in here — I’ll be happy to add it into this list with a thank you note for you ! :)

About me: I’m a bibliophile,bookworm whatever you like to call !! Books are my dope. They’ve led me to build amazing things, the latest being an AI powered CRM tool called Alore. If you’d like to explore the tool click here

If you want to write to me and discuss/debate on books/life/entreprenurship personally then I’d be happy to hear from you at vikas@plash.in