As I’ve written about before, nobody really knows how to start and grow a successful company until they’ve done it. When my partner Jay and I started Dolphin Micro, we had no idea how to build a custom software development company. We just knew we were doing something we loved and were good at, and we hoped we could turn it into something bigger.
Through lots of hard work, hiring some super smart people and persevering through tough times, we’ve been able to grow our scrappy little consultancy into a real company that works with great clients and builds cool stuff we’re proud of every single day.
I’m a big believer in not re-inventing the wheel, and over the years I’ve gotten some of the best advice on how to start and run a company from a handful of really great books by people who have done it and done it well. If you’re starting (or have started) a new business, I highly recommend these five books on entrepreneurship, product development, sales and productivity:
A handbook for anyone that’s good at what they do, and wants to, or accidentally already has, started a business doing it. I go back to the concepts learned in this book regularly, even after two companies spanning 13 years.
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
The bible on how to build anything from a product to a company, starting with a prototype of just the core concept, and testing and iterating from there. It’s helped us build products faster, helped our company test ideas and see 50% to 100% annual growth for years at a time, and helped startups we work with launch successful products and businesses.
Whether we’re hiring a new vendor, taking on a new client, or evaluating employee salaries, entrepreneurs are negotiating deals constantly. This book has guided me through thousands of negotiations over the last 10 years and fundamentally changed the way I approach the bargaining table.
New clients and sales are the lifeblood of our companies. SPIN Selling is a well researched and documented strategy for increasing sales success in almost any environment. I’ve been through a lot of sales training over the years and this book clearly and concisely brought a lot of disparate topics and ideas together for me into a cohesive whole.
The title says it all. There’s never enough time to get it all done. This book teaches strategies I use constantly (even to make time to write this post) that can help every entrepreneur pack more of the right stuff into our precious 168 hours per week.
What about you? What’s on your bedside table this week? Is there a book that’s been particularly influential in your startup journey?