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Top 11 Books Every Startup Founder Should Know

Top 11 Books Every Startup Founder Should Know

February 28, 2023
5 min read

You are what you read, and if you’re dreaming of building the next Fortune 500 company, it’s time to start brushing up on founder books.

Whether you’re looking for inspiration, motivation or the key to success, a little reading can open doors to the knowledge you need to make your dreams come true – and reduce your stress levels by 68%.

With so much self-starter content out there, it’s hard to know where to start or what’s worth your time. But you know what they say – readers are leaders!

That’s why we’re sharing our top 11 recommendations, written by and featuring some of the world’s most successful startup founders and entrepreneurs.

Quick Takeaways

  • Steve Blank and Bob Dorf’s The Startup Owner’s Manual offers as a step-by-step startup ownership guide, including charts, graphs and checklists
  • Jen Sincero’s You Are A Badass At Making Money features personal anecdotes and easy-to-learn business lessons to help you master a money mindset
  • Sydney Finkelstein’s Superbosses is one of the best founder books for learning how to motivate, inspire and encourage employees
  • Learn how to maneuver and conquer various stages of growth in Katherine Catlin and Jana B. Matthews’s Leading At The Speed Of Growth

Insight from the 11 best founder books for entrepreneurs will give you the tools you need to shape your startup into a success.

11 Founder Books You Should Know

You have to read more to learn more. As a startup business owner, you’re guaranteed to benefit from the valuable business insights featured in these 11 founder books.

1. The Startup Owner’s Manual

By Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

image of Steve Blank and Bob Dorf’s The Startup Owner’s Manual book cover

Image Source: Goodreads

In Steve Blank and Bob Dorf’s The Startup Owner’s Manual, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to customer-focused startup ownership. Here, you’ll learn how to identify your audience, develop growth strategies and retain loyal customers. Fully equipped with graphs, charts and checklists, you can add The Startup Owner’s Manual to your list of must-read founder books.

2. Who

By Geoff Smart and Randy Street

image of bookcover for Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

Image Source: Amazon UK

Who offers a different perspective to starting and managing small businesses. Instead of focusing on what you’re selling or the problem you’re solving, expert entrepreneurs, Geoff Smart and Randy Street, recommend you shift your focus to who you’ve hired.

As one of the best selling founder books, Who shares a 4-step method to hiring the right team members, the potential to save $1.5M by avoiding classic hiring mistakes and, and valuable insight from over 60 interviews with billionaires and world renowned thought leaders.

3. You Are A Badass At Making Money

By Jen Sincero

image of bookcover for Jen Sincero’s You Are A Badass At Making Money

Image Source: Amazon

The hustle and bustle of creating and managing a new business surely draws hungry entrepreneurs to the startup lifestyle, but the potential to earn a high salary isn’t so bad either. In Jen Sincero’s You Are A Badass At Making Money, you can enjoy an easy-to-read guide on how to master the mindset of wealth.

With her personal anecdotes and digestible business lessons, you can stop being a victim of circumstance and start building an environment designed to funnel in the dough.

4. Zero To One

By Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

image of bookcover for Peter Thiel and Blake Masters’s Zero To One

Image Source: Amazon

Co-founder of PayPal and first investor of Facebook, Peter Thiel, knows a thing or two about being a successful founder. In Zero to One, Thiel and Masters share how entrepreneurs can explore the uncharted territories of business innovation.

Zero to One shares that progress can be achieved in every industry or business, regardless of how advanced technology may be. In this book, Thiel and Masters emphasize the importance of leaders learning how to think for themselves.

5. Leading At The Speed Of Growth

By Katherine Catlin and Jana B. Matthews

image of book cover for one of the best founder books

Image Source: Booktopia

If you’ve ever started a business before, you know that its often accompanied by chaos and out-of-control growth. To help navigate periods of significant growth and prepare yourself for future phases, Katherine Catlin and Jana B. Matthews share how to combat the chaos in one of the best founder books, Leading At The Speed Of Growth.

Here, you’ll learn the do’s and don’ts throughout each stage of startup growth: initial growth, rapid growth and continuous growth – not to mention, stories and insight from more than 500 famous entrepreneurs to help inspire decisions that lead to success.

6. Radical Candor

By Kim Scott

image of book cover for Kim Scott’s Radical Candor

Image Source: Amazon

Do you dream of being the best boss ever? Have you considered hiring a CEO coach? Does your startup salary stop you from hiring the help you need? If you answered yes, you’re in luck! In Kim Scott’s Radical Candor, you can gain all the wisdom you need to share valuable feedback, perfect your listening skills and give your employees the praise they deserve.

As one of the most cost efficient ways to learn how to be a better boss, Radical Candor deserves a spot in your collection of must-read founder books.

7. The Hard Thing About Hard Things

By Ben Horowitz

image of book cover for Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Image Source: Amazon

As one of Silicon Valley’s most experienced and respected entrepreneurs, Ben Horowitz shares some of his own story to teach readers the ins-and-outs of being a founder. In this book, you’ll gain insight on Horowitz’s experience of the founding, selling, running, managing, investing and buying of technology companies.

In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Horowitz offers his expert advice and wisdom for working through some of the toughest challenges a founder can endure. As an avid fan of rap and hip-hop, Horowitz includes lyrics from some of his favorite songs to keep each business lesson both relatable and engaging.

8. Founders At Work

By Jessica Livingston

image of book cover for Jessica Livingston’s Founders At Work

Image Source: Amazon

Founders At Work is a compilation of stories and interviews from famous tech companies, like Craigslist and Gmail, that discuss the startup’s early days. In this book, Jessica Livingston recounts details of how these world-renowned founders built their companies, shared their ideas, won over investors and solved some of the industry’s most problematic challenges.

9. The Lean Startup

By Eric Ries

image of book cover for Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup

Image Source: Target

In Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup, he offers readers a new approach to building companies and launching products. Ries defines startup businesses as organizations committed to creating something new despite conditions of extreme uncertainty. His point of view sheds a new perspective for entrepreneurs, whether they’re seasoned professionals or first-time founders.

10. Never Too Late To Startup

By Rob Kornblum

image of book cover for Rob Kornblum’s Never Too Late To Startup

Image Source: Amazon

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be young to turn your latest idea into a multi-billion dollar business. In Rob Kornblum’s Never Too Late To Startup, you’ll get the inside scoop from interviews with mid-life startup founders, and learn how other entrepreneurs turned their dreams into reality, despite their already established careers and responsibilites.

Never Too Late To Startup also serves as one of the best startup books because of its set of resources. In this founder book, you’ll find practical tools for creating a realistic timeline, business plan and fundraising pitch.

11. Superbosses

By Sydney Finkelstein

image of book cover for Sydney Finkelstein’s Superbosses

Image Source: Penguin Random House

There’s no doubt that the best startup founders need to know a thing or two about business operations, but they also need to be great leaders. While there’s countless ways for entrepreneurs to perfect their leadership skills, Sydney Finkelstein’s Superbosses is one of the best founder books to get you started.

In this book, Finkelstein shares tips on motivating, inspiring and encouraging employees to be their own leaders and create success within their own lives – and the benefits of doing so. Chock-full of research, interviews and personal experience, Superbosses is guaranteed to shape your skills into those of a notable leader.

Mean People Suck

Bonus: Our 12th pick, Mean People Suck by our founder Michael Brenner is actually a top selling book in the business psychology category on Amazon!

Having sold over ten thousand copies since it’s release in 2019, this book has inspired countless startup leaders and business professionals who don’t buy into the hype that being a manager of people means acting like a jerk.

The book includes practical tips any startup founder can use on how to grow your business with good people. And hey, it works for us!

Don’t Let Your Growth Stop At Founder Books!

When it comes to building your business, curating your own collection of founder books is one of the best ways to get started. But to really turn your startup into a success, you’ll need the guidance of business experts with first-hand experience.

At Marketing Insider Group, we have the tools and expertise you need to shape your business efforts into money-making marketing tactics. Put your knowledge from founder books to the test today by checking out our weekly blog content service, or schedule a free consultation now to learn more!

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Lauren Basiura

Lauren is a writer for Marketing Insider Group, a top-rated Content Marketing Agency. Connect with her on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on all things MIG.

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