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Startup Entrepreneurs Book List and why not to buy Lean Startup

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Startup Entrepreneurs Book List and why not to buy Lean Startup

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After been asked about what are good books to get started as an entrepreneur, I’ve read a lot of books and tried out the theories in practice building nooQ Software for the last several years. After a good friend asked “As a startup Enterpreneur, do you have a book list you would recommend for someone new to starting a company?”

Before we start….

Do Not Buy Lean Startup

Do not buy Business Model Generation

Save your money.

Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Lean Startup by Eric Ries are a complete waste of money.

I read Business Model Generation in an afternoon and sold it the next day. A coffee table book, I like the concept but

far far far better to get Lean Analytics by Alistar Croll and Running Lean by Ash Maurya they are both are way way better and more practical.

Lean Startup by Eric Ries I loved the first time I read it and have read it a few times although it’s not complete. The MVP notion and pivot are maybe ok to validate a concept but not something to scale a business. A lot of people won’t come back to your site, app or business after their first impressions are poor. Steve Blank should get more of the credit for this. Eric Ries is the poster boy for me.

Do not buy A Whole New Mind by Dan Pink. Drive is worth buying but the rest of the books didn’t grab me as much or reveal anything as earth-shatteringly new you have not heard before.

Do not buy Gary Hamel’s latest books. Do buy his first book the Future of Management, all others since then are based on the same theory. The Management Innovation Exchange website and community are free and better than his latest books.

That’s the bad news out of the way – here is all the good stuff. Here’s a Startup Entrepreneurs Book List. The stuff above is on Santa’s bad list. Here’s the good list. Reading this lot, next year your startup will be on the good list.

The Startup Entrepreneurs Book List

  • The Three Essentials
  • Business Theory
  • Productivity Books
  • Pitching Books
  • Sales & Marketing Books
  • PR Books
  • Other Interesting Books for Entrepreneurs

The Three Essential Books for Entrepreneurs

THE Practical Books ever for running and scaling a business

These are the three essential books for entrepreneurs trying to figure out what their business idea is and how to scale it.

Lean Analytics and Running Lean my favourites and the ones I keep going back to out of all the books on this list. Suck them up.

=1. Lean Analytics by Alistair CrollBenjamin Yoskovitz

Measuring your business by data analysis. Nothing new there, although the detail this goes into and the key concept being measuring the one metric that matters for each different stage of your business life-cycle is extremely relevant indeed. One of the most practical resources you can have for basing your business on cold hard facts – i.e. data. Not the vanity metrics of followers, hits, likes and retweets. No vanity, just factual data.

running lean

=1. Running Lean by Ash Mauyra

Very similar to Startup Owners Manual but the exercises are better. Slightly more on the practical side than Startup Owners Manual, both excellent resources for entrepreneurs but Running Lean just edges ahead for me.

3. Startup Owners Manual by Steve Blank

A chapter for each stage and how to validate it for growth. Follow his blog as well and anything Steve Blank puts out is educational and inspiring.

Startup Entrepreneurs Reading List – Business Theory

great by choice

1. Great by Choice by Jim Collins

Much better successor to the classic Good to Great. How great companies are made. Awesome lesson in planning and perseverance.

How to understand markets, products and crucially when to recognise when your business is screwed. And what to do about it.

Bureaucracies are dead. “Most agree bureaucracy doesn’t work for employees, so why are so many companies using it as their operating system ?”
Interesting that this book came out in 2007 and how we are only now evolving to more flexible working structures. Also Ricardo Semler has been, there, done it and written the book “The Seven Day Weekend”  how staff set their own salaries and interview and select their own superiors.

I love the thinking and management practices behind Toyota. Read this and see where Eric Ries stole all his ideas from for Lean Startup

How to delight customers and build a great team culture. Some great original ideas in here.

Startup Entrepreneurs Reading List – Productivity Books

You need to take the best bits from each of these. You need to be organised and get shit done. These are the best ones I’ve read.

  • Getting Things Done by David Allen

    How to Achieve Stress-free Productivity  Audiobook

    I’m a great fan of audiobooks for learning whilst driving or travelling. This is great for being a process, software tool agnostic and my favourite bit is how to deal with paper as much as you try to do everything electronically, as I did, all the paper tasks fell thru the gaps.


  • The 4 hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

    Bizarre and extreme in places but I like the virtual assistants and outsourcing menial tasks. Great website for productivity tips.


  •  One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard

    Sir Tom Hunter’s favourite book and I can see why. Very short, to the point and excellent system for delegation and managing people.

Startup Entrepreneurs Reading List – Pitching


1. The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki

Best book by a long way on startups. How to get started and how to pitch and sell. Worth it alone for the 10-20-30 rule and how to put together a slide deck

 2. Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam

A great reference resource for how to explain concepts simply. Breaks things down very easily and I love the different types of charts for different purposes. Polish your elevator pitch to draw it on a napkin.

 3. Venture Deals by Brad Feld

Brad Feld has an amazing blog, I love his style or writing and approach to life. Has been there, seen it, done it. This takes all the legal jargon of venture capital and explains it simply. What matters, what is fluff.

Startup Entrepreneurs Reading List – Sales & Marketing books

Technically marketing comes first. Essential to get that right or you will have zero sales.

Number 1. Marketing Book

Positioning The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries

How to position your product and why it is critical. A great book tells you everything you need for a crash course in marketing.

Number 1. Sales Book
You Can’t Teach a Kid to ride a bike at a seminar by David H Sandler

Great book on Sales. Tell people you want to hear them say no. They are not allowed to say I’ll think it over. Don’t go chase leads that will end with a no. How to spend your time on sales that matter.

Startup Entrepreneurs Reading List – Sales and Marketing Must-Reads

The immutable laws can be read and understood in minutes. Amazingly simple yet surprising how many break the rules.

Free download. Anything by Seth is insightful and highly entertaining. Audiobooks read by him bring them to life.

A simple book to digest on pricing strategy. Especially relevant in software given the tendency towards freemium.

Very short read. How to do marketing with zero budget and scale. Ryan is quite some young chap still in his twenties, a phenomenal track record, the man behind American Apparel marketing and Tim Ferriss amongst others. A very well read chap too, check out his reading list. Also is an excellent site I’ve taken out a subscription to this, the one hour interviews are with all guys who’ve tried, failed, succeeded. Like Steve Blank, Brad Feld, Alistair Croll, Rand Fish (SEOMoz) etc. Very in-depth how to tips and tricks. Well worth subscribing to.

Startup Entrepreneurs Reading List – Why People Buy Your Product of Service

All three of these are revealing insights into the science of what motivates people. Fascinating why they buy.

Startup Entrepreneurs Reading List – Press Releases Books


You will read a press release the same after these.

Very short reads, can be read in a day.

Startup Entrepreneurs Reading List – Other Interesting Entrepreneurial Books Worth Reading


Similar to the 5 Why’s from Toyota’s Lean approach

One of the best explanations of strategy and how to decide what constitutes good and what is on a path to nowhere.

Startup Entrepreneurs Reading List – Neuroscience, Psychology and Behavioural Economics

Very interesting subject to me at least.

Startup Entrepreneurs Reading List – Solid Entrepreneurs

ETL stanford

Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Podcast

Inspiring to hear honest mistakes and ho all the silicon valley successes made it. Get a better feel for the person behind the PR. Great podcast to listen to whilst travelling.

The Real Deal – James Caan

Comes across as a chap with great values, ambition and guile. A great example as an entrepreneur.

What are your favourites? Add them to this public Google Spreadsheet


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