8 of the best business startup books

6 min read
Adam Turner

If you're trying to get a great idea off the ground, there's no need to reinvent the wheel. Why not turn to the best business startup books?

It makes sense to learn from others who’ve done it before you.

Navigating the twists and turns of starting your own business isn't easy, and many entrepreneurs struggle to survive their first year.

Whether you’re still kicking around your ideas or you're in the launch phase and beyond, it pays to get some solid advice.

Have a great idea for a side business? Claim your online identity by registering the domain name now:

1. Will it fly?

How to test your next business idea so you don't waste your time and money

By Pat Flynn

If you think you've got a great idea for a business — but it needs a little more validation before you sink your time, money and effort into it — Will it fly? could be the startup book for you.

Pat Flynn’s book offers a wealth of real-world advice on testing out your business ideas to ensure they're feasible, realistic and could make a profit.

This book takes you through five key steps:

  • Ensuring your idea aligns with your goals
  • Analysing details you may not have considered
  • Assessing the market
  • Testing your idea
  • Determining whether to move ahead or go back to the drawing board

Related: How to start a side business

2. The $100 Startup

Reinvent the way you make a living, do what you love, and create a new future

By Chris Guillebeau

The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

Next on our list of best business startup books is The $100 Startup. It proves you don't necessarily need loads of cash or investors in order to bankroll your great idea.

The $100 Startup looks at 50 case studies of entrepreneurs who successfully brought their great business idea to life with very little money. Guillebeau identifies the most important factors to the success of each. This book is all about using your passion and expertise to create a profitable business.

It shows how ordinary people can build a solid living, with independence and purpose, on their own terms.

Related: Starting a business with next to no cash

3. The Lean Startup

How constant innovation creates radically successful businesses

By Eric Ries

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

This No. 1 bestseller in Amazon's "Startup Life" book section does away with elaborate business plans and focuses on ways for entrepreneurs to test their vision continuously, adapting and adjusting as they go.

It focuses on the lessons learned from lean manufacturing – suggesting that it makes sense to treat a startup like an experiment.

The book covers topics such as:

  • Validated learning
  • Rapid scientific experimentation
  • Shortened development cycles
  • Measuring actual progress
  • Learning what customers really want

Related: How to boil strategic planning down to one page

4. The Startup Owner’s Manual

The step-by-step guide for building a great company

By Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

4. The Startup Owner’s Manual by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

No list of best business startup books would be complete without The Startup Owner's Manual. It’s the sequel to Blank's first book, The Four Steps to the Epiphany, which sparked the Lean Startup movement a decade ago. His latest book incorporates 10 years of learning and best practices. This book covers everything you need to know to build a company.

This includes:

  • The nine deadly sins that destroy any chance of success
  • A business model canvas for a startup idea
  • Identifying your customers
  • Customer development methods to bring concepts to life

With more than 100 charts and graphs and 77 checklists, this book gives you a wealth of specific, actionable steps you can use to start a business.

5. Crushing it!

How great entrepreneurs build their businesses and influence – and how you can, too

By Gary Vaynerchuk

Crusing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

Along with a great idea, a strong brand image can also be one of the keys to success. Branding includes everything from your business logo and colors to the tone of voice and words you use in posts you share on social media.

Crushing It! explains the foundational principles of good branding.

Branding shouldn't be an afterthought, it's something you should work on before you even launch. That way, once your business is up and running, you can quickly start connecting with your target market and making sales.

Editor’s note: Eye-catching visuals are key to getting attention on social media. Use GoDaddy Studio to design high-quality images for social posts, infographics and more.

6. Zero to One

Notes on startups, or how to build the future

by Peter Thiel

A No. 1 New York Times bestseller, Zero to One has been recognised as one of the best business startup books. Co-founder of PayPal and an early Facebook investor Peter Thiel offers challenging ideas backed up by compelling justifications.

Zero to One Peter Thiel

While this book is primarily aimed at those building a technology startup, there are plenty of ideas that anyone can take away, regardless of their industry. It can challenge your preconceived notions about what startup or small business life looks like.

7. The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Building a business when there are no easy answers

By Ben Horowitz

Next on our list of best business startup books is The Hard Thing About Hard Things.  

As one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, Ben Horowitz has millions of devoted blog readers who rely on him to help them run their businesses. In this book, he offers a wealth of foundational advice about building and running a startup.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things Ben Horowitz

The Hard Thing About Hard Things is designed to help you make the difficult decisions that you’ll have to face while operating your new business. It includes topics not covered in the standard business school curriculum. Key topics include:

  • Development
  • Management
  • Selling
  • Buying
  • Investments
  • Supervision

8. Explosive Growth

A few things I learned while growing to 100 million users – and losing $78 million

By Cliff Lerner

Explosive Growth by Cliff Lerner

Explosive Growth takes you through the playbook of Cliff Lerner, who gave up a lucrative Wall Street career to launch an online dating startup called SNAP Interactive.

A pioneer in the online dating industry, SNAP Interactive’s revenue grew 4,412% from 2007 to 2011, making it the 9th-fastest growing internet company in the US.

This book tells how Lerner handled explosive growth, startup life and entrepreneurship in general, sharing insights into the lessons learned while growing SNAP to 100 million users.

Take your pick of the best business startup books

The secret to success isn’t really such a big secret. Not when there are so many successful entrepreneurs out there who are happy to share their knowledge and wisdom.

If you're looking for entrepreneur advice, strategies and inspiration, these are eight of the best business startup books to speed you on your way.

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