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Must-read book list

Drop everything and read it right now

Anything you Want by Derek Sivers

My favourite startup book? Yup! And you can read it in an hour. Still, I recommend spending 90 minutes instead to enjoy the audio book. It’s read by Derek and conveys the tone better, I think.

Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

Again, go for the audio book if you’re able. Another quick read/listen. This one is very much a “motivational” book, but I’m still happy to recommend it because it’s amazing and improved my working and personal lives considerably.

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries on Amazon

If you haven’t studied this book in depth, you are shooting yourself in the foot. If you’ve read all the lean startup blog articles, you’re still only 10% of the way there. You’ll get huge value from the book. And if you haven’t yet run into lean startup, there’s nothing that will increase your odds of success more than taking 2 days off work and soaking in the book. Honestly.

Business model generation at Business Model Generation and on Amazon

A visual framework for understanding and innovating on business models. Completely changed the way I think about startups. I rarely finish a day without making use of it somehow. If you know about the canvas but haven’t yet read the book, I’d still really encourage you to pick it up — there’s so much more information in here than you’d expect, and it’s by far the most beautiful business book you’ll ever own.

SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham on Amazon

This book takes over the spot previously held by Steve Blank’s 4 Steps to the Epiphany. They explore the same territory of getting people to agree to a sale/partnership/investment/hire via structured questioning and learning. SPIN Selling is significantly easier to read and more focused. It’s also backed by loads of data. I was initially skeptical of this one and am now really kicking myself for not reading it earlier.

The Black Swam by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Made me think more than any book I’ve read, except possibly 4 Steps to the Epiphany (by Steve Blank). But the latter made me think because it was a full menu of my failures as an entrepreneur, whereas the former (Black Swan) made me think about the entire world differently, as well as cause me to behave completely differently with regard to my future startups. Huge impact and a very fun read.

Read daily

Hacker News at news.ycombinator.com

The only site I check for startup news and one of the best online communities I’ve seen. It’s easy to waste an unbelievable amount of time there, but it’s also the best (and only?) way to keep your finger on the pulse of the startup world.

Swombat by Daniel Tenner

A high quality, curated set of articles, plus commentary about why Daniel found them interesting enough to spend time on.

Definitely read sometime

The Personal MBA by Josh Kauffman on Amazon

There are an awful lot of worthless business books lurking in airport bookstores. Josh has read them all, sifting through literally thousands of titles and condensing the best nuggets into this one remarkable tome. The breadth of topics is tremendous and successfully demystifies large swathes of the world of business. I read it like a novel and now dip into it regularly as a reference book.

Tribes by Seth Godin

Blogging makes sense when you look at it through Seth’s lens. Growing a customer base is growing a blog audience is growing a tribe. If you can assemble a group of people, you can launch a business.

Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston on Amazon

Goes a long way toward debunking the myth that all founders are geniuses with a master plan through terrific interviews with the guys who started the companies which are now household names. If you’re holding off on starting because you don’t have “a good idea,” this book will help remind you that it’s more important to build something — anything — and then polish it with the appropriate mix of hustle and adaptability.

Patrick McKenzie’s Blog Archive at kalzumeus.com

The first 2-3 years of Patrick’s blog archive are pure gold — through relentless experimentation and optimisation of all possible acquisition channels, he manages to turn an impossibly awful business opportunity (printing bingo cards for teachers) into a serious revenue generating machine, all for less than 10 hours a week. Read from the beginning to get the play-by-play or check it out in convenient greatest-hits format.

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