Books are much more than, well, books. It’s helpful to read about entrepreneurship, and there’s plenty of great material out there. Whether you read online, on the Kindle, audiobooks, or actual books, they are a guide to help get you over a few humps and bumps that you can experience throughout your entrepreneurial journey while you are actually out doing business in real life. That being said, here are my top 10 picks for entrepreneurship books that cover the good, bad, and ugly about startups:1. Startup Briefs, the ultimate no-holds-barred guide to startastartup by Babs Carryer
2.The Lean Startup by Eric Reis
Lots of info out there on Eric on his lean startup website. This book uses real examples of the lean startup principal and why it works. It’s a big book and a bit overwritten, but worth the dive.
3. Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur
Ok, this book has taken over the world! It has popularized the Business Model Canvas (BMC). In my book Startup Briefs, I explain why I don’t like the BMCs for first-time entrepreneurs. Additionally, the canvas was created by a designer not really an entrepreneur. However, if you are further along in your entrepreneurial journey, BMCs will be of more use to you. That being said, at a certain stage – not at the beginning – the BMC is a great tool. A must read.
4. Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist by Brad Feld & Jason Mendelson
These guys know their stuff. Feld was a co-founder of Techstars and has been an investor for over 30 years. He also has a great blog at feld.com. Well worth the read as there is surprisingly little info that really exists about how venture capitalist deals work.
5. The Founder's Dilemmas by Noam Wasserman
This is the BEST book about founders and their issues that I've ever read! It’s a big book but essential reading for early stage entrepreneurs. Wasserman is the leading researcher about founders in the world. A Harvard prof for 13 years (now at UC Southern CA), he studied founders over a 10-year period: 9900 founders, 3607 startups, 19K executives in total. His point of view is that founding decisions should be made by design, not by default – much like a prenuptial agreement.
6. Early Exits: Exit Strategies for Entrepreneurs and Angel Investors (But Maybe Not Venture Capitalists) by Basil Peters
This is exactly what the title says. Peters is an angel investor and advocates for exits to happen early at reasonable valuations where everyone wins.
7. The Art of the Start, the Time-Tested Battle-Hardened Guide to Anyone Starting Anything (both versions 1.0, 2004 and 2.0, 2015) by Guy Kawasaki
This book has great, essential guidance from one of Apple’s early employees and is easy to read. Kawasaki is funny, a great speaker (and writer), and his material is excellent.
8. Starting Something: An Entrepreneur’s Tale of Control, Confrontation, and Corporate Culture by Wayne McVicker
Although this story is a bit dated, it’s a great and compelling tale of starting a startup from nothing and growing it big.
9. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
This one’s old, really old (we’re talking 1937)! But it’s super short and worth the read (or listen). This book summarizes the 13 steps to riches and the Andrew Carnegie formula.
10. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins (author of Good to Great)
It’s a good read from the point of view of a big company, which is what you want to be someday. Good lessons.
In addition to the above books, I recommend that you pick up biographies and autobiographies (Steve Jobs, Arianna Huffington, Peter Thiel, Bad Blood about Elizabeth Holmes, Elon Musk, etc.). They are usually well written and offer valuable lessons.
Like I mentioned earlier, books are a great resource as they can help guide you along your journey as an entrepreneur. But the real point is that with anything, you have to jump in the deep end and do it to really learn it. We at the Big Idea Center would be more than happy to help you get started and dip your toes into the world of entrepreneurship! Feel free to send me an email and/or check out our programs that we host throughout the year. Let’s stay in touch!
Babs Carryer is the director of the Big Idea Center at the University of Pittsburgh’s Innovation Institute. Her role encompasses programs to encourage and support innovation and entrepreneurship across campus for all students from freshmen to post-docs and from all disciplines. She teaches the Benchtop to Bedside and idea2Impact technology commercialization courses as well as some undergrad entrepreneurship courses at Pitt. Babs co-founded LaunchCyte, an early venture firm with a portfolio of five companies that have commercialized university technologies. Babs holds a Masters in Public Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a BA from Mills College. She is a published author of a startup murder mystery novel, “HD66: Search for a Cure or a Killer?” and a short textbook on entrepreneurship, “Startup Briefs, the ultimate no-holds-barred guide to startastartup.”