The most recommended startup books

Who picked these books? Meet our 8 experts.

8 authors created a book list connected to startups, and here are their favorite startup books.
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Book cover of The Art of the Start 2.0: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything

Pamela Slim Author Of The Widest Net: Unlock Untapped Markets and Discover New Customers Right in Front of You

From my list on to build a business worth running.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a 25-year business coach, I have often assigned clients the task of wandering through a book store and acting like a heat-guided missile, letting themselves notice what topics and books they are naturally drawn to. For me, even as a liberal arts major with no entrepreneurial experience when I started my consulting business 25 years ago, I was always drawn to the business, psychology, and entrepreneur section. The world of work is my playground, and I am fascinated by how to help people build a powerful body of work while sustaining themselves financially and having a deep quality of life. 

Pamela's book list on to build a business worth running

Pamela Slim Why did Pamela love this book?

As the subtitle says, there are few people who have the experience and expertise to write “The time-tested, battle-hardened guide for anyone starting anything.” Guy Kawasaki brings the right blend of easy-to-understand brand and business advice mixed with a foundation of ethics and generosity. If you only want one startup book in your library, this is the one.

By Guy Kawasaki, Lindsey Filby (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of the Start 2.0 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE CLASSIC BESTSELLING GUIDE TO LAUNCHING AND MAKING YOUR NEW PRODUCT, SERVICE OR IDEA A SUCCESS.
'The ultimate entrepreneurship handbook' - Arianna Huffington
Whether you're an aspiring entrepreneur, small-business owner, intrapreneur, or not-for-profit leader, there's no shortage of advice on topics such as innovating, recruiting, fund raising, and branding. In fact, there are so many books, articles, websites, blogs, webinars, and conferences that many startups focus on the wrong priorities and go broke before they succeed.
The Art of the Start 2.0 solves that problem by distilling Guy Kawasaki's decades of experience as one of the most hardworking and irreverent…


Book cover of See, Solve, Scale: How Anyone Can Turn an Unsolved Problem Into a Breakthrough Success

Paul A. Swegle Author Of Startup Law and Fundraising for Entrepreneurs and Startup Advisors

From my list on startup success from someone with startup wins.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked with startups since 2000, when I joined ShareBuilder, ultimately sold to Capital One in a $9.5 billion deal – one of my five successful startup exits to date. I am currently an officer of seven startups. Startups drive global job creation and problem-solving innovation. But 90% fail, often for preventable reasons. I am helping entrepreneurs beat those odds. I wrote Startup Law and Fundraising to help entrepreneurs build on a solid foundation, avoid common legal and regulatory mistakes, and fund their vision. My books are used globally in law and MBA schools, and I speak constantly on entrepreneurship-related topics, including recently to groups in Istanbul, Ramallah, and Tehran. 

Paul's book list on startup success from someone with startup wins

Paul A. Swegle Why did Paul love this book?

See, Solve, Scale provides a proven three-part framework for entrepreneurial success called the “See, Solve, Scale Entrepreneurial Process.” Author Danny Warshay has been a Professor of Entrepreneurship at Brown University for 15+ years. Previously, after earning his Harvard MBA, Warshay spent time in brand management at Procter & Gamble, followed by several years launching, growing, and exiting startups in software, advanced materials, consumer products, and media. 

See, Solve, Scale unpacks key concepts from Warshay’s Brown University course on entrepreneurship. Warshay has also taught these concepts internationally to entrepreneurship organizations, private companies, non-profits, governmental agencies, and non-governmental organizations. His teachings have broad applicability to solving all types of problems and improving the functioning and results of almost any kind of organization, not just startups. 

Key lessons in the book include the importance of bottom-up research, being anthropological and empathetic and finding and validating an unmet need or problem to solve, recognizing…

By Danny Warshay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked See, Solve, Scale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inspired by Brown University's beloved course - The Entrepreneurial Process - Danny Warshay's See, Solve, Scale is a proven and paradigm-shifting method to unlocking the power of entrepreneurship.

The Entrepreneurial Process, one of Brown University's highest-rated courses, has empowered thousands of students to start their own ventures. You might assume these ventures started because the founders were born entrepreneurs. You might assume that these folks had technical or finance degrees, or worked at fancy consulting firms, or had some other specialized knowledge. Yet that isn't the case. Entrepreneurship is not a spirit or a gift. It is a process that…


Book cover of Demand-Side Sales 101: Stop Selling and Help Your Customers Make Progress

Étienne Garbugli Author Of Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want

From my list on for B2B startup founders.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a 3-time B2B startup founder (Flagback, HireVoice, and Highlights). For my 2nd startup, HireVoice, we tried to use The Lean Startup methodology and struggled to get traction on the market. When we shut down the company, I knew I wanted to solve my own pain, and learn B2B. I spent the next 2 years speaking (and learning from) some of the most successful B2B founders in the world. This, eventually led to the publication of my book, Lean B2B. Since then, I’ve been at the forefront of B2B entrepreneurship. The Lean B2B methodology has now been used by thousands of entrepreneurs and innovators to help create successful businesses.

Étienne's book list on for B2B startup founders

Étienne Garbugli Why did Étienne love this book?

Bob Moesta is one of the creators of the Job to be Done framework. Demand-Side Sales 101, however, is a lot more than a sales book. The book shows B2B founders how to understand the perceived value of their product, and how to position that value to drive demand on the market.

Book cover of Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It

Jennifer Havice Author Of Finding the Right Message: How to Turn Voice of Customer Research Into Irresistible Website Copy

From my list on to deliver more persuasive messages.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been intrigued by how people make decisions and why the words we use can significantly impact those decisions. After years of conducting customer research and writing marketing messages for clients, my interest in finding and delivering compelling messages at just the right time to the right audience has only grown. I’ve poured my experience in the online marketing trenches into my book, Finding the Right Message, where I reference more than one of the authors on my recommendation list. 

Jennifer's book list on to deliver more persuasive messages

Jennifer Havice Why did Jennifer love this book?

Whether you’re trying to sell a software solution or a new energy drink, you need to determine your product’s positioning so you deliver the most compelling messages to the right audience. April Dunford walks you through her tried and tested positioning process while peppering in humorous personal stories and anecdotes. I love this book as much for the priceless business content as for April’s wit.

By April Dunford,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Obviously Awesome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You know your product is awesome—but does anybody else? Forget everything you thought you knew about positioning. Successfully connecting your product with consumers isn’t a matter of following trends, comparing yourself to the competition or trying to attract the widest customer base.

So what is it? April Dunford, positioning guru and tech exec, will enlighten you.

Her new book, Obviously Awesome, shows you how to find your product’s “secret sauce”—and then sell that sauce to those who crave it. Having spent years as a startup executive (with 16 product launches under her belt) and a consultant (who’s worked on dozens…


Book cover of Key Person of Influence

K.N. Kukoyi Author Of Don't Hire a Software Developer Until You Read this Book

From my list on developing an entrepreneurial "growth" mindset.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the founder of Purposeful Group, an author, and a multi-award-winning entrepreneur who has started multiple businesses from scratch. I believe that when you have the right mindset, positive things will flow from this. As the designer of programmes for entrepreneurs and digital learners, I have recommended books that I hope will give readers a great foundation to build on to achieve their entrepreneurial goals. From a personal perspective, they have kept me on track, and helped me build a framework of “success behaviours.”

K.N.'s book list on developing an entrepreneurial "growth" mindset

K.N. Kukoyi Why did K.N. love this book?

Key Person of Influence (KPI) is a system which helps entrepreneurs to develop their businesses through 5 key principles, or methods - Pitch, Publish, Product, Profile and Partner.

Priestley talks about the importance of a number of business activities, including developing your entrepreneurial pitch and refining the way that you position your business in order to make an impact. Visibility and credibility are also critical for building trust with prospective customers, and through partnering and building relationships with other business owners, an organisation can accelerate its results.

At Purposeful Group, we have our own system, the App Map 2.0 model designed to help aspiring tech startup founders to create digital products from scratch via our Tech Startup Academy programme.

By Daniel Priestley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Key Person of Influence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Every industry revolves around Key People of Influence. Their names come up in conversation. They attract opportunities. They earn more money. Many people think it takes decades of hard work, academic qualifications and a generous measure of good luck to become a Key Person of Influence.

This audiobook shows you that there is a five-step strategy for fast-tracking your way to the inner circle of the industry you love. Your ability to succeed depends on your ability to influence. Start now by listening to this audiobook.


Book cover of Trajectory: Startup – Ideation to Product/Market Fit

Paul A. Swegle Author Of Startup Law and Fundraising for Entrepreneurs and Startup Advisors

From my list on startup success from someone with startup wins.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked with startups since 2000, when I joined ShareBuilder, ultimately sold to Capital One in a $9.5 billion deal – one of my five successful startup exits to date. I am currently an officer of seven startups. Startups drive global job creation and problem-solving innovation. But 90% fail, often for preventable reasons. I am helping entrepreneurs beat those odds. I wrote Startup Law and Fundraising to help entrepreneurs build on a solid foundation, avoid common legal and regulatory mistakes, and fund their vision. My books are used globally in law and MBA schools, and I speak constantly on entrepreneurship-related topics, including recently to groups in Istanbul, Ramallah, and Tehran. 

Paul's book list on startup success from someone with startup wins

Paul A. Swegle Why did Paul love this book?

I love Dave Parker’s book, Trajectory: Startup – Ideation to Product/Market Fit, because it provides a clear, but detailed roadmap to guide entrepreneurs through and over all of the necessary steps and obstacles to entrepreneurial success. The nature and degree of the best practices and practical insights laid out in Trajectory: Startup is somewhat similar, but even more granular, to that found in my own book but for the business side of things instead of the legal, governance, or regulatory side.

There is a lot of intellectual and procedural handholding in these pages, including checklists, to-do lists, and template forms for gathering and analyzing research and data, that first-time entrepreneurs will find indispensable and that even experienced entrepreneurs will find illuminating and useful. In the book’s Introduction, Parker summarizes what he hopes to help aspiring entrepreneurs do: create value with your product or service; decide on primary and secondary…

By Dave Parker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Trajectory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Listed #1 in "The 13 Best Business Books of 2021" by HubSpot

Have a startup idea? Want to launch it fast?

People often spend years on working on startup ideas that fail-and they could have known long before, had they asked the hard questions earlier. Five-time tech founder Dave Parker has been there, and in Trajectory: Startup he offers a path to get you from ideation to launch and revenue in just six months.

With a track record of starting companies from scratch, raising both angel and venture capital, and participating in eight exits as founder, operator, and board member,…


Book cover of Angel Investing: Start to Finish

Paul A. Swegle Author Of Startup Law and Fundraising for Entrepreneurs and Startup Advisors

From my list on startup success from someone with startup wins.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked with startups since 2000, when I joined ShareBuilder, ultimately sold to Capital One in a $9.5 billion deal – one of my five successful startup exits to date. I am currently an officer of seven startups. Startups drive global job creation and problem-solving innovation. But 90% fail, often for preventable reasons. I am helping entrepreneurs beat those odds. I wrote Startup Law and Fundraising to help entrepreneurs build on a solid foundation, avoid common legal and regulatory mistakes, and fund their vision. My books are used globally in law and MBA schools, and I speak constantly on entrepreneurship-related topics, including recently to groups in Istanbul, Ramallah, and Tehran. 

Paul's book list on startup success from someone with startup wins

Paul A. Swegle Why did Paul love this book?

The second most common reason startups fail is that they run out of money. Sometimes this is because startups misjudge demand for their products, but equally often it’s due to unsuccessful fundraising. Angel Investing: Start to Finish provides critical insights into the thinking of sophisticated angel investors – key sources of early-stage fundraising dollars for many startups. This book is co-authored by Joe Wallin, one of the top startup and venture capital attorneys in the U.S. Few attorneys are capable of providing better fundraising counsel to startups than Wallin, and this book clearly reflects Joe’s deep experience on both sides of fundraising – representing investors and representing startups. 

Entrepreneurs should read this book carefully to understand the guidance angel investors receive from attorneys like Wallin and from their fellow angel investors or angel groups. Doing so will help entrepreneurs anticipate angel investors’ tough questions, negotiate term sheets, and maintain strong…

By Joe Wallin, Pete Baltaxe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Angel Investing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Angel Investing: Start to Finish is the most comprehensive practical and legal guide written to help investors and entrepreneurs avoid making expensive mistakes.

Angel investing can be fun, financially rewarding, and socially impactful. But it can also be a costly endeavor in terms of money, time, and missed opportunities. Through the successes, failures, and collective experience of the authors you’ll learn how to navigate the angel investment process to maximize your chances of success and manage downside risks as an investor or entrepreneur.

You’ll learn how:

Lead investors evaluate deals Lawyers think through term sheets To keep perspective through losses…


Book cover of The Other Me

C.J. Washington Author Of The Intangible

From my list on the fluidity of reality.

Why am I passionate about this?

My background is in computer science, specifically artificial intelligence. As a student, I was most interested in how our knowledge of the human brain could inform AI and vice versa. As such, I read as much neuroscience and psychology as I could and spent a lot of time thinking about how our minds create reality out of our senses. I always appreciate a novel that explores the fluidity of reality.

C.J.'s book list on the fluidity of reality

C.J. Washington Why did C.J. love this book?

On her 29th birthday, Kelly Holter walks through a door and into a life that barely resembles her own. And yet it is her own.

Is her reality wrong? Or are her memories wrong? Or are they both somehow correct? Part sci-fi, part thriller, all-consuming, The Other Me explores how the decisions we make influence the person we become, or don’t. The novel raises many fascinating questions and provides plenty of unexpected answers.

By Sarah Zachrich Jeng,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Other Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Who hasn't wondered what alternate versions of their lives might look like?...As relatable as it is suspenseful cleverly exploring adulthood, identity, and shifting realities.”
—Margarita Montimore, USA Today bestselling author of Oona Out of Order

An inventive page-turner about the choices we make and the ones made for us.

One minute Kelly’s a free-spirited artist in Chicago going to her best friend’s art show. The next, she opens a door and mysteriously emerges in her Michigan hometown. Suddenly her life is unrecognizable: She's got twelve years of the wrong memories in her head and she's married to Eric, a man…


Book cover of The Only Sales Guide You'll Ever Need

Rob Walling Author Of Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup

From my list on building and growing a startup.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a serial entrepreneur who’s built and sold several startups. I’ve been helping non-venture-backed startup founders since 2005 and now I run the first startup accelerator for bootstrappers, called TinySeed. I’ve invested in 57 startups, but I don’t believe the only way to start a SaaS company is to raise money. I host the most popular podcast for bootstrappers, called Startups for the Rest of Us. I also run the most well-known conference and online community for non-venture-track SaaS founders, called MicroConf.

Rob's book list on building and growing a startup

Rob Walling Why did Rob love this book?

Selling is and always has been about the personal relationship between the buyer and the seller. People buy from people they know and trust. Iannarino does a fantastic job outlining the essential behaviors (self-discipline, accountability, competitiveness, resourcefulness, storytelling, diagnosing) for effective sales and these principles will be requisite for all startup founders.

By Anthony Iannarino,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Only Sales Guide You'll Ever Need as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The USA Today bestseller by the star sales speaker and author of The Sales Blog that reveals how all salespeople can attain huge sales success through strategies backed by extensive research and experience.
 
Anthony Iannarino never set out to become a salesman, let alone a sales manager, speaker, coach, or writer of the most prominent blog about the art and science of great selling. He fell into his profession by accident, as a day job while pursuing rock-and-roll stardom.
 
Once he realized he'd never become the next Mick Jagger, Iannarino turned his focus to a question that's been debated for…


Book cover of Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist

Paul A. Swegle Author Of Startup Law and Fundraising for Entrepreneurs and Startup Advisors

From my list on startup success from someone with startup wins.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked with startups since 2000, when I joined ShareBuilder, ultimately sold to Capital One in a $9.5 billion deal – one of my five successful startup exits to date. I am currently an officer of seven startups. Startups drive global job creation and problem-solving innovation. But 90% fail, often for preventable reasons. I am helping entrepreneurs beat those odds. I wrote Startup Law and Fundraising to help entrepreneurs build on a solid foundation, avoid common legal and regulatory mistakes, and fund their vision. My books are used globally in law and MBA schools, and I speak constantly on entrepreneurship-related topics, including recently to groups in Istanbul, Ramallah, and Tehran. 

Paul's book list on startup success from someone with startup wins

Paul A. Swegle Why did Paul love this book?

Anyone who might ever be involved in raising funds for a startup should read Feld and Mendelson’s famous book, Venture Deals. This includes entrepreneurs, CFOs, legal and financial advisors, board members, and investors. The authors have long been pivotal players in Boulder, Colorado’s vibrant startup ecosystem. Their many engaging and illuminating talks to entrepreneurship classes and groups can be found on YouTube. Venture Deals is the best book out there for learning VC fundraising fundamentals – the players, terminology, processes, strategies, etiquette, deal documentation, best practices, and the implications of taking VC money. According to a study by CB Insights, “Running out of Money” is the second most common reason for startup failure. Venture Deals can help startups and startup advisors increase their odds for fundraising success by providing insiders’ insights for winning strategies. 

By Brad Feld, Jason Mendelson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Venture Deals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Help take your startup to the next step with the new and revised edition of the popular book on the VC deal process-from the co-founders of the Foundry Group

How do venture capital deals come together? This is one of the most frequent questions asked by each generation of new entrepreneurs. Surprisingly, there is little reliable information on the subject. No one understands this better than Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson. The founders and driving force behind the Foundry Group-a venture capital firm focused on investing in early-stage information technology companies-Brad and Jason have been involved in hundreds of venture…