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Bim Bam Boo

The Best Books for Starting a Business

This article was originally published on October 2, 2020.

Whether by your bedside, on the bus, or in-between meetings, every entrepreneur can benefit from a bit of literary inspiration. Here’s a list of the best books for starting a business that have been recommended by founders (some of whom have been highlighted in our “A Workday With…” series) and a few recommended by the authors themselves.

Happy reading!

The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Keeping Your Sh*t Together

by Rob and Sherry Walling

Recommended by Yasameen Sajady: Maazah

Running a business is much different than just working for one, and if you’re not careful, it can take over your life. This book, by entrepreneurial team Rob and Sherry Walling, is one of the best books for starting a business if you’re looking to learn strategies to overcome challenges, prevent burnout, and identify priorities. It’s also packed with insight from Sherry’s clinical psychology background.

Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies

by Chris Yeh and Reid Hoffman

Recommended by Jackson Lefebvre: ParkPoolr


Chris Yeh

Drawing from their own experiences scaling startups to multi-million dollar businesses, Chris Yeh and Reid Hoffman provide a set of practices to accelerate growth in this narrative.

“Reid and I wrote “Blitzscaling” because we found that very few people understood the process by which great technology companies are built,” Yeh said. “Far too often, we hear people attributing the success of these companies to their brilliant founders, wise investors, and daring boldness. All of these are helpful, but they need to be coupled with a strategy for building enduring market leadership.”

“Our hope is that by sharing the ideas of “Blitzscaling,” we will inspire more entrepreneurs, whether startup founders, non-profit leaders, or corporate innovators, to build world-changing businesses and movements,” he said.

Yeh also recommends Shellye Archambeau’s memoir releasing on October 6, “Unapologetically Ambitious.”

“As we strive to make entrepreneurship more inclusive, Shellye’s book offers hard-won advice for the entrepreneurs and executives who are trying to make a difference,” Yeh said.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

by Ben Horowitz

Recommended by Yasameen Sajady of Maazah

Written by the co-founder and general partner of Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Andreesson Horowitz, this brutally honest account covers how to lead a company and how difficult that can be, making it a must-include in our best books for starting a business collection. Drawing from Horowitz’s own experiences as an experienced entrepreneur, this book is filled with his signature humor and even lyrics from his favorite rap songs.

Start With Why

start_with_whyby Simon Sinek 

Recommended by Darin Lynch of Irish Titan

What started as a movement to help people become more inspired at work turned into a bestseller and the third-most watched TED Talk for Simon Sinek. This book aims to show all great leaders had something in common — they asked “why” — and provides a framework to help build organizations, lead movements, and inspire people.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

by Chip and Dan Heath

Recommended by Zoë Levin of Bim Bam Boo

Used by managers, marketers, entrepreneurs and even ministers worldwide, this bestseller is named one of the 100 best business books of all time. “Made to Stick” provides six key traits to ensuring whatever message you’re trying to send sticks with your audience and helps show the principles of successful ideas.

Lost & Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World

by Rand Fishkin

Recommended by Kristen Womack of Mina Families 


Rand Fishkin

Sharing from his own experience, this account by SEO expert Rand Fishkin of SparkToro exposes startup mythology and reflects on the ups and downs of startup life.

“’Lost & Founder’ originated from all the coffee and beer meetings I had with other entrepreneurs, during which we shared our struggles, our lessons learned, and our advice,” Fishkin said.

“I realized that there was no way to scale those personal conversations without a book, and hence, ‘Lost & Founder’ was born,” he said. “It’s a very different kind of business book in that it doesn’t have a single, easily ‘meme-able’ message (something publishers weren’t thrilled about). Instead, the book tries to cover a wide variety of challenges in each chapter.”

“My hope is it can help a lot of folks make different mistakes from the ones I made,” he said.

Here are some more great reads for current or future founders curated by Fishkin:

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy

Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott

The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo

Laura Beier
Laura is a writer, coffee addict, and travel enthusiast who’s passionate about sustainability, vegetarian cuisine, and innovation. You can find her at a local coffee shop, going for a hike, or planning her next adventure.