The best startup books you shouldn’t miss

Books are the key to becoming brighter and successful from all point of view. They can make you a better person, they can give you other perspectives and offer you powerful insight. Whenever you have the chance to read, you should do it. We follow this at TMS Outsource and we’ve grown a lot in the past years. 

Do you know that most CEOs read around five books per month? That means more than one book each week. It may sound overwhelming at first.

Once you start emerging in the world of books, it will become a habit that you will enjoy. Add this list of the best startup books to your reading goals and you are going to expand your knowledge tremendously.

The best startup books for CEOs

Automate Your Busywork

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In his book, “Automate Your Busywork: Do Less, Achieve More, and Save Your Brain for the Big Stuff,” Aytekin Tank, entrepreneur and CEO of Jotform, offers an indispensable guide for optimizing your time. The book takes you on a journey through the advantages of automating routine tasks, the role automation plays in democratizing innovation, and the ways you can utilize affordable or even free no-code tools to enhance your focus on what truly counts in your work and life.

Inside the book, you’ll uncover:

  • How an automation-centric mindset is the future of business and the key to unlocking your productivity.
  • Strategies for shifting from being bogged down by busywork to having the time and focus for your most significant tasks.
  • Techniques for combining delegation and automation to achieve “timefulness”—a state where you feel you have enough time for everything.

Targeted at entrepreneurs, founders, business owners, and freelancers grappling with time constraints, this book is also a valuable addition to the collections of managers, executives, and business leaders keen on making the most of their most essential asset: time.

Change by Design

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If you know about IDEO, then you definitely need to read about the struggles of Tim Brown of developing the most compelling designs for organizations. Change by Design is a book that emphasizes the importance of visuals in companies (both startups and big companies) and in society. The book presents the impact of great designs in detail, carefully analyzing the improved quality of collective and individual life when surrounding by visuals.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

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Having a very expressive title, this book sums up in a few hundred pages all the pieces of business advice you’ve ever received, but in a much more complex manner. As an entrepreneur, you already know how many difficult decisions you need to make during your career.

Well, The Hard Thing About Hard Things teaches you how to make these decisions so that your business remains on the path to success. Ben, the author of this amazing book, will demount everything you know about business and correct your way of thinking. It is maybe the best startup books out there.

Crossing the Chasm

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In case you previously read The Lean Startup in 1990, then you will definitely love Crossing the Chasm. This book follows the same pattern, as Moore gives you the proper examples and the advice you need to start a business from scratch and bring it in front of consumers. What’s great about this book is that it focuses on specific niches, so it can help future CEOs that have nonconformist ideas. Crossing the Chasm presents the limitations of the streaming market, helping you to push your products to consumers the effective way.

The Alliance

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You probably have a LinkedIn account already, which means you know Ried Hoffman, the founder of this social media platform. Well, he wrote a very complex book that discusses the problem of relationship and communication between employer and employee.

The Alliance is a book that transmits a message to all employers: they should keep things transparent between them and their employees at all times. This way, employees are productive, happy and they take advantage of great career while the business strives without obstacles in its path.

Zero to One

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For fans of contradictions and complex theories, Zero to One will be food for the soul. Peter Thiel, the author of this book, talks about the uncommon insights of colossal companies out there and determines the future of the next businesses that are going to protrude the market. It is definitely a book of perceptions that all future and existent entrepreneurs must read.

The Innovators Dilemma

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Have you tried to launch a business and everything failed? That was your first attempt to learn how business goes and The Innovators Dilemma explains it in other words. This book will teach you how to manage your business in order to avoid failure. Plus, it defines risk and it gives you more details about positive risks and why is it important to take them in some cases. If you want to read the best startup books, this is definitely one of them.

Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs is an inspiring person that needs no introduction. This is his autobiography that is going to give you a glimpse of Steve’s way of thinking. It is one of the best books for entrepreneurs out there.

Product Leadership

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Product Leadership is a book that contains universal advice. From startups to enterprises that gained a lot of popularity recently, managers have a lot to learn from this complete book. All the tips and tricks found in this book were previously tested and most of the results are proven, so give it a shot.

The Startup Way

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Eric Ries listed, defined and presented all the methods that entrepreneurs should apply when they are launching a business in one single book. The Startup Way is the perfect guide for people who want to start their own businesses with the right foot. It encompasses the art of start perfectly.


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Contagious is a book that presents the power of going viral. A product, a video or even a service that goes viral will attract thousands of people. The book analyzes the psychology behind why posts become viral and list the benefits this process has. Jonah Berger beautifully illustrates how everything can become contagious if handled the proper way. It tops the list of the best startup books.

High Output Management

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Even though this is a book that was written in the ’80s, it is still very popular today, as the methods presented are not outdated in any way and continue to prove efficient. Andy Grove wrote this book to help managers, regardless of their experience, to motivate their teams and obtain the greatest results. Grove’s book also discusses how to adopt tech changes as they rapidly appear.  

Only the Paranoid Survive

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This book has a very compelling name, and it is based on the idea that technology alters almost all sectors of people’s lives. In this sense, the book ultimately says that organizations must align with the tech needs of the present or go down the drain.

Only the Paranoid Survive is a book that targets how fast businesses should adapt to change and how they should survive it in a constantly changing industry. Containing the thrilling story of huge companies such as Intel, this is definitely one of the best business books to read this year.

Good to Great

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For people who are curious about how some businesses managed to grow so much in time, Good to Great present case studies that should motivate you to start your own company. Collins gives examples from real life to help people understand how businesses develop proactively. The wheel example is very famous in Good to Great.

A wheel that is pushed consistently is going to build momentum at some point and it eventually spins on its own, based on how much effort you put into pushing it. Thus, consistent effort is the key to success and the journey is presented in this, one of the best startup books to read this year.

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Founders at Work

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There are some game-changer companies that everyone knows about, starting with Apple to Microsoft and Google. They all made people wonder how they got there. Well, Founders at Work describes the struggles that the multi-billion-dollar companies CEOs had to face throughout their carriers. Founders at Work is a collection of precious interviews with top founders that inspire millions of people every day.

Screw It, Let’s Do It

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You may have heard of Richard Branson on the news. He is a successful entrepreneur that runs and manages more than 400 companies. In his book, Screw It, Let’s Do It, Branson reveals most of his secrets to run a business the right way. The author touches a very sensitive subject in an entrepreneur’s life – failure. He encourages entrepreneurs to go on even though they failed once or twice in the process.

Start Something That Matters

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If you want to learn how to start your own small business from books, Start Something that Matters is one of them. Blake Mycoskie is an entrepreneur that manages to boost the sales for his footwear company in the shortest time possible. His company is worth billions in less than ten years. In this book, Mycoskie reveals his business model.

Never Too Late to Startup

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To learn how to start a business from scratch, read Never Too Late to Startup. Regardless of your age, you can break from the norms and start a business. Rob Kornblum focused on mid-life founders that took the chance and invested in a startup, defying the risks. The author interviewed these people and integrated the best pieces of advice in one single book.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

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Pixar is a popular name for all movie lovers. Ed Catmull is the man behind the brand. Pixar is a global brand that almost everyone has heard of, so entrepreneurs are surely curious how Ed managed to do it all alone. Catmull describes the creative strategies he applied to his animation studio in order to get people to like the brand. Creativity, Inc. is all about making small changes that have a big impact. Ed Catmull helps people discover their path to success.

Start with Why

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Wondering how to start a business plan? Start with Why is the book that will answer most of your questions. In fact, this book will make you ask yourself questions that will lead you to the winning idea. The book analyzes the personality of huge CEOs such as Steve Jobs or the Wright Brothers, pointing out the traits that offered them the chance to become great.


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This book is great to understand what mistakes some companies make when they fail and how other businesses avoid them and reach success rapidly. Hooked is a book that presents the habits that encourage companies to grow and criticizes the ones that don’t. Nir Eyal, the author of this book, came up with a unique business model used for transforming customers into loyal ones, called the Hook Model. Each step is presented in the book.

The E-Myth Revisited

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After checking out what the best businesses to start in 2018 are, you can spend some time with this book that is going to break down all the myths related to startups and profitability. Michael Gerber surprises the exact details that one needs to know when owning a small business and encourages entrepreneurs to start franchising.

The $100 Startup

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The $100 Startup will teach you how to open your own business with little to no capital at all. What is even greater about this book is that it encourages globetrotting. This means that you can travel the world while making money. How beautiful is that? Chris Guillebeau is one of the few people out there that took the risk and combined both passion and finances into one single job. It is not the regular startup you would opt for, but it is surely attractive enough to make you finish the book in days.

The Power of Broke

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The Power of Broke presents the slow start of a great entrepreneur. Daymon John narrates his journey in business, starting from selling DIY shirts on the streets to founding a successful business. The founder of Shark Tank describes how he came up with the ideas that turned his business in a profitable one. The name of the book comes from the initial investment that Daymon made in his business – $40.

How to Transform Your Ideas into Software Products

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For people who are genuinely passionate about software and technology in general, this book is a guide on how to get products sold. The money will come along the way as long as you turn your hobby into a living. The author of this book, Poornima Vijayashanker, gives you step-by-step details on how to launch that winning, sellable software product. It is niche-oriented, but you definitely have something to learn from this book.

The Startup Owner’s Manual

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One of the top business books out there, The Startup Owner’s Manual is the handbook of any future entrepreneur who wants to strive in business. The book presents business modeling in a very detailed manner, explaining all the steps of developing a company to people who are not familiarized with entrepreneurship. In addition, the book presents several creative strategies to attract and keep new customers. It is a detailed guide on how to start your own business.

Running Lean

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Running Lean analyzes the biggest mistake that many entrepreneurs make – investing money wrongly. The book explains what ideas are worth investing in and when it’s the most appropriate time to do it. Running Lean will teach any entrepreneur how to prioritize ideas and tasks to achieve success quickly.

The Checklist Manifesto

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Even though this is an unconventional book, it can change any person’s perspective on goals and motivation. The book talks about how to stay motivated and avoid being ignorant in today’s society. The author, Atul Gawande, teaches you how to create effective checklists and stick to them to see results shortly.

The Four Steps to the Epiphany

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If you are looking for a book that goes straight to the point, this should be your go-to one. As the name says it, the book presents four steps that all startup entrepreneurs should follow for a streamlined process. It discusses choosing the right business model and the proper approach to deal with any situation that may appear in the development of the company.


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This book defines traction in business. Traction has a great importance for any startup out there, as it makes customers come back and buy a product or a service from your brand. Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares give readers their tips on how to maintain traction in their businesses.

FAQs about best startup books

1. What are some must-read books for aspiring entrepreneurs?

“The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries, “Zero to One” by Peter Thiel, “The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen, and “The Lean Entrepreneur” by Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits are a few must-read works for budding entrepreneurs.

These publications offer helpful guidance and insights on creating a profitable firm from scratch.

2. What are the top startup books recommended by successful founders and investors?

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries, “Business Model Generation” by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, and “The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen are a few of the best startup books that successful founders and investors recommend.

These books provide insightful advice on how to launch, develop, and build a profitable business.

3. How can I find the best startup books that cater to my industry or niche?

You can search for books in your sector on online bookshops like Amazon or Barnes & Noble to get the best startup books that cater to your business or niche. Also, you may read industry experts’ opinions and suggestions, as well as bestseller lists in your area of expertise.

4. What are the best books for learning about startup funding and investment?

“Venture Deals” by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson, “Angel: How to Invest in Technological Companies” by Jason Calacanis, and “The Art of Startup Fundraising” by Alejandro Cremades are some of the greatest books for learning about startup finance and investment.

These books offer helpful advice on raising money and attracting investors for your firm.

5. Are there any startup books that focus specifically on product development and design?

The books “Sprint: How to Tackle Huge Issues and Test New Ideas in Only Five Days” by Jake Knapp, “Hooked: How to Create Habit-Forming Products” by Nir Eyal, and “The Design of Everyday Things” by Don Norman are a few examples of startups that explicitly focus on product development and design.

These books provide knowledge on successful product development and design.

6. Which startup books are recommended for beginners who have no prior experience in entrepreneurship?

“The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries, “The $100 Startup” by Chris Guillebeau, and “Founders at Work” by Jessica Livingston are a few startup books that are suggested for beginners who have no prior expertise in business. These books provide helpful guidance and thoughts on creating and expanding a new business.

7. What are the best startup books for understanding the marketing and branding aspect of starting a business?

“Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth” by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, “Building a StoryBrand” by Donald Miller, and “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” by Jonah Berger are some of the best startup books for understanding the marketing and branding aspect of starting a business.

These books offer tips on creating a powerful brand and employing successful marketing techniques.

8. Are there any startup books that provide practical advice on managing a team and building company culture?

Absolutely, books on startups like “The Culture Code” by Daniel Coyle, “Radical Candor” by Kim Scott, and “High Output Management” by Andrew S. Grove offer helpful guidance on leading a team and creating a corporate culture. These books provide advice on how to manage a team effectively and foster a great workplace culture.

9. Which startup books are best for learning about lean startup methodologies and agile development?

“The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries, “Lean Analytics” by Alistair Croll and Ben Yoskovitz, and “Agile Estimating and Planning” by Mike Cohn are some of the greatest startup books to read if you want to learn about lean startup approaches and agile development.

These books offer step-by-step instructions on how to manage development processes using agile approaches and construct a startup utilizing lean principles.

10. What are some startup books that provide insights into successful growth hacking strategies?

“Growth Hacker Marketing” by Ryan Holiday, “Traction: How Every Company Can Achieve Rapid Customer Growth” by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, and “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries are a few startup books that offer insights into effective growth hacking techniques.

These books guide how to develop and carry out effective growth hacking techniques to scale your firm rapidly and effectively.

Don’t forget to make it a goal

In order to manage to read all the books listed here, you need to make a goal out of it. Force yourself until it becomes a habit. You will expand your knowledge, you will get inspired and you will slowly start to enjoy reading more than you’ve thought. Spend at least one hour a day to read a few pages from a book you are interested in, and you will start to notice how changed you are in one year from now on.

If you enjoyed reading this article on best startup books, you should check out this one about startup failure

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