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A Strong Foundation: 10 Books to Read Before Starting Your Business

Julie Thompson

An easier way of starting a business is to gather more knowledge and motivation. Here are 10 masterpieces that will help you.

Are you planning on starting a business anytime soon?

Do you have the best ideas, but you can't find a way to settle on a profitable strategy?

Turning a concept into a multimillion-dollar enterprise may seem like an impossible goal, yet many people don't have any hesitations. They end up making colossal mistakes. So before doing anything, you must have a plan, both in mind and written on a piece of paper.

Assess risk, hire the best people and decide on a budget. An easier way of starting a business is to gather more knowledge and motivation. Reading business and self-help books can help too. Here are 10 masterpieces that will help you transform your ideas into an effective business mantra. 

1. The Lean Startup by Eric Reis

Many of today's business ideas are not good enough to compete with existing enterprises. As a result, people take foolish risks, don't think of the consequences and eventually lose money they don't have.

The Lean Startup is a self-help book for entrepreneurs committed to turning a dream, an idea or a mere concept into a successful business.

The author describes a startup as an organization or entity devoted to crafting something uncertain. Every new business should have a goal, and that goal should be to stand out and grab people's undivided attention.

The Lean Startup is the kind of book that fosters a pretty interesting approach. The book is aimed at companies that leverage human ingenuity, but it also focuses on capital-efficient startups.

The book was inspired by manufacturing lessons that rely on fast scientific experimentation, validated learning and counterintuitive practices to measure progress and shorten product development without becoming too selfish.

The book encourages startups to change directions, modify their general structure step by step and take risks.

2. The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong by Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull

The Peter Principle is a remarkable book that helps entrepreneurs and business leaders understand that no business model is perfectly safe and prone to succeed.

Failure can happen when you least expect it to happen, and entrepreneurs should be well aware of this fact. Support and trustworthy collaborators are fundamental for attaining success.

Employees matter the most. They're the glue that holds your company together, so if you want to set yourself apart from the competition and take a shot at making it big, you might want to pay them more attention.

The Peter Principle answers the eternal question, "Why can't my business rise up to the expectations of the people?" The author explores other businesses' incompetence levels as a way of opening your eyes.

Before starting a business, stop and think about what you're about to do. If you believe you can do it and you have no doubts that you'll fail, then it's worth taking the risk.

Did you know?Did you know? Reading books will take you only so far when launching a new venture. There are many other key steps to take before starting a business, such as writing a business plan and choosing a legal structure.

3. Good Luck: Creating the Conditions for Success in Life and Business by Alex Rovira

Good Luck is a witty fable that explains that luck is not accidental. Instead, we make our luck. Together with marketing consultant Fernando Trias de Bes, Alex Rovira reveals the story of two people who meet "accidentally" in Central Park. Fifty years later, they meet again to discover that only one of them made it in life.

Good Luck is more like a story within another story. It resembles Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist in that it emphasizes taking a leap of faith and seizing intelligent opportunities. It is inspiring to read because it offers inspiration and motivation to try harder and believe in your business ideas with all your heart. If you can dream it, you can do it.

Starting a business is hard work. It takes a lot of time, money and effort to build a successful enterprise. To succeed, you must be willing to fail and try again. Learn from every mistake, and you'll eventually build an empire.

4. What It Takes: How I Built a $100 Million Business Against the Odds by Raegan Moya-Jones

In her book What It Takes, Raegan Moya-Jones highlights the raw grit used to build aden + anais – her lifestyle brand for women and children, with thousands of store locations around the globe – from the ground up. Her company offers better swaddle blanket options for mothers to use with their newborn babies.

Moya-Jones highlights nonconformist strategies self-starters can use to launch a new brand. Her business model was innovative enough to make the company a Harvard Business School case study subject.

5. Choose: The Single Most Important Decision Before Starting Your Business by Ryan Levesque

Choose aims to simplify the way new entrepreneurs launch their businesses. Ryan Levesque provides an exacting framework on how to start and build a brand. The Fortune 500 CEO's methodology is simple to follow, and he uses case studies to reduce the margin of error for new startups.

Levesque spends a lot of time on the importance of concentrating on whom you serve instead of on product and service development efforts.

6. Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months: A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works by Melinda F. Emerson

Are you motivated to quit your 9-to-5? Become Your Own Boss gives you monthly tasks to get your business up and running. Small business expert Melinda Emerson provides step-by-step instructions to steer you in the right direction.

Within a year, you should be able to complete the necessary tasks, such as networking for funding, setting a budget, developing a marketing strategy and maintaining your business once it's live. Up-to-date advice, including crowdsourcing and social media tips, gives confidence when taking the leap to being your own boss.

7. The Focus Project: The Not So Simple Art of Doing Less by Erik Qualman

If you have difficulty achieving your goals working countless hours a day, The Focus Project can get you back on track. The book provides practical advice on how to hone in on the essential things and get rid of mental clutter.

Grab hold of your dreams and achieve a happier life. Use the exercises to tune out the noise and reduce stress.

8. Superfans: The Easy Way to Stand Out, Grow Your Tribe, and Build a Successful Business by Pat Flynn

When you're starting or running a business, it can be easy to get caught up in the numbers of likes, subscribers and products sold. However, sustaining a business involves making an authentic connection with the people behind the data.

Superfans reminds business owners that you don't have to change the minds of the entire world; instead, focus on creating memorable moments for your biggest supporters. In addition, once you identify your superfans, you can reap the benefits of free promotion of your products, referrals and even encouraging notes to keep you moving forward.

9. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz

The Hard Thing About Hard Things is based on Ben Horowitz's popular blog and features essential advice for founding and maintaining a successful startup. Horowitz is the co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz and a highly respected Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

While many guides will encourage you to create a business, few books will give you the tea on the struggles of running one. Horowitz fills you in on real-world sessions, teaching you insights that business school fails to convey.

FYIFYI: If you have trouble staying engaged with business help books, you might enjoy Horowitz's book. He integrates rap lyrics with business lessons, including how to fire friends and sustain a CEO mentality.

10. 90 Days to C.E.O.: A Guide to Avoid Business Pitfalls and Unlock the Secrets of Entrepreneurship by Rochelle Graham-Campbell

90 Days to C.E.O. is Rochelle Graham-Campbell's incredible story of a broke college student who starts a business with $100 that goes on to sell its beauty products (Alikay Naturals) in 22 countries.

The uniqueness of her book takes you through the highs and lows with a no-BS approach. Readers rave about Graham-Campbell's "no other CEO will share this information with you" practice. She provides strategic implementations that leave other general business guides in the dust and even provides pages throughout the book for budding entrepreneurs to journal about essential topics.

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Julie Thompson
business.com Contributing Writer
Julie Thompson is a professional content writer who has worked with a diverse group of professional clients, including online agencies, tech startups and global entrepreneurs. Julie has also written articles covering current business trends, compliance, and finance.