Whether you want to become an entrepreneur or a leader in your business, reading about successful startups is a great way to gain insight into the business world. By exposing yourself to the downfalls and successes of past companies, you’ll be able to set yourself up for success and avoid those same mistakes in the future. That's why we've found the 11 best startup books that can help you learn how to have a successful startup.

Best Startup Books

According to Cloudways, 90% of startups fail in the first year. While all startups require constant adjusting and innovation, the most successful ones have significant wins early on. Below are the top 11 books on startups, teaching you how to connect with qualified professionals, please your consumer, and make adjustments to your business model quickly. 

1. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau 

$100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

$100 Startup is a book on how to reinvent the way you make a living. After all, this is why most entrepreneurs seek to start something new in the first place. Here, Chris Guillebeau guides the reader on how to make a profit while living a life full of risk and adventure. Chris himself has been able to live a life full of freedom and travel as his own boss. 

This book shows you how to break away from the traditional 9-5 and manifest your passion into a profitable business venture. By reading $100 Startup, you’ll be able to create this profitable venture for just $100 or less. 

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2. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

In The Lean Startup, Eric Ries goes into the ways that modern entrepreneurs continually innovate to create businesses that stand out from the rest. He provides a scientific approach to creating startups that can figure out what the customer wants and how to create a useful product that gets in their hands faster than ever.

Useful for anyone navigating their way through the business world, The Lean Startup offers a real-world approach to manifesting a profitable business model that keeps customers coming. According to Ries, the best startups are open to change and adjust according to their customers’ evolving needs. 

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3. Start With Why by Simon Sinek

 Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Written by leadership guru and Columbia professor Simon Sinek, Start With Why explains how great leaders inspire everyone around them to take action. How do they do it? They start with why, not how. 

Putting the purpose (the why) before the process (the how) or the product (the what) will allow you to create waves of discussion about your business. By introducing the need for your product before the actual product, users will be more engaged and eager to see how you plan to solve the problem. Furthermore, by explaining to colleagues the urgency of solving the problem, they’ll quickly jump on the bandwagon of your startup and know the relevance of your business.

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4. Creativity Inc. by Amy Wallace and Edwin Catmull

Creativity Inc. by Amy Wallace and Edwin Catmull

Creativity Inc. is all about overcoming the unforeseen obstacles that will inevitably occur in any process of creation. Taking control over your creativity and managing your sources of inspiration are crucial when managing a startup. After all, entrepreneurs are the only ones holding themselves accountable and making sure things are getting done. 

This book is the perfect instruction manual not just for entrepreneurs, but anyone who puts their creative outlets to use. If you’re looking to instill inspiration in your co-workers, managers, or employees, this book is made for you. Based on over 30 years of experience, the president of Pixar explains to the reader the danger of barriers to creativity, and how we can foster originality in our own lives by getting rid of those barriers. 

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5. The Startup Owner’s Manual by Bob Dorf and Steve Blank

The Startup Owner’s Manual by Bob Dorf and Steve Blank

Since it was first published in 2012, The Startup Owner’s Manual has been praised by hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs worldwide. In this, Dorf and Blank provide the reader with a step-by-step guide for creating an outstanding startup. Based on the theory of customer development and agile & lean engineering, this book has been highly recommended by anyone major in the startup community.

Walking entrepreneurs through customer development, developing winning products, and getting others to buy, this book is all you’ll need to create a unique startup from the get-go. Easy to navigate and straightforward, The Startup Owner’s Manual is perfect for both beginning entrepreneurs and business owners looking to draw in more loyal customers. 

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6. Zero to One by Blake Masters and Peter Thiel 

Zero to One by Blake Masters and Peter

Written by investor Blake Masters and entrepreneur Peter Thiel, Zero to One explains how the best startups are ones that build the future. From founding and selling PayPal, Peter Thiel goes into his most helpful insights on making an impactful business, and how to get others on board in the process.

By becoming a billionaire and investing in Facebook, Peter Thiel is no stranger to the most well-known startups of today’s world. That said, Zero to One is a valuable classic, giving you useful advice from only the most experienced businessmen in the modern world. 

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7. Hooked by Nir Eyal

Hooked by Nir Eyal

Hooked is not just about creating a successful startup, but building the products that keep customers invested. How do successful businesses develop products that customers can’t get enough of? Nir Eyal goes into making habit-forming products that create a reward for the consumer that uses them.

Later on, Eyal goes into the differences between startups that fail and startups that last. Diving into both a technological and scientific approach, this book explains how certain technologies hook us and capture our attention. By reading Hooked, you’ll learn how to create addictive products that users keep returning to, time after time, without having to spend loads of money to create your startup in the first place. 

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8. Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street 

Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

This instant New York Times best-seller is all about hiring, a crucial but often underestimated factor in creating meaningful startups. Smart and Street explain why ineffective hiring practices are the #1 reason why most startups fail today, and how you can avoid lousy hiring practices by hiring the most qualified people for your team, despite where you lie in the process.

According to Smart, the average hiring mistake costs one company $1.5 million or more each year, as well as countless wasted hours that are never taken into account. To make matters more daunting, the hiring success rate of managers lies only at 50%. While statistics show the consequences of abandoning effective hiring practices, Who is the only book you’ll need to hire those who will lead your business on a path of success. 

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9. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Written by one of Silicon Valley’s most sought-after entrepreneurs, The Hard Thing About Hard Things offers essential advice on running a startup. From founding, running, selling, investing, and buying startups, Horowitz provides all you need to know about beginning a startup and ending your time in the business with a bang.

Due to Horowitz's first-hand experience, this is the perfect book for anyone looking for mentorship-like advice on how to succeed in the entrepreneurial world. Throughout the book, Horowitz elaborates on the wisdom he’s gained from being a CEO, building world-class organizations, and becoming a famous leader. 

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10. Never Too Late to Startup by Rob Kornblum

Never Too Late to Startup by Rob Kornblum

In Never Too Late to Startup, startup founder and venture capitalist Rob Kornblum teaches the reader how to escape the rat race and make the most out of your business ventures. From both his own experience and the experience of others, Kornblum elaborates on how young entrepreneurs have been able to create wealth, freedom, and purpose. After all, the average age that an entrepreneur begins a startup is 39 years old, making the title speak for itself: it’s never too late to start up your own business. 

By owning your own business, you take the ultimate step in manifesting the path to freedom. In his inspirational words of wisdom, Kornblum not only teaches the reader how to get over the hump of starting your own business, but also how to remain inspired by the process, no matter what stage you’re at in life. 

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11. Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie 

Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie

On a trip to Argentina, young entrepreneur Blake Mycoskie encountered various children in poverty who were unable to afford shoes. Motivated to learn more, Mycoskie’s eyes were opened to the fact that their lack of shoes caused various injuries and health problems later on. This is what inspired him to create Toms.

By overcoming his fear and confronting the challenges he had been exposed to, Blake Mycoskie became one of the most memorable social entrepreneurs of the century. While all startups are geared toward solving a problem, Start Something That Matters will teach you exactly how to confront the world’s most pressing issues and solve them by creating something that holds a positive impact. 

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Conclusions: Best Startup Books

With the freedom and spontaneity that comes with an entrepreneurial lifestyle, startups are becoming increasingly sought-after. Starting your own business isn’t easy, and most innovations fail due to a long development time. By reading up on how the most successful startups got their feet in the water, you’ll be able to speed past competition, connect with like-minded colleagues, and become a positive force of change. If you're interested in learning more about creating a business, you may also enjoy our guide to the best books on starting a business. Learn more and make your startup a success!

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