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Top 5 Books to Read as an Entrepreneur

Tags: 'entrepreneurs' 'funding' 'investment' 'lean startup' 'startups'

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We are living through a time of unprecedented disruption. While this has created a climate of massive uncertainty and insecurity, it’s also likely to herald exciting developments and advances in the worlds of science and technology. New start-ups are emerging on the scene, launching tech-focused initiatives that address social and industry challenges and have the potential to radically transform the way we live today.

 

By connecting the top talent in research and science with expert entrepreneurs, tech-transfer programmes create opportunities for innovative start-ups and corporations to bring cutting-edge discoveries into society where they can have tangible effects.

 

The following must-read books are written by entrepreneurs and CEOs and offer important lessons on everything from launching and running a successful business to obtaining financing for your start-up.

 

Drawn from the experiences of some of the world’s best business leaders, these top five book recommendations show how an entrepreneurial mindset could improve tech-transfer, unleashing the potential of the work of R&D teams around the world.

 

1.    Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Far more than just a book, The Lean Startup is a movement that revolutionises social entrepreneurship. Launched by entrepreneur and best-selling author Eric Ries, its methodology is all about minimising wasted time and effort.

 

Ries lays out the way you can make better business decisions faster. He shows how you can optimise your business by removing those features or processes that don’t contribute directly to your overall goal, shortening development cycles and ensuring you are only building something that customers really want and need.

 

The first step, Ries argues, is not to ask ‘Can we build this product?’ but rather ‘Should we build this product?’ Entrepreneurs must identify a clear problem that people are facing in their everyday lives and create a solution.

 

Next, you build a Minimum Viable Product – the simplest version of your product. You give this to people and collect feedback. This can help you make adjustments or changes. Continuous testing is an essential part of the Lean Startup process, ensuring that your business stays on track, delivers on time, and continues to grow.

 

The Lean Startup principles can be applied to businesses in all sectors and are about optimising processes to improve functionality, cutting down on everything inessential along the way.

 

2.    The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

In this updated edition of the business-help classic, The E-Myth, entrepreneur Michael Gerber demonstrates how certain assumptions and expectations present obstacles to entrepreneurs who are developing successful businesses.

 

The book was first written over 25 years ago but remains relevant and useful even in today’s business landscape. E-Myth stands for the entrepreneurial myth and refers to several erroneous beliefs about social entrepreneurship.

 

The basic concept is that each person who launches a company is fulfilling three different roles.

 

Firstly, the Entrepreneur, whose approach is future-focused, holistic and strategic. Then there’s the Manager, who’s risk-focused, practical and pragmatic. The Manager is less creative than the Entrepreneur but more equipped to solve problems. Finally, there’s the Technician, the doer, more focused on tasks than ideas.

 

The problem lies in the fact that the majority of small business owners are far too much like the Technician and not enough like the Entrepreneur. This book shows you how to strike the perfect balance between the three roles and build a streamlined and successful business.

 

3.    Zero to One by Peter Thiel

One of the most influential and recommended business books is Zero to One, written by entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and Palantir.

 

The book teaches entrepreneurs how to look outside the familiar to see potential in unexpected places. Thiel demonstrates the importance of questioning received wisdom in order to re-imagine the status quo and conceive of different ways of doing things. He encourages you to question what you thought was a given and to seek out contrarian truths – unpopular ideas that challenge convention.

 

Thiel argues that by building on existing successes and copying existing models, businesses are simply taking the world from one to n. To go from zero to one, you need to create something totally new and distinct.

The most successful entrepreneurs aren’t building alternative versions of things that already exist. True social entrepreneurship means creating something unique that has never been
seen before.

 

4.    The Great CEO Within by Matt Mochary

Matt Mochary has years of experience coaching Silicon Valley CEOs on how to succeed as leaders and steer their businesses and organisations on the path to success. This book aims
to teach you the principles of effective leadership and how to operate a business in an increasingly competitive world.

 

Mochary covers everything from scaling a business to implementing a feedback-system. He emphasises the importance of accountability, coaching, and transparency – each one imperative to a well-functioning organisation.

 

Mochary also makes the point that, as their business grows, a CEO’s diary can get filled up with meetings and appointments, leaving them no time to actually get on with work. Instead, he argues, CEOs should also schedule two hours each day to work on what he calls their ‘top goal’.

 

The best thing about this book? The whole thing is available online as a Google Doc.

 

5.    Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson

Launching a new venture requires investment. But securing a venture capital deal can be difficult. What’s more, venture capitalists are often aware that new entrepreneurs don’t understand financing and take advantage of this.

 

This book offers a fail-safe guide to venture deals. It’s a graduate-level guide to venture capital deals and the perfect read for entrepreneurs starting a venture-backed company.

 

Reading this, you’ll learn what is meant by capitalisation, valuation, liquidation preference, automatic conversion, and other complex terminology you find on a term sheet. You’ll also discover how to negotiate more effectively and secure the right deal for your company.

 

Accessible and easy to get to grips with, this book is targeted at first-time entrepreneurs and makes the process of obtaining financing for your company a smoother and less stressful experience.