6 books every startup founder needs to read

Must read business books for every startup founder to find success
Cocoon Labs

Reading the right business books can be a gamechanger. They can help you improve and succeed but, with new books published every day, how do you choose the best? Most of us are short of time so reading is a commitment. Two of Cocoon’s co-founders, Sanjay (CEO) and Colin (Head of Marketing), share their pick of the best business books out there.

Sanjay and Colin have both found reading is essential for business success, but have always taken the books as guidance rather than gospel. Every company and team is different, so be sure to apply critical thinking rather than taking everything at face value.

Top 6 business books

  1. Lean Startup by Eric Ries
    Sanjay and Colin agree this should be the first book you read (if you haven’t already!). Eric Reiss’ writing is a good foundation for anyone starting out, it’s often considered the bible of the modern entrepreneur. This video shows Eric Ries discussing the book and its principles with a room full of entrepreneurs.
  2. Growing Business by Paul Hawken
    “This is the best book on entrepreneurship I’ve read, and I’ve read a lot of business books!” says Sanjay. “It’s packed with timeless wisdom. Growing Business came out of the author starting a mail order garden tool business in Palo Alto. Despite being written before the internet, you’ll find it to be uncannily relevant to modern business.”
  3. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

    Colin’s recommendation to give you a “good dose of realism”. He suggests that it will be more valuable and easier to absorb “once you hit your first wall”.
  4. Zero To One by Peter Thiel

    “This is a masterpiece,” says Sanjay, “especially if you want VC backing, the book is peppered with gems. If your goal is to build a monopoly, the largest market you can own, this book sets you up to do just that.”
  5. Positioning by Al Riess
    While this is a good read on marketing basics for everyone, it’s also an incredibly valuable read for experienced marketers. “Every business person needs to know how to position their personal and professional brand, this book helps you do just that,” says Colin.
  6. Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff

    “The only book you need to read on sales and pitching,” agree both Colin and Sanjay. “You can forget the hype and gimmicks so many other books focus on, this is real. With concise explanations, principles and practices to help you close deals.

An MBA without the price tag

There are thousands of books out there that can give you advice on life and business, and Sanjay and Colin have read quite a few of them! These are their top picks, but there was one more that they both mentioned: The Personal MBA  by Josh Kaufman.

Kaufman’s book aims to give you the same level of knowledge that a Masters degree in business would. Packed with practical information, and further reading, it helps demystify business concepts. An affordable alternative to investing time and money into getting a business degree.

Why it’s important to read

According to Brian D. Evans, in an article for Inc, “most CEOs and executives read 4-5 books per month. These are the leaders, the gamechangers, the ones that end up shaking the ground, rebuilding industries, providing jobs, and inventing some of our most beloved everyday products. If they’re reading that much, then clearly there is still some value in picking up a book.”

Sanjay and Colin agree. In today’s such a fast-changing digital world it’s vital you are as informed as you can be. With a little critical thinking, you can learn to improve yourself and your business through other peoples’ stories.

If you’ve got books you’d recommend, let us know on twitter.