The best 41 Start-Ups books

The Pumpkin Plan

The Pumpkin Plan

Mike Michalowicz
A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field
4.4 (160 ratings)

What's The Pumpkin Plan about?

The Pumpkin Plan (2012) presents a simple yet powerful strategy to help you grow your business and stand out in any industry. Through real-life examples and practical tips, you’ll learn how to identify and focus on your most profitable clients, streamline your operations, and create a company culture that fuels growth.

Who should read The Pumpkin Plan?

  • Owners of small businesses looking to grow
  • Entrepreneurs seeking sustainable success
  • Startup founders needing a roadmap

Zero to One (New Version)

Zero to One (New Version)

Peter Thiel with Blake Masters
Notes on Startups, or How to Build The Future
4.6 (759 ratings)

What's Zero to One (New Version) about?

Zero to One (2014) offers advice to start-up founders. It shows how to establish a monopoly by creating proprietary technology, a strong brand, scalable products, and by using network effects.

Who should read Zero to One (New Version)?

  • Current and potential start-up founders
  • Anyone interested in why certain start-ups succeed and others fail
  • Investors

The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup

Eric Ries
How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses
4.6 (1,041 ratings)

What's The Lean Startup about?

The Lean Startup (2011) helps start-ups and tech companies develop sustainable business models. It advocates continuous rapid prototyping and focusing on customer-feedback data.

The method is based on the concepts of lean manufacturing and agile development, and its efficacy is backed up by case studies from the last few decades.

Who should read The Lean Startup?

  • Anyone interested in entrepreneurship and/or in starting their own company
  • Anyone interested in quick product development and testing
  • Founders, managers and employees in tech companies

The Innovator’s Dilemma

The Innovator’s Dilemma

Clayton Christensen
When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail
4.4 (332 ratings)

What's The Innovator’s Dilemma about?

The Innovator’s Dilemma explains why so many well-established companies fail dismally when faced with the emerging markets they create. This Blink focuses on one of the book’s central themes: disruptive innovation.

Who should read The Innovator’s Dilemma?

  • Anyone interested in why big companies are so vulnerable to disruptive technologies
  • Business executives
  • Anyone who wants to take advantage of technological innovations

The Startup Playbook

The Startup Playbook

David S. Kidder
Secrets of the Fastest-Growing Startups from Their Founding Entrepreneurs
3.8 (203 ratings)

What's The Startup Playbook about?

The Startup-Playbook (2012) gives you business-building tips straight from the founders of some of the world’s biggest start-ups. By conducting interviews with the founders of companies like LinkedIn and Spanx, the author uncovers what you need to do to make it big.

Who should read The Startup Playbook?

  • Current and aspiring start-up founders
  • People interested in running a successful business

Two Weeks Notice

Two Weeks Notice

Amy Porterfield
Find the Courage to Quit Your Job, Make More Money, Work Where You Want, and Change the World
4.2 (193 ratings)

What's Two Weeks Notice about?

Two Weeks Notice (2023) is your step-by-step guide to launching a successful online business. It provides you with the tools and tricks you need to become your own boss – and gain the creative and financial freedom to live your best life. 

Who should read Two Weeks Notice?

  • Newly minted online entrepreneurs and established business owners
  • Courageous women who are ready to be their own boss
  • Anyone fantasizing about ditching their 9-to-5 

The $100 Startup

The $100 Startup

Chris Guillebeau
Fire Your Boss, Do What You Love and Work Better to Live More
4.5 (212 ratings)

What's The $100 Startup about?

The $100 Startup is a guide for people who want to leave their nine-to-five jobs to start their own business. Drawing from case studies of 50 entrepreneurs who have started microbusinesses with $100 or less, Guillebeau gives advice and tools on how to successfully define and sell a product, as well as how to grow your business from there.

Who should read The $100 Startup?

  • Anyone who has ever thought of starting their own company
  • Anyone interested in successful small-business ideas
  • Anyone who wants to grow their microbusiness and increase their income

Zero to One

Zero to One

Peter Thiel with Blake Masters
Notes on Startups, or How to Build The Future
4.4 (867 ratings)

What's Zero to One about?

Zero to One explores how companies can better predict the future and take action to ensure that their startup is a success. The author enlivens the book’s key takeaways with his own personal experiences.

Who should read Zero to One?

  • Current and potential startup founders
  • Investors
  • Anyone interested in why certain startups succeed and others fail

Masters of Scale

Masters of Scale

Reid Hoffman
Surprising Truths from the World's Most Successful Entrepreneurs
4.3 (456 ratings)

What's Masters of Scale about?

Masters of Scale (2021) is part fascinating anecdote, part how-to guide for entrepreneurs who are preparing to launch their product or scale up their company. With case studies and stories behind some of the world’s biggest companies, it isolates the principles behind successfully scaling up.

Who should read Masters of Scale?

  • Serial entrepreneurs
  • Investors looking to scale a startup
  • Executives seeking to grow their companies



Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Unorthodox advice for growing companies
4.6 (193 ratings)

What's ReWork about?

Rework (2010) throws out the traditional notions of what it takes to run a business and offers a collection of unorthodox advice, ranging from productivity to communication and product development.

These lessons are based on the authors’ own experiences in building, running and growing their company to a point where it generates millions of dollars in profits annually.

Who should read ReWork?

  • Anyone who has ever considered starting their own company
  • Anyone interested in what work should be like in the 21st century
  • Anyone trying to create an environment of productivity



Tony Fadell
An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making
4.2 (286 ratings)

What's Build about?

Build (2022) is a self-styled “mentor in a box” –⁠ an encyclopedia of business advice about everything from getting a job and managing a team to telling a story around your product and being a successful CEO. A mentor is an absolute must-have for anyone who aspires to start and run a business –⁠ but not everyone has one available right away. That’s what Build is for.

Who should read Build?

  • New graduates who aspire to found their own businesses
  • CEOs thinking about quitting and starting something new
  • Anyone who wants to see their idea for a product, service, or company come to fruition

No Rules Rules

No Rules Rules

Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer
Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention
4.6 (368 ratings)

What's No Rules Rules about?

No Rules Rules (2020) sets out the principles of Netflix’s unique company culture, based on employee freedom and responsibility, and optimized for maximum innovation. In doing so, it charts the incredible journey of Netflix, a start-up fairytale.

Who should read No Rules Rules?

  • Anyone who works at a start-up
  • Fans of the film The Social Network
  • Those who are wary of Silicon Valley’s increasing dominance


Testing Business Ideas

Testing Business Ideas

David J. Bland and Alexander Osterwalder
A Field Guide for Rapid Experimentation
4.4 (86 ratings)

What's Testing Business Ideas about?

Testing Business Ideas (2021) explores how entrepreneurs can use experimentation to give their new venture the best chance of success. It outlines the rationale behind testing, and describes a framework for deciding how to proceed. 

Who should read Testing Business Ideas?

  • Anyone working at a small company or start-up
  • Entrepreneurs hoping to turn their big idea into a profitable venture 
  • Business students looking for fresh insights

Scale for Success

Scale for Success

Jan Cavelle
Expert Insights into Growing Your Business
4.2 (160 ratings)

What's Scale for Success about?

Scale for Success (2021) is a guide to turning your small business into a far bigger and more successful enterprise than it is today. From crowdfunding to job descriptions, it covers the ins and outs – and highs and lows – of scaling up any firm.

Who should read Scale for Success?

  • Entrepreneurs trying to break into the big league
  • Anyone working at a small business or early-stage start-up
  • Veteran businesspeople interested in mentoring small business owners

How to Start a Start-up

How to Start a Start-up

The Silicon Valley Playbook for Entrepreneurs
3.9 (78 ratings)

What's How to Start a Start-up about?

How to Start a Start-up (2015) is a practical guide to founding your own company. From pitching for funding to hiring employees, these blinks offer tips, strategies and insights about the first steps a start-up should take to forge a path toward solid, sustainable growth.

Who should read How to Start a Start-up?

  • Budding entrepreneurs
  • Business students thinking about their options after completing their degree
  • Anyone interested in what goes on behind the scenes at start-ups

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster

Bill Gates
The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need
4.6 (406 ratings)

What's How to Avoid a Climate Disaster about?

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster (2021) is a guidebook to getting the world to an important milestone: zero greenhouse gas emissions. Bill Gates shares the knowledge he’s gained through his role on international climate commissions and as a go-to source of funding for climate solution startups. He pinpoints the ideas that show the most promise and explains the work that still needs to be done. 

Who should read How to Avoid a Climate Disaster?

  • Anyone concerned about climate change
  • Investors interested in new funding opportunities
  • Business leaders looking for ways to help

Why Startups Fail

Why Startups Fail

Tom Eisenmann
A New Roadmap for Entrepreneurial Success
4.4 (215 ratings)

What's Why Startups Fail about?

Why Startups Fail (2021) identifies six core reasons why startups fail. It presents a framework for analyzing startup failure that explores how different aspects of a business work together. Entrepreneurs can use this framework to evaluate the health of their own ventures. 

Who should read Why Startups Fail?

  • Founders of early-stage startups
  • Entrepreneurs looking to scale their companies successfully
  • Innovators who’ve failed to get their project off the ground

Make Your Mark

Make Your Mark

Jocelyn K. Glei
The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business with Impact
4.3 (38 ratings)

What's Make Your Mark about?

Make Your Mark features the wisdom and tips of 21 of the most successful entrepreneurs and creatives of the last few years. These artists, coders, developers and writers share the secrets and ideas that have helped them take their respective markets by storm.

Who should read Make Your Mark?

  • People working in the creative industry
  • Anyone looking to turn their creative skills into a business
  • Leaders, managers and CEOs

Startup Seed Funding for the Rest of Us

Startup Seed Funding for the Rest of Us

Mike Belsito
How to Raise $1 Million for Your Startup – Even Outside of Silicon Valley
4.6 (78 ratings)

What's Startup Seed Funding for the Rest of Us about?

Startup Seed Funding for the Rest of Us (2015) provides insight into how to secure investors for your new business, even if you’re located outside a major start-up community. Its practical advice will explain how to make your business more attractive to investors and how to build the relationships you need to secure start-up capital.

Who should read Startup Seed Funding for the Rest of Us?

  • Start-up founders looking for investors
  • Entrepreneurs working outside a major start-up community
  • Innovators wanting to commercialize a product

Self-Made Boss

Self-Made Boss

Jackie Reses and Lauren Weinberg
Advice, Hacks, and Lessons from Small Business Owners
4.4 (156 ratings)

What's Self-Made Boss about?

Self-Made Boss (2022) is a practical starter kit for anyone looking to start a small business. It’s packed with advice and case studies looking at small businesses from across the United States, with step-by-step instructions for turning your great idea into a successful business. 

Who should read Self-Made Boss?

  • Small business owners
  • Aspiring entrepreneurs
  • Anyone curious about how brands are built from the ground up

The Innovation Stack

The Innovation Stack

Jim McKelvey
Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time
4.6 (124 ratings)

What's The Innovation Stack about?

The Innovation Stack (2020) explores what it takes to be a true entrepreneur – that is, to find a problem no one else has solved, and do everything you can to solve it. It reveals how two friends built a billion-dollar financial-services company from the ground up through courage, ingenuity, and a touch of humor. 

Who should read The Innovation Stack?

  • Would-be entrepreneurs looking to build their first company
  • Established entrepreneurs seeking fresh inspiration
  • Anyone interested in the evolution of a multibillion-dollar company

Smart People Should Build Things

Smart People Should Build Things

Andrew Yang
How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America
4.4 (39 ratings)

What's Smart People Should Build Things about?

Smart People Should Build Things explores the dangerous consequences of top students’ career choices in the United States, and offers practical solutions to reset the country’s course toward prosperity by encouraging students to adopt an entrepreneurial attitude. Along the way, the author provides solid advice for budding entrepreneurs on their first adventure into business.

Who should read Smart People Should Build Things?

  • Anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit
  • Anyone who wants to initiate positive change in the US economy
  • Anyone with no idea about which career path to choose

Business Execution for RESULTS

Business Execution for RESULTS

Stephen Lynch
A Practical Guide for Leaders of Small to Mid-Sized Firms
4.4 (55 ratings)

What's Business Execution for RESULTS about?

Business Execution for RESULTS (2013) is a guide to building a better business. These blinks offer a practical plan for setting appropriate goals and performing the necessary analyses to create a winning business strategy that will lead your company straight to the top.

Who should read Business Execution for RESULTS?

  • Business owners and new entrepreneurs
  • Leaders and executives in small to mid-sized companies

The Art of the Start

The Art of the Start

Guy Kawasaki
The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything
4.3 (69 ratings)

What's The Art of the Start about?

The Art of the Start offers a brief overview of some of the key aspects of starting and running a business. It covers topics such as pitching for funding, recruiting the right people, and building a successful brand.

Who should read The Art of the Start?

  • Entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs
  • Anyone who works for a start-up or small company

UX for Lean Startups

UX for Lean Startups

Laura Klein
Faster, Smarter User Experience Research and Design
4.5 (125 ratings)

What's UX for Lean Startups about?

UX for Lean Startups (2013) provides an innovative, cost-effective approach to researching and designing products and services. Geared toward start-ups and companies that want to act like them, it shows that you can provide your customers with an excellent user experience while keeping your time and money expenditures as lean as possible.

Who should read UX for Lean Startups?

  • Entrepreneurs
  • Product designers, managers, and engineers
  • Start-up workers and founders

Dear Founder

Dear Founder

Maynard Webb and Carlye Adler
Letters of Advice for Anyone Who Leads, Manages, or Wants to Start a Business
4.0 (60 ratings)

What's Dear Founder about?

Dear Founder (2018) is a comprehensive introduction to the basics of setting yourself up in business and founding a kick-ass startup. Packed full of handy tips and actionable advice from seasoned industry pros, these blinks will prepare you to both preempt and overcome everyday obstacles on your way to the top.

Who should read Dear Founder?

  • Entrepreneurs
  • Leaders
  • Mentors and coaches

Disrupt You!

Disrupt You!

Jay Samit
Master Personal Transformation, Seize Opportunity, and Thrive in the Era of Endless Innovation
4.5 (251 ratings)

What's Disrupt You! about?

Disrupt You! (2015) is an entrepreneur’s guide to driving innovation and impact. It draws on some of the biggest success stories in business and offers actionable tips for solving real-world problems and finding opportunity in failure. 

Who should read Disrupt You!?

  • Entrepreneurs seeking to drive disruption
  • Optimists who want to find opportunity in failure
  • Anyone who looks at successful start-ups and asks, “What’s their secret?”

Simple Tips, Smart Ideas

Simple Tips, Smart Ideas

Erica Wolfe-Murray
Build a bigger, better business
4.3 (141 ratings)

What's Simple Tips, Smart Ideas about?

Simple Tips, Smart Ideas (2019) is a guide for small businesses that delivers on the promise of its title. Erica Wolfe-Murray distills cutting-edge industry knowledge on business growth, savvy marketing, and sustainable innovation into a range of easy-to-follow tips and ideas, all geared toward businesses that skew more boutique than behemoth. 

Who should read Simple Tips, Smart Ideas?

  • Small business owners in need of a boost
  • Employees dreaming of creating their own start-up
  • Anyone who wants to turn a profit from their side-hustle

The Unfair Advantage

The Unfair Advantage

Ash Ali & Hasan Kubba
How Startup Success Starts With You
4.0 (140 ratings)

What's The Unfair Advantage about?

The Unfair Advantage (2020) demonstrates how we all have something that can catapult us to success.  Drawing on their extensive experience in the start-up world, co-authors Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba break down various personal advantages and how they can be leveraged for the benefit of your business.   Wherever you are on your start-up journey, The Unfair Advantage will help you identify what gives you the upper hand and how you can immediately start making it work for you.

Who should read The Unfair Advantage?

  • Aspiring founders who want to build their start-ups on solid groundwork
  • Early-stage entrepreneurs grappling with challenges, from finding that big idea to funding their start-up
  • Anyone looking to glean the secrets to a successful start-up

The Founder’s Dilemmas

The Founder’s Dilemmas

Noam Wasserman
Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls that Can Sink a Start-Up
4.3 (60 ratings)

What's The Founder’s Dilemmas about?

The Founder’s Dilemmas (2013) reveals exactly what it takes to become the founder of a start-up company. Drawn from the author’s research and case studies, this step-by-step guide will help you navigate the rough waters of your company’s early stages.

Who should read The Founder’s Dilemmas?

  • Budding entrepreneurs ready to start a new business
  • Experienced business owners ready for a new challenge
  • Investors looking for advice on evaluating start-up companies

One Simple Idea

One Simple Idea

Stephen Key
Turn Your Dreams into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work
4.2 (35 ratings)

What's One Simple Idea about?

One Simple Idea (2015) argues that it takes only passion and one simple, marketable idea to start your own business. The book shows how building long-term partnerships with your manufacturers and vendors can help your business run smoothly, and how catering to your customers' needs and desires helps you sell your product on the market. In short, One Simple Idea gives concrete, firsthand advice for anyone who wants to get their one simple idea off the page and out into the world.

Who should read One Simple Idea?

  • Anyone who has a simple idea for a new product and wants to bring it to market                       
  • Entrepreneurs who want to start a small product-based business    
  • Anyone interested in entrepreneurship and creating their own business

Lost and Founder

Lost and Founder

Rand Fishkin
A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World
4.2 (59 ratings)

What's Lost and Founder about?

Lost and Founder (2018) is a hands-on guide to getting your startup off the ground. Written by the founder of a company that’s already made it and packed with cheat codes and hacks, this is the ultimate insider’s playbook of strategies and tactics for struggling founders and would-be innovators.

Who should read Lost and Founder?

  • Aspiring startup founders
  • Entrepreneurs looking for insider tips
  • Anyone fascinated by the world of business

Do More Faster

Do More Faster

David Cohen and Brad Feld
Techstars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup
4.1 (57 ratings)

What's Do More Faster about?

Do More Faster (2011) presents a step-by-step guide to launching your start-up. It’s crucial to stay on track as you move toward success, from honing your ideas to finding the right team and getting investors. The author also stresses the importance of the work-life balance while showing you how to do more faster.

Who should read Do More Faster?

  • Aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners
  • Anyone interested in start-up culture

The Worst Business Model in the World

The Worst Business Model in the World

Danny Schuman
A New Kind of Guide for a New Kind of Entrepreneur
4.2 (44 ratings)

What's The Worst Business Model in the World about?

The Worst Business Model in the World (2018) takes a look at a business model that seems like a nightmare on paper but works like a dream in the real world. Traditionalists might call it anarchic but, as the go-getters putting it into practice know, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of creative chaos, especially if it helps you do more of what you love and less of what you hate.

Who should read The Worst Business Model in the World?

  • Entrepreneurs or people thinking about becoming one
  • Start-up enthusiasts
  • Freelancers

The Cult of We

The Cult of We

Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell
WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion
4.2 (123 ratings)

What's The Cult of We about?

The Cult of We (2021) tells the story of how the office-space company WeWork became the world’s most valued startup – only to come crashing down a few years later. Written by the reporters who broke the story of WeWork’s disastrous downfall in 2019, it explores WeWork's trajectory through a journalistic and financial lens, demonstrating how the most prominent investors in the world were blinded to the company’s risks for nearly a decade.

Who should read The Cult of We?

  • People interested in economics
  • Startup and entrepreneurship enthusiasts
  • Anyone curious about startup financing

Founded After 40

Founded After 40

Glenda Shawley
How to Start a Business When You Haven't Got Time to Waste
3.7 (99 ratings)

What's Founded After 40 about?

Founded After 40 (2017) examines the opportunities and challenges that present themselves to the later-life entrepreneur. Packed with practical advice and illuminating examples, these blinks are an essential guide to starting a thriving business at any age. 

Who should read Founded After 40?

  • Mid-lifers seeking new horizons
  • New entrepreneurs looking for advice
  • Small-business owners wanting a fresh perspective

From Start-Up to Grown-Up

From Start-Up to Grown-Up

Alisa Cohn
Grow Your Leadership to Grow Your Business
4.3 (108 ratings)

What's From Start-Up to Grown-Up about?

From Start-Up to Grown-Up (2021) is a guide for founders and CEOs of start-ups that are on the way to scaling up. Combining the author’s award-winning coaching practices with collected insights from notable founders and CEOs, it outlines the leadership skills you need to grow alongside your business.

Who should read From Start-Up to Grown-Up?

  • Start-up founders
  • New CEOs and managers
  • People interested in boosting their leadership skills



Sevetri Wilson
How to Overcome Anything and Build a Million Dollar Business With or Without Capital
4.2 (75 ratings)

What's Resilient about?

Resilient (2021) is an intimate account of entrepreneur Sevetri Wilson’s journey from self-funding her first company to securing ongoing capital for her second. It provides early-stage founders insight into every step of building a business – from initial concept to securing the finances needed to scale.

Who should read Resilient?

  • Aspiring entrepreneurs
  • Innovators looking to turn their ideas into marketable solutions
  • Startup founders who need to raise capital

Burn Rate

Burn Rate

Andy Dunn
Launching a Startup and Losing My Mind
4.5 (193 ratings)

What's Burn Rate about?

Burn Rate (2022) is the no-holds-barred story of Andy Dunn, cofounder of menswear startup Bonobos, and his struggles with bipolar disorder. Long in denial about his diagnosis, Dunn eventually faced up to the condition – but not before it had nearly cost him everything.

Who should read Burn Rate?

  • People interested in mental health
  • Startup aficionados
  • Memoir lovers

Hatching Twitter

Hatching Twitter

Nick Bilton
A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal
4.5 (10 ratings)

What's Hatching Twitter about?

Hatching Twitter tells the story of the four men responsible for Twitter as we know it. It’s a tale of backstabbing, superstar glory and billions of dollars that chronicles the drama and defining decisions that made Twitter what it is today.

Who should read Hatching Twitter?

  • Anyone who uses Twitter
  • Anyone who is interested in Twitter’s impact and origins
  • Anyone who works in a start-up
  • Anyone interested in the dangers of mixing business and friendship

Startup Rising

Startup Rising

Christopher M. Schroeder
The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East

What's Startup Rising about?

The Arab Spring uprisings left much of the Middle East politically unchanged, but they made a whole lot of noise. And yet there’s a second, quieter revolution taking place in the same region – and it’s all about the rise of tech and entrepreneurialism. Through stories of Middle Eastern entrepreneurs living in Beirut, Amman, Dubai, Istanbul and elsewhere, Startup Rising shows an entire region reinventing itself as a center of economic opportunity.

Who should read Startup Rising?

  • Anyone who’s fascinated by the Middle East, and wants to know more about life after the Arab Spring
  • Anyone keen to learn about the global impact of technology and entrepreneurship
  • Anyone interested in the role women play in the Arab world’s tech space

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