Best StartUp Books

If you buy something through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

What is it that drives people to start their own business? An economy that isn’t hiring; the desire for flexibility in your schedule; or the drive to achieve a long-held dream of building a business that’s bigger than us personally — these and many more reasons drive us into startup mode.

Whatever your reason for starting a new business, you’ll need to do your homework — before you start and while you are growing your business. A good place to start is to read some books about what you need to know when starting a business.  The following books are a good start on your reading list, to guide you through the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey (in no particular order).

Become Your Own Boss“Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months: A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business that Works” by Melinda F. Emerson and Michael C. Critelli

A good start-up book needs to have more than just motivational advice about following your dreams. After you’ve made the big step to go out on your own, the myriad lists of things to do and pay attention to can get overwhelming. This is when you’ll want to read Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months . This start-up book is written using a month-to-month timeline that includes specific action items that you can use to get your successful business off the ground.  Don’t miss the companion workbook!

Read our review of “Become Your Own Boss”

Lean Startup“The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses“ by Eric Ries

Author Eric Ries shares applies the principles of lean manufacturing to software startups. This start-up book contains many stories and case studies from Ries’ experience during the dot com boom as well as with dozens of other companies. It’s an ideal choice for someone who is starting a software or technology-based business and doesn’t have a lot of experience in creating and measuring processes. This book is valuable for anyone looking to drive innovation inside of their new business.

Check out “The Lean Startup” at fine booksellers.

Escape from Cubicle Nation“Escape from Cubicle Nation” by Pamela Slim

The target market for this book is clear.  If you are currently employed in a corporation somewhere, silently wishing as you sat in endless meetings that you could be your own boss but are not sure how or where to get started, then get this book.  If you’ve recently left the corporate world to start a business you also will enjoy it because it will reinforce your commitment and re-energize you. This book explains things that those who are used to being employes need to know about starting a business — everything from how to get health insurance, to how to get clients.

Read our review of “Escape from Cubicle Nation.”

Flying Without A Net“Flying Without a Net: Turn Fear of Change into Fuel for Success” by Thomas J. DeLong

Business owners tend to be high-achieving professionals. And with that, comes a series of personality traits that can often sabotage the very success you are looking for. Flying Without a Net isn’t a book about how to start a business. It’s a book about how you “BE”. Thomas DeLong explains how to draw strength from vulnerability. First, understand the forces that escalate anxiety in high achievers and the unproductive behaviors you turn to for relief. Then adopt practices that give you the courage to “do the right things poorly” before “doing the right things well.”

Read our review of “Flying Without a Net”

“Startup from the Ground Up: Practical Insights for Transforming an Idea into a Business” by Cynthia Kocialski

If you have a great idea for a business, but aren’t sure where to begin, then listen to Cynthia Kocialski, author of this practical book for startups. This book is for the entrepreneur who is ready to build a business and not just a job. You’ll learn how to take your product or service concept and translate it into a successful business model. Kocialsko also spends time going over how to recruit and hire a great team as well as how to seek funding.

Read our review of “Startup from the Ground Up”

It's Your Biz“It’s Your Biz: The Complete Guide to Becoming Your Own Boss” by Susan Wilson Solovic, Ellen R. Kadin, Edie Weiner

Susan Solovic’s advice is targeted to people who have been thinking about starting a business, but haven’t yet taken the plunge. She gives honest, straight-up advice that includes not getting overly influenced by people trying to convince you to start a business or those trying to dissuade you. She brings up issues that are often ignored or difficult to deal with in the early stages of starting up and then shows you how to deal with them. One example is to build your business with the end in mind and building for being bigger rather than adding on.

Read our review of “It’s Your Biz”.

The Art of the Start“The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything” by Guy Kawasaki

This Guy Kawasaki startup classic will not only prepare you for business ownership, but will give you insider advice on everything from raising money to motivating your staff. Even though this startup book is written from the perspective of a venture capitalist evaluating new businesses, it’s an excellent read for any small business owner or manager. Readers will gain valuable insights into bringing entrepreneurial thinking into their organizations and entrepreneurs will get time-tested ideas for bootstrapping.  But it’s particularly valuable to those who are seeking investors and external financing.

Read our review of “The Art of the Start.”

Barefoot Executive“The Barefoot Executive: The Ultimate Guide for Being Your Own Boss and Achieving Financial Freedom” by Carrie Wilkerson

The author, Carrie Wilkerson, explains how life circumstances practically forced her into working from home. If you are a solo-preneur running a home-based or online business, you will find the business models with tables and charts easy-to-understand and implement. Chapters include such subjects as finding a target markets, developing marketing strategies, and brand development. Especially important are the common pitfalls listed to avoid in starting a business from home.  This book is ideal for those in “soft” services, such as online marketers, professional business service providers or consultants, who plan to work from home.

Read our review of “Barefoot Executive”.

Rework by 37signals Founders“Rework” by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson

There aren’t too many shortcuts for starting a business, but Fried and Hansson, from 37 Signals have created one. This book distills all the essentials of starting a business and condenses it into a short and comfortable format for any new business owner to read. Rework is the ideal read for small service businesses who are looking to focus more on doing business and less on the paralysis of planning. Rework takes basic business fundamentals like positioning your niche, choosing the right people, doing what works, being more efficient, etc. and spins them in an interesting way.

Read our review of “Rework”.

The Six-Figure Second Income“The Six-Figure Second Income: How To Start and Grow A Successful Online Business Without Quitting Your Day Job” by David Lindahl and Jonathan Rozek

Most of us don’t think of ourselves as being an expert, but if you did an inventory of your life and what you know, you just might be surprised. The Six Figure Second Income is a book about how to start an online information business. Don’t worry, this isn’t a get rich quick book. It’s a roadmap for how you can harvest the expertise you have in a niche area and sell it online. This book is full of simple, easily understood, and easy-to-follow advice on how to get started with little or no cost.

Check out “The Six Figure Income” at fine booksellers.

Million Dollar Consulting“Million Dollar Consulting” by Alan Weiss

This is what many people call the consultant’s bible. Alan Weiss has a global firm specializing in management and organizational development. Known as “The Rock Star of Consulting,” he has written 32 books that have been translated into 9 languages. Million Dollar Consulting is a handbook for any professional who is selling themselves into the C-Suite. Weiss covers the basics of setting up your office, networking, writing proposals, pricing and most importantly, becoming an indispensible resource to your clients.

Check out “Million Dollar Consulting.”

If you’ve been dreaming of starting your own business, this list will give you the ins and outs of the process from ground up to growth. Even seasoned entrepreneurs can pick up a few pointers as they get into the process of growing their business or starting out in another industry.

Looking for other business books to read?  Here at Small Business Trends you will find:

225+ business book reviews (a new one every weekend)

Best Motivational Books

Top Technology Books

Best Management Books

Top Marketing Books

Guide to Top Sales Books


Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."

6 Reactions
  1. Good one Ivana. There are a lot of great startup books and “The Art of the Start” is a classic. I liked all your choices, but for future reference you may want to add Jim Beach’s “School For Startups”.


  2. Good list and unfortunately I don’t know if I will ever be able to read all of them 🙂 I do highly recommend Guy Kawasakis “The Art of
    The Start” as I found this book very straight to point and one of the easiest reads in recent memory. You should be able to breeze through it easily and move on to other books in this amazing list!

  3. Ivana, Good startup list. One book I would like to add and for you to take a serious look at is Nail It Then Scale It by Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom. It’s receiving good reviews and has solid steps for emerging entrepreneurs and startups.

  4. Thanks! for putting all the great books about start-up/entrepreneurship here. I have read couple of them, will read others soon. Thanks for pointing me in another direction.

  1. Pingback: Monday News and Insights Roundup :: Women on Business

  2. Pingback:

    A Weekly Roundup of Small-Business News -

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


What is Helping Your Business Survive 2020?

Tell us!
No, Thank You