Best Business Books for Start-Ups & Growing A Business

The following list is based on the books I have read.

Image Credit — Fondos Gratis, ebookfriendly.com

01 BUSINESS STRATEGY

1)What Is Strategy? — HBR Article by Michael Porter(The best one)

  • I’ve read several business cases — I could see that every successful business has displayed Porter’s principles.

2) Blue Ocean Strategy by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim.

  • Targeting non-customers was one of the highlights of this book.

3) Playing To Win: How Strategy Really Works by A G Lafley and Roger Martin.

  • A G Lafley covers everything about the strategy — from user research to finding value proposition to porter’s principles with case studies. Olay Rebranding was a wonderful case study that I have covered in one of my articles.

4) Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard P. Rumelt

  • Another book along the lines of ‘Playing To Win’ and ‘Porter’s Principles’. He explained things differently with examples from war.

5) What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest by Denise Lee Yohn.

  • Need to have long-term thinking for your business/brand.

6) Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice by Clayton Christensen.

  • Mainly for Jobs To Be Done — It helps in discovering the right value proposition(A critical part).

7) The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth by Clayton Christensen.

8) Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur.

  • When we generate new ideas, we use Alex’s Business Model to determine the business feasibility of the idea. The map shows how the product will earn, how much resources(external and internal) it needs, communication channels, expenditures, and so on. It saves a lot of time.

02 POSITIONING STRATEGY

1)Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

  • The book was first published in 1981. Positioning is an essential part to succeed in business. If you mess it up, you are doomed. And, Customer-centric thinking is a critical part of positioning your product.

2) Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by Alan G. Lafley and Roger Martin.

  • A G Lafley and Roger Martin cover Positioning Strategy under ‘Where To Play.’

3) Brand Leadership by David A Aaker.

  • Aaker has got tonnes of knowledge about brands. I have read three of his books. It’s worth the read.

4) Zag: The Number-one Strategy of High-performance Brands: a Whiteboard Overview by Marty Neumeier.

5) Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur.

03 GENERATING IDEAS

1)Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative‑Thinking Techniques by Michael Michalko.

2) Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant.

3) Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Edward Catmull.

4) The Art of Creative Thinking by Rod Judkins.

5) The Ten Faces of Innovation by Jonathan Littman.

6) The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently by Sunni Brown.

04 BUILDING LOYAL CUSTOMERS

A) INTEGRATING HABIT-FORMING ELEMENTS INTO PRODUCT/SERVICE

1)Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal.

2) Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

3) The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

4) Habit: The 95% of Behavior Marketers Ignore by Neale Martin.

5) Designing for Behavior Change: Applying Psychology and Behavioral Economics Book by Stephen Wendel.

B)EMOTIONAL BRANDING & STORYTELLING

1)Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands To People by Marc Gobé.

2) Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing by Douglas Van Praet.

3) The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

4) How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.

5) StoryBranding: Creating Stand‑Out Brands Through the Power of Story by Jim Signorelli.

6) Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

05 LAUNCHING MULTIPLE PRODUCTS/BRANDS

1)Brand Portfolio Strategy: Creating Relevance, Differentiation, Energy, Leverage, and Clarity by David Aaker.

2) Brand Leadership by David Aaker and Erich Joachimsthaler.

3) Building Strong Brands by David Aaker.

06 INFLUENCING PEOPLE

1)How to win friends and influence people. How to stop worrying and start living by Dale Carnegie.

2) How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People by Les Giblin.

3) Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

4) Influence: Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini.

5) Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler.

07 MARKETING/PRODUCT DESIGN

A) MARKETING AND PROMOTION

1)Do It! Marketing: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits, and Crush Your Competition Book by David Newman.

2) Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin.

3) Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

4) Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins.

5) Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight.

6) Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing by Harry Beckwith.

7) Iacocca: An Autobiography by Lee Iacocca.

B) LEVERAGING BIASES AND HEURISTICS

1)Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

2) Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely.

3) Influence: Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini.

4) The Elephant in the Brain by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson.

5) Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing by Douglas Van Praet.

6) Blink — The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell.

7) The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz.

8) Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal.

C) TO INCREASE PRODUCT ADOPTION RATE/IDEA SPREAD

1)Diffusion of Innovations by Everett Rogers.

2) Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore.

3) Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger.

4) The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell.

5) Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin.

D) STORYTELLING AND IMPACTFUL PRESENTATIONS

1)Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte.

2) Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols by Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez.

3) Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte.

4) Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

5) StoryBranding: Creating Stand‑Out Brands Through the Power of Story by Jim Signorelli.

6) Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Edward Catmull.

7) The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger.

8) User Story Mapping: Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product by Jeff Patton

08 RUNNING A STARTUP

1)The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz.

2) Rework by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried.

3) Pour Your Heart into It by Howard Schultz.

4) The Airbnb Story by Leigh Gallagher.

5) Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Edward Catmull.

6) How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars: The Snapchat Story by Billy Gallagher.

7) Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight.

09 BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS

1)Sam Walton: Made in America by Sam Walton.

2) Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight.

3) The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick.

4) The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone.

5) Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built by Duncan Clark.

6) Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Edward Catmull.

7) Grinding It Out by Ray Kroc.

8) Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

9) Pour Your Heart into It by Howard Schultz.

10) Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs by Gina Keating.

10 LEADING A BUSINESS OR COMPANY

1)Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?: Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround by Lou Gerstner.

2) Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight.

3) The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger.

4) Jack: Straight From the Gut by Jack Welch.

5) Iacocca: An Autobiography by Lee Iacocca.

6) Only the Paranoid Survive by Andrew Grove.

7) What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence by Stephen A. Schwarzman.

8) Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone by Greg Shaw, Jill Tracie Nichols, and Satya Nadella.

9) Good Profit by Charles Koch.

10) Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level by Leander Kahney.

11) BUILDING A CULTURE

1)Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh.

2) Principles by Ray Dalio.

3) Radical Candor by Kim Scott.

4) Google: How Google Works by Eric Schmidt.

5) The Great Game of Business: The Only Sensible Way to Run a Company by Bo Burlingham and Jack Stack.

6) Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight.

7) Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Handbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell by Alan Eagle, Eric Schmidt, and Jonathan Rosenberg.

8) Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Edward Catmull.

9) Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, Al Switzler, Ron McMillan.

10) Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by Jim Collins.

12 CONSUMER/HUMAN BEHAVIOR

(For Product Design, Marketing, and Building An Organizational Culture)

1)Behave by Robert Sapolsky.

2) How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.

3) The Elephant in the Brain by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson.

4) Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell.

5) Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.

6) Livewired by David Eagleman.

7) Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.

8) Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society by Nicholas Christakis.

9) Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

10) The Molecule of More by Daniel Z. Lieberman and Michael E. Long.

13 HOW NOT TO RUN A COMPANY OR STARTUP

1)Business Adventures by John Brooks.

2) Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork by Reeves Wiedeman.

3) Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou.

4) Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! by Nicholas Carlson.

5) Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of Blackberry by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff.

6) Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs by Gina Keating.

7) Fumbling the Future: How Xerox Invented, Then Ignored, the First Personal Computer by Douglas K Smith and Robert C. Alexander.

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