I jumped into the startup world not knowing what I was getting into. And even after going through a Startup Weekend, a Gone in 60 Seconds Pitch Contest and the ARK Challenge accelerator program, I am still a newcomer to this game.
I learn a little more each day. Experience is one way to learn, but reading is another and one that I rely on heavily. Here are a few sources I recommend for those wanting to keep up with what is going on in innovation circles, find ways to ideate and learn more about how to get a business idea off the ground.
The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry
After reading this book, I boldly declared it my new “life guide.” The book starts by walking through the obstacles to creativity. Then, it takes the reader through recommendations for overcoming those obstacles. Some of the recommendations seems so obvious, but few take time to do them, make the time to even attempt to do them. Too many people don’t think twice about skipping over the obvious steps to creativity just to check something else off a to-do list. Other recommendations are easy to accomplish, it is just a matter of setting out to do them and getting them on the calendar. It is a book full of advice for fostering creative thinking.
Running Lean by Ash Maurya
The “Lean” series is tailored for technology startups, making it very appropriate for new entrepreneurs. I came close to making notes on every page of the book. I particularly appreciated the focus on customer needs and testing to get to the right solution for them rather a solution that the founder thinks they need. To sum up my key takeaway from this book: test, measure and iterate. Over and over again. The book is definitely worth reading for those that are in the midst of building a product and trying to figure out how to make it viable to their potential customers.
Get Lucky by Thor Muller and Lane Becker
Get Lucky is organized into chapters around eight skills that “will contribute to making your life luckier:” Motion, Preparation, Divergence, Commitment, Activation, Connection, Permeability and Attraction. What I found most valuable about this book was that it presented its concepts from both the point-of-view of an established company needing to grow, change and shift and from the point-of-view of a startup in planning for building a business that allows for serendipity. It was an inspiring read.
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
“It somehow feels beneath us to use a checklist, an embarrassment.” The author, Gawande, addresses this core resistance to using checklists throughout the book. He says that people fear checklists because “They imagine mindless automatons, heads down in a checklist, incapable of looking out their windshield and coping with the real world in front of them.” But in fact, “The checklists gets the dumb stuff out of the way, the routines your brain shouldn’t have to occupy itself with, and let’s it rise above to focus on the hard stuff.” Basically, people are smarter when they use a checklist; not dumb because they have to use a checklist.
Venture Deals by Brad Feld
It is overwhelming to think about all the legal details that go into investment deals and the terminology can be foreign to someone new to business ownership. This book cleared up the things I didn’t understand and explained in layman’s terms what these deals really mean, what I as an entrepreneur should worry about and which terms I should not really worry about. This book was not intimidating and made me feel so much more knowledgeable about the world I was entering into as an entrepreneur seeking investors. It is a must read for anyone even thinking about founding a business.
The Etiquette Advantage in Business by Emily Post
Many entrepreneurs are young and inexperienced in business. This can work to their advantage by not being stifled by what can’t be done. However, it can be a disadvantage when you don’t know how to properly behave, dress, eat, speak, show respect, etc. in business situations, especially with investors who have business experience and expect a certain respect and maturity from those to whom they will be giving money. I strongly recommend taking the time to learn table manners and other basic etiquette.
Fast Company Magazine
This is a great source of inspiration. The stories cover innovative and creative approaches to business. I love it for finding new books to read, websites to visit and apps to explore.
The profiles of businesses provide insights into how business leaders think and take new approaches to old problems.
The name says it all.
The Economist Magazine
Investors and mentors read it. Reading it as a startup founder gives an appearance of being smarter when talking to these people that can make big differences in the future of their business.
There are many, many more resources out there that I likely haven’t been exposed to yet. These have been my go to sources over the last six months as I have started my journey into entrepreneurship.
Follow Emily on Twitter @Reeves501.