As a startup adviser, I am often asked by entrepreneurs about what books will help them start and run their business. No matter what type of business, or what stage you're at, I suggest you give the following a once-over.
Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering, by Robert Glass
If your business involves technology, you will interact with engineers as they build your product. In this compendium of case studies, Glass covers the most important things you need to know about building an application--and all the things you should forget--so that your business will start off on the best foot.
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!, by Richard Feynman
In the autobiography of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, you'll find a surprisingly poignant examination of how the best ideas can come from the most mundane things--and how to find joy even at your darkest moments.
Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art, by Steve McConnell
Have you ever tried to estimate a scope of work for a client and been completely wrong, costing you out of pocket? You're not alone. In this essential work, McConnell lays out practical advice for doing just that--which will help you keep your money in the bank.
Practices of an Agile Developer, by Venkat Subramaniam
When forming a team, first evaluate what you already do well, and then evaluate what you can do better. Here, you'll learn to think through that process, and how to build your team to adjust to any strengths and weaknesses you might encounter.
Domain-Driven Design, by Eric Evans
If you have a roadmap to build for your company--not just a single project--then you might wonder how to accomplish it without getting caught in the weeds. While a bit technical, Evans thoughtfully explains where you need to maintain focus on all points in the process to ensure you execute on budget and on time.
The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity, by Alan Cooper
Many entrepreneurs build businesses around things other people build for them, and barely know how their own product works. In this book, you'll see some of the obvious--and not so obvious--pitfalls to that practice, and how to avoid it.
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, by Steven Levy
This is the story of the pioneers of the software industry, and the ingenuity, resourcefulness, and just plain luck that gave us a connected world. It highlights the people who have made sites like the one you're reading now possible, and commonplace.
My Job Went to India, by Chad Fowler
In this sobering, yet practical, read, Fowler delves into the reasons that companies will use to furlough employees in skilled positions and send them to outsourced providers. Additionally, he gives you 52 ways to adapt and keep your position, or find a better one.
Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, by Clay Shirky
Have you ever heard "The customer is always right"? Well, with today's technology, customers have even more power than before. Here, Shirky explains the psychology behind how and why people create grassroots movements online, and how you can harness that power for your own success.
The Art of Deception, by Kevin Mitnick
As of 2019, 43 percent of cyberattacks in the U.S. were aimed at small businesses and only 14 percent had prepared for them. Former hacker Mitnick takes you through a series of case studies of successful hacks and teaches what you need to protect yourself and your business.
Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr.
If your business involves any type of written communication--be it emails, blog posts, or even social media posts--then you need to have this on hand. It is the ultimate reference book for proper grammar and phrasing of the English language. Even with Grammarly installed, this book is an essential for any library.
How to Speak and Write Correctly, by Joseph Devlin
Many books have been written to give you the tools to talk someone into buying your products--but they're all derived from this one. In it, Devlin explains how to speak on any topic with intelligence, strength, and conviction.
Things that Make Us Smart, by Donald Norman
It's all too easy when creating a new product to design something that "does the job" but requires us to change our way of thinking to use properly. Instead, Norman gives a framework to design products that work without needing a new mindset--and shows the greater success that comes with it.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig
Whether your business is new or it's been running for years, we all can lose touch with what is essential. In this classic, Pirsig takes us on a journey across America and shows us how to identify and return to what really matters.