Entrepreneurship is an industry of do-ers. Nonetheless, it helps to learn from those who have done it before - and are doing it now! - and there are a notable few entrepreneurs and authors who have been very successful at outlining how to succeed at founding a successful company.
Five books in particular epitomize what I consider to be strong core focuses for every successful and aspiring founder: leanness, willingness to question, purposeful passion, core drive, and realness. Each channeling one of the foci, these five favorites can help guide you to successfully found your own company in 2016 - or help you on journey that you have already begun:
1. Lean Startup, Eric Reis
Lean Startup is probably the most important book for any aspiring entrepreneur to read. Reis' philosophies are highly specific and sometimes too tailored to technology, such as his belief in pursuing a very rough MVP before anything else.
That strategy, while a great idea for most scalable startups, is not a fit for many other types of businesses. However, his underlying message of "fail lean, fail fast, scale once you hit" is the central mantra of many of the most successful growth companies of the past decade.
2. Rework, Jason Fried and David Hansson
Great founders all chart their own path. Linkedin wasn't created after Linkedin; Facebook wasn't created after Facebook.
Although most great companies have predecessors that creaked open a door - think Google vis a vis Altavista - transformative founders and their companies radically change industries and reinvent them precisely because they challenge the assumptions governing those industries down to the base axioms.
Rework provides some of the best examples I have read of how great founders educate themselves on - and then often disregard - the standard business practices of the past, to reinvent the future.
3. Purpose Economy, Aaron Hurst
Great leaders are propelled by their work. This finding, which underlies Hurst's theories on what he calls the fourth economy, purpose (replacing the informational economy) is central to understanding what lies in the brains of great entrepreneurs.
Simply put: it's impossible to put in punishing 18-hour days on something that hasn't been proven yet unless you are deeply and intrinsically motivated by what you do.
4. The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz
Although Horowitz's style can sometimes be challenging to read - such as a whole chapter explaining the hardship of a bad IPO (how many founders, self-included, would kill to have an IPO - however poorly engineered!) the book makes a very key core central point: transformative success is very, very hard.
Great founding stories don't look like The Social Network: three scenes in a dorm room, followed by three California pool parties, and a skip jump to a $600 million lawsuit. It's a long road - one great founders are prepared for and deeply motivated to take.
5. Startupland, Mikkel Svane
It's no secret that you have to have special skills, and a major opportunity, to make it big as a founder. But not all - in fact not most - great founders are birthed in Silicon Valley, or at Harvard.
That is the great lesson of Startupland: if they possess the skills, drive, and relentlessness, real people with families, lives, and responsibilities can make it big too. And, isn't that ultimately what entrepreneurship is about