Resources – Entrepreneurial readings

Short list of seminal books on entrepreneurship and innovation

Ries, Eric. The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. Crown Business, 2011.

Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.

Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business.

The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning”, rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product-development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.

Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs - in companies of all sizes - a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in a age when companies need to innovate more than ever.

Aulet, Bill. Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup. Wiley, 2013.

24 Steps to Success!

Disciplined Entrepreneurship will change the way you think about starting a company. Many believe that entrepreneurship cannot be taught, but great entrepreneurs aren’t born with something special – they simply make great products. This book will show you how to create a successful startup through developing an innovative product. It breaks down the necessary processes into an integrated, comprehensive, and proven 24-step framework that any industrious person can learn and apply.

You will learn:

  • Why the “F” word – focus – is crucial to a startup’s success
  • Common obstacles that entrepreneurs face – and how to overcome them
  • How to use innovation to stand out in the crowd – it’s not just about technology

Whether you’re a first-time or repeat entrepreneur, Disciplined Entrepreneurship gives you the tools you need to improve your odds of making a product people want.

Author Bill Aulet is the managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship as well as a Professor of the Practice at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Feld, Brad. Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist. Wiley, 2012.

Help take your startup to the next step with the new and revised edition of the popular book on the VC deal process―from the co-founders of the Foundry Group

How do venture capital deals come together? This is one of the most frequent questions asked by each generation of new entrepreneurs. Surprisingly, there is little reliable information on the subject. No one understands this better than Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson. The founders and driving force behind the Foundry Group―a venture capital firm focused on investing in early-stage information technology companies―Brad and Jason have been involved in hundreds of venture capital financings. Their investments range from small startups to large Series A venture financing rounds. The new edition of Venture Deals continues to show fledgling entrepreneurs the inner-workings of the VC process, from the venture capital term sheet and effective negotiating strategies to the initial seed and the later stages of development.

Fully updated to reflect the intricacies of startups and entrepreneurship in today's dynamic economic environment, this new edition includes revisions and updates to coverage on negotiating, gender issues, ICO’s, and economic terms. New chapters examine legal and procedural considerations relevant to fundraising, bank debt, equity and convertible debt, how to hire an investment banker to sell a company, and more.

  • Provides valuable, real-world insights into venture capital structure and strategy
  • Explains and clarifies the VC term sheet and other misunderstood aspects of capital funding
  • Helps to build collaborative and supportive relationships between entrepreneurs and investors
  • Draws from the author’s years of practical experience in the VC arena
  • Includes extensively revised and updated content throughout to increase readability and currency

Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist is a must-have resource for Any aspiring entrepreneur, venture capitalist, or lawyer involved in VC deals as well as students and instructors in related areas of study.

Constsable, Giff. Talking to humans: Success starts with understanding your customer. Giff Constable, 2014.

With a foreword from Steve Blank, Talking to Humans is a practical guide to the qualitative side of customer development, an indispensable skill for vetting and improving any new startup or innovation. This book will teach you how to structure and run effective customer interviews, find candidates, and turn learnings into action.

Constsable, Giff. Testing with Humans: How to use experiments to drive faster, more informed decision making. Giff Constable, 2018.

Testing with Humans, the sequel to bestseller Talking to Humans, teaches entrepreneurs, innovation teams, and product teams how to run effective experiments. An experiment is a test designed to help you answer the questions “Should we do this?” or “Am I right about this?” If you are open to learning, the insights from your experiments will help you refine your creation and improve your odds of success. Like its prequel, Testing with Humans is concise, highly practical, and packed with useful tactics and tips and examples to answer key questions:+ Why run experiments?+ When to test the business versus the product?+ What makes a good experiment?+ How do you turn experiments into decisions and actions?+ How can we bring experiments into our business culture?

Wasserman, Noam. The Founder's Dilemma: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup

Often downplayed in the excitement of starting up a new business venture is one of the most important decisions entrepreneurs will face: should they go it alone, or bring in cofounders, hires, and investors to help build the business? More than just financial rewards are at stake. Friendships and relationships can suffer. Bad decisions at the inception of a promising venture lay the foundations for its eventual ruin. The Founder's Dilemmas is the first book to examine the early decisions by entrepreneurs that can make or break a startup and its team.

Drawing on a decade of research, Noam Wasserman reveals the common pitfalls founders face and how to avoid them. He looks at whether it is a good idea to cofound with friends or relatives, how and when to split the equity within the founding team, and how to recognize when a successful founder-CEO should exit or be fired. Wasserman explains how to anticipate, avoid, or recover from disastrous mistakes that can splinter a founding team, strip founders of control, and leave founders without a financial payoff for their hard work and innovative ideas. He highlights the need at each step to strike a careful balance between controlling the startup and attracting the best resources to grow it, and demonstrates why the easy short-term choice is often the most perilous in the long term.

The Founder's Dilemmas draws on the inside stories of founders like Evan Williams of Twitter and Tim Westergren of Pandora, while mining quantitative data on almost ten thousand founders.

People problems are the leading cause of failure in startups. This book offers solutions.

Christensen, Clayton. “The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail.” Harvard Business Review Press, 2015.

Named one of 100 Leadership & Success Books to Read in a Lifetime by Amazon Editors

Wall Street Journal and Businessweek bestseller. Named by Fast Company as one of the most influential leadership books in its Leadership Hall of Fame. An innovation classic. From Steve Jobs to Jeff Bezos, Clay Christensen’s work continues to underpin today’s most innovative leaders and organizations.

The bestselling classic on disruptive innovation, by renowned author Clayton M. Christensen.

His work is cited by the world’s best-known thought leaders, from Steve Jobs to Malcolm Gladwell. In this classic bestseller—one of the most influential business books of all time—innovation expert Clayton Christensen shows how even the most outstanding companies can do everything right—yet still lose market leadership.

Christensen explains why most companies miss out on new waves of innovation. No matter the industry, he says, a successful company with established products will get pushed aside unless managers know how and when to abandon traditional business practices.

Offering both successes and failures from leading companies as a guide, The Innovator’s Dilemma gives you a set of rules for capitalizing on the phenomenon of disruptive innovation.

Sharp, cogent, and provocative—and consistently noted as one of the most valuable business ideas of all time—The Innovator’s Dilemma is the book no manager, leader, or entrepreneur should be without.