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18 Must Read Business Books for Emerging Entrepreneurs and Startups

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Reading is both relaxation and training for the mind. Who reads, dives into another world. Learning, entertaining and breaking out of everyday life for a short moment. One could go even so far as to say reading is the second most beautiful thing in the world! Whether it is non-fiction or a novel of all the world’s man has created, the book is the most powerful tool. That is also, why we wanted to find out which business book you should undertake in the new year.

Here are 18 business books you might not have heard of but you need to read:

1. Prediction Machines by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, Avi Goldfarb

The book “Prediction Machines” helps to classify the development of artificial intelligence and deal constructively with uncertainty about changes. The book first appeared in October and highlights the changes that AI inevitably brings with it. The three renowned economists give an overview of the possibilities of AI and deal with economic issues related to this technology. This book offers some illustrative examples of use.

2. Growth Hacking with Strategy by Hendrik Lennarz

The book by Hendrik Lennarz provides numerous tips and practical examples for the successful introduction of a growth hacking strategy for companies. The spectrum ranges from organization through product development to marketing and customer loyalty. The growth-hacking-readiness checklist is particularly useful here. In my view, the book is a must for anyone looking to maximize user growth.

3. 7 Ways to Effectiveness by Stephen R. Covey

A classic among the business advisers, which appeared in 1989, but has since lost none of its topicality. Covey describes the habits of successful individuals and derives universal principles from them. They help me both in my professional and personal life and are reflected in the successful development of extremely strong teams. The book is one of the most influential business books of the last 100 years, according to Time Magazine.

4. Digital Offroad by Ulf Bosch, Stefan Hentschel, Steffen Kramer

“Digital Offroad” shows that digitization should not be considered one-dimensional. It touches just every area of a company and must, therefore, be understood as a holistic challenge and an opportunity. The authors argue that digitization has an impact on a variety of factors, including corporate culture. Provocative thesis that reveal important questions, as well as best practices, make “Digital Offroad” an absolute must-read for me.

5. The Startup Code by Johannes Ellenberg

In seven chapters, the book sums up clearly and pragmatically what middle-sized companies can and must learn from startups. It clearly represents startups and why they are better prepared for the future. Johannes Ellenberg, who helped set up the startup scene in Stuttgart, explains how companies have to change their course and adapt to changing market conditions in order to remain sustainable. A new mindset is postulated: cooperation instead of competition!

“Reading is a way for me to expand my mind, open my eyes and fill up my heart.” – Oprah Winfrey

6. From Zero to One by Peter Thiel

“From Zero to One” is full of unconventional perspectives on starting a business. The basic idea of the Silicon Valley veteran Peter Thiel is to build something fundamentally new — a monopoly. He explains what has to happen to ensure long-term success and how to protect this monopoly from imitators. From the book, I was able to draw many valuable ideas for our own startup — a real must-read for anyone who wants to start their own business!

7. The Platform Revolution by Geoffrey Parker, Marshall van Alstyne, Sangeet Choudary

Although the book was published in 2016, the content is more relevant than ever. The authors clarify all important questions about the development of a successful platform business model and the concepts can be applied to both B2B and B2C. The examples are very practice-oriented and the analysis of how established companies can adapt to new requirements in the market is sound. Whether founder of a startup or established player in a changing market, this book is a must for everyone!

8. Artificial Intelligence by Peter Buxmann, Holger Schmidt

Holger Schmidt is an economist and journalist on platform economics and has even developed a stock index exclusively for listed companies with platform business models. In his new title, he and some colleagues are scientifically dedicated to artificial intelligence and its impact on the economy and society. The book deals with many myths and provides exciting facts and case studies. The book is very inspiring for me.

9. Fast thinking, slow thinking by Daniel Kahneman

This excellent book opens your eyes to the countless limitations and influences of your own thinking. It helps to reflect on how decisions and assessments – which you as a founder and entrepreneur must constantly make — actually come about and this often does not go as rationally as you would wish. Admittedly, it takes some time to read — definitely not easy reading — but it is worth it.

10. Founder to CEO by Matt Mochary

I can recommend this book to anyone because it covers the most important start-up and growth topics: competencies and motivation in the team, knowledge transfer and productivity, cash flow, finances and scaling — all in all, the perfect sweeping blow. Founders who are CEOs for the first time will find guidelines and answers for challenges. Long-time CEOs can use the guide to reassess their own and the company’s performance.

11. Rethinking Agility by Klaus Leopold

The book “Agile Rethinking” by Klaus Leopold is my book highlight for 2019. Just 136 pages of concentrated knowledge with precise illustrations of why agile teams alone are not enough if you want to re-think the entire company and be agile. A case study, which shows all the problems and the appropriate solutions in the practical example. My clear recommendation for every leadership team at C-level — from 50 employees to a global corporation.

12. The Startup Way by Eric Ries

Eric Ries is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who helps large and small organizations with transformation processes. He helps them to focus on their customers and their requirements with little capital and lean processes in order to bring the right products to the market. Based on his experience of the past twenty years, Ries has developed a system of corporate governance that leads to stable growth and sustainable effect.

13. Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

Yuval Noah Harari describes in his bestseller how people have striven to challenge the status quo from the very beginning. At the same time, he explores the question of what a world in which man has become “homo deus” through technological progress looks like. A must-read for the entire tech industry, which deals with future topics and looks for the appropriate modus operandi. Harari points out the potential of innovation and warns to think about developments from the potential end.

14. The Design Thinking Playbook by Michael Lewrick, Patrick Link, Larry Leifer

Design thinking is a great approach that defines customer needs and practical use cases for these needs for constant innovation. Too many companies are still pursuing an “inside out” approach, focusing on internal skills and innovation plans in the development of new services and products. The book provides a playful approach to the methods and tools used. It also provides sufficiently detailed and clear explanations for those who want to get directly involved in the practical application of design thinking.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” – Joseph Addison

15. Smart Business – Alibaba’s Strategy Secret by Ming Zeng

Alibaba looks at some digital transformations we are about to face and which an almost unbelievable success is the group’s platforms attract more users than the US, and earn higher margins than Amazon. Alibaba’s chief strategy officer Ming Zeng, who is also a former professor, discusses the guidelines for the world of artificial intelligence. Spoiler: human creativity and innovative ability are essential.

16. Hard Things about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

The book gives an open and realistic view of entrepreneurship, with all difficulties. Through the own experiences of the author and Silicon Valley investor Ben Horowitz, the tips and advice are very practical and have a real added value for the reader. After reading, you are prepared for the next lows as an entrepreneur. Many books and guides ignore the negative aspects of founding. That is not the case here. A real recommendation for every entrepreneur!

17. Digital Vortex by Michael Wade, James Macauly, Jeff Loucks

A vortex described in fluid mechanics is a mathematically not precisely formable circular flow, which sucks things with increasing speed into their center. Metaphorically transferred to organizations, they whirl chaotically along the flow, collide, merge or dissolve completely. They head for the center of the movement — a digital revolution. For entrepreneurs, the question of what role they play with their company in the wake of digitization is decisive. Therefore, the question of what incumbents should know as they move in the digital vortex is at the heart of the book.

18. Measure What Matters by John Doerr

My must-read for 2019: “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr. He describes how goals and responsibilities can be defined and controlled by means of objectives and key results. In particular, the case studies and knowledge resources in the book help to understand the approach and to find starting points for the implementation in their own environment. In summary, a very practice-oriented book that shows possibilities for direct involvement.

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Max Babych is serial entrepreneur and IT professional. Owner of https://spdload.com/. His focus optimizes the business process and increases KPIs. Expert in Growth Hacking, Lean Methodology and Customer Development approach. You can reach him through LinkedIn.

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