By Mayank Jain:
It is tough being an entrepreneur. But, it is tougher learning to be a successful one. While everyone in the organization work on their specific skill sets, the task of the entrepreneur is to steer the ship. The process of learning, failing, re learning and succeeding is the lifeblood of every successful start-up, be it a newbie venture in booming industries like food and data or a well stabilized organization in Information Technology.
For an entrepreneur, reading and learning assumes critical importance. The better way to save some time from failures is to learn from others and their insights; books are treasure troves of knowledge and wisdom accumulated over centuries. Agreed that their schedule is tight and building a business is no easy task, but entrepreneurs with a habit of reading and a willingness to learn, are able to connect the dots much better than those who work in isolation. Here are 9 fantastic books to get you started:
1. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
A large part of an entrepreneur’s nap time is overcrowded with the thoughts of figuring out the needs and behaviour of his/her audience and the markets he/she functions in. This book shatters the myth of ‘rational behaviour’ and brings out the unseen aspects of our decision making process- the fast decisions usually made on a whim and intuition instead of a thought out analysis.
The best part about the book is Dan Ariely’s behavioural approach to even seemingly logical decision making as he unearths the facets of human behaviour which entrepreneurs use to the fullest when theyÂ make the pitch, design a new product or just sits down to analyse theirÂ audience.
2. The Four Steps to the Epiphany
This is the book that introduced the concept of Lean Start-ups to the entrepreneurial world and quickly became a modern classic. Its philosophy is behind thousands of ventures which thrive successfully today. The book shatters the myth that a start-up is just a smaller version of a big company.
The book helps uncover flaws in products and business plans and corrects them before they become costly. Rapid iteration, customer feedback and testing your assumptions- these are all explained in this book. It is a must read for even those looking to discover entrepreneurship in general. Â
3. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
Earlier, the idea of an organization propounded it to be a combination of two teams: management and labour. Now there’s a third team, the linchpins. These are the indispensable employees who may not be famous but they are the ones who know what to do when there’s no rule book to go by.
This New York TimesÂ bestseller by Seth Godin is a handbook for entrepreneurs as well as professionals who seek to be irreplaceable and excel at everything they choose to do. As Seth says, the key lies in making the right choices.
4. Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age
Everything you knew has been turning into computers. Typewriters, music players and even drivers from the cars have been replaced by screen and technology’s inevitable mashup. Is it a gold mine for entrepreneurs to tap into? Absolutely.
Paul Graham takes you on a journey into these minds of ‘hackers’ who have rode the technological waves and tame the world as we know it today. It is a book that will offer perspectives, solutions, insights, histories and the avenues in technology than just wires and screens.
5. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
This book by Malcolm Gladwell, explains the thinking that we do and often skip. You meet a psychologist who can predict whether a marriage will last based on few minutes of observing the couple; the tennis coach who knows when a player will double-fault before the racket even makes contact with the ball; the antiquities’ experts who recognize a fake at a glance.
6. How to Win Friends and Influence People
Read by millions of people, time tested over six decades and still recommended in most public speaking and soft skills schools, this book is your best bet to build relationships with people. An entrepreneur’s strength lies in the network he/she builds which acts as a backup as well as a resource, and this gem by Dale Carnegie has hundreds of little tips on conversing better and making relationships.
The book will teach you twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment. It proves to be an ultimate guide and companion for cultivating mutually beneficial relationships.
7. The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal
Facebook has taken over our lives in a way which we never guessed. The company runs WhatsApp, Instagram and of course the social network Facebook, and accounts for most of the time we spend on the internet in non-work hours.
This book traces the birth and rise of Facebook. Â Written by Ben Mezrich, the book focuses on the best friends Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg and how their lives turned upside down as the social network moved from the dorm to Silicon Valley. This book is an inspirational, poignant and enchanting account of the world’s largest social network. Â
8. The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
A black swan is an event, positive or negative, that is deemed improbable yet causes massive consequences. This book discovers the impact of things with lesser probabilities of happening; on things which are all around and still go unnoticed.
The book reminds entrepreneurs that past events do not predict the future. No matter how small, a start-up can be a game changer.
9. Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity
Creativity is an integral characteristic of any innovative team that dreams of changing the world. Entrepreneurs often find themselves in a constant dilemma of innovation and are stuck amongst many ideas, some of which aren’t necessarily good to be implemented.
The book makes you question your ideas about creativity and idea generation and hands you tips to be more creative structurally through processes instead of just focusing on building things that ‘do the job’. A large portion of book is attributed to details on the importance of creativity and ways to inculcate it. The book reminds entrepreneurs that past events do not predict the future. No matter how small, a start-up can be a game changer.