The best, highly vetted, ever-changing list of books founders should read

Published: Jan. 16, 2018

The best New Years Resolution I’ve heard is from one of our founders. Each time she picks up her phone to check social media / news / texts in 2018, she’ll read her Kindle instead. She asked for book recs — a request I get a ton — so I made this list.

I love every one of these books — each is outstanding and has meaningfully helped me and our founders. There are zero average books on this list. I’ll continue to be picky and update the list when books move the needle. Add suggestions in the comments if you’d like, or scenarios you’re facing that I can find books to help with.

THREE QUICK POINTS ON STARTUP BOOKS:

  1. Don’t feel bad for getting the point then skimming / putting the book down. These are resources for you, treat them that way. Many books beat the examples to death (after making a few great points).

  2. Don’t feel bad about buying books before you’ve finished the ones you’ve got. Books are the biggest value in the startup world. Paying $9 for an insight that could change your company is always worth it.

  3. If you’re a Tacklebox alum, these are all in our library. Holler and I’ll get them to you.

THE BOOKS:

I’m a new/first-time founder and I haven’t read these yet (required reading)…

I’ve got a startup idea and I’d love a roadmap for my first ~6 months to validate if I’m on to something…

Is entrepreneurship even right for me?

There’s a lot of competition in my space and I want to figure out how to differentiate product and messaging…

I need to get some customers… (Bang through Hooked + Contagious in a weekend, then read Traction and use that framework to build a tactical, creative plan in excel).

I need to keep my customers…

I got customers to sign up and now I need to drastically improve my writing for content marketing / engaging customer emails…

I need to convince people to help me do something (yep, the title is off-putting but the book is from 1936 and is an absolute must-read)

I want to orchestrate moments in my product / messaging / brand that customers will remember…

I’m working on this startup idea in the margins and need to be more efficient with my time and focus on the meaningful tasks…

I’m thinking about quitting… how do I know if I should quit or persevere?

I realized I’ve never done sales before and it is WAY harder then just being friendly…

I’m not a “finance person”…

I want a creative culture (and to read Brian’s favorite book about his favorite company)…

I need some founder wisdom + inspiration…

I don’t know how much to charge and want to understand human behavior better…

Remember, these books are only effective when layered on top of unique insights you have about specific customers. They’re a compass, not a map.

Finally, I put these titles into a holiday poem here. It’s not the holidays, but I like the Nelly joke, so… here we are.

Brian Scordato