While you might think the toughest part of running a startup is coming up with the next big idea, taking a concept from your brain to an airy Silicon Valley loft with the perfect hipster staff and artisanal snacks lining your pantry is no easy feat.
Signing on with a tech incubator can help, but not everyone can be among the elite crew at Y Combinator. Luckily, the brightest tech stars, past and present, have chronicled their journeys in countless books. Many are probably not worth your time and will bore you to tears, but a few have consistently made the "best of" lists of top VCs and entrepreneurs.
So until you get your tech incubator invite, fire up your Kindle and get reading.
1. How to Win Friends & Influence People
This book was published before many of today's top tech firms even existed, but is it consistently recommended by tech people in the know. "It's critically important for anyone in business," according to VC Paul Graham. "Try to get a used copy printed before the 1960s; after Carnegie died, the book continued to be 'updated' by a committee, and the changes were not for the better."
2. Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age
Speaking of Graham, he has his own book that he (and a few others) think you should read. Graham has some expertise in this area; he created the Yahoo Store, the first Web-based app. So 10 years ago, he wrote a series of essays that make up this book. Topics include the importance of beauty in software design, how to make wealth, heresy and free speech, the programming language renaissance, the open-source movement, digital design, Internet startups, and more.
3. The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
The longer the title, the better the book? I don't know about that, but Ries' 2011 book has hit home for more than a few entrepreneurs. Don't waste time with lengthy business plans, this books says. Adapt and adjust, no matter the size of your business. Easier said than done, but Ries provides a "scientific approach" for how to get there.
4. Mastering the VC Game: A Venture Capital Insider Reveals How to Get from Start-up to IPO on Your Terms
Before you can alter your business plan, though, you need some money to create that business. Bussgang has been an entrepreneur and a venture capitalist, so he complied his wealth of knowledge into this book, which has tips on how to stand out, polish that demo, and find the perfect VC fit.
5. Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days
We must learn from the past, and that applies in business, too. In this book, Livingston interviews the founders of almost three dozens companies—from Apple and Firefox to Yahoo and PayPal—for personal stories about the early days of their now-famous companies.
Here are a few other books you might want to add to your reading list: