Whether you’ve started, are thinking of starting or trying to affect change inside a larger organization as an intrapraneur (all roles I’ve lived) I think these will be useful building blocks.
First, know that entrepreneurship is about continually learning and adapting. You’re constantly solving problems and improvising as you build the business you hopefully love. To be effective at this “skill” it helps to learn from the experiences of many other entrepreneurs. So my first bonus recommendation is not a book, rather a suggestion to plug into a podcast like “How I Built This” or Stanford’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series.
Now onto the hardcopy. No matter where you are in your progress, know that whatever change you seek to make begins with you. It’s going to require your finite time and attention. For that, I think it’s critical to have a clear sense of self and a method for keeping on your track. The Seven Basic Habits by Steven Covey is a long time favorite that is still applicable today.
Second, a lot of incubators and business books prescribe all these things you need to do before you get going. Build a business plan, build a team, scout the competition etc. etc. Of course you need a sense of direction and good teams are the best asset you can have, but I caution you that whatever plan you lay out will be out the window in the first 6 months and waiting for the perfect team may not happen until after you get going and learn what you’re really going to build.
So a book I found refreshing and immediately applicable was ReWork by Jason Fried and David Heinmeier Hansson. The book is broken into bite size pieces with an approach you can implement from day one - even if you haven’t launched yet.
Third, starting and running a business relies on a good dose of creativity and continuous innovation. Eric Reis’ The Lean Startup teaches you how to leverage your organization’s creativity whether you are just starting or a small business eager to evolve. My favorite, counter intuitive lesson, was know that whatever you first build will be wrong.
Everything changes when you put it in front of customers, so get good at quickly iterating.
Fourth, I’ve always felt that your role as a manger rising through the ranks at a large organization or entrepreneur growing the business was to essentially replace yourself. Not just hire new people to do the same things, but take a view of how do you adapt your role as the business progresses.
A lot of entrepreneurs seem to stall either from not being able to move from artisans or escape the managerial duties of the day to day operation. I think the “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber cuts to the essence of what an entrepreneur needs to really do to succeed.
Fifth, all businesses suffer or succeed from how they reach and interact with their customers. There are endless marketing and sales books, but one perspective I’ve always enjoyed was Seth Godin’s. His books are easy reads and his latest, This is Marketing, is a great update on marketing today. If you’re looking for a little fun in bite size pieces, you can check out his pod cast named Akimbo.
So that’s my short list of fun and useful reads to get you on your way. The list is by no means exhaustive, but the journey is never ending so keep reading and learning.
Roy Lamphier is Founder and CEO of Excelerate America, the fun, smart service for small businesses. Roy's passion for entrepreneurship, tech and helping small enterprises succeed are central to the Excelerate America ethos. Do you have a book that's helped along your entrepreneurial journey? Share it with Roy at firstname.lastname@example.org.