September 23, 2015

Thinking About Launching a New Business? Read These 7 Books First

bookYou have what you believe to be a brilliant, unique idea for a product that has the potential to revolutionize the marketplace. While you are confident in your innovative concept, you are also debating whether or not to take the next step and launch your business. What if you quit your job and spend all your hard-earned money on a startup just to watch the business fail?

Given that 50 percent of new businesses in the United States fail in their first five years, your apprehension is not unwarranted. It’s a good idea, then, to do some research before you start a business. Take the initiative and educate yourself about the relevant best practices. Learn from those who have successfully and unsuccessfully navigated the startup terrain by reading these seven business books, as suggested by [email protected], the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s online MBA program.

1. Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition by Guy Kawasaki

Kawasaki, who has worked at Apple and advised at Google, uses his vast experiences in the startup world to provide a funny and informative guide about how to create a community, how to learn the art of schmoozing, and much, much more.

2. Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Two software entrepreneurs with more than 10 years of sustained company profitability penned this guide to share how they generated millions of customers with only 16 employees and no marketing department.

3. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

If you want to eliminate uncertainty, just ask the right questions. Ries provides a scientific method for creating and running a startup. Rather than ask, “Can this product be built?” you should instead ask “Should this product be built?” and “Can we build a sustainable business around this product or service?”

4. The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

Want to know how to develop your own reliable customer base? Blank and Dorf will help you out. Their book provides a step-by-step process for customer development, along with a business-model canvas to monitor progress.

5. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras

Learn about the inner-workings of 18 incredible companies and discover what sets them apart from their competitors. You will be able to follow these companies from the startup stages to success, providing you with helpful tips you can apply to your own business.

6. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau

An ideal book for those who want to leave the traditional employment environment and pursue their passions while earning a living. Guillebeau believes you can pursue your passions while also earning a living — these things don’t have to be mutually exclusive! Guillebeau interviews ordinary people who were able to turn investments of $100 or less into businesses making $50,000 or more per year.

7. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber

This book addresses two fallacies: most people who start a small business are entrepreneurs, and someone who understands the technical side of a business can successfully operate a technical company. If you want practical business advice, this is the book for you.

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Alison Napolitano is a Senior Marketing Manager at 2U where she supports all community outreach for 2U's programs. Alison has a background in digital marketing and a passion for helping great brands succeed online.