(Next to) Free Stuff for Start-ups: top reads

More in the series of stuff I’ve found useful in starting a company.  These are the key books that I go back to again, and again, and again, whenever I need to think things through.  You can get these at the library if you’re cheap.  I’ve bought mine and the dog-ears, notes and underlines in them definitely argues that I got my money’s worth.

A disclaimer–I usually hate business books.  I find them usually little more than ego-strokes for the author or filled with advice that’s really pretty obvious.  (Be ethical, have a vision, etc.)  Given that perspective, here’s the books that I think of as essential references. 

The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything

Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start.  This is a mother-lode of practical, concrete tips and advice.   I’ve gone back to this book dozens of times.  No matter what you might start, go buy this and read it.  Keep it near by as you proceed with whatever you do. 

The Art of Telling Your StoryJerry Weissman’s Presenting to Win. If you’re an entrepreneur, you need to be able to tell people what you’re doing.  Whether its in an elevator pitch, in a car ride, or in a boardroom, your ability to communicate crisply, clearly and in an engaging way will have a huge determination on your ability to succeed: whether its hiring, raising money, getting the product built, et.  Mr. Weissman’s book focuses on how to ‘present,’ but the concepts I find are universal in structuring my ability to communicate effectively.  Must read.

Financial AccountingI know, I know, you can outsource accounting, why have an accounting text book included?  The simple answer is that if you’re an enterpreneur, you can’t afford not to understand accounting at a basic level.  You’ll be accountable at the end of the day for how the numbers come together.  Start-ups, like all of life, require a bit of luck to turn out well.  Luck favors the prepared. 

Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

One obvious reality that I saw when I became an entrepreneur–you negotiate *everything*.  Get into that mindset, practice it, and learn.  Getting to Yes is one of the better guides to structure your thinking on this.  I keep it close if for no other reason than to remind me to negotiate something. 

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