National Book Day Reads for Startups

by | Aug 9, 2021 | Startup Advice | 0 comments

Are you an aspiring Entrepreneur or currently launching a Startup? Here are some important books, blogs, and writings you should consider reading on (and after!) National Book Lovers Day.

All year long I consistently hear from other Entrepreneurs about the books they are reading. Honestly, it’s a bit overwhelming… A constant stream of Startup focused content is released every year and it’s impossible to know what you should read and what is simply a distraction or repetitive information.

To help, pick out some reads that will impact your Startup, we’ve connected with multiple Startup Founders to see what they are reading, what was worth their time, and what the impact has been for their Startups. We’ve compiled the list below

But first, let’s be realistic about this. No book, blog, or writing will make or break your Startup. The theories presented in these writings are only as good as the implementation that you bring to your Startup. Remember, if you are strapped for time, you should focus on building your business.

Books You Really Should Consider Reading:


The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you
Rob Fitzpatrick 

About the Book:
The Mom Test is a quick, practical guide that will save you time, money, and heartbreak.
They say you shouldn’t ask your mom whether your business is a good idea, because she loves you and will lie to you. This is technically true, but it misses the point. You shouldn’t ask anyone if your business is a good idea. It’s a bad question and everyone will lie to you at least a little. As a matter of fact, it’s not their responsibility to tell you the truth. It’s your responsibility to find it and it’s worth doing right.

Why You Need to Read It:

For many years I’ve taught aspiring Entrepreneurs you should never talk to your parents, family, or friends about your startup ideas because they are all a bunch of liars that only want what’s best for you. How dare they!

 This book flips this concept on its head and simply states that you should find ways to talk about your ideas to anyone, even your mom, in a way that gets you the true information you need without their bias towards you coming along with their perspectives. Genius.

 If you’ve followed the Startup scene for any length of time, then you have likely learned about interviewing customers. Everyone talks about the importance of doing this, yet I’ve found that most Startups only talk to a few potential customers. They then use all the feedback from this small subset of their market to justify everything they want to claim. Stop and ask yourself… are you really interviewing customers? And let’s be realistic, in some ways this behavior is “This is the way of The Startup”.

 Move fast and break things right?  

 However, in this book Rob frankly explains the importance of why this skill needs to be refined, a new approach that turns customer interviews into casual conversations, and how to build this into your Startups lifecycle so it doesn’t slow your progress down. I can’t recommend this book enough as it finally explains why we focus so heavily on this topic in our FoundersForge Startup Bootcamp. This book is now required reading for our program!

Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer’s Guide to Launching a Startup – Rob Walling

About the Book:

The Mom Test is a quick, practical guide that will save you time, money, and heartbreak.
They say you shouldn’t ask your mom whether your business is a good idea, because she loves you and will lie to you. This is technically true, but it misses the point. You shouldn’t ask anyone if your business is a good idea. It’s a bad question and everyone will lie to you at least a little. As a matter of fact, it’s not their responsibility to tell you the truth. It’s your responsibility to find it and it’s worth doing right.

Why You NEED to Read It:

Those that know me or get me riled up about the state of Startups will already know why I love this book. Row Walling is a serial self-funded entrepreneur that has built and sold multiple Startups (like Dripp) and founded MicroConf and TinySeed. Their entire focus is on helping single founder bootstrapped Startups succeed, and their track record in this space is incredible. The idea that you need to be attempting to build the next unicorn like facebook or Uber is simply false. You can build a life-changing Startup that adds value to you, your community, and those around you.

Start Small Stay Small is a phenomenal read. In my opinion, it proves the current culture and typical approach to Startups is simply wrong and is taking us down an unsustainable path. Luckily, others are walking their own path (as a true Entrepreneur does) and building a better future a different way. As a bonus, after reading this book you can continue your knowledge with Startups for the Rest of Us Podcast and attend MicroConf to hang out with some other incredible founders. When your startup is ready, and if it does need additional support, TinySeed is a new approach to investing that focuses on growing your startup without requiring a 25x return to be labeled a ‘success’.

Hello Web Design: Design Fundamentals and Shortcuts for Non-Designers – Tracy Osborn

About the Book:
This book democratizes web development design for everyone. It’s a fun, clever guide that covers all of the key design principles, best practices, useful shortcuts, pro tips, real-world examples, and basic coding tutorials needed to produce a beautiful website that you’ll feel confident sharing with the world. Because you, too, can design for the web!


Why You NEED to Read It:

Everyone thinks they are a designer, yet many first products look terrible. Hiring a great designer early on in your venture is the best way to design your products. When you are in the very early stages of your startup, and don’t have any funding, it is still in your best interest to have a basic understanding of design principles. This book covers the theory at a high level and provides at set of best practices through real-world examples on how to design your products. I’ve also found this book is a great resource for designing flyers, business cards, and all kinds of other needed materials for your startup.

This is a must read for any startup or aspiring entrepreneur! It is a short and colorful read that you will find immediately helpful. It’s also a great resource to share with your friends and team.


Practice Your Pitch: 21 Lessons from 2500 Pitches from 4 Years of Leading Entrepreneurs at Pitch Practice – Kevin Sandlin

About the Book:
Anyone who has ever started anything had to tell someone else about that something. How we communicate what we do is directly related to the success of that effort. Pitch Practice was created to help entrepreneurs improve how they communicate. Pitch Practice is inspired by TED Talks from Simon Sinek and Nancy Duarte, and supported by Atlanta Tech Village and the growing community of entrepreneurs in Atlanta.


Why You Need to Read It:

The Startup world is big on “pitching” with competitions, investor events, and every Startup focused bootcamp or accelerator has a pitching component to it. Them hyper-focusing on this skill is so important because Startups, especially early-stage ones, are often terrible at talking about their businesses. They get too into the weeds, skip over key points, and forget that everyone else is not as excited about their ideas.

Without this skill, it can be very difficult to attract customers, employees, co-founders, and investors. Learning to pitch correctly is an important skill to open doors, make connections, and succeed in your Startups. Kevin Sandlin learned the importance of this the hard way and set out to become an expert at it. Today, after thousands of pitches, the Atlanta Tech Village’s back conference room is now named the Pitch Practice room thanks to Kevin.

The book is a short and easy read with large print that gets straight to the point. It covers an awesome outline of your first pitch and covers strategies for success. We use this book as a mandatory ready for FoundersForge Bootcamp and it’s helped our early-stage founders make connections, get into larger programs, and grow their Startups.

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business – Gino Wickman

About the Book:

Do you have a grip on your business, or does your business have a grip on you?
All entrepreneurs and business leaders face similar frustrations—personnel conflict, profit woes, and inadequate growth. Decisions never seem to get made, or once made, fail to be properly implemented. In Traction, you’ll learn the secrets of strengthening the six key components of your business. You’ll discover simple yet powerful ways to run your company that will give you and your leadership team more focus, more growth, and more enjoyment. Successful companies are applying Traction every day to run profitable, frustration-free businesses—and you can too.

 Why You Need to Read It:

Every so often a book comes out and I feel like I see it everywhere. Or everyone is telling me about it. The Startup world saw this happen with the Lean Startup and Zero to One as well as many other books over the years. The latest must read is Traction.

If I’m being completely honest, (and I always will be with you!) I had my doubts with Traction. The discussion of the Entrepreneurship Operating System (EOS) sounds like a gimmick and sales strategy more than a real thing. However, Traction brings together some very straight forward strategies and gets you to think about them very early on in your Startup. For those that may be scaling a Startup, this book will help you evaluate what you are doing and how you are approaching it. As I read this book, I find myself saying, “of course you do that” but then realizing that these often-simple concepts are often not implemented well.

There is a reason that Traction has gained so much… traction… (see what I did there?) And don’t discount it because of the mass appeal. Give it a read but remember. It’s only as good as the effort you put into implementing the topics into your Startup.

Hooked – Nir Eyal

About the Book:
How do successful companies create products people can’t put down?
Why do some products capture widespread attention while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of sheer habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies hook us?

Hooked is based on Eyal’s years of research, consulting, and practical experience. He wrote the book he wished had been available to him as a start-up founder—not abstract theory, but a how-to guide for building better products. Hooked is written for product managers, designers, marketers, start-up founders, and anyone who seeks to understand how products influence our behavior.

Why You Need to Read It:

I understand that this book might be controversial. We all have heard the issues of addictive social media, gaming, and “hook-cycles.” This book covers years of Nir Eyal’s research on this topic and offers practical insights on how to create these flows and processes into your own products. I see this as an important ready for anyone building a mobile app or product. By implementing these strategies, you are continuously re-developing your customer base and providing an experience your customers will enjoy.   Just remember, you don’t have to be evil! Use this information to do good, create value, and improve the lives of your customers. They will love you for it.

And if the very concept of this book made you feel uneasy with your facebook addition then the author has your back with: “Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life” a book designed to help you overcome being hooked! Let’s take a moment to admire the writer’s Entrepreneurial spirit of capturing both sides of the market… then go read them both!

Podcasts to Check Out

Headed out to a long drive with the family and don’t want to listen to Baby Shark again? Queue up of these podcasts and you’ll put your family right to sleep while you are enthralled in this incredible Startup content!

Masters of Scale – Reid Hoffman
Spotify, Apple,

Masters of Scale is an original podcast hosted by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and investor at Greylock. In each episode, Reid reveals how companies grow from zero to a gazillion, testing his theories with legendary leaders. Masters of Scale is the first American media program to commit to gender balance for guests.

The incredible editing, quality guests, and insights by Reid will make you a life-long subscriber to this podcast. I highly recommend you start back on Season 1 Episode 1 featuring Brian Chesky, Co-Founder/CEO of AirB&B. If you aren’t blown away by this episode, it’s time to re-think your interest in Startups!


Startups for the Rest of Us:
Spotify, Apple,

Whether you’ve launched your startup or you’re just thinking about it, learn from successful founders who have been in your shoes. With nearly two decades of experience starting, growing, and advising startups, Rob Walling is here to share his experiences so you can avoid the mistakes he (and his guests) have made.

For the same reasons you should read Rob’s book, this podcast encompasses the culture of bootstrapped founders building their startups on their own terms while defining their own definitions of success.

The Dropout Podcast
Spotify, Apple,

This one is a bit different than the rest. The Dropout is a podcast that covers the story of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes, a Silicon Valley golden child Startup that promised to revolutionize healthcare with a single drop of blood. Once named the next Steve Jobs and a self-made billionaire, Elizabeth Holmes’s trail is set to begin in the next few months. The decision of this court case will send ripples through Silicon Valley and across Startup culture. The fundamental question of the fake-it-till-you-make-it culture that thrives in Startups is at risk. This is the backstory and it’s important to understand what happened.

Other Things to Read:

If our list isn’t comprehensive enough for you then I’d like to invite you to read something a little more unique.

Founders Journey – Baremetrics Journey

The founder of Baremetrics, a dashboard for subscription service focused Startups, launched a blog titled Founders Journey. Josh Pigford has always been very open about the intimate details of his Startup’s journey. Recently, Josh sold Baremetrics and didn’t hold back on any of the details on the process, why he sold, and what’s next for the company. It’s a bittersweet post and reminded me of all the value he constantly offered through his blog. Scrolling through from the beginning until he sold, you will find countless articles on realistic topics like building a financial model, sales, marketing, and other difficult challenges Josh journeyed through.

I Sold Baremetrics (11.10.20):

Announcing Baremetrics: Analytics for Stripe (11.20.13)

Note: Navigating the blog can be a little difficult to see the older content. The first page starts on page 12, and you can modify the URL to see the earliest content:

What are you reading this year? What has been your favorite book?
Leave a comment or send us your favorites to consider!