When it comes to being a successful entrepreneur, “knowledge is power.” So, if you’re on a quest to build your knowledge hub, where do you go?

In today’s digital age, the natural inclination might be to listen to a podcast, watch a YouTube video or attend a Ted Talk. Make no mistake, these can be valuable resources for gaining business insights, but they don’t give you the detail that 300+ pages might offer. Yes, If you want exposure to new ideas, modes of thinking, and a library of diverse knowledge, then cracking open a book on the regular is an essential part of being a successful founder.

In fact, some of the most successful entrepreneurs are avid book worms. Warren Buffet is said to read roughly 500 pages every day. Manish Chandram of Poshmark considers reading an “engine for personal growth.” And Elon Musk is said to have taught himself to build rockets by reading.

So, where do you start in the vast library of entrepreneurship books out there? Just taking the time to read through reviews to discern what’s quality and what’s not, is time consuming. Knowing this, the startup insurance company, Embroker, put together a guide on 21 books to help founders scale their startup. This guide is broken into three categories:

  • Growth hacking books — Those that give you insights on how to scale a startup business. These cover topics like marketing, product development and sales.
  • Books to read before pitching VCs — Books for founders and entrepreneurs who are getting ready to go after additional funding to grow their business.
  • Entrepreneurship stories — Tomes that will give you insight into the stories, struggles, successes and failures of other entrepreneurs who’ve gone before you.

Here are six reads from their guide that every entrepreneur should read.

1. The Art of the Pitch

The Art of the Pitch has long been praised as a guide to persuasion and presentation skills that win businesses.

Author Peter Coughter uses an engaging and humorous narrative to present  the tools he designed to help advertising and marketing professionals develop persuasive presentations. It’s a must read for anyone who wants to learn how to effectively deliver a presentation, whether it’s your 9-5 job or you’re a founder who’s preparing to pitch venture capitalists.

Who it’s geared towards: Leadership, professionals, founders

2. If You’re in a Dogfight, Become a Cat!

In this book Columbia University professor, Leonard Sherman, discusses how businesses often find themselves trapped in a competitive dogfight, scratching and clawing for market share with products consumers view as largely undifferentiated.

Sherman talks about how businesses can differentiate themselves by continuously renewing their distinctive strategies to compete on their own terms — e.g. becoming a “cat.”

Who it’s geared towards: Anyone from MBA students to upper management.

3. Business Model Generation

Business Model Generation uses research backed methods to help companies devise great strategic plans for a successful future — highlighting all the factors that determine the success and failure of businesses today.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur launching a startup or a business owner who has hit a stagnant point in a competitive environment, this a good read to help you identify problems and shake up the current processes.

Who it’s geared towards: Entrepreneurs, founder business owners

4. Smartcuts

Author, Shane Snow, covers the commonly asked question “How do some startups go from zero to billions in a matter of months?”

In 277 pages, Snow analyzes the lives of people and companies that do incredible things in an implausibly short amount of time, highlighting topics like how to hack the corporate ladder, why every entrepreneur needs a mentor, and the value of negative feedback.

Who it’s geared towards: Innovators and founders

5. The Lean Startup

Learn an approach to startups that is becoming a widely used global approach — the lean startup method. In this book, Eric Ries looks at ways to trip the fat of startups with shorter product development cycles, how to leverage employee creativity to stay ahead of the competition and do away with vanity metrics.

Most importantly Ries talks about a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in an age where most companies face uncertainty and are constantly pressured to innovate.

Who it’s geared towards: Entrepreneurs and founders

6. Venture Deals

If you’re bootstrapped your business to the best of your abilities, but still need money to scale, you’re probably considering venture capital.

In Venture Deals, Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson work to demystify the complex ecosystem of VC funding. In doing so this book covers everything from understanding deal structures and strategies to learning how to pick a VC fund that aligns with your vision and company values.   

Who it’s geared towards: Founders

If you’re interested in seeing which other books made the list, check out their full guide on books to scale.


Keilah is a freelance writer and content curator with a focus on business development and startups. When she’s not behind a screen you’ll find her hiking with her dog.