Hey, this is Ian, one of the Co-Founders here at Syncro. I wanted to share a list of the best books I’ve read over the course of my entrepreneurial experience. Each one has really helped me understand more about navigating the various challenges of building and running a business.
These books are helpful for various stages of a company and not every book in this list will be relevant for your company or your stage, so I’ve tried to describe them as best as possible. I’ve also separated my suggestions by category, so you can skim through and find something for a particular topic that you’re looking to learn more about.
I think that books that present a “system” or “framework” for understanding and acting on situations are usually the most impactful for the long-term, rather than books that are tactical in nature (not that there’s anything wrong with those). I’ve highlighted these “system” books by putting a [System] tag next to the book title.
If you have any other great book suggestions for me, please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High – [System]
Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler
If I had to pick only one book on this entire list for everyone to read, it would be this one.
Crucial Conversations is a truly transformative read. It teaches you skills for effectively communicating when stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong – both in business and in your personal life. I’d recommend having your entire team read it and discuss in small groups, or at the very least having your leadership team read it together. It’s amazing how fast and effective your team can be once you’re all able to have crucial conversations in a productive way.
You should read this book if: you are a human being that has to have difficult conversations – which you are (everyone does).
General Strategy and Competition
Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy – [System]
This book provides a really good perspective on how to think about your business in relation to your market and competition. If you’ve ever studied the Business Model Canvas, this is like that but higher-level.
You should read this book if: You’re thinking about competition, differentiation, or market forces.
Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
Jim Collins, Jerry I. Porras
Built to Last has a bunch of case studies about the difference between “visionary” companies in various industries and compares them to their competitors.
You should read this book if: You haven’t yet defined your company’s Core Values, Mission, and Culture (or if your employees feel like work is just clocking in and clocking out).
Business Model Generation:
A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers – [System]
Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pingeur
This is an ideal read if you’re still figuring out your business model, or haven’t yet figured out product-market fit.
Read this book if: You’re still doing customer development or don’t quite know your business model yet.
Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Growth
Gabriel Weinberg, Justin Mares
Traction outlines tons of different marketing channels, and case-studies for how to succeed in each channel.
Read this book if: You need more leads or need to evolve your marketing strategies.
Sales Acceleration Formula
This book talks about how Hubspot built their sales team.
Read this book if: You need to build a sales team, or are currently scaling a sales team.
Customer Success: How Innovative Companies are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue
Nick Mehta, Dan Steinman, Lincoln Murphy
This book is all about Customer Success, and how you can grow your revenue by reducing churn and increasing expansion revenue.
Read this book if: You’ve built out your sales team and starting to see churn from existing customers.
How to Win Friends and Influence People
This classic written by Dale Carnegie has some straightforward ways to have better interactions with people. It’s especially helpful in sales.
Read this book if: You’re doing sales or are looking to learn how to be more persuasive.
Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness
This is an easy read that’s helpful if you are getting into sales for the first time and are going to be doing the sales yourself. Jeffrey outlines sales fundamentals and gives you some motivation to get started. It’s a bit old-school so take it with a grain of salt, but it’s short so I left it on here.
Read this book if: You’ve never done sales, or need to be more efficient doing sales.
The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Company
Steve Blank, Bob Dorf
The Startup Owner’s Manual is all about customer development (the process of talking to customers to figure out what to sell them).
Read this book if: You haven’t found product-market fit yet.
Company Operations and Growth
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement – [System]
Eliyahu M. Goldratt, Jeff Cox
This is a super quirky book that is written in story-form about a struggling manufacturing business and how they turn it around. It’s an incredible read if you’re trying to figure out how to grow your business and learn where your bottlenecks/constraints are, and how to handle them. It’s about a manufacturing business, but the lessons are definitely applicable It’s very complementary to “Understanding Michael Porter” (above).
Read this book if: You are thinking about growing your business.
Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System – [System]
This article talks about how to influence any “system”, whether that system is your company, your industry, etc. Super interesting.
Read this article if: You have systematic/structural problems that you’re trying to solve.
Remote: Office Not Required
Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hanson
If you have a remote team, or are considering building a remote team, this book will give you really good learnings from the founders of 37 Signals.
The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work by Zapier
Another great resource for remote teams, written by our friends at Zapier.
That’s it for my list at the moment. I hope you find