Entrepreneur Reading List (Part 1): 5 Tools for Making the Transition from the 9-5

I made up a few lists of resources for the soon-to-be entrepreneurs attending my talk at Fairfield University Business School on April 16th, so I figured I’d share it.

The books in this list are great while you’re in the very early stages of your journey– coming up with ideas, trying to find co-founders, figuring out what type of company structure you want (LLC vs. C-Corp vs. Partnership), and just plain figuring out if being an entrepreneur is what you want out of life.

Here you go:

1.  The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
by Tim Ferriss

This book is really great at preparing you to make the mental leap from stuck-in-a-rut employee to free-thinking entrepreneur. A lot of the methods and claims made in the book are a little outlandish for the average person, but then again, if you’re planning on becoming a successful entrepreneur you’ll need to be anything but average.

This was the first book I read that really inspired me to get serious about quitting my job (or not get one in the first place) and come up with a great idea; I read it twice in one week while I was on vacation, and immediately got to work upon returning home.

2. The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)
by Seth Godin

The concepts in this book were invaluable to me.

In the beginning of the educative process, things are fun and rewarding to work on. Whether you’re learning an instrument, practicing a sport or starting a business, it’s easy to do in the initial phases because it’s so interesting.

But eventually you hit a point where you get to the hard stuff.  This is where things start to get dull, or require a lot of practice, or a lot of  time, or are painful and difficult to do. This is The Dip.

Godin teaches you that you should actually rejoice when you hit a Dip; all the rewards lie on the other side because so few people can make it through the hard times without giving up. E.g., it takes a lot of work to become a professional athlete, but the rewards are amazing.

Godin teaches you how to identify and embrace The Dip in whatever challenge you’re taking on, and use it to your advantage. Every time you recognize a Dip, you realize that 99% of your competitors just gave up.

Amazing read. Check it out.

3. Paul Graham’s Essays

Paul Graham has been the person I admire most in the startup community, as I’m sure is the case with most founders these days. He sold his company ViaWeb (which eventually became the Yahoo! Store) to Yahoo in 1998 and has since started reinventing the venture capital and angel investing industry (you’ll need to learn more about these later).

He started an early seed-stage investment firm called Y-Combinator that invests a small amount of money in really smart companies. I was fortunate enough to end up at a private party at his house in the hills of Palo Alto during last year’s Startup School at Stanford. It’s an amazing thing when you get to meet one of your heroes (and enjoy their free food & drinks all night).

Some of the essays I’d recommend when you’re just starting out are: Why to Not Not Start a StartupHow to Start a Startup, Why to Start a Startup in a Bad Economy, Ideas for StartupsBe Relentlessly Resourceful, and How Not to Die.

I’ve read every single one of his essays, many of them more than once. He is extremely knowledgeable, and you should really take his lessons to heart– he’s worked with hundreds of startups in the past few years so he certainly knows what he’s talking about.

4. Entrepreneur.com

This is not a riveting, inspiring read like some of the others on the list but it’s just as valuable. Entrepreneur.com will provide you with a lot of insights on the skills you’ll need to acquire in the early stages of being your own boss. You won’t be used to not having someone tell you what to do when you run into a snag, so you’ll need some advice.

This site can teach you all the basics you’ll need to get started on marketing, accounting, finance, management, fundraising, design, and basically anything you may have slept through while you were in business school. I literally read nearly every article on the entire site when I was first starting to learn about entrepreneurship.

5. StartupNation

This site is cool because you can network and communicate with other entrepreneurs to get advice. There are also lots of good articles you can check out as well. The best aspect of this is that you can get open and honest feedback from other people in a similar position. It’s a great place to put out a few different versions of a design and get experienced, knowledgeable people to give you an honest critique.

Hopefully you’re well on the way to discovering the joys of being an entrepreneur.

Don’t forget to check out the next part of the series here!

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2 Responses

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