Head to your nearest Barnes & Noble or type “lean startup” in Amazon’s search bar and you’ll have more than enough books to fill your shelves. Problem is, most of those books are written by men. Not that I have anything against men but sadly there are few startup best sellers written by women. My gut tells me that has something to do with the overarching gender bias rampent within the startup community, affording women less than 10% capital on average (luckily that’s quickly changing).
So I did a little digging – and a whole lot of reading – and came up with the nine startup books every female founder should read. And the great news? Eight out of the ten listed here are written by women.
I’ve attempted to share a list of books that diverge from the typical female work/life balance advice and instead, listed books that spoke to a woman’s ability to scale and succeed at any stage of business. This is no means an exhaustive (or perfect) list, but it’s a good start.
Let’s dive in…
9 Startup Books Every Female Founder Should Read
WorkParty: How to Create & Cultivate the Career of Your Dreams by Jaclyn Johnson
“In WorkParty, Jaclyn shows how she turned distrust into determination, frustration into fuel, and heartache into hard work—and how you can, too.
With stories from leading female entrepreneurs including Christene Barberich (co-founder of Refinery29), Alli Webb, (creator of Drybar), Morgan Debaun (founder of Blavity), Jen Gotch of Ban.do, Rebecca Minkoff, and Kendra Scott, you will learn the tips and tricks from the best in the business while cultivating the passion and happiness you need to succeed. ‘This is the book you need to take your career to the next level—on your own terms’ (Refinery29).” – Amazon
She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur by Carrie Green
“There has never been a better time to say yes! With a computer and an Internet connection you can get your ideas, messages, and business out there like never before and create so much success.
In this book, Carrie Green shows you how. Carrie started her first online business at the age of 20—she knows what it’s like to be an ambitious and creative woman with big dreams and huge determination . . . but she also knows the challenges of starting and running a business, including the fears, overwhelm, confusion, and blocks that entrepreneurs face. Based on her personal, tried-and-tested experience, she offers valuable guidance and powerful exercises to help you:
- Get clear on your business vision
- Move past the fears and doubts that can get in the way
- Understand your audience, so you can truly connect with them
- Create your brand and build a tribe of raving fans, subscribers, and customers
- Manage your time, maintain focus, and keep going in the right direction
- Condition yourself for success” – Amazon
Winging It: Stop Thinking, Start Doing: Why Action Beats Planning Every Time by Emma Isaacs
“Women are notorious over-preparers and underestimators when it comes to their own readiness to try something new. But as Emma teaches, what most often holds us back are our own fears, excuses, and doubts. With her revolutionary manifesto, Winging It, Emma has written a rallying cry for all women to “do the things that scare you, build your wealth, make an impact, fail lots, and get up and try again.”
Through hilarious stories, targeted prompts, and timeless advice, Emma will inspire you to get clear on what really matters and go after your dreams, one messy step at a time. Get ready to stop hiding behind the safe option or the perfect plan―and start winging it.” – Amazon
Little Black Book by Otegha Uwagba
“Little Black Book: A Toolkit For Working Women is the modern career guide every creative woman needs, whether you’re just starting out or already have years of experience. Packed with fresh ideas and no-nonsense practical advice, this travel-sized career handbook is guaranteed to become your go-to resource when it comes to building the career you want.” – Amazon
How to Fail by Elizabeth Day
“Inspired by her hugely popular podcast, How To Fail is Elizabeth Day’s brilliantly funny, painfully honest and insightful celebration of things going wrong. This is a book for anyone who has ever failed. Which means it’s a book for everyone.
Part memoir, part manifesto, and including chapters on dating, work, sport, babies, families, anger and friendship, it is based on the simple premise that understanding why we fail ultimately makes us stronger. It’s a book about learning from our mistakes and about not being afraid. Uplifting, inspiring and rich in stories from Elizabeth’s own life, How to Fail reveals that failure is not what defines us; rather it is how we respond to it that shapes us as individuals. Because learning how to fail is actually learning how to succeed better. And everyone needs a bit of that.” – Amazon
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
“Sinek starts with a fundamental question: Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over?
People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers had little in common, but they all started with WHY. They realized that people won’t truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the WHY behind it.
START WITH WHY shows that the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way — and it’s the opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.” – Amazon
Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy by Cindy Alvarez
“How do you develop products that people will actually use and buy? This practical guide shows you how to validate product and company ideas through customer development research—before you waste months and millions on a product or service that no one needs or wants.
With a combination of open-ended interviewing and fast and flexible research techniques, you’ll learn how your prospective customers behave, the problems they need to solve, and what frustrates and delights them. These insights may shake your assumptions, but they’ll help you reach the “ah-ha!” moments that inspire truly great products.
- Validate or invalidate your hypothesis by talking to the right people
- Learn how to conduct successful customer interviews play-by-play
- Detect a customer’s behaviors, pain points, and constraints
- Turn interview insights into Minimum Viable Products to validate what customers will use and buy
- Adapt customer development strategies for large companies, conservative industries, and existing products” – Amazon
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
“Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.
Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business.
The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning”, rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product-development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.” – Amazon
Lean Impact: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good by Ann Mai Chang
“Despite enormous investments of time and money, are we making a dent on the social and environmental challenges of our time? What if we could exponentially increase our impact?
Around the world, a new generation is looking beyond greater profits, for meaningful purpose. But, unlike business, few social interventions have achieved significant impact at scale. Inspired by the modern innovation practices, popularized by bestseller The Lean Startup, that have fueled technology breakthroughs touching every aspect of our lives, Lean Impact turns our attention to a new goal – radically greater social good.” – Amazon
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