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  • Logan Burchett

4 Books Every Startup Founder MUST Read

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

In a world of financial forecasts, imminent startup challenges, and a global pandemic, the founders here at Forecastr have still managed to knock out our summer reading. From hundreds of books on the Amazon marketplace, we have selected our top four favorite reads for voracious founders. Whether you are a founder with many startups under your belt or a new founder with a budding appetite for entrepreneurship, we highly recommend these picks to gain a new perspective and take your startup strategy to the next level.

1.) “How to Be a Capitalist Without Any Capital” by Nathan Latka

This book provides an informative read for any scrappy individual striving to climb the financial ladder. Particularly in the context of startups, founders will find a unique perspective on achieving growth. Nathan Latka breaks the rules of the “Old Economy,” and drives a “New Rich” mentality, founded on systematic efficiency and diversified ventures. Latka dives deep into fierce tactics to attain wealth and save money through simple hacks and street smarts. While startup culture relentlessly laments “the grind” lifestyle, Latka shows us how to build sustainable businesses systems to drive growth with minimal investment of time and resources. We also learn how to break the boundaries on conventional wisdom and showcases malleable strategies to efficiently acquire success.

2.) “The Hard thing about Hard things” by Ben Horowitz

Horowitz’s book transcends the expected “how-to” storyline and illustrates a transformative narrative from building a startup to sustaining a business, particularly in the venture-backed startup space. This book provides a deep understanding behind an ideal founder mindset without sugar-coating solutions. The author helps us see beyond shortcuts and generic strategies toward building success -- instead, we learn critical behaviors behind effective CEO’s; we see how transparent culture and tenacious leadership pays dividends by putting people first. Above all else, we realize an initially bitter reality that tough business problems simply do not have easy solutions. Instead, we build an ideal founder mentality to rival our greatest barriers and exponentially improve our decisions, despite the impenetrable, daily struggle of running our own business.

Every founder and CEO needs to realize that there’s no one at the top to tell you how to run your company, and we must embrace the terror behind a cataclysmic demise. However, we learn how to develop solutions, strategize contingency plans, and prioritize our instincts, backed foremost by knowledge of our business beyond anyone else’s understanding. Even more, this book emphasizes the contrast between wartime decisions and peacetime decisions - when to build a vision for your company and when to ruthlessly drive toward survival.

3.) “Venture Deals” by Brad Feld

This is the investment deal gospel. We highly recommend this book for those interested in learning about the venture capital game and how to structure deals. It’s a must-read for founders who need to raise money. Feld explains even more than textbook information on finance and legalities; he details best practices for raising money from your presentation slides to your business plan. Also, this book delves into every critical detail within the term sheet, from economic terms to control terms to dividends and more. Feld also helps founders learn how to build an accurate Capitalization Table, perhaps one of the most important tools as a founder to strategize cash scenarios.

“Venture Deals” also provides a pivotal understanding on venture capital funds, an knowledge background essential for any venture-backed startup. And whether you are a first-time founder or a serial entrepreneur, read this book to learn best practices behind negotiation tactics, raising money the right way, and strategies for different financing stages.

4.) “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries

This book provides a wealth of knowledge to any founder, particularly for those within the MVP stage or those with a heavy product focus. “The LEAN Startup” delves into the “validated learning” strategy for startups, given a space charged with uncertainty and virtually no historical data. This strategy describes how to use customer feedback to drive product development and ultimately lower the product development cycle. Derived from lean manufacturing and continuous improvement processes, this ideology closely aligns with Forecastr’s prescribed methodology for financial modeling for starts within the context of persistent OKR review and replanning.

Overwhelming uncertainty and constant change are inevitable within our environment. Founders cannot simply execute a proven business model and confidently reach target goals each month in the same way that an established company can; in the startup world, business planning and product development look a whole lot different. This book illustrates each step of that process with proven successful strategies, making this read an essential for founders on the road to success.

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