Recommended Reading for Startup Founders, Part II

photo-1447023029226-ef8f6b52e3eaIn Recommended Reading for Founders Part I I covered leadership and strategy. This time I’m providing reading recommendations for how to secure funding for your startup, the possibilities for an exit, and making your day-to-day activities easier.


Part of being a business owner is handling day-to-day tasks. More often than not, we have to learn by trial and error to streamline each process and see what the best way is to accomplish each task. Remove some of the guesswork from the beginning by reading these books on some of the more routine actions we have to take when bootstrapping a business without full time accountants, lawyers, and sales people. Remember that these books aren’t meant to replace these positions or experts, just help you better understand how to solve small problems and better communicate with your team to speed up your workflow.

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone

Jack Welch touches on this topic and how to use appropriate candor in the business place in his book Winning, but this one goes into detail about how to start, handle, and end more complicated conversations with ease.

Financial Statements by Thomas R. Ittelson

Financial literacy is not an option for an entrepreneur, especially if you plan on having investors any time in the future. This book is for financial novices that want to learn the basics behind balances sheets, income statements, examining cash flow, and what financial ratios you should keep an eye on to maintain a healthy business. If you don’t have any comprehension of foundations of bookkeeping, you should supplement this book with E-Z Bookkeeping by Kathleen Fitzpatrick and have a quick conversation with your CPA. When in doubt, still consult your local expert.

Business Law (Barron’s Business Review) by Robert W. Emerson J.D.

You can’t become a lawyer overnight or replace their years of experience and sage advice, but you can understand some of the basics by reading this book. You probably won’t have time to read through every last page, but the section on contract law is especially useful. Think of this as a handbook to consult when you need to identify a problem and how to have a more efficient conversation with your lawyer when it arises.

To Sell Is Human by Daniel H. Pink

Sales are the lifeblood of a business, but people often have the outdated negative perception of the stereotypical extroverted salesperson. “Selling” has evolved since the advent of the used car pusher. This book goes into detail on how we’ve transitioned to a society where transparency, honesty, and social engagement are the keys to completing a sale and developing repeat business.

Sourcing Capital

Unfortunately, there’s no single pitch or business model that will convince all investors to take part in your venture. Your experience will vary across industries and investment firms. Here’s a few books to get you started on the different ways to secure funding for your company.

The Crowdfunding Revolution by Kevin Lawton and Dan Marom

I have yet to read an accurate or all encompassing book on crowdfunding as a reliable source of capital. This book comes close on explaining what’s necessary to conduct a successful campaign. If you want to read something less instructional and more about the different types of crowdfunding and if it’s a viable option, try Crowdfunding: The Next Big Thing by Gary Spirer.

Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist by Brad Feld & Jason Mendelson

Straight from the horse’s mouth, this book is written by two prominent VCs and provides a detailed insight into what you’ll need to know about your term sheet and navigating an equitable deal with investors so you’re not left holding the bag during an acquisition.

Get Backed by Evan Baehr and Evan Loomis

This book acts as a nearly full fledged instructional field guide for fundraising that includes several examples of actual pitch decks and how to compose appropriate emails to VCs. If you’re more interested in a book that will walk you through the different phases of capital investments and what questions you might encounter, try The Fundraising Rules by Mark Peter Davis.


Some entrepreneurs are in the winter stage of their business. There’s a plethora of reasons why a founder may want to sell their company. To put it lightly, it’s not a quick and painless process. Make the transition as easy as possible by preparing yourself far in advance with some of the basics.

The Complete M&A Handbook by Tom Taulli

The book is mostly written in the perspective of a business broker or investment banker rather than a business owner, but the tactics and advice it provides from both sides of the table is still tride and true. It covers purchase agreements, complying with regulations, and outlining deals from beginning to end including attracting buyers. What it doesn’t cover enough is fully vesting a company to its employees or completing a buyout with fellow investors.

King Icahn: The Biography of a Renegade Capitalist by Mark Stevens

Carl Icahn is another legendary business tycoon. This book recounts his days as a financial engineer and corporate raider buying undervalued companies, altering them, then flipping them for profit. While it’s not as encompassing as The Complete M&A Handbook, it still has many anecdotes on what some “investors” are looking for when acquiring your company and some red flags to be aware of.

Have any recommendations on what founders should read? Voice your opinions in the comments section!

Edward Zeiden

Edward Zeiden

Domain enthusiast and entrepreneur, Edward Zeiden, has been in the tech industry for several years. After co-founding the startup, NameLayer (subsequently acquired by Techstars) he pursued a career in