No one researches harder than the aspiring start-upper (there are, of course, those who don’t think they need to, but let’s face it, none of us have heard of them). To succeed in an over-saturated market you need to make assessments, seek expert advice, and learn from the mistakes of others. The best way to do these, of course, is by reading.
But as anyone who has strolled into an airport bookshop for a browse will vouch, there are countless books promising to tell you everything you might need to know, with titles such as Buy This Book Because It Will Make You A Millionaire Like Me. That’s not to say those books aren’t inspirational. There are - simply - a lot of them. And sometimes, when you’re a million miles away from being a millionaire, reading about a meteoric rise to fame and fortune can be grating.
What you need right now are accounts that speak to you about your ensuing journey, insights and tips you can work with, motivational advice that gets you going. Here are some helpful lessons we learned from a few of the most respected start-up books out there...
#Lesson 1: Procrastinate at your peril
By Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
Perfect for the perfectionist who thinks there’s always something that needs improving before going for it. The central message here is: you can plan and plan and guess what? Everything will be different when you get round to putting it in motion, so pull your socks up, enough with the excuses, and just do it. Best make mistakes but learn quickly, rather than wait to find out why others are succeeding. Answer: because you haven’t even started.
#Lesson 2: The road to success shouldn’t be miserable
Read: The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success
By Emma Seppälä
The first round of advice anyone gives you when you’re starting out is ‘be prepared to make sacrifices’ and ‘it’s going to get worse before it gets better’. This book argues that having a mind set that takes disappointment and failures as par for the course is counterproductive, and that you should not only hope for a happy result, you should expect it. Unlike a lot of psychology books that boil down to ‘you can do it if you set your mind to it’, Seppälä makes you evaluate your options, with a wealth of research presented to help you rethink them in a more positive way.
#Lesson 3: It’s a risky business for everyone
Read: Startupland: How Three Guys Risked Everything to Turn an Idea Into a Global Business
By Mikkel Svane & Carlye Adler
One of the biggest fears facing anyone starting out is: if you give go for broke, will you actually end up broke? Of all the tales of people giving up their secure jobs to do their own thing, this is more than simply charting a journey that ends successfully ever after, also offering unique insights into pitfalls, solutions to problems and challenges to conventional wisdom in a way that never sounds pompous.
#Lesson 4: See how others did it
Read: Tools of Titans
By Tim Ferriss
The stories of rags to riches are always inspirational, but it’s unlikely you’ll get round to reading two hundred of them. Unless you pick up this to-the-point and tips-heavy set of candid interviews with the successful, ranging from special ops commanders and black-market biochemists, to celebs like Jamie Foxx and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
#Lesson 5: Do your homework
Read: Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
By Peter Thiel with Blake Masters
Inspiration is all well and good, but to be a success at anything, you must first study, sign up for a course... or cheat and read this. Thiel taught a course about startups at university, Masters meticulously jotted down all the notes, then they both notched it up a few levels. It has the answers to all the questions you may have about where to start, where to turn when things won’t budge, and how to look ahead instead of simply trying to slot in.
#Lesson 6: Make sure your idea is good enough
Read: Will It Fly? How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money
By Pat Flynn
It’s always helpful to have a checklist before starting any project, and this book puts together 44 areas every startup venture needs to consider. It doesn’t set out to put you off (although it’ll make an uncomfortable read if your idea is half baked), and with every obstacle it presents, it also offers ways around it. The book will either be just the boost you need to take off, or leave you grounded. But it will make you realistically assess your venture for what it is.
#Lesson 7: You don’t need money to make money
Read: The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage
By Daymond John with Daniel Paisner
Good ideas take flight through investment, but if there’s no money in the pot, go for the next best thing – hustle. Working on the principle that from desperation is born innovation, John uses his own experiences and his dealings with budding entrepreneurs on reality TV show Shark Tank, to reveal all the tricks and blags you need to get your project noticed. One of Bill Gates’ favourite reads.
#Lesson 8: You have to keep at it
By Angela Duckworth
Why do some people succeed while others fail? Psychologist Duckworth looks into history and mines the experiences of others to show that the most important factor in getting ahead is staying committed, and that the worst thing to believe is ‘if it’s good, it’ll happen’. Ultimately, talent and luck aren’t what will get you to the top, but passion and persistence.