10 brilliant business books for founders and entrepreneurs

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Members of the Eagle Labs ecosystem share their recommendations of great reads to grow your business and become a better leader.

Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist

By Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson

A practical guide to how venture capital (VC) deals come together. The authors are VCs with decades of experience of investment across hundreds of deals. The aim is to show new founders and entrepreneurs the inner workings of the VC process, from understanding term sheets to effective negotiating strategies across multiple stages of funding.

Recommended by Rav Roberts, Founder of Medsii.
Rav says: “The book shines a light on opaque and scary terms such as Liquidation Preferences that every startup founder needs to know and much, much more besides! We have used it to help ensure we are as prepared as possible for investor conversations."

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The Broken CEO: How to Be the Leader You Always Wanted to Be

By Chris Pearse

This unusual approach to being a business leader redefines the responsibilities of leadership by shifting the focus from the outer world of operations and processes to the inner world of thinking, feeling and relationships. It explains how leadership starts with self, and why self-awareness is key to successfully leading others.

Recommended by Chris Lamb, Finance Director at Fastnet.
Chris says: “The book is separated into three sections: the self, relationships, and leadership. You learn how all these dynamics work on their own and together, with real life examples. Chris Pearse has a knack for approaching sensitive topics in a comfortable way, to prompt oneself to become more aware of what leadership really is. I can honestly say it has not only helped me in so many ways running my business, it has also had a profound effect on my personal and family life."

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Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets

By Dave Peterson, Al Ramadan, Christopher Lochhead and Kevin Maney

An interesting examination of category design, involving redefining markets and products to revolutionise customer expectations and behaviours. Play Bigger looks at how businesses such as Amazon, Salesforce, Uber and IKEA have just done that, creating new ways of living, thinking or doing business. The authors explain how to use category design to create new demand where none existed. This can be a key to success in the tech industry and can apply to other industries and even career growth.

Recommended by Hannah Dawson, CEO and Founder of Futrli.
Hannah says: “The aha moment – when you understand the process of category design and how to get there – is like a lightning strike. Then the fun starts as you try to plan world domination of the sector you are creating. Dream big and you might just get there.

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Good Strategy / Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters

By Richard Rumelt

The author uses his experience to argue that many businesses do not have a truly coherent strategy and so are missing out on a significant source of competitive advantage. Such advantage flows from coordination and focus as well as from identifying and understanding a problem that fits the business’s resources and abilities.

Recommended by Richard Wood, Co-Founder of Cheddar Creative.
Richard says: “If you only read one book on business strategy, make it this one. We've not only used Rumelt's insights to craft our own strategy, but we regularly pass his teachings on to clients, many of whom had been labouring under the misconception that they already had a robust strategy in place. Very well written and easy to understand.

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Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

By Phil Knight

In 1962, Phil Knight borrowed $50 and started importing athletic shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the boot of his car, Knight grossed $8,000 in his first year. Today, Nike's annual sales exceed $40 billion. Shoe Dog mixes memoir with hard-won lessons in building something from scratch and overcoming adversity. Bill Gates describes it as “a refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like”.

Recommended by Alastair Swindlehurst from Swindlehurst Consulting.
Alistair says: “This book makes you realise that the rise of any brand or business is fraught with danger and pitfalls – and that we all started in the weeds. It’s given me reassurance that if some plucky 20-year-old can do it, I can do it.

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No Rules, Netflix and the Culture of Reinventing

By Reed Hastings & Erin Meyers

Netflix Chairman and CEO Reed Hastings explains what it takes to grow a truly disruptive business. He says that doing things involves trusting your team, being radically honest and never trying to please your boss. 

Recommended by Adam Mitcheson from My2Be.
Adam says: “It opens your mind to different ways of thinking that deliver proven results. As a company building something that didn't exist before, especially one that can have a significant impact on company culture, there are some incredible lessons for us from this story.

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The Founder Handbook: How To Get Your First Ten Enterprise Customers

By Andrius Sutas, Siobhan Clarke

This realistic approach to building a startup and winning customers contains many lessons learned the hard way from an author (Sutas) who has had successful exits as well as multiple failures. Too much focus on product can be fatal for a business is just one such lesson.

Recommended by Steven Drost, Chief Strategy Officer of CodeBase.
Steven says: "There is very little reading available about how to get your first unaffiliated sales over the line. Most books focus on how to build a product but not how to sell it. This book is about sales and how to structure sales, including building and managing a robust sales ops team."

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High Output Management

by Andy Grove

As employee number three and former CEO at Intel, Andy Grove believed that the art of entrepreneurship can be summed up in a single word: managing. High Output Management contains techniques for creating productive teams and motivating them to deliver peak performance.

Recommended by John Connelly, Managing Director of C4DI.
John says: "Just a really solid book about the basics of management. If you’re starting out with no formal training and few peers around you to help, it’s a really cracking read. It’s pretty old now, but really rated.

Also recommended by Mark Kingsley-Williams, Founder of Lawpanel.
Marks says: "It's all about maximising productivity, with practical advice for navigating real life scenarios. Talking is not doing – and doing is what builds businesses. Still much for us to work on!"


by Pragya Agarwal

Sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia and colourism are some of the ways that unconscious basis can impact the way we think and work. Dr Pragya Agarwal is a behavioural and data scientist and takes a non-partisan approach to explaining the ways we perceive the world and communicate.

Recommended by Mo Kanjilal, Co-Creator of Watch This Space.
Mo says: "It unravels unconscious bias and how embedded it is in our brains in a really eye-opening way. We use examples from this book all the time as there are so many practical and non-judgemental ideas."

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When Coffee and Kale Compete

by Alan Klement

Understanding what is really driving a customer’s choices is at the heart of the Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) approach. This guide is well-researched and gives a thorough understanding of JBTD as a tool to developing products and services that will find or create their market. The entire book can be downloaded for free from the author’s website.

Recommended by Oli Littlejohn from CodeBase.
Oli says: "It's a great primer on Jobs to be Done, both the theory and loads of case studies that help ground your knowledge. It has really practical suggestions for talking to customers, which I've used to get far more meaningful feedback from our community."

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