The Best Books of 2016 for Entrepreneurs

We’re avid readers here at Stacklist, and this year has been awesome for startup books.

We’ve handpicked our favorite books for you entrepreneurs and technologists in our audience; These are books that will help you with your startup, inspire you, guide you and help you in both business and life.


The Art of Startup Fundraising 

By Alejandro Cremades

Alejandro Cremades is the co-founder of Onevest, a fundraising platform for investors and entrepreneurs. Alejandro draws on his experience in The Art of Startup Fundraising to detail a step-by-step way for entrepreneurs to approach investors, build relationships, receive funding and close rounds.

The book is a great introduction for first-time founders to the world of venture capital. Raising money is a 24/7 job for founders, and Alejandro gives useful strategic insight into how to build momentum, craft the right pitch, and common mistakes to avoid.


Payoff: The Hidden Logic that Shapes Our Motivations 

By Dan Ariely

Dan Ariely is the bestselling author of several books, including Predictably Irrational. He’s an academic in behavioral economics and his efforts to make his work understood and actionable in business have made him a celebrity in the startup community.

Payoff: The Hidden Logic that Shapes Our Motivations is a TED book based on his extremely popular TED talk “What makes us feel good about our work?

We have misconceptions about why we feel good about our work and what drives us to work hard. We might think we are executing for the purpose and satisfaction of achieving a final deliverable or set of outcomes. According to Ariely’s research, this is a  drastic over-simplification and ultimately inaccurate.  The reality of why we work is much more rooted in recognition and our relationship with those around us.

By presenting and explaining the truth behind what motivates people, Ariely empowers entrepreneurs and anyone on a team to better manage relationships, projects, and companies towards the results they want.


Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley 

By Antonio Garcia Martinez

Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley is a sharp story about Martinez’ experience in Silicon Valley. It’s a juicy, insidery and extremely honest read - a tell-all that explains what life is like in the valley. Martinez recounts his experience moving from Goldman Sachs, getting accepted into Y Combinator and then working at Facebook and Twitter.

As the critical title suggests, Martinez forces readers to look past the glistening sheen of tech... to consider that this startup obsession in the new world economy is not necessarily superior to legacy ways of business.



Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends

By Martin Lindstrom

Marketers love data, and the bigger the data, the better. In Small Data: The Tiny Clues that Uncover Huge Trends, Lindstrom takes a counterintuitive approach to conventional thoughts about big data, and instead says that focusing on small data will help us understand our customers better: what drives them to purchase things? Why do they have the habits they have? Ultimately, what makes our customers tick?

The companies that take the “small data” approach find the clues they need to develop the right product for their market.

Martin spends a lot of his career analyzing small data by interviewing people and living in their homes, which may not seem feasible for us in startup land. But the lesson is clear: learn everything you can about your customers and your market, and you’ll find how to spark up your brand.


Ego is the Enemy 

By Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday is the author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, Growth Hacker Marketing, and The Obstacle is the Way. In Ego is the Enemy, Ryan focuses on the ego as the main obstacle to success in business and entrepreneurship (ego, not in the Freudian sense, but in the arrogant sense).

Ego is an impediment to the most important aspects of business: learning and working hard. Ego tempts us to think of success as something we deserve because we are special. Ego makes us crave recognition and praise. 

Through examples based on history, Holiday shines the spotlight on people who eschewed recognition in favor of higher goals. Holiday argues that this is almost never the best path to success - that it’s the work itself and the learning itself that leads to success and satisfaction.


Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World 

By Cal Newport

Cal Newport is a writer, MIT grad, and professor of computer science at Georgetown University. After discovering and using deep work, he implemented it in his life. Deep work doubled the amount of research papers he wrote, while he taught classes, raised a family, and wrote Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

Deep work is all about producing something great through intense periods of focus and thought while avoiding distractions. It’s important to avoid distractions because of “attention residue” – lingering thoughts of the previous task we were doing. Avoiding distractions lets you do intense, continuous work that makes you more efficient.

For creators and those with important jobs – it’s important to set aside time for deep work that will advance your career, startup or product. As Newport says, shallow work is what keeps you from getting fired, whereas deep work is what gets you promoted.


Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days 

By Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz

The authors of the book work for Google Ventures and help the startups in their portfolio. From their experience, they’ve boiled down a rapid way to develop products and test business ideas.

The Sprint method is a 5-day plan that involves a small team (less than seven people, with one appointed as the “decider”) across different departments of a company/startup. Sprint outlines what to do day-by-day with your team and various exercises to get to a working prototype that gets tested by end-users on the last day of the sprint for feedback.

The book is filled with different examples and stories from companies that have used sprints to develop their product, like Slack. Product teams and startups that use the Sprint method will find a quick way to validate ideas and iterate their product - meaning a faster reach to product/market fit.


You Can’t be Everywhere: A Common Sense Approach to Digital Marketing For Any Business 

By Marie Wiese

Published by Book in a Box, Wiese’s book is a “common sense approach to digital marketing.” While common marketing advice is telling you to focus on SEO, social media and everything else that is the digital marketing landscape, Marie’s advice says to focus on the correct marketing channels instead of spreading your marketing thin.

She draws upon her years of marketing experience to offer step-by-step marketing advice on making the right content at the right time and in the right place.


Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers 

By Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss is the author of several New York Times Bestsellers, most notably The 4 Hour Workweek. His newest release, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers, is based on the hundreds of podcast interviews he’s done with entrepreneurs.

The book is a large read, but it’s filled with actionable things and habits that Ferriss has noticed successful people do, like meditating, journaling and prioritizing sleep. It follows a three-part structure, broken down into:

  • Healthy
  • Wealthy
  • Wise

The chapters are short but easy to read, and filled with actionable ideas based on highlights from interviews with people such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Robbins and more.


The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces that Will Shape Our Future 

By Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly is the co-founder of Wired and has written some great, influential articles like 1,000 True Fans. Released this year, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces that Will Shape our Future has been called a must-read by several entrepreneurs in the tech scene.

Kelly lays out the different forces that will inevitably shape the next 30 years. So it’s not a book about how technology works, but the impact it’s going to have in our lives. Anyone interested and working in the tech scene will need to read these predictions on the future of tech.


The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future 

By Steve Case

As a leader of the First Wave of the internet (the co-founder of AOL), Steve Case’s predictions about the future of internet should grab the attention of any member of the tech community. In The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future, Steve outlines what he believe is the next wave of innovation that technology and innovation will bring.

The first wave was companies laying the foundation down for the internet. The Second Wave was about companies building apps on top of the internet. Case says that we are now entering the Third Wave, wherein internet is integrated into every aspect of our lives - like health, education, and food. These sectors thus become rich ground for startups and entrepreneurs.


Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business 

By Charles Duhigg

Charles Duhigg is the bestselling author of The Power of Habit. His latest book, Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business uses research and anecdotes to go over different ways to improve your productivity.

One of the main ideas is to realize that the items on your to-do list are choices, not chores. By realizing that, we stimulate parts of our brain that are responsible for motivation. It’s important to spin tasks into a meaningful way that aligns with your greater goals. He outlines a cycle that goes:

Choice → Motivation → Action → Productivity

Meaning that productivity is ultimately recognizing choices, and pushing ourselves to think differently - insights invaluable to any entrepreneur.


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life 

By Mark Manson

Mark Manson is a popular writer, who’s blog gets millions of readers a month. In his first book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, he explains and lays out various concepts like “the feedback loop of hell” and the “self-awareness onion.”

The writing is excellent and personable, and the book has moments that make you think and make you cry.

As an entrepreneur, it’s important to know what to care about, and sometimes, more importantly, what not to care about. By focusing on the right goals and priorities, we forget and don’t stress out about the things outside of our control, and focus on the bigger problems that we can tackle and make our lives better.