How many small businesses fail each year? It is a question that is frequently bandied about by economists, and it is one of the most frequent questions the Small Business Administration (SBA) receives.
The SBA relies on Bureau of Labor Statistics to reveal that small business survival rates do not change nearly as much as politicians would have us believe. In fact, they have remained fairly stable for more than a decade. About half of all new businesses survive five years or more and only about one-third last 10 years or more. And the top three reasons most small businesses fail? According to the SBA, they are: lack of experience, insufficient capital and poor location.
You know you have a great idea, but do you have what it takes to make it? Is the timing right? Do you have enough money? What must you absolutely have in place to get through the crucial start-up phase? If you are thinking of launching a business, you may think you have no time to read a book on the subject. Reading the right book at the right time, however, can save you time, money and worry.
Five must-read books on launching a business
Here are our five must-read selections on launching a business.
- Books on business startup: The Startup Playbook by David Kidder (2013)
Best-selling author and entrepreneur David Kidder shares his own experiences as well as the advice of 40-some successful company founders to give us an easy-to-read guide on growing a business from the ground floor. Designed for business owners from any industry, the book’s includes sections on pursuing the right idea, obtaining funding and overcoming obstacles.
Through their personal interviews with Kidder, you will be mentored by the likes of Caterina Fake, Elon Musk and Steve Case, but you will also hear from other successful entrepreneurs who may be less well-known but who have just as much to share. This is a book you will want to pick up again and again as you encounter new business experiences and think, “What did so-and-so say about this?”
- Books on business startup: The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz (2014)
Ben Horowitz, the co-founder of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, doesn’t just give advice on how to start a business, he gives practical problem-solving advice for running a business. A long-time fan of rap music, Horowitz uses song lyrics and humor to convey his lessons with the straight-talking style he is known for in his popular blog.
Here is one of his important lessons: “Until you get to know someone or something, you don’t know anything. There are no shortcuts to knowledge, especially knowledge gained from personal experience. Following conventional wisdom and relying on shortcuts can be worse than knowing nothing at all.”
- Books on business startup: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries (2011)
I love Eric Ries’s definition of a start-up: “an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty.” With his own successful and unsuccessful experiences with launching high-tech startups, Ries applies the age-old methods of lean manufacturing to modern web-based technology that will assist any entrepreneur. At a time, when many people look to success as an art, Ries sees it as a science. His steps are logical and straight-forward, and they will help you build a strong foundation for your business.
- Books on business startup: The Startup of You by Reid Hoffman (2012)
Taking a step away from some of the nuts and bolts of starting a business, this book gives you advice on how to get your head around being an entrepreneur. LinkedIn cofounder Hoffman discusses how to change your career plans as your life changes, how to cultivate and tap into a strong professional network, how to develop a strong competitive edge and how to make smarter decisions. If you are waffling and are in need of an “I can do this!” boost, read this book.
- Books on business startup: Startup by Kevin Ready (2011)
Kevin Ready shares ups and downs of his more than two decades as an entrepreneur in this well-organized manual that is designed for getting a business up and running and keeping it going.
Here is some of his wisdom that could apply to any entrepreneur’s situation: “Most folks think that building a product or packaging a great service is the hardest part of becoming a successful business owner…Building it, opening it, or inventing it is often the easy part. The hard part is usually what comes next – connecting with your customers, communicating your value and convincing them to pull out their wallets to give you money.”