Looking for some good books to up your game? I did some digging to find out what indie hackers and other founders are reading. Lots of books were mentioned. Here are the ones that came up again and again.
- Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or how to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters (4.17/5): "The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One, legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things." Note: This is the single most recommended book that I've found on Indie Hackers, and that's saying something.
- Rework by DHH and Jason Fried (3.96/5): "Rework shows you a better, faster, easier way to succeed in business. Read it and you'll know why plans are actually harmful, why you don't need outside investors, and why you're better off ignoring the competition. The truth is, you need less than you think."
- The Lean Startup by Eric Reis (4.10/5): "Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on "validated learning," rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want."
- The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman (4.09/5): "Josh Kaufman has made a business out of distilling the core principles of business and delivering them quickly and concisely to people at all stages of their careers... In The Personal MBA, he shares the essentials of sales, marketing, negotiation, strategy, and much more."
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz (4.23/5): "[Ben Horowitz] draws on his own story of founding, running, selling, buying, managing, and investing in technology companies to offer essential advice and practical wisdom for navigating the toughest problems business schools don't cover."
- The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Startups That Win by Steven Gary Blank (3.93/5): "The essential book for anyone bringing a product to market, writing a business plan, marketing plan or sales plan. Step-by-step strategy of how to successfully organize sales, marketing and business development for a new product or company."
- The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber (4.03/5): "Gerber walks you through the steps in the life of a business… and shows how to apply the lessons of franchising to any business, whether or not it is a franchise. Most importantly, Gerber draws the vital, often overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business. The E-Myth Revisited will help you grow your business in a productive, assured way."
- The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers by Mark Hatch (3.81/5): "The Maker Movement Manifesto takes you deep into the movement. Hatch describes the remarkable technologies and tools now accessible to you and shares stories of how ordinary people have devised extraordinary products, giving rise to successful new business ventures. He explains how economic upheavals are paving the way for individuals to create, innovate, make a fortune--and even drive positive societal change--with nothing more than their own creativity and some hard work."
- The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield (3.99/5): "Steven Pressfield delivers a guide to inspire and support those who struggle to express their creativity. Pressfield believes that “resistance” is the greatest enemy, and he offers many unique and helpful ways to overcome it."
- Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It by April Dunford (4.32/5): "Obviously Awesome shows you how to find your product’s “secret sauce”—and then sell that sauce to those who crave it. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, marketer or salesperson struggling to bring inventive products to market, Dunford’s insights will help you find your awesome, so that your customers can too.
Marketing and Growth Hacking Books
- This Is Marketing by Seth Godin (4.00/5): "Godin offers the core of his marketing wisdom in one accessible, timeless package. At the heart of his approach is a big idea: Great marketers don't use consumers to solve their company's problem; they use marketing to solve other people's problems. They don't just make noise; they make the world better. Truly powerful marketing is grounded in empathy, generosity, and emotional labor."
- Growth Hacking: Silicon Valley's Best Kept Secret by Raymond Fong and Chad Riddersen (3.87/5): "Raymond and Chad's framework, the ASP(TM), is an easy to understand blueprint that empowers any business to apply growth hacking… If you're looking for creative, cost-effective ways to grow your business, then ASP(TM) is the answer."
- Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares (4.12/5): "Traction... provides startup founders and employees with the framework successful companies have used to get traction… We then cover every possible marketing channel you can use to get traction, and show you which channels will be your key to growth. This book shows you how to grow at a time when getting traction is more important than ever."
- Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore and Regis McKenna (4.00/5): "Here is the bestselling guide that created a new game plan for marketing in high-tech industries. Crossing the Chasm has become the bible for bringing cutting-edge products to progressively larger markets."
- Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra (4.22/5): "Our goal is to craft a strategy for creating successful users. And that strategy is full of surprising, counter-intuitive, and astonishingly simple techniques that don’t depend on a massive marketing or development budget. Techniques typically overlooked by even the most well-funded, well-staffed product teams."
- Zero to Sold: How to Start, Run, and Sell a Bootstrapped Business by @arvidkahl (4.24/5): "Zero to Sold is the ultimate business documentation: a memoir, a manual, a journal, and a guide. It will help you validate your ideas, build your products, and grow your businesses, whatever stage you might be at right now."
- Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by @pjrvs (3.89/5): "By staying small, one can have freedom to pursue more meaningful pleasures in life, and avoid the headaches that result from dealing with employees, long meetings, or worrying about expansion. Company of One introduces this unique business strategy and explains how to make it work for you, including how to generate cash flow on an ongoing basis."
- The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau (3.86/5): "In The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau shows you how to lead of life of adventure, meaning and purpose – and earn a good living… Distilled into one easy-to-use guide, are the most valuable lessons from those who’ve learned how to turn what they do into a gateway to self-fulfillment."
- Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau (3.74/5): "Designed for the busy and impatient, this detailed roadmap will show you how to select, launch, refine, and make money from your side hustle in under a month."
- Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup by @robwalling (3.96/5): "Start Small, Stay Small is a step-by-step guide to launching a self-funded startup. If you're a desktop, mobile or web developer, this book is your blueprint to getting your startup off the ground with no outside investment."
- Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal and Julie Li (3.74/5): "In Indistractable, Eyal reveals the hidden psychology driving us to distraction… Eyal lays bare the secret of finally doing what you say you will do with a four-step, research-backed model. Indistractable reveals the key to getting the best out of technology, without letting it get the best of us."
- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport (4.18/5): "In Deep Work, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four "rules," for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill."
- Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear (4.36/5): "No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving — every day. James Clear, one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results."
- Just Fucking Ship by @amyhoy and @alexhillman (4.19/5): 21 principles for getting off your butt and finally beating procrastination.
- It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, by Jason Fried and DHH (4.03/5): "The authors broadly reject the prevailing notion that long hours, aggressive hustle, and "whatever it takes" are required to run a successful business today… Destined to become the management guide for the next generation, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work is a practical and inspiring distillation of their insights and experiences. It isn’t a book telling you what to do. It’s a book showing you what they’ve done—and how any manager or executive no matter the industry or size of the company, can do it too."
- Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek (4.08/5): "In studying the leaders who've had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way—and it's the complete opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY."
- Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth (4.06/5): Why do some people succeed and others fail? Sharing new insights from her landmark research on grit, Angela Duckworth explains why talent is hardly a guarantor of success. Rather, other factors can be even more crucial such as identifying our passions and following through on our commitments."
- Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (4.07/5): Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, and proposing that things be built in an antifragile manner. Extremely ambitious and multidisciplinary, Antifragile provides a blueprint for how to behave — and thrive — in a world we don't understand and which is too uncertain for us to even try to understand.
- Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam M. Grant (4.06/5): Give and Take highlights what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation, and leadership skills have in common. This landmark book opens up an approach to success that has the power to transform not just individuals and groups, but entire organizations and communities."
- The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master by Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas (4.32/5): "Straight from the programming trenches, The Pragmatic Programmer cuts through the increasing specialization and technicalities of modern software development to examine the core process — taking a requirement and producing working, maintainable code that delights its users. It covers topics ranging from personal responsibility and career development to architectural techniques for keeping your code flexible and easy to adapt and reuse."
Let me know if I missed any must-reads!
Up next for me: Antifragile 😍