Entrepreneurs’ mind fuel: 5 must-reads for tech startups

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Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa

Entrepreneurs always have a huge appetite for success which is fueled by different thoughts, beliefs and circumstances. Tech startups, or rather, the people behind them are no different.

To stoke this drive and ambition, it’s always good to pick the minds of others who have walked the entrepreneurial journey and look beyond your immediate environment. More often than not this is best done through reading.

There are countless lists of books that entrepreneurs and founders of tech startups read to gain that added perspective in life and business. By investing in physical copies of these books (visit a great book store or even Avondale Flea Market) or buying digital copies you get to sow a seed that is worth a lifetime of lessons.

Without tearing yourself away from your coding for too long, and in the spirit of Global Entrepreneurship Week,  here’s our list of five must-reads that will give you that added  perspective on entrepreneurship for tech start startups and budding business people.

1. Growth Hacker Marketing – A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing and Advertising (by Ryan Holiday)

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This pithy look at marketing and modern advertising in the digital age will have you re-examining the effectiveness of whatever marketing strategy you had adopted for your product or service.

Through an examination of successes like Facebook, Dropbox, Zynga and Airbnb the book zeroes in on Product Market Fit strategies that take advantage of measurable feedback, all the while tipping its hat to Big Data and lean methodology. It’s great for tech startups bootstrapping their way to bigger things and even for the established entrepreneurs out to work effectively.

2.Rich Dad Poor Dad – What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! (by Robert Kiyosaki)

Written in the style of parables and published back in 2000 as a self help book, it has a very captivating (and often controversial) way of highlighting the importance of getting out of the rat race, starting your own business, the differences between an asset and a liability, financial skills and financial intelligence.

It would also be worth your time to check out other books penned by Kiyosaki on investment principles and cash flow management.

3.The Lean Startup – How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses (by Eric Ries)

Regarded as the cornerstone of the lean methodology to building businesses, this book emphasises the validated learning approach to startup entrepreneurship. Ries drew this from his experiences as a startup founder, investor and employee.

The book has been a point of reference largely for tech startups but its approach has extended beyond tech and Silicon Valley business. It has brought several approaches to tech business modelling into mainstream entrepreneurship. These include the Business Model Canvas and the Lean Canvas, pivoting, the build-measure-learn loop as well as the Minimum Viable Product.

A great followup read is Running Lean which was edited by Eric Ries but authored by Ash Maurya that extends on the lean methodology in The Lean Startup.

4.Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

This book easily makes the list as a personal development and self help classic. First published in 1937, it carries a list of 13 principles or steps for success that cultivate desire and persistence over negative energy. Its the sort of motivational content that any entrepreneur battling to solve many problems will be able to tap into.

Try to read Napoleon Hill’s other book, The Law of Success for another dose of motivational material that closely ties in with Think and Grow Rich.

Strive Masiyiwa’s Facebook Page

The founder of telecoms giant Econet Wireless hasn’t published his memoirs in regular print, but his Facebook page is the closest to that. This mentorship through social media has resulted in countless lessons in business and entrepreneurship from a platform that is accessible to anyone willing to follow his regular posts.

There are nuggets for anyone keen on appreciating dynamics such as building relationships, philanthropy, focus and determination in the face of adversity, honourable business practice and gaining a thorough understanding of your area of investment.

Five is a very small number really, there is so much to read out there. What other material do you think is worth the time and investment for tech startups and entrepreneurs? Please share below.

7 Comments

  1. kilotango says:

    mimicking a succesful person, makes you a copy cat…not a succesful person. You are your own person, people should forge their own paths to success…what works for one person, may not work for someone else. We all have a gift of creativity.. use it.. dont waste your energy on books that tell you how to become rich, because you only make the authors rich. fact!

    1. LoveJ says:

      I think it helps to learn from others who have been there and done it successfully. so reading is the way to go. Sometimes its better to be a successful copycat than an original failure… 🙂

    2. Tapiwa✓ says:

      That is correct, and when you factor in Survivorship Bias[1], you might realise that luck is the biggest factor to success.

      We are better off learning from failures: but no one publishes “How I failed and ruined my business”. Let’s say Bill Gates drank coffee twice a day in Microsoft’s early days: does that mean you will succeed if you do the same? To get an honest picture, you’d have to survey all the people who drink coffee twice a day and see if it correlates to success. Anything else is purely motivational puffery.

      1.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivorship_bias

    3. Magneto says:

      There is nothing with Mentorship. In-fact even in the bible there are many powerful examples of mentorship e.g. Elijah and Elisha, Jesus and the 11 disciples, Eli and Samuel (that is if you believe in the bible – hoping you do :-))

      1. tinm@n says:

        A better Biblical analogy would be the tons of very practical wisdom in Proverbs, even if you dont believe.

    4. mutape says:

      it is not copying but rather getting the principles behind their success. the best way to being successful is to mimmick one, to fail, well….

  2. Magneto says:

    This is a refreshing perspective to see on Techzim I must say! The trend now is tech start-ups and entrepreneurship (not leaving out intra-preneurship ) have merged as we finalize the Internet Age. In the end it is about the $$$ and that lesson is still to be learnt in full by a lot of our local tech start-ups.

    Hope to see more articles like the one above in the very near future and maybe an event too.

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