More than half of Americans own or work for a small business, and if you're reading this, you're probably one of them. Us too - everyone at UpRamp has been a founder or early employee at a startup, and we have lived the challenges that you experience.
We've been lucky enough to be surrounded by a ton of wisdom in our collective entrepreneurial lifetimes, so in honor of Small Business Week, we're sharing some of our top reads with you:
The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries
Required reading for all entrepreneurs (or at least it should be), this book outlines how startups thrive by operating on risk and uncertainty and executing in small chunks - and constantly testing and leaving room to pivot as needed to give customers exactly what they need, nothing more and nothing less. MVPs are king!
Favorite tidbit: "It may seem counterintuitive to think that something as disruptive, innovative, and chaotic as a startup can be managed, or, to be accurate, must be managed. Most people think of process and management as boring and dull, whereas startups are dynamic and exciting. But what is actually exciting is to see startups succeed and change the world."
"Why You Should Question Your Mentor's Motives", by Scott Brown
Of all of the difficult parts of running a startup, finding a mentor isn't supposed to one of them, right? True, but as UpRamp Managing Director Scott Brown points out, just because someone isn't on your payroll doesn't mean that they won't cause you any problems. Learn how to differentiate between the three types of mentors you'll meet - and how to choose the right one.
Favorite tidbit: "... the onus is on the startup founder to make sure that the relationship is right ... and it is imperative that entrepreneurs spend time learning about their mentors' motivation."
"How to Be a Great Co-Founder", by Patrick Riley
Patrick Riley and Reilly Flynn are the co-founders of GAN Ventures (Global Accelerator Network), the early-stage fund investing in startups that join the GAN family yearly. At two years in, they offer some good advice on being a good co-founder - from having weekly, non-negotiable meetings to knowing how to make fun of each other. Co-founder conflict is one of the top reasons startups don't succeed - success is all about the team!
Favorite tidbit: "If you have a good partnership, people will sense it and will be instantly attracted to working with you."
"Being a Born Entrepreneur Doesn't Automatically Mean You're a Born Leader", by William Harris
A tough, but important topic to discuss, is the founder-CEO. We've all seen founders taking on the CEO role - some led to unicorns, and others were downright disastrous. In this piece, author William Harris discusses the five key skills every entrepreneur must master if they are to stay in a leadership role.
Favorite tidbit: "Leaders understand their own time and energy are finite resources. Great leaders understand that, to be most effective in the company, they must play to their strengths and delegate their weaknesses to others who are more qualified."
The Art of Possibility, by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander
As entrepreneurs, we are constantly pushing the limits of what is considered possible. In this book, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and a consultant to top blue-chip firms outline 12 practices to help us shift our perspective and reframe our thinking about what can and cannot be done.
Favorite tidbit: "Draw a different frame around the same set of circumstances and new pathways come into view."
And as a bonus, for when your eyes are too sore to read from staring at a computer all day:
"Learn How to Come Back from Failure with These 11 TEDx Talks", by Aaron Orendorff
Running a small business is challenging, to say the least - everyday is an uphill battle, and sometimes it seems like the world is working against you. The good news is that millions of entrepreneurs have come before you - some successful, some not. If you take the time to learn the lessons they've experienced, you can find your own unique learnings - and maybe write an article or book that will help the next generation of founders thrive.
Happy Small Business Week, friends! We're with you.