Must-Read Lean Startup Books
The business books below have been written by some of the leading experts in the industry on lean startups. You'll get practical advice on how to run a lean startup as well as the psychology behind what it takes to run a business efficiently.
Also Recommended: Check out our list of the best startup books.
1. ‘The Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries
There is perhaps no better resource for running a business with the least amount of resources than “The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries. From Fortune 500 companies to entrepreneurs starting in their garage, every business can learn from the methods taught in this book.
Ries touches both on becoming capital efficient and using the human mind to foster creativity that leads to innovation. Readers will get insights into validated learning, scientific experimentation in business, and counter-intuitive practices that allow startups to shift directions seamlessly.
2. ‘The Startup Owner's Manual’ by Steve Blank
If you're looking for a step-by-step masterclass on how to run a startup, there's no better option than "The Startup Owner's Manual" by Steve Blank. This book provides a comprehensive guide that takes you through every stage of starting a business, from generating ideas to building prototypes to scaling your company.
If the National Science Foundation, Stanford, Berkeley, and Columbia are all using it, then you can ensure the lessons are valuable.
3. ‘Running Lean’ by Ash Maurya
In “Running Lean", Maurya focuses on the crucial elements that can make or break a business that is creating a product. The author teaches readers exactly what strategies to use in order to determine whether or not the product is an exact fit for the market.
All product businesses can learn from these methods from tech-driven products to consumer products that are for the masses.
4. ‘Business Model Generation’ by Alexander Osterwalder
For those that operate on the fringes of business and don't fit perfectly into the standard “mold,” Business Model Generation is a perfect fit for running a lean startup.
Osterwalder provides entrepreneurs with the most common business model patterns that they can apply to their own strategy. You'll learn how to map out your business model, identify new opportunities, and even how to pivot your business if necessary.
5. ‘The Lean Product Playbook’ by Dan Olsen
For entrepreneurs looking to make the next big product, “The Lean Product Playbook" is an essential read. Olsen provides help with a step-by-step process for taking a product from idea to launch.
The book covers how to determine your target market, identify the underserved needs, create a winning product, and how to test your product efficiently. Dan Olsen is a veteran in the product industry and has experience in everything from product management to analytics.
Looking for more book recommendations? We asked startup founders to share their favorite books on entrepreneurship, and here's what they said.
6. ‘Nail It Then Scale It’ by Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom
There is no wasting time in “Nail It Then Scale It"” by Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom. In this book, you won't just learn how to create and run a lean startup, but you'll also learn how to scale it just as efficiently. The book asks readers crucial questions on the steps to creating and scaling a startup and offers advice on how to prioritize the most important elements for success.
7. ‘The Four Steps to the Epiphany’ by Steve Blank
In this groundbreaking book by Steve Blank, you'll learn how to take a product from concept to mass market. “The Four Steps to the Epiphany" provides entrepreneurs with a step-by-step process that covers everything from customer development to creating a sales and marketing strategy. This book sheds light on how startups are not just smaller versions of larger companies and how new ventures are essentially the same as existing ones.
8. ‘Lean Customer Development’ by Cindy Alvarez
What makes or breaks a startup is how the customer responds to the product. In “Lean Customer Development", Cindy Alvarez provides entrepreneurs with a guide on how to quickly and efficiently test products with customers. Alvarez goes through the process of customer development, from building prototypes to testing them with actual users. You'll learn how to get feedback that you can use to improve your product and increase your chances of success without wasting all your resources.
9. ‘Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days’ by Jake Knapp
All it takes is five days according to Jake Knapp in order to take an idea and turn it into a reality. In “Sprint", you'll learn how to use the sprint method to validate your hypotheses and test new ideas. The book walks readers through the process of how to conduct a comprehensive product analysis with the target market without taking a ton of time.
10. ‘Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster’ by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz
Instead of running a lean startup by boldly moving forward and building a team quickly, Croll and Yoskovitz show how using analytics can actually help you validate your hypotheses quicker. In “Lean Analytics", you'll learn how to use data to make better decisions for your startup. The book covers everything from choosing the right metric to using A/B testing efficiently.
11. ‘UX for Lean Startups’ by Laura Klein
Building a large team and constantly reiterating your product is one way to go to market, but what if there was a better way? Laura Klein outlines a different approach in “UX for Lean Startups.” Klein provides entrepreneurs with a guide on how to use lean UX methods in order to efficiently get feedback from customers and rapidly iterate on your product. You'll learn how to create prototypes quickly, test them with users, and get the feedback you need to make informed decisions about your product.
12. ‘The Innovator's Method’ by Nathan Furr and Jeff Dyer
The problem with most innovators is they are already tied down to the system they are a part of. It doesn't allow them to think creatively and move quickly, but in “The Innovator's Method,” Furr and Dyer show exactly how to do that. For every entrepreneur stuck in the rat race, this book provides examples of how you can implement your dream exactly where you are.
13. 'Lean Thinking' by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones
The days of the Ford assembly line have long passed and new systems are needed to create and sustain a successful business. In “Lean Thinking,” Womack and Jones provide entrepreneurs with a guide on how to create value for their customers while using fewer resources. You'll learn how to eliminate waste in your processes and create a leaner operation that is more efficient and effective.
14. 'The $100 Startup' by Chris Guillebeau
Chris Guillebeau has traveled to every single country in the entire world, and he did it all through creative thinking and bootstrapping a lean startup system. In “The $100 Startup,” Guillebeau gives plenty of examples of savvy entrepreneurs around the world and how they've gone from concept to making revenue with $100 or less in investments.
15. 'Talking to Humans' by Giff Constable
“Talking to Humans,” the winner of a National Science Foundation award, gives entrepreneurs insights into how to get feedback from customers that are actually useful. You'll learn how to design surveys that get you the information you need, how to interview customers effectively, and how to use all of that data to improve your product.
16. 'Working Backwards' by Colin Bryar and Bill Carr
Clin Bryar and Bill Carr are former Amazon executives that understand the principles behind the lean startup. In “Working Backwards,” they show how Amazon was able to take a customer-centric approach to product development and build some of the most successful products in the world. You'll learn how to use Amazon's methodology to validate your hypotheses and get feedback from customers quickly so that you don't have to waste resources.
17. 'Scaling Lean' by Ash Maurya
Instead of assuming that entrepreneurs are still at the beginning stages of creating a product, Maurya focuses on a more advanced problem in creating a lean startup: scaling without failing. In “Scaling Lean,” he offers advice to those that are trying to avoid the pitfalls of development cycles, iterations, and tweaks that can cause a startup to fail. You'll learn how to take your lean startup and turn it into a company that can scale quickly without sacrificing quality or customer satisfaction.