Inspired? Get ready to perspire!

Read, do, and read some more to succeed.

by Professor Shahram Sean Yousefi.

You have got the entrepreneurial bug. Congrats pal!

Where do you begin?

Ok, I hear you. You wanna make sure you do not reinvent the wheel.

You do not have to repeat everyone else’s mistakes; of course not.

Reality is more than 90% of startups fail. No matter what you do, the odds are against you. And you need to be irrationally optimistic. Stupidly so.

But education, planning, and execution can minimize your risks and make it more likely for you and your team to end up in the more favorable 10% bin. And if “luck favours [your] prepared mind” as Louis Pasteur said, you might even join the elite list of unicorns (companies worth more than $1B).

There is a great deal of science to help you do it right. Entrepreneurship can be taught. Like anything else, some have the “nature” for it. Yet, it’s mostly the “nurture” of it that matters. “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” and Thomas Edison said. His numbers are surely more supported by today’s data than those of George Bernard Shaw, who altered the proportions to “ninety percent perspiration, ten percent inspiration”. Of course, in the context of ‘entrepreneurial genius’ where you need loads of genius and luck.

So let’s focus on what sort of perspiration actually makes sense. I hypothesize, we all have left behind the “work hard, play hard” mantra. To embrace “work smart, play smart”, we have got to combine reading and learning with doing and failing (safely) to create success.

These are some my favorite readings for those ready to perspire smartly based on stages of the e-journey (entrepreneurship) they’re in. Remember, the most important ingredient of building a high-growth venture is knowing what to derisk at any given time. I find these awesome resources improve your odds by allowing you to do just that. Read or listen to the audio version like there is no tomorrow and then press the petal to the metal.

Step 1: “picking” your passion (indeed passion is acquired through perfection by design and not the other way around)

  1. “Zero to one: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future”, Peter Thiel
  2. “The innovator’s dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business,” Clayton M. Christensen
  3. “The founder’s dilemma: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls that Can Sink a Startup”, Noam Wasserman
  4. “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future”, Ashlee Vance
  5. “Steve Jobs”, Walter Isaacson
  6. “The E-myth revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It”, Michael Gerber
  7. “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles”, Steven Pressfield

Step 2: building your business model (before you actually build any product or write a single line of code):

  1. “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses”, Eric Ries
  2. “Business model generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers”, Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur
  3. “The $100 startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future”, Chris Guillebeau
Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

Step 3: running and growing it successfully

  1. “The hard thing about hard things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers”, Ben Horowitz
  2. “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t”, Jim Collins
  3. “The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done”, Peter F. Drucker
  4. “Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers”, Geoffrey A. Moore
  5. “Who: The A Method for Hiring,” Geoff Smart
  6. “Radical Candor: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean”, Kim Scott
  7. “Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs”, John Doerr
  8. “The Art of War Plus The Ancient Chinese Revealed”, Sun Tzu
  9. “Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth”, Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares
  10. “Contagious: Why Things Catch On”, Jonah Berger
  11. “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die”, Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Step 4: growth and burden of investors

  1. “Venture deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist”, Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson
  2. “The Business of Venture Capital: Insights from Leading Practitioners on the Art of Raising a Fund, Deal Structuring, Value Creation, and Exit Strategies”, Mahendar Ramsinghani
  3. “Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture Capital — and How to Get It”, Scott Kupor

Check in later for the most awesome collection of blogs and podcasts.

Happy harmony!

Shahram is an academic and tech entrepreneur; passionate for harmony, his mission in life is to help others to enjoy theirs while reaching full potential.