Top 10 Books for Software Entrepreneurs

Andrew

July 28, 2022

Harvard Business tells us that the 3% of their students who write down their goals end up earning 10x as much as the 97% that don’t. And it’s fair to say that this 3% are probably the ones who continually educate themselves. 

Whenever I seem to have a challenge in business, I always directly review my personal development. In my opinion, business growth directly correlates with personal growth, you can’t consistently have one without the other. Owning and running your own business can be full on. You’re literally thinking about ideas, concepts, growth strategies and everything in between 24/7 (Yep even when you sleep, you have some wacky dreams). For me, reading is an opportunity to clear my mind of the day to day. Whether it's sitting down and reading a physical book or listening to Audible while I’m performing a simple task (Usually when I’m working out). 

So with this in mind, I’ve put together a list of my top 10 books any software entrepreneur should read. Whether you're the ideas person, project manager, developer, designer or just a software user. These books have a combination of great stories, amazing tips and actionable insights. 

In no particular order….

Number 1: Getting Real

Okay, it’s probably not the book you expected to be on the list but this one is an absolute cracker. In my opinion Getting Real should be the bible to anyone building software. Whether you’re making a small internal product or a large scale B2C app, Getting Real will offer value. Written by the founders of Basecamp and RubyonRails, Getting Real covers some harsh truths around software design, development and product management. Namely avoiding tech debt, scope bloat, ridiculous product roadmaps and so much more. The book is only a few hundred pages long but so impactful that we got everyone in our team at Moonward to read it. If you take anything away from this blog, please read this book. Head over to the Basecamp website and they have a free downloadable pdf version…Come on, you have no excuses (But please finish reading my list first). 

Number 2: Sprint

The perfect book for anyone who is in the trenches working on a software product. It’s easy to get stuck in the day to day ‘doing’ when working in any business. Sprint is the perfect book to help you take a step back and really systemise your approach to work. Focussed on solving product challenges in a single week.  Sprint offers a complete guide on how to structure your week, conduct meetings and ensure you have the right people sitting around the table while you do it. This book is great for those who are actively on the tools or trying to solve big problems! Or if you want to get a better understanding of what your development team does (Or should do) on a day to day basis, this is an awesome guide. 

Number 3: Blue Ocean Strategy

Every week people ask me “Do you think I have a good idea”...My answer, read Blue Ocean Strategy and we’ll chat in a few weeks (Ok, jokes I don’t say that because I’m not an emotionless lizard). Blue Ocean Strategy explains why so many businesses fall short of their ambitions and into the graveyard of competing on price. The book outlines the key principles of what is a ‘Red Ocean’ (Generally defined as the highly competitive, shark infested waters) and ‘Blue Ocean’ (Crystal clear waters, where your business can scale without fear of fighting off competition). A great example of this concept is Uber, they built their own Blue Ocean (Ridesharing) in an attempt to move away from the shark infested, highly competitive Taxi industry. This is a great read for any stage of business but particularly helpful when fleshing out a new idea or looking to make a strategic pivot. 

Number 4: Elon Musk

The King…Whether your team Elon or not, you can’t fault the guy's success. Valued at over $250 Billion, he’s definitely done something right. The book is written by journalist Ashlee Vance, who is fortunate enough to shadow Elon and get a real understanding of his day to day life. It’s an amazing insight into his troublesome upbringing, amazing intelligence and pure hard work. It also details some of the scary stories when Tesla was on the brink of bankruptcy. An awesome read for anyone who loves tech, startups, growth and just wants some inspiration. It also provides a real life insite for what it actually takes to run and own multiple billion dollar companies. 

Number 5: Zero to One

Who wouldn’t listen to the founder of Paypal and an early investor in Facebook? In Zero to One we’re lucky enough to access the brain of the man behind recent tech giants Paypal. In true Silicon Valley spirit, the book is quick and easy to digest. It focuses on a number of key principles on how to stay learn and scale a startup. The book is perfect for a founder who is on a mission to change their market. The book has sections dedicated to hiring, culture and company growth. All of which are super relatable and actionable. 

Number 6: Traction

This books is a little different from all the others I’ve recommended. The books in this list so far have predominantly focused on starting or scaling a software company. Traction is a really unique book focussed on providing owners with the systems they need to make drastic growth in business. The book outlines their key principles for business success and the system you can implement to achieve this. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to any form of official business education but the book does help implement key processes such as; scorecards, org charts, employee review sheets etc. An awesome read for anyone who has scaled to a few team members and is now looking for ways to implement systems within their business.  

Number 7: Deep Work

Ok, this book was specifically put on this list for our team of developers here at Moonward. We see it everyday, it’s sooo easy to be distracted or caught off guard. All it takes is one meeting running over, an email popping up or someone sending you a slack message, then all of a sudden it’s 3pm and you’ve achieved 10% of what you wanted to accomplish in the day. Deep Work breaks down how we can set up our mind and body for success and maximise our ability to get into a state of deep work. Some key principles in the book cover the importance of time pressure and the crucial importance of understanding your own natural deep work cycle. This is an awesome read for anyone in business. But I really wanted to emphasise the importance to software engineers and developers, you are the guys pounding out work all day, this book will bring an extra level of meaning to how you operate on a day to day basis. 

So far I’ve suggested 7 different books that all directly relate to the software space in one way or another. The next 3 books are something a little different….I absolutely love great stories and these three books all have amazing inspiring stories. 

Number 8: Can’t Hurt Me

I picked up this book (Technically I had it on Audible) on a whim with zero expectation. I had no idea who the author was and no idea of their story. 12 hours later and I was in complete shock. This is by far the best audiobook I’ve ever listened to in my life. Inspiring, motivating, heart-felt and genuinely awesome.The audiobook is self narrated by David Goggins and he tells his amazing story from dysfunctional family, overweight nobody to becoming one of the fittest men in the US Army. It highlights some simply incredible achievements such as Goggins winning a Guinness World-Recording for the most pull-ups in 17 hours. It’s an awesome book and even better in the audio version. 

 

Number 9: Happiest Man on Earth

Another book that I randomly stumbled across on Audible. The Happiest Man on Earth tells the story of Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku. For me this book puts life into perspective. We’re often guilty of complaining about 1st world problems…Please read this book and I think your perspective on life might change ever so slightly. It covers Eddie's unbelievable story hopping from Concentration Camp to Concentration Camp, witnessing the complete horrors of WW2. It’s vivid and simply heartbreaking hearing this story. It really helped me understand how fortunate we are to be alive in 2022. Don’t get me wrong, business is important but sometimes it’s worthwhile taking a step back and seeing how fortunate we really are. Perhaps you won’t complain to the waitress, the next time they overcook your eggs 😂​​😂

Number 10: Before & Laughter

Enough of the deep and meaningful. Before & Laughter is a biography written by British comedian Jimmy Carr. Firstly, I hate reading comedy books…they’re rarely funny and I would just prefer to watch them properly on YouTube. However, this book is different…This is the first work Jimmy had done since he became a father and has dedicated the book to his child. It’s outlined as “A memoir and self-help manual by one of the country's most treasured comedians” and I have to say I was shocked. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing a completely different side to Jimmy and embraced his level of depth and emotion. But obviously he sprinkles the occasional one-liner in there. A great read and a truly unique approach by a very deep and thoughtful person. Rather than judge me on this one, just grab the first chapter or listen to the sample on Audible and judge it yourself. 

Enjoy! 

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