While everyone is chasing the next unicorn, we’re witnessing (and loving) that some people are still trying to make a (very) decent living without looking for indecent amounts of cash injections to cover the costs of their grand scheme for customer acquisition.

We have helped dozens of bootstrapped businesses, from organising workshops to refine their ideas, to creating and supporting their platforms. Some turned into nice lifestyle businesses, and some have grown into multi-million pounds enterprises.

But they all have one thing in common: they started extra small, tested the water as cheaply as possible and then went on to expand their offer.

Over the years, we have read a lot of books on the subject in order to gain knowledge and be able to give better advice to our clients. From the dry and informative publications to the funny stories, we have selected ten books that we would consider must-reads if you’re envisaging bootstrapping.

The lean startup book cover

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Constant Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

Probably the best reference starting point to how to think big and small at the same time.

traction book cover

Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth

This book, following their so called bullseye framework, is packed with ideas on customer acquisition. From the early stage (pre-development) to the more established stages of your adventure, there will certainly be some ideas to take from the book.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Learn the techniques used by the best habit forming products (Facebook/Twitter types) to make you want to come back!

disrupted book cover

Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble

Now that you’ve read factual books it’s time for a bit of fun. And Disrupted is a book that will surely entertain as well as make you think.

12 week year book cover

The 12 week year

Setting goals when growing your new business is step 1. The 12 week year book gives you a framework for digestible goal settings, or how to set achievable quarterly goals instead of yearly ones.

sprint book cover

Sprint: How To Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

From the guys at Google Venture. It explains how you can achieve a lot in 5 days.

deep work book cover

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

If you aspire to be a high achiever, you have to learn about deep work.

Difference book cover

Difference: The One-page Method for Reimagining your Business and Reinventing your Marketing

Probably one of my favourite books about marketing. It explains, in very simple terms how to present your business with a difference.

the 100 dollars startup book cover

The $100 Startup: Fire Your Boss, Do What You Love and Work Better To Live More

Because sometimes we all need a bit of dreaming and see how other people did it, this book narrates the tales of a few startups that had humble beginnings and were transformed to nice niche lifestyle businesses.

do more faster book cover

Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup

This book gives you access to key insights and problem solved by the early stages entrepreneurs part of one of the largest incubator on the planet.

Further reading…

This is obviously only a limited list. These 10 books are our must-read bootstrapping references, but you can find many more. A good place to start is the Startup reading collection section on Product Hunt.

Now, if like Nathalie, reading long business books is not your thing, I suggest taking a look at Blinkist, where you will find short versions of hundreds of non-fiction books. It may give you just enough insights and information to help you to decide whether you want to invest more time in reading the whole books.

Pic by Steve Byrne