Whether you’re brand new to the world of e-commerce or you haven’t quite taken the leap yet, these books will be your guideposts as you navigate. From actionable advice to case studies, analytics to web design, finance to marketing… and beyond, these books cover the gamut for e-commerce business owners.
 
There are a lot of business reads out there. My hope with this list is to help whittle down your reading list to save you time and money. Don’t need another book? You and me both, sista. My Kindle is loaded with them. These, though? They’re sort of an entire curriculum for the new or aspiring e-commerce business owner. If you absorb and apply the information and advice, they’ll pay for themselves several times over. Promise.
 
Here they are in no special order:
 

 
The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

This guide walks you, step-by-step, through the tested and proven Customer Development process created by startup expert Steve Blank, unlocking the secrets to building a successful, scalable company.
  
The Startup Owner’s Manual:
– Guides startups of all types in their search for a scalable, profitable business model.
– Explains the 9 deadly sins startups commit most often – and helps you avoid them.
– Provides separate paths and advice for physical versus web/mobile products.
– Explains how to test and iterate your company’s road to product/market fit.
– Details strategies and tactics for how to get, keep and grow customers.
– Teaches a new math for startups — metrics that matter.
– Includes detailed checklists at every step of the process.
– Provides hundreds of ideas, watch-outs and “how tos” for founders.
 
 

 
The Art of the Start 2.0: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything [Newly Revised] by Guy Kawasaki
 
A classic, bestselling guide to launching and making your new product, service, or idea a success.
 
Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, small-business owner, intrapreneur, or not-for-profit leader, there’s no shortage of advice on topics such as innovating, recruiting, fund raising, and branding. In fact, there are so many books, articles, websites, blogs, webinars, and conferences that many startups get paralyzed, or they focus on the wrong priorities and go broke before they succeed. 
 
Guy understands the seismic changes in business over the last decade: Once-invulnerable market leaders are struggling. Many of the basics of getting established have become easier, cheaper, and more democratic. Business plans are no longer necessary. Social media has replaced PR and advertising as the key method of promotion. Crowdfunding is now a viable alternative to investors. The cloud makes basic infrastructure affordable for almost any new venture.
 
The Art of the Start 2.0 will show you how to effectively deploy all these new tools.  And it will help you master the fundamental challenges that have not changed: building a strong team, creating an awesome product or service, and facing down your competition.
 
 
 

 
The Art of Startup Fundraising: Pitching Investors, Negotiating the Deal, and Everything Else Entrepreneurs Need to Know by Alejandro Cremades and Barbara Corcoran
 
Startup money is moving online, and this guide shows you how it works.
 
The Art of Startup Fundraising takes a fresh look at raising money for startups, with a focus on the changing face of startup finance. New regulations are making the old go-to advice less relevant, as startup money is increasingly moving online. These new waters are all but uncharted—and founders need an accessible guide.
 
Learn to navigate the online world of startup fundraising with easy-to-follow explanations and expert perspective on the new digital world of finance. You’ll find tips and tricks on raising money and investing in startups from early stage to growth stage, and develop a clear strategy based on the new realities surrounding today’s startup landscape.
 
 
 

 
The Startup Checklist: 25 Steps to a Scalable, High-Growth Business by David Rose and Bill Gross
 
The entrepreneur’s essential companion.
 
While most entrepreneurship books focus on strategy, this invaluable guide provides the concrete steps that will get your new business off to a strong start. You’ll learn the ins and outs of startup execution, management, legal issues, and practical processes throughout the launch and growth phases, and how to avoid the critical missteps that thr eaten the foundation of your business. Instead of simply referring you to experts, this discussion shows you exactly which experts you need, what exactly you need them to do, and which tools you will use to support them—and you’ll gain enough insight to ask smart questions that help you get your money’s worth. If you’re ready to do big things, this book has you covered from the first business card to the eventual exit.
 
Over two thirds of startups are built on creaky foundations, and over two thirds of startup costs go directly toward cleaning up legal and practical problems caused by an incomplete or improper start. The Startup Checklist helps you sidestep the messy and expensive clean up process by giving you the specific actions you need to take right from the very beginning.
 
– Understand the critical intricacies of legally incorporating and running a startup.
– Learn which experts you need, and what exactly you need from them.
– Make more intelligent decisions independent of your advisors.
– Avoid the challenges that threaten to derail great young companies.

 
 
 

 
The Startup Equation: A Visual Guidebook to Building Your Startup by Steve Fisher and Ja-Nae Duane
 
Filled with infographics, visuals, and case studies—a vibrant, practical guide to creating a winning business model for any startup
 
The Startup Equation leads you step by step through the decisions and data to find your perfect startup model.
 
You’ll learn how to identify your “entrepreneurial type” and follow the book’s visual roadmap to building your own successful business plan for your unique dream. The book provides the blueprint for not only understanding the startup economy, but the challenges and opportunities for every type of new business.
 
 
 

 
Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising by Ryan Holiday
 
A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing and Advertising
 
A new generation of megabrands like Facebook, Dropbox, Airbnb, and Twitter haven’t spent a dime on traditional marketing. No press releases, no TV commercials, no billboards. Instead, they rely on a new strategy—growth hacking—to reach many more people despite modest marketing budgets. Growth hackers have thrown out the old playbook and replaced it with tools that are testable, trackable, and scalable. They believe that products and businesses should be modified repeatedly until they’re primed to generate explosive reactions.
 
In Growth Hacker Marketing, bestselling author Ryan Holiday, the acclaimed marketing guru for American Apparel and many bestselling authors and multiplatinum musicians, explains the new rules and provides valuable examples and case studies for aspiring growth hackers. 
 
 
 

 
Convert!: Designing Web Sites to Increase Traffic and Conversion by Ben Hunt
 
Solve your traffic troubles and turn browsers into buyers
 
When web design expert Ben Hunt set out to quantify the difference between an ordinary web site and a great one, he expected to find the key in design simplicity. But when his team more than doubled the conversion rates for a wide range of sites, they identified simple yet powerful solutions involving design, copy, appropriate analysis, classic optimization techniques, and targeted testing. You’ll find the fixes easy to implement, and they’re all right here.
 
In Convert, you’ll:
– Understand the essentials – your market, your proposition, and your delivery.
– Create a site that is seen by the right people, provides a compelling experience, and generates the desired action.
– Learn how to use testing to improve your site’s conversion rate.
– Discover the holistic nature of web site optimization and why multiplicity matters.
– Examine dozens of simple techniques for building traffic, engaging your audience, and crafting effective calls to action.
– Combine creativity with analysis for the best possible results.

 
 
 

 
Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup by Bill Aulet
 
24 Steps to Success!
 
Disciplined Entrepreneurship will change the way you think about starting a company. Many believe that entrepreneurship cannot be taught, but great entrepreneurs aren’t born with something special – they simply make great products. This book will show you how to create a successful startup through developing an innovative product. It breaks down the necessary processes into an integrated, comprehensive, and proven 24-step framework that any industrious person can learn and apply.
 
You will learn:
– Why the “F” word – focus – is crucial to a startup’s success
– Common obstacles that entrepreneurs face – and how to overcome them
– How to use innovation to stand out in the crowd – it’s not just about technology
 
Whether you’re a first-time or repeat entrepreneur, Disciplined Entrepreneurship gives you the tools you need to improve your odds of making a product people want.
 
 
 

 
E-commerce Get It Right! Step by Step E-commerce Guide for Selling & Marketing Products Online. Insider Secrets, Key Strategies & Practical Tips, Simplified for Your Startup & Small Business by Ian Daniel
 
This new, exclusive and timeless Step-by-Step E-commerce Guide, will show you everything you need to know about achieving success with your own e-commerce business and website.
 
Whether you’re an e-commerce startup, or already have an existing e-commerce business or website that is struggling to make a profit, this book is literally packed full of the latest tried, tested and trusted insider secrets, key strategies and practical tips – proven over a 14-year period to generate sales and profits at explosive levels.
 
Did you know…
 
The majority of e-commerce websites (shopping websites) and e-commerce businesses make $0 profits in their first 3 years online. Such is the steep learning curve and experience required to build an e-commerce website and business, which will dominate your product category, market or niche. Be Part of Elite 3% with E-commerce Get It Right.
 
Inside You’ll Learn…
– How to Build & Launch a Super-Charged E-commerce Website & Business – Fast!
– How to Generate High Quality, Ready-To-Buy Visitors!
– How to Convert More of These Visitors Into Paying Customers!
– How to Transform a Struggling E-commerce Website and Business!
– How to Fast Track Your Learning & Avoid the Pitfalls!
 
…and everything else in between for e-commerce success.
 
 
 

 
Click Millionaires: Work Less, Live More with an Internet Business You Love by Scott Fox
 
The rules have changed. The American Dream is no longer the corner office.It’s a successful business you can run from your home office, the beach, or wherever you desire.
 
It’s work you love that still allows you the freedom and income to live the life you truly want. Sound like a tall order? Well, thanks to the Internet, anyone can launch a business with little or no start-up capital or technical expertise.
 
Inside this book, e-commerce expert Scott Fox teaches weary corporate warriors and aspiring entrepreneurs how to trade the 9-5 job they hate for an online business they love. The book explains how to combine outsourcing, software, and automated online marketing to build recurring revenues, all while working less and making fewer of the lifestyle compromises that corporate success requires.
 
Readers will learn how to:
– Find a lucrative niche on the Internet that matches their interests and skills.
– Choose an online businessmodel: fromblogs, noozles, and audience communities to digital delivery, online services, affiliate marketing-even physical products.
– Position themselves as a experts
– Build their audience.
– Design the lifestyle they want.
– Balance passion and profits to realize their personal definition of success.

 
Featuring stories of dozens of regular folks who have reinvented themselves as Click Millionaires, this inspiring and practical guide shows readers how to stop dreaming of a better life and start living it.
 
 
 

 
The 7 Day Startup: You Don’t Learn Until You Launch by Dan Norris
 
From generating ideas to gaining your first paying customers, The 7 Day Startup is the bootstrapper’s bible for launching your next product.
 
In The 7 Day Startup, Dan Norris, author and founder of wpcurve.com, shows us exactly how he built a cashflowing small business startup from scratch in 7 days (and has since grown it to over $400,000 in annual recurring revenue in a few short years).
 
You’ll learn:
– Why validation isn’t the answer
– How to evaluate your small business startup idea
– How to choose a business name, fast
– How to build a website in 1 day for under $100
– 10 proven ways to market a business quickly
And much, much more…
 
 
 

 
Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares
 
Smart entrepreneurs know that the key to success isn’t the originality of your offering, the brilliance of your team, or how much money you raise.
 
It’s how consistently you can grow and acquire new customers (or, for a free service, users). That’s called traction, and it makes everything else easier—fund-raising, hiring, press, partnerships, acquisitions. Talk is cheap, but traction is hard evidence that you’re on the right path.
 
Traction will teach you the nineteen channels you can use to build a customer base, and how to pick the right ones for your business. It draws on inter-views with more than 40 successful founders, including Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Alexis Ohanian (reddit), Paul English (Kayak), and Dharmesh Shah (HubSpot).
 
You’ll learn, for example, how to:
– Find and use offline ads and other channels your competitors probably aren’t using
– Get targeted media coverage that will help you reach more customers
– Boost the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns by automating staggered sets of prompts and updates
– Improve your search engine rankings and advertising through online tools and research
 
 
 

 
The 4-Hour Workweek, [Expanded and Updated With Over 100 New Pages of Cutting-Edge Content] by Timothy Ferriss
 
The New York Times bestselling author of The 4-Hour Body shows readers how to live more and work less, now with more than 100 pages of new, cutting-edge content.
 
Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan–there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, or earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, The 4-Hour Workweek is the blueprint.
 
This step-by-step guide to luxury lifestyle design teaches:
– How Tim went from $40,000 per year and 80 hours per week to $40,000 per month and 4 hours per week.
– How to outsource your life to overseas virtual assistants for $5 per hour and do whatever you want.
– How blue-chip escape artists travel the world without quitting their jobs.
– How to eliminate 50% of your work in 48 hours using the principles of a forgotten Italian economist.
– How to trade a long-haul career for short work bursts and frequent “mini-retirements”.
 
This new expanded edition of Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek includes:
– More than 50 practical tips and case studies from readers (including families) who have doubled income, overcome common sticking points, and reinvented themselves using the original book as a starting point.
– Real-world templates you can copy for eliminating e-mail, negotiating with bosses and clients, or getting a private chef for less than $8 a meal.
– How Lifestyle Design principles can be suited to unpredictable economic times.
– The latest tools and tricks, as well as high-tech shortcuts, for living like a diplomat or millionaire without being either.
 
 
 

 
Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire by Paul Smith
 
Storytelling has come of age in the business world. Today, many of the most successful companies use storytelling as a leadership tool.
 
At Nike, all senior executives are designated “corporate storytellers.” 3M banned bullet points years ago and replaced them with a process of writing “strategic narratives.” Procter & Gamble hired Hollywood directors to teach its executives storytelling techniques. Some forward-thinking business schools have even added storytelling courses to their management curriculum. The reason for this is simple: Stories have the ability to engage an audience the way logic and bullet points alone never could. Whether you are trying to communicate a vision, sell an idea, or inspire commitment, storytelling is a powerful business tool that can mean the difference between mediocre results and phenomenal success. Lead with a Story contains both ready-to-use stories and how-to guidance for readers looking to craft their own.
 
Lead with a Story was designed for a wide variety of business challenges, the book shows how narrative can help:
– Define culture and values
– Engender creativity and innovation
– Foster collaboration and build relationships
– Provide coaching and feedback
– Lead change
– And more
 
Whether in a speech or a memo, communicated to one person or a thousand, storytelling is an essential skill for success. Complete with examples from companies like Kellogg’s, Merrill-Lynch, Procter & Gamble, National Car Rental, Wal-Mart, Pizza Hut, and more, this practical resource gives readers the guidance they need to deliver stories to stunning effect.
 
 
 

 
Sell with a Story: How to Capture Attention, Build Trust, and Close the Sale by Paul Smith
 
Despite all the high-tech tools available to salespeople, the most personal method still works best.
 
Storytelling packs the emotional punch to turn routine presentations into productive relationships. It explains products or services in ways that resonate; it connects people and creates momentum. Stories speak to the part of the brain where decisions are made. Paul Smith, author of the acclaimed Lead with a Story, shifts his best-selling formula to the sales arena.
 
In Sell with a Story, he identifies the ingredients of the most effective sales stories and reveals how to:
– Select the right story.
– Craft a compelling and memorable narrative.
– Incorporate challenge, conflict, and resolution.
– Use stories to introduce yourself, build rapport, address objections, add value, bring data to life, create a sense of urgency, and more.
 
Complete with model stories, skill-building exercises, and enlightening examples from Microsoft, Costco, Xerox, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hewlett Packard, and other top companies, this powerful and practical guide gives you the tools you need to turn your experiences into stories that sell.
 
 
 

 
Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi
 
What’s the surest way to startup failure? Follow old, outdated rules.
 
In Content Inc., one of today’s most sought-after content-marketing strategists reveals a new model for entrepreneurial success. Simply put, it’s about developing valuable content, building an audience around that content, and then creating a product for that audience. Notice a shift?
 
Author Joe Pulizzi flips the traditional entrepreneurial approach of first creating a product and then trying to find customers. It’s a brilliant reverse-engineering of a model that rarely succeeds. The radical six-step business-building process revealed in this book is smart, simple, practical, and cost-effective. And best of all, it works. It’s a strategy Pulizzi used to build his own successful company, Content Marketing Institute, which has landed on Inc. magazine’s list of fastest growing private companies for three years straight. It’s also a strategy countless other entrepreneurs use to build their own multi-million dollar companies.
 
Build an audience and you’ll be able to sell pretty much anything you want. Today’s markets are more dynamic and customers are more fickle than ever before. Why would you put all your eggs in one basket before securing a loyal customer base? Content Inc. shows you how to get customers first and develop products later. It’s the best way to build a solid, long-lasting business positioned for today’s content-driven world. This is the simple but profoundly successful entrepreneurial approach of one of today’s most creative business minds.
 
 
 

 
Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity by Avinash Kaushik
 
You have to know your numbers if you’re going to get anywhere.
 
Adeptly address today’s business challenges with this powerful new book from web analytics thought leader Avinash Kaushik. This Book presents a new framework that will permanently change how you think about analytics. It provides specific recommendations for creating an actionable strategy, applying analytical techniques correctly, solving challenges such as measuring social media and multichannel campaigns, achieving optimal success by leveraging experimentation, and employing tactics for truly listening to your customers.
 
Web Analytics 2.0 will help your organization become more data driven while you become a super analysis ninja.
 
 
 
I’m also a big fan of the ‘Lean Series’
 

 
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
 
Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable.  The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.
 
Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business.
 
The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively.  Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.
 
Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs – in companies of all sizes – a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in a age when companies need to innovate more than ever.
 
 
 

 
Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works by Ash Maurya
 
We live in an age of unparalleled opportunity for innovation. We’re building more products than ever before, but most of them fail—not because we can’t complete what we set out to build, but because we waste time, money, and effort building the wrong product.
 
We need a systematic process for quickly vetting product ideas and raising our odds of success. That’s the promise of Running Lean. In this inspiring book, Ash Maurya takes you through an exacting strategy for achieving a “product/market fit” for your fledgling venture, based on his own experience in building a wide array of products from high-tech to no-tech. Throughout, he builds on the ideas and concepts of several innovative methodologies, including the Lean Startup, Customer Development, and bootstrapping.
 
Running Lean is an ideal tool for business managers, CEOs, small business owners, developers and programmers, and anyone who’s interested in starting a business project.
 
– Find a problem worth solving, then define a solution.
– Engage your customers throughout the development cycle.
– Continually test your product with smaller, faster iterations.
– Build a feature, measure customer response, and verify/refute the idea.
– Know when to “pivot” by changing your plan’s course.
– Maximize your efforts for speed, learning, and focus.
– Learn the ideal time to raise your “big round” of funding.
 
 
 

 
Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz
 
Marc Andreesen once said that “markets that don’t exist don’t care how smart you are.” Whether you’re a startup founder trying to disrupt an industry, or an intrapreneur trying to provoke change from within, your biggest risk is building something nobody wants.
 
Lean Analytics can help. By measuring and analyzing as you grow, you can validate whether a problem is real, find the right customers, and decide what to build, how to monetize it, and how to spread the word. Focusing on the One Metric That Matters to your business right now gives you the focus you need to move ahead–and the discipline to know when to change course.
 
Written by Alistair Croll (Coradiant, CloudOps, Startupfest) and Ben Yoskovitz (Year One Labs, GoInstant), the book lays out practical, proven steps to take your startup from initial idea to product/market fit and beyond. Packed with over 30 case studies, and based on a year of interviews with over a hundred founders and investors, the book is an invaluable, practical guide for Lean Startup practitioners everywhere.
 
 
So tell me, did I miss any? Drop your favorites in the comments below!
 

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Melissa Bolton

Brand Therapist + Copywriter at Melissa Bolton
Melissa is a mompreneur and brand therapist providing neurobranding and conversion copywriting services to solopreneurs and micro-business owners looking to truly connect with their right people. Leaning on proven psychology principles, she helps clients create a brand presence that's not only explicitly unique, but highly memorable. She offers 25 years of extensive sales and marketing experience. You can learn more about her and visit her other sites, here: MelissaBolton.com & Revolutionary-Branding.com
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1 Comment

  1. Pooja Krishna

    I think Simon Sinek’s Find Your Why (segues from his earlier book Start with Why) is wonderful to figure our motivation as well as what keeps you going. All too often, we all feel discouraged in chasing after our goals, especially when success isn’t coming easily or the wins aren’t frequent. Love his line – I believe fulfillment is a right and not a privilege.

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