Do I read books to learn startups?

I’m a developer that is busy working on a MVP (Minimal Viable Product) and think that I really might have a winner of an idea here (don’t we all). However I have no business and marketing experience.

Two books I keep on hearing being mentioned in startup circles are “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries and “Traction” by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares. Now I’m planing on reading both these books but I’d like to know which one to read FIRST?

Like I said, I’m just a developer and after having a product on my hands (am I even doing this MVP thing right?), what are the next steps and what book is more relevant to me NOW?

It almost seems that “Traction” would be better now in the sense that it might help me take the product and start, well, gaining traction. And then once the wheel is turning I can look at “The Lean Startup” to further manage my business. But again I’m also not sure if “The Lean Startup” goes a bit more into depth as to what exactly your MVP should look like in which case I should read THAT first. I’m kinda torn.

And please, any other books you feel might be more relevant to me now would be great, totally open to suggestions! I would prefer something a bit less theory and full of jargon and something more with concrete steps and a game plan though.

Best Answer

There are two approaches to startup. A "hack by chance" approach and a "business centric old school" approach. The book "Lean Startups" advocates the first, books like "Starting a Business" and "Traction" advocates the latter. Most "hack" MVP won't work - because there are too many "hackers" out there make subpar standard MVPs with 100 dollars in the pocket. These folks don't want the rigor but want to have some cool experience. There is nothing wrong trying cool entrepreneurship. But the startup risk is 1 in 10000 success, and YOU ARE NOT THE EXCEPTION. Everyone thinks that they are the 1 of the 10,000.

Other points

I don't think anyone above has got Traction right. It is about getting, you guessed it, traction. It talks about various channels of traction (marketing) and how to experiment around it.

If your objective is to start experimenting at getting early users (and i don't see why not), you should check out traction.

It isn't BS and it isn't fluff. But it is no magic bullet either.

Tl;dr: traction introduces to various marketing channels and shares an experiment framework to find out which one works for your business.

As suggested in other comments, books are very important to create and define a framework, but only the practice can give you what it takes to ship a real product to the market. Regarding your question: I strongly suggest you read " The Lean Startup " before, and then all the rest. The lean method gives you the right framework to avoid the most common mistakes that a start-up makes in launching a new product (market demand, product validation, product development etc..). Another book that I strongly suggest is " The Four Steps To The Epiphany " by Steve Blank. Good luck.

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Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares learned from their own experiences, building a successful company is hard. For every startup that grows to the point where it can go public or be profitably acquired, hundreds of others sputter and die. 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.

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