My top 4 most influential books on building a one man startup


Building a small one man startup is a challenge. Lots of traditional business books are full of fluff and hard to apply advice.

There are a LOT of books on starting a business. The problem is this, they give you advice and at the time you read it, it seems like great advice.


Business 101 – Recurring revenue business is the Bees knees, every month a customer will pay you. You never start from $0 when the next month starts.

Aha! I need to charge my customers recurring, instead of once off.

When you finally go to start that business… so, how do I find my first recurring revenue customer?

Book List

The following are books that provided real strategies that allowed me to really build and launch my first business.

Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality

Ok, now this book is old. Way before I’m launching a “startup” became vogue and in style. One man software business was just called a micro ISV. A micro independent software vendor.

When I started my business, startup books didn’t exist and the whole startup movement was just “starting up”.

In a wash of traditional textbook “business” books, this book was really important as it spoke directly to me, a programmer trying to strike it out on myself.

It was a business book written by programmers for programmers wanting to start a business.

Now, its probably not worth the read as the info in it is horribly outdated, however it is a good reminder of how doing software as a business was like 11 years ago, 2006 when the book was published.

Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer’s Guide to Launching a Startup

If you want to hit the floor running as a tech entrepreneur this is the book.

This book was a godsend, it had actual practical things you could follow. Many business books make you feel pumped to start a business, but offer such generic advice that you don’t know how to implement anything.

Not this book, good solid and easy to follow A-Z advice that isn’t too outdated.

I would start here.

Even better, Rob Walling’s site is a great source of updating info for the techpreneur. He even has a free podcast worth listening to.

If you go to his site, you can signup for his free email list that comes with free 150 page compilation of his best posts. If you can’t afford his ebook, that free compilation has lots of good info that can get you started for $0.

The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company

It so happened that when this book was released I was going through a small business course.

As part of the course they had us write one of those long, boring 200 page static business plans that was 90% fiction and 10% hope.

If you want to sit down and plan a business, a “business plan” isn’t the way to go. A quicker way is to buy the “startup owners” manual and follow that instead.

The most important thing to learn is the “lean canvas”. A very simple way of visualizing your business using 6 boxes!

This is where I got the taste for the “startup” movement. Learning about customer interviews, rapid prototyping etc.

Just Fucking Ship

Ah, Amy Hoy. She tells it as it is. Sometimes you need a good kick up the butt to get your gears firing. This book will do it.

Its geared towards the solopreneur too. She made her mark with SAAS and a lot of this book is perfect for a techpreneur.

If you have your business model sorted out with the “lean canvas” but need esoteric guidance on how to “implement” this book is it.

You won’t get specific advice on launching a SAAS see Rob Walling’s book instead, however it does give you a very good plan of attack.

Just read it.


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