5 Books That Helped Shape My Startup

Before founding Ridge Road Media, I spent a lot of time thinking about starting a business and what it might look like.

These five books helped me simply stop thinking and start doing. They motivated me to start and run my business the way I wanted without worrying about how I was supposed to do it or having everything figured out beforehand. I hope you find some inspiration and motivation in this list as well.

-Tom DeRosa, CEO, Ridge Road Media

Good To Great by James C. Collins

The idea that jumped out at me is what Collins calls the Hedgehog Concept. He asks you find the intersection of what you are passionate about, what you can be best in the world at and what drives your economic engine. This exercise helped me realize I was not in the right role at the time, and helped guide me towards social media marketing.

Order Good To Great from Amazon

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

This book changed the way I approached work; both by eliminating the unnecessary and striving to have the flexibility Ferriss had found in his varied jobs & travels. My favorite idea in the book is Parkinson’s Law: a task will expand to fill the amount of time you give it, whether it could be done in a fraction of the time or not.

While I don’t work four hours per week, the inspiration to start a business that would primarily live online, limit overhead costs and allow me to work from anywhere all played into the launch of Ridge Road Media.

Order The 4-Hour Workweek on Amazon

Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuck

Vaynerchuck is a kid who grew up in New Jersey, took over the family business and built it into something entirely different (a marketing empire). As someone who also grew up in New Jersey and desired to build a business, I gravitated to his story.

What I took from this book wasn’t so much the marketing advice as much as the motivation to start my business and do everything I could to make it successful at a time when it was just an idea.

Order Crush It! on Amazon

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

This short, quick read by the founder of CD Baby was important in my entrepreneurial journey because his focus was different than the other books here. The message I took away was: do what you love and do it your way. Your brand, your business doesn’t have to follow the “rules.”

Order Anything You Want on Amazon or read it online on the author’s website

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

The central message of Rework was that most of the rules about starting and running a business are just made up. You can throw most of them out and do things differently and better. This book particularly made me want to start my own business instead of trying to find the rare company that might embrace these ideas.

Order Rework on Amazon

Bonus: In a bit of serendipity, the featured photo we found for this post includes The $100 Startup, another book that helped pave the way for Ridge Road Media. It taught me to not let a lack of capital keep me from getting started.

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