10 Essential Books For Women Building Web Businesses

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These business books, usually recommended by fellow female entrepreneurs, were the ones that made a huge difference. By Tara Hunt (Co-Founder & CEO, Buyosphere)

As a startup founder, I've had the same books waved in my face a million times - Rework by Jason Fried, The Lean Startup by Eric Reis, Innovator's Dilemma by Clay Christensen... the list goes on. These are all great books, don't get me wrong. But their lessons are ones that I don't necessarily need to be successful.

As an entrepreneur, I've already broken the mold of rethinking work. As an underfunded startup, we have to be lean and iterative and as someone whose ideas are usually a little too far ahead of the curve, I have no problems on the innovation side. My issues lie more with not understanding the practical side of building a web business. As a woman, I was taught to be polite and ladylike growing up and being bold and brazen (traits valued in tech and business) were frowned upon. Also, I was never taught how to manage money and though I know a good experience when I have it, I never had formal training in design and content.

I've read the bevy of standards (the above plus dozens more) quite often written by men who tend to have different things to learn and unlearn, but the following books, usually recommended by fellow female entrepreneurs were the ones that made a huge difference to my growth.

Here is my list of 10 business books for entrepreneurial women that changed my life:

  1. Secrets of Six-Figure Women by Barbara StannyI figured out through this book that I was making the same damned mistakes as every other women who sold herself short, didn't ask for what she needs and thought too small. Easy to read. Great stories. Brings up lots of questions when you read it in public. Barbara also wrote Overcoming Underearning - which I am thinking about picking up.
  2. The Energy of Money by Maria Nemeth, Ph.D.
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    I'm in the middle of reading this right now. Holy fracking heck. I've realized I have the WORST relationship in the universe with money and it's helping me get to the bottom of it and fix it. It's helping me get over 'The Ask' (I have no problem networking, but I cannot seem to close - this is helping me do it) which is the biggest issue in my life.

  4. The New How by Nilofer Merchant
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    I've read this one a few times and it isn't just because Nilofer is a friend and a mentor, it's because she has great lessons and stories that I identify with and helps me make better decisions. Her idea about 'murder-boarding' (taking all of those 'great ideas' and boiling them down to one or two executable ideas) is brilliant. It's made the world of difference for prioritizing.

  6. Business Model Generation by Alex Osterwalder
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    This is the book you will go back to time and time and time again. I have so many notes written all over this one. I've torn out pages and stuck them to my wall (had to buy a second book to share). It's brilliant and will help you figure out your business model. VERY important. This is the bible for every startup.

  8. Why She Buys by Bridgette Brennan
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    Many of us have female audiences. Bridgette gives amazing data and strategies for reaching us, talking to us and being relevant to us. I didn't think I needed this book, but after I read it, I realized how much I did.

  10. Slide:ology by Nancy Duarte
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    LOTS of people ask me how my presentations are always so gorgeous and they are the way they are because I'm inspired by many great presenters before me, one of them being Nancy Duarte. From pitch decks to keynotes, this book is completely inspirational.

  12. Designing for Growth by Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie
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    Ever want to know how Apple does it? How they think so far into the future when solving big user experience issues? I'm pretty sure they use Jeanne and Tim's principles.

  14. Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halverson
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    THE most important book on web design you'll read. Build your design around content, not the other way around. Believe me, I've made this mistake.

  16. Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug
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    Usability. Usability. Usability. I don't care if you are ecommerce, you sell a solid product or you have a news site, this is crucial. Once again, I need to revisit this. I like Steve's approach. It's a classic and has stood the test of time.

  18. Ten Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelly
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    Once you start working with personalities and hiring, you'll need this one 100%. I especially love his bit about naysayers and devil's advocates...you don't need 'em. Tom is one of the founders of IDEO. He should know. ;)

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. Abou the guest blogger: Tara "missrogue" Hunt is a crazy audacious dreamer and the co-founder and CEO of Buyosphere. Tara was named as one of the most influential women in technology as well as one of the 25 female startup founders to watch in Fast Company Magazine. She wrote The Whuffie Factor/The Power of Social Networking (published in 8 languages), is a conference speaker and co-founded the international coworking movement. Follow her on Twitter at @missrogue.