Here’s a short (and by no means a complete) list of 10 articles by startup luminaries, such as Paul Graham, that encapsulate the art of the startup. Most of these were published during 2009 and are educational and full of practical tips.

As a blogger, I spend most of my time writing. But it’s time spent reading that’s most satisfying. Here’s a short (and by no means a complete) list of 10 articles that encapsulate the art of the startup. Most were published during 2009, and I found them educational and full of practical tips that we’ve applied to our business. They’ve also helped me think differently about startups and entrepreneurship. Hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.

1. “What Startups Are Really Like” by Paul Graham: This has to be the single best essay I read during 2009. Every entrepreneur should begin the startup journey with this essay. It bottles every essence of entrepreneurship and startups, and is chock-full of practical advise and tips that are applicable to anyone who dares to dream.

2. “Milestones to Startup Success” by Sean Ellis: Ellis explains the need for minimum viable product, aka MVP, and then outlines how startups can go up his startup pyramid to find success.

3. “Myth: Entrepreneurship Will Make You Rich” by Eric Ries: “One of the unfortunate side effects of all the publicity and hype surrounding startups is the idea that entrepreneurship is a guaranteed path to fame and riches. It isn’t,” Ries writes in this no-holds-barred essay about the challenges and pitfalls of being a startup founder.

4. “What Is the Minimum Viable Product?” by Venture Hacks: A great audio conversation on the Venturehacks blog including a slide show.

5. “The Power of Continuous Improvement” by Mike Speiser: In a guest post for us, Mike talks about the importance of metrics, feedback and how they can drive continuous improvement. Mike’s rules have found eager takers among our team.

6. “Getting Comfortable With People Who Make You Uncomfortable” by Mike Speiser: In this article, Mike addresses the need for people who challenge conventional wisdom and make everyone around them uncomfortable — which is why every company needs them.

7. “The Funnel Principle: Software & Making Money” by Tony Wright: It’s good to build great products, but in order to build great companies one needs to have more — a clear path of monetization, an attention magnet, and in general excellence at things beyond product development.

8. “Does Every Startup Need a Steve Jobs?” by Andrew Chen: A dissection of how insanely great products are built by combining desirability, feasibility and viability. Read this post after reading Wright’s “Funnel Principle.”

9. “Designing for Social Traction” by Josh Porter

10: “Startup Killer: The Cost of Customer Acquisition” by David Skok: A definitive essay on startup business models, the perils of overoptimism, and the importance of cost of customer acquisitions. Skok is a 3-time entrepreneur with a lifetime of experience.

Bonus links:

* Self-serving: “What Every Entrepreneur Can Learn From Derek Jeter” and “What Makes DJ Tick.”

* Every startup guy should listen to Jobs’ speech before embarking on their journey.

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  1. Elizabeth Gebhardt Saturday, January 2, 2010

    What about the 2009 book “Getting to Plan B” by John Mullins and Kleiner Perkins partner Randy Komisar?

  2. Thanks for the great list of articles!


  3. I just shared this list with my startup team. Thanks, Om.

  4. Om – There are some very clear, action-oriented insights and lessons in these posts so thanks for sharing. I’ve shared with several fellow entrepreneurs and our team. Happy new year.

  5. Entreprneurs Blog Saturday, January 2, 2010

    Thank you for the links there are some cracking articles in there. Have bookmarked the page so I can come back and finish them all. Have seen the Steve Jobs vid before before it never gets old…

  6. Great list, Om. I just sent it on to one startup and have two more to be sent. Some of these are in the hints and tricks category where you adapt to the situation, know what to expect more realistically, etc. category, more than strategy. Why would that be?

  7. Great list, Om. I just sent it on to one startup and have two more to be sent. Some of these are in the hints and tricks category where you adapt to the situation, know what to expect more realistically, etc., more than strategy. Why would that be?

  8. Thank Om – some great articles I hadn’t seen (still plowing through them). And thanks for including my article in the mix.

    1. Sean

      It was a pleasure including you in the list. I have enjoyed reading your stuff and look forward to new writings from you.

  9. I particularly enjoy the article by Mike Speiser. What I have learned in my last two startups is that diversity is really important for success. Ultimately, your co-founders are the ones who would protect your proverbial back and the more that they bring to the table (that are not already on the table), the better. In fact, the less that you have in common initially with each other, the less baggage that you each would bring to the partnership. Over the years, I have learned painfully that in addition to learning to work with people who are different from you and would initially make you uncomfortable, we need to refrain from starting our company with family and friends. Starting a company together is the quickest way to destroy friendship. Starting a company with family (or hiring family into your company) is the surest way to alienate your business partners. Sex and startups, two things in life that are best to pursue outside your gene pool.

  10. Wow, what a great list and shows the power of the content that is out there.

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