I reached out to some Nigerian startup founders, asking them to share some of their favourite reads that have influenced their entrepreneurial journey. With genres ranging from historical fiction, to business management, here are the thirty three books they recommended:
Mark Essien (Founder/CEO, Hotels.ng)
1. The Martian by Andy Wier
2. Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers by Gabriel Weinberg
3. Competition Demystified: A Radically Simplified Approach to Business Strategy by Bruce Greenwald
Tayo Oviosu (Founder/CEO, Pagatech Limited)
In Tayo’s words, “I am actually not a fan of most business books. My best advice to a startup founder is when it comes to books, read fiction so when you are reading, you really get your mind out of business and into another world.”
That said, here are the five business books he recommends:
4. Discover Your True North by Bill George and David Gergen
Tayo says “it’s a great book that helps you think about the directional path you want your life to take.”
5. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
6. Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries by Peter Sims
The book provides a good framework for approaching things in your business
7. Inbox Freedom: The Zen Master’s Guide to Tackling Your Email and Work by Mike Ghaffary and Charles Hudson
The book contains simple, practical but powerful lessons to gain control of your email inbox.
8. Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown
This helps you understand how to get the best out of people.
These are four of his favorite fiction reads:
9. My Soul to Keep (African Immortal series) by Tananarive Due
10. About a Boy by Nick Hornby
11. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death by Jean-Dominique Bauby
12. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Somto Ifezue (Co-founder/CEO, Push CV)
13. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Somto says that this book changed his perception about money and investments. He added that “It teaches you how to make your money or investments (or what you have within you) work for you and not vice versa.”
Sim Shagaya (Founder/CEO, Konga.com)
14. Marketplace 3.0: Rewriting the Rules of Borderless Business by Hiroshi Mikitani
This is about the building of Rakuten – Japan’s ecommerce juggernaut
15. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
16. Alibaba by Shiying Liu and Martha Avery
17. Amazonia: Five Years at the Epicenter of the Dot.Com Juggernaut by James Marcus
The history of Amazon told from an employee’s perspective
18. One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon by Richard Brandt
19. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
In this book, the author [and founder of Zappos] tells the story of the fashion ecommerce company.
20. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
21. Sam Walton: Made in America by Sam Walton and John Huey
22. The Fortunes of Africa by Martin Meredith
23. The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New technologies Cause New Firms to Fail by Clayton M. Christensen
Sim says it’s the only real “theory” in business about disruption.
24. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, Or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters
25. The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age by William Rees-Mogg and James Dale Davidson
For Sim, it’s a book that fundamentally changed his understanding of nation states, patriotism and nationalism.
26. Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford
This is the book he was reading at the time he sent in his recommendations. It’s about what technology foretells for employment. He says that “If you think economic growth equals higher employment, think again! Technology destroys jobs. Scary stuff.”
Raphael Afeador (Cofounder/CEO, Supermart.ng)
27. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
28. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
29. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
This book helps Raphael think about levers to change, against the normal train of thought, to achieve results.
30. The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit by Seth Godin
Raphael says that this book helps understand how to roll out new ideas and innovation.
32. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt with Jeff Cox
This book is a short guide on how to start a startup.
Update: This list has been updated with seven more books, to reflect Raphael Afeador’s recommendations.