Further Reading

General Startup Thought Leadership

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

Michael breaks down the three conflicting personas of any entrepreneur in a very readable way. Gerber shows how most small business owners (who own restaurants or craft shops) start only with technical skills and little business experience. This may or may not describe you, but you should read this book so you understand the totality of the personal development challenge you have to tackle.

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Eric’s work has sold over a million copies and stems from his own experiences and extensive research into a launch approach that ups the odds of success. His work focuses on tech and software startups but should be read by anyone who likes Ramping Your Brand. I did not discover his work until after I published my own, but we are very simpatico in a world obsessed with rocket launches and unicorns.

Why Startups Fail – by Tom Eisenmann

Finally, someone with access and time did a comprehensive, systematic review of startup failure. If you’re on my site, it’s because you want to grow fast but manage risk intelligently as you do. Please read this book now and inoculate yourself against the common mistakes startups make before and after launch.

Operational Success

Launching New Ventures

This is a sleeper reference for anyone who insists on running their startup as a professional fast-growth experiment. Kathleen covers all aspects of new venture planning, including how to manage risk and not to over plan. Better than your MBA, if you’ve never run a startup before.

The Basics: The Business of Specialty Foods Textbook

This is both a live course and a textbook produced by the Specialty Food Association. This is literally the highest ROI reference material you can get as you set up your initial P&L, and pricing ladder to the shelf. It will save you lots of headaches and cash flow disasters as a newbie. The course is offered the day before each Fancy Foods show (January and June). $200 for the course and the textbook. $160 for textbook itself, if you’re already an SFA member.

Taking Investor Money

Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson

This is a classic text written for the new founder. It may convince you to avoid institutional investors altogether. But, if you do aim for a Series A, this is a must-read 2-3 years before you think you might raise money. You have to understand how to negotiate the mechanics of a sound deal, even if you actually hire a venture attorney to do battle for you.

Investors Aren’t Your Friends – Article by Gregory Shephard

This short, well-written piece drives home a key fact you must understand if you are going to take other people’s money. They are NOT your friends. One obvious reason not to take your friends’ money, under any circumstances.

Leadership Coaching

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Absence of Trust. Fear of Conflict. Lack of Commitment. Absence of Accountability. Inattention to Results.


If you think your ‘snowflake’ startup will magically avoid these dysfunctions, you’re dead wrong. You need to work even harder as an unstable, small business to function well as you grow quickly.

Inc. Magazine – Traits of Google’s Top Performing Teams

Too many leadership books focus on the hero founder/CEO. This is NOT the secret to high performing teams. Empirical research shows that teams have to display specific social characteristics which reflect the quality of their interactions. You can figure out how you stack up in minutes by asking the five questions in this short article. It’s more insightful than most leadership books out there.

Product Development

Scaling Up

Mark Crowell is one of the leading premium food product development consultants in North America. His comprehensive essay will help you understand what is involved in developing a commercially scalable, premium quality CPG product line, whether it’s a food item or not. You simply need to read this.

Separating the CON Man from the CO man

If you’re about to hire a co-manufacturer for the first time or switch to a new one, then you need to read this book. You need to learn what you don’t know about the legal and procedural intricacies of working with manufacturing facilities that, ultimately, aren’t focused on small brands at all.

Sales & Negotiation

Never Split the Difference

Chris Voss is not only a negotiation expert. He’s a master linguist without any formal training. You absolutely want to learn the simple conversation techniques in his book, because you will need them in every high stakes negotiation your business faces.

To Sell is Human

Many founders struggle with promoting their business confidently. Daniel Pink explores why selling is simply a professional version of human persuasion itself. I promise you will feel less gross promoting your business after reading this.

Consumer Marketing

The One Page Marketing Plan

Allan cuts through the enormous amount of myths around communicating with your fans through media, otherwise commonly referred to as ‘marketing.’ He will focus you on the true fundamentals of marcom: having a clear objective, strong ROI and above all else – avoiding unproductive mass communications that only work with enormous budgets and iconic brands with high awareness.


Ted is one of the world’s leading practitioners of large scale word of mouth marketing. What he has discovered can be applied without his services for small consumer brands. In this book, you’ll learn the basic logic of word-of-mouth and the kinds of storytelling that make it work in ordinary human conversation.

Working Effectively with Agencies

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