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Scaling is one of the hardest things to do in SaaS. I've found 17 books with insightful strategies for scaling startups and putting you on the path to profitability. Dive in — these books could be your key to business breakthroughs.

17 Best Books on Scaling a Business

After combing through dozens of books on scaling a business, I've selected 17 titles perfect for addressing your scaling challenges.

  1. Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It...and Why the Rest Don't by Verne Harnish
  2. Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh
  3. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters
  4. The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
  5. Teamwork: How to Build a High-Performance Team by Natalie Dawson
  6. Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares
  7. High Growth Handbook: Scaling Startups from 10 to 10,000 People by Elad Gil
  8. Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less by Robert I. Sutton and Huggy Rao
  9. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't by Jim Collins
  10. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
  11. Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson
  12. The Startup Playbook: Secrets of the Fastest-Growing Startups from Their Founding Entrepreneurs by David Kidder
  13. Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
  14. She Made It: The Toolkit for Female Founders in the Digital Age by Angelica Malin
  15. Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World's Greatest Companies by Jim Stengel
  16. Company Of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis
  17. Hacking Growth: How Today's Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown

Overviews Of The 17 Best Books on Scaling a Business

Here’s a quick summary of each book, what you’ll learn, and why you should read it, plus a quote I like from the book. I added the author’s LinkedIn and other places to connect with them online.

1. Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It...and Why the Rest Don't by Verne Harnish

Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It...and Why the Rest Don't book on scaling a business

Summary:

Scaling Up offers readers a comprehensive guide to building an industry-dominating business. It emphasizes four major areas: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash. Harnish uses practical tools and techniques to help leaders scale up their businesses smoothly.

What You'll Learn:

The importance of having the right people in the right positions, strategic development for long-term company growth, efficient execution techniques to ensure results, and cash management to fuel the scaling process.

Why You Should Read It:

This book is the roadmap for those aiming to grow their companies while avoiding common pitfalls. It combines theoretical insights with actionable tools.

Quote From The Book:

"Some entrepreneurs start their companies without a clear vision of what they want to accomplish. Others have a vision, but they fail to integrate it with the steps necessary to achieve it."

About The Author:

Verne Harnish is a renowned speaker and consultant on scaling companies. Discover more about him and his contributions on LinkedIn, Twitter, and his personal website.

2. Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh

Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies book on scaling a business

Summary:

Blitzscaling presents the tactics and strategies businesses can use to scale rapidly in uncertain environments. The authors explore the reasons some startups grow to dominate global markets while others falter.

What You'll Learn:

The science and art of rapid business growth, different stages of blitzscaling and when to apply each, the challenges of scaling and how to navigate them, and real-world examples of companies that have successfully blitzscaled.

Why You Should Read It:

For any entrepreneur or leader looking to understand and implement rapid scaling, this book provides invaluable lessons drawn from successful companies.

Quote From The Book:

"The only way to predict the future is to create it yourself."

About The Author:

Reid Hoffman is a co-founder of LinkedIn and an influential tech investor, while Chris Yeh is an entrepreneur, writer, and mentor. Engage with them on LinkedIn and Twitter for Reid, and LinkedIn, Twitter, and personal website for Chris.

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3. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future book on scaling a business

Summary:

In Zero to One, Thiel shares unconventional wisdom on startup innovation. The book argues that the most significant innovations come from unique, non-replicable ideas and emphasizes the importance of creating something new rather than iterating on existing concepts.

What You'll Learn:

How to move from zero to creating something fundamentally new, the importance of monopolies in business, the philosophy behind building successful startups, and the difference between vertical and horizontal progress.

Why You Should Read It:

This book challenges conventional business wisdom and provides a fresh perspective on innovation, making it a must-read for forward-thinking entrepreneurs.

Quote From The Book:

"Every moment in business happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system."

About The Author:

Peter Thiel is co-founder of PayPal and a leading figure in the tech industry, while Blake Masters is COO at Thiel Capital and co-author of "Zero to One." Dive into their insights and career paths on LinkedIn and Twitter for Peter, and Twitter for Blake.

4. The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses book on scaling a business

Summary:

The Lean Startup introduces a groundbreaking methodology that emphasizes adaptability and efficiency. Ries proposes that startups should use a systematic, scientific approach to creating and managing innovative products.

What You'll Learn:

The concept of "Build-Measure-Learn" for rapid prototype testing, ways to adapt and adjust before spending excessive funds, and how to determine when to persevere and when to pivot.

Why You Should Read It:

This book offers a hands-on guide to ensure the efficiency of startups in an age where companies have to innovate constantly.

Quote From The Book:

"Startup success can be engineered by following the process, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught."

About The Author:

Eric Ries is an entrepreneur and author recognized for pioneering the Lean Startup movement. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

5. Teamwork: How to Build a High-Performance Team by Natalie Dawson

Teamwork: How to Build a High-Performance Team book on scaling a business

Summary:

In Teamwork, Dawson emphasizes the importance of cohesive teams in achieving organizational success. The book breaks down the dynamics of team building and effective leadership.

What You'll Learn:

Steps to build a high-functioning team, strategies for nurturing trust and collaboration among members, and ways to overcome challenges teams often face.

Why You Should Read It:

For leaders and managers, understanding team dynamics is crucial. This book offers actionable insights to build and maintain strong teams.

Quote From The Book:

"A team is not a group of people that work together. A team is a group of people that trust each other."

About The Author:

Natalie Dawson is a leadership consultant and expert on team dynamics. Engage with her insights on LinkedIn.

6. Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth book on scaling a business

Summary:

Traction presents an outline for startups to attain customer growth. Weinberg and Mares share nineteen channels to explore for potential traction, advising startups to choose the best ones for their unique situations.

What You'll Learn:

The Bullseye Framework for determining the best growth tactic, a deep dive into each of the nineteen traction channels, and strategies for long-term growth sustainability.

Why You Should Read It:

Startups often struggle to find the right audience and grow. "Traction" provides a roadmap to overcome this challenge and achieve explosive growth.

Quote From The Book:

"Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don't have are enough customers."

About The Author:

Gabriel Weinberg is the founder of DuckDuckGo, and Justin Mares is an entrepreneur and author. Discover more about Gabriel on LinkedIn and Twitter. Connect with Justin Mares on LinkedIn and Twitter.

7. High Growth Handbook: Scaling Startups from 10 to 10,000 People by Elad Gil

High Growth Handbook: Scaling Startups from 10 to 10,000 People book on scaling a business

Summary:

High Growth Handbook is a pivotal resource for navigating the challenges of rapidly growing startups. Gil offers advice on topics like fundraising, managing hyper-growth, and evolving company roles.

What You'll Learn:

Strategies for fundraising at various stages, handling mergers and acquisitions, navigating the complexities of large teams, and scaling company culture.

Why You Should Read It:

If you're navigating the complexities of a rapidly scaling startup, this book offers invaluable guidance from someone who's been through it.

Quote From The Book:

"Most mistakes that startups make are errors of omission rather than errors of commission."

About The Author:

Elad Gil is a serial entrepreneur, operating executive, and investor or advisor to private companies including Airbnb, Coinbase, and Stripe. You can find more about him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

8. Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less by Robert I. Sutton and Huggy Rao

Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less book on scaling a business

Summary:

Scaling Up Excellence delves into the intricacies of spreading constructive organizational habits and mindsets and scaling further without compromising on the established standards of excellence.

What You'll Learn:

Key principles for scaling up effectively, understanding "Catholicism" versus "Buddhism" in organizational growth, and ways to eliminate destructive beliefs and behaviors to pave the way for innovation.

Why You Should Read It:

This book offers a comprehensive guide to scaling your organization's best practices, beliefs, and behaviors.

Quote From The Book:

"Scaling challenges nearly always come down to the same problem: the difficulty of spreading something good from those who have it to those that do not, or from where it resides to where it is absent."

About The Author:

Robert I. Sutton is a Professor at Stanford and author of several books. Dive into his insights on LinkedIn, Twitter, and his personal website. Huggy Rao is also a Professor at Stanford, known for his research on organizational design. Connect with him on Stanford Profile.

9. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't by Jim Collins

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't book on scaling a business

Summary:

Good to Great deciphers the puzzle of how companies transition from being good companies to great ones, and why most fail at this transition.

What You'll Learn:

The seven characteristics of companies that went from good to great, the role of leadership in driving such transformations, and why having the right people is pivotal to the transition.

Why You Should Read It:

Jim Collins provides a well-researched blueprint for business leaders aiming to achieve sustained greatness.

Quote From The Book:

"Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great."

About The Author:

Jim Collins is a researcher, author, and lecturer on the subject of company sustainability and growth. Engage with his work on Twitter and his personal website.

10. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers book on scaling a business

Summary:

In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Horowitz candidly shares the tough decisions and lonely times he faced as a startup founder, offering advice on a variety of challenges that leaders face as they try to build a revolutionary company.

What You'll Learn:

How to navigate the most challenging and soul-wrenching aspects of business, from firing friends to poaching competitors, handling dire situations, and more.

Why You Should Read It:

Horowitz's book stands out for its realism and wisdom on the inherent challenges in startup leadership and management.

Quote From The Book:

"Every time you make the hard, correct decision you become a bit more courageous, and every time you make the easy, wrong decision you become a bit more cowardly."

About The Author:

Ben Horowitz is a co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, a private venture capital firm. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

11. Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson

Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist book on scaling a business

Summary:

Venture Deals demystify the venture capital funding process, breaking down the intricacies of term sheets, negotiations, and the finer points of venture financing.

What You'll Learn:

The essentials of venture capital deals, the complexities behind term sheets, and how to effectively negotiate and understand the financial landscape of a startup.

Why You Should Read It:

This book is a must-read for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and lawyers wanting a clear-eyed view of the inner workings of venture deals.

Quote From The Book:

"Understanding the deal, no matter what side of the table you’re on, is critical to the success of that deal."

About The Author:

Brad Feld is a co-founder of Foundry Group, a venture capital firm. Connect with Brad on LinkedIn, Twitter, and his personal blog. Jason Mendelson is also a co-founder of Foundry Group. Engage with Jason on LinkedIn and Twitter.

12. The Startup Playbook: Secrets of the Fastest-Growing Startups from Their Founding Entrepreneurs by David Kidder

The Startup Playbook: Secrets of the Fastest-Growing Startups from Their Founding Entrepreneurs book on scaling a business

Summary:

Kidder's The Startup Playbook offers a compilation of personal interviews and wisdom from some of the most successful startup founders. It presents their strategies, failures, and the lessons they've learned.

What You'll Learn:

Key strategies, philosophies, and lessons directly from successful founders, understanding different business models, and recognizing patterns of startup success.

Why You Should Read It:

The book provides first-hand insights and wisdom, making it an invaluable resource for any entrepreneur.

Quote From The Book:

"Your culture is your brand. It's a platform that will either amplify your strategy or kill it."

About The Author:

David Kidder is an entrepreneur and author with a focus on startups. Dive into his insights on LinkedIn, Twitter, and his personal website.

13. Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Rework book on scaling a business

Summary:

Rework challenges traditional business ideals and practices, proposing a simpler, more focused approach. It provides fresh perspectives on strategies that feel counterintuitive, yet lead to more efficient and meaningful work.

What You'll Learn:

New ways of thinking about work, business, and productivity. The book encourages embracing constraints, getting more done with less, and focusing on results rather than the traditional hustle.

Why You Should Read It:

It's a handbook for anyone who's ever thought, "There must be a better way to do this."

Quote From The Book:

"Workaholics aren't heroes. They don't save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is home because she figured out a faster way."

About The Author:

Jason Fried is the co-founder & CEO at Basecamp. Engage with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and his personal blog. David Heinemeier Hansson is a creator of Ruby on Rails and a partner at Basecamp. Connect with David on LinkedIn, Twitter, and his personal website.

14. She Made It: The Toolkit for Female Founders in the Digital Age by Angelica Malin

She Made It: The Toolkit for Female Founders in the Digital Age book on scaling a business

Summary:

She Made It is an empowering guide for the modern-day female entrepreneur. The book provides tools, advice, and insights from women who've made it in the digital world.

What You'll Learn:

How to launch a digital startup, make it grow, and ensure it thrives. The book offers a blend of practical advice and inspirational stories from female leaders.

Why You Should Read It:

For any woman looking to make a mark in the digital realm, this book is a treasure trove of insights and encouragement.

Quote From The Book:

"Being a woman in the digital world isn't a setback; it's your superpower."

About The Author:

Angelica Malin is an entrepreneur, podcast host, and editor-in-chief of About Time Magazine. Dive deeper into her work on LinkedIn, Twitter, and her personal website.

15. Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World's Greatest Companies by Jim Stengel

Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World's Greatest Companies book on scaling a business

Summary:

In Grow, Stengel highlights that behind every extraordinary company is a clear set of ideals that drive growth and profit. He reveals how companies like P&G, Jack Daniel's, and Zappos achieve enduring success.

What You'll Learn:

The correlation between brand ideals and business performance, and the five fields of fundamental human values that all humans are drawn to.

Why You Should Read It:

For businesses that want to thrive in the long run, understanding the power of ideals is key.

Quote From The Book:

"Ideal-driven companies will be tomorrow's growth leaders."

About The Author:

Jim Stengel is a renowned business consultant, former Global Marketing Officer of Procter & Gamble, and president of The Jim Stengel Company. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and his personal website.

16. Company Of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis

Company Of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business book on scaling a business

Summary:

Company Of One delves into the idea that scaling up isn't always the most profitable or satisfying move for businesses. Jarvis presents a compelling argument for why staying small and avoiding unnecessary growth can be beneficial.

What You'll Learn:

The advantages of remaining a lean, nimble business, strategies for building a successful business that fits your desired lifestyle, and how to prioritize sustainability over rapid expansion.

Why You Should Read It:

For entrepreneurs who seek to define success on their own terms, this book offers an alternative perspective on modern business growth.

Quote From The Book:

"Your goal isn’t to build a company; it’s to have better work and a better life."

About The Author:

Paul Jarvis is a designer, writer, and creator of online courses. Dive deeper into his works on his Amazon portfolio.

17. Hacking Growth: How Today's Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown

Hacking Growth: How Today's Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success book on scaling a business

Summary:

Hacking Growth is a guide to the growth hacking methodology, which involves cross-functional teams and rapid-tempo testing and iteration. Ellis and Brown outline how companies such as LinkedIn, Airbnb, and Dropbox use growth hacking techniques to grow faster and smarter.

What You'll Learn:

The mechanics of the growth hacking process, techniques for driving user acquisition, engagement, and virality, and strategies employed by the fastest-growing companies.

Why You Should Read It:

The book is a comprehensive guide for any business or startup looking to implement growth hacking strategies for exponential growth.

Quote From The Book:

"The end goal of every growth hacker is to build a self-perpetuating marketing machine that reaches millions by itself."

About The Author:

Sean Ellis is the CEO of GrowthHackers and is credited for coining the term "growth hacking." Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and his personal website. Morgan Brown is a growth and marketing expert with a wealth of experience in the field. Engage with Morgan on LinkedIn, Twitter, and his personal website.

Which Books on Scaling a Business Do You Recommend?

I'm always on the lookout for insightful additions. If there are any books on scaling a business that you believe should have made the list, please share your recommendations. Your input will help enrich this collection for fellow readers.

By Phil Gray

Philip Gray is the COO of Black and White Zebra and Founding Editor of The RevOps Team. A business renaissance man with his hands in many departmental pies, he is an advocate of centralized data management, holistic planning, and process automation. It's this love for data and all things revenue operations landed him the role as resident big brain for The RevOps Team.

With 10+ years of experience in leadership and operations in industries that include biotechnology, healthcare, logistics, and SaaS, he applies a considerable broad scope of experience in business that lets him see the big picture. An unapologetic buzzword apologist, you can often find him double clicking, drilling down, and unpacking all the things.