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5 Ways to Validate a Business Idea, Right Now

Don't let your day job or lack of capital stop you from finding and testing a business idea. Here's how.
Last year, I embarked upon a personal challenge to validate a business idea in 30 days. To make it even more difficult, it was a random idea chosen by my readers. They asked me to do it without using my existing website, traffic and business connections and without spending more than 20 hours per week on the project. On top of that, I limited myself to spending no more than $500 validating this idea. The experiment was a success.In just two weeks, I built an email list of 565 subscribers without having an actual website. Then, I reached out to a handful of those subscribers and pre-sold 12 copies of a book that didn't even exist yet, all in less than 30 days. I wrote about the experiment in real-time with in-depth weekly updates, successes, failures and lessons learned along the way, right here in my validation challenge. Today, I want to share with you the five most effect…

Twelve Business Books to Read in 2017


Reading recommendations from the Stanford GSB community.
A reading list of books written or recommended by Stanford Graduate School of Business alumni and faculty:
good book is like food for the soul. When you want to curl up by the fire with a truly great one, look no further than this list furnished by members of the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

If you've got an entrepreneur or two in your life, these might make good holiday gifts, too:
1. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't, by Jim Collins
Collins and his team did a rigorous study of businesses that excelled as compared to those that stayed mediocre. In his words, "Some of the key concepts discerned in the study fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people."
2. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, by Ben Horowitz
Cofounder of VC firm Andreessen Horowitz keeps it real in this practical book that draws heavily on his own experiences in the Valley. It lives up to its description as "wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn't cover."
3. Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the Invention That Launched the Military-Industrial Complex, by Michael Hiltzik
Don't let the title fool you--this book is more entertaining than it seems. Part biography, part adventure story, part history book, it really is, "[t]he epic story of how science went 'big'." 
4. Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior, by Jonah Berger
Peek behind the curtain at the secret and often unexpected factors that affect our decisions. Fortune calls this the "rare business book that's both informative and enough fun to take to the beach."
5. The 10 Laws of Trust: Building the Bonds That Make a Business Great, by Professor Joel C. Peterson
JetBlue chairman Joel Peterson has spent a tremendous amount of time, money, and energy building a culture of trust, and teaches you how to do the same. In his words, "When a company has a reputation for fair dealing, its costs drop: Trust cuts the time spent second-guessing and lawyering."
6. Lead and Disrupt: How to Solve the Innovator's Dilemma, by Professor Charles O'Reilly and Michael Tushman
Blockbuster, Kodak, and RadioShack: all huge companies that ultimately failed. The authors here argue that to be truly resilient, companies must develop what they call ambidexterity--the ability to win new domains while staying true to your core competencies.
7. Clay Water Brick: Finding Inspiration from Entrepreneurs Who Do the Most with the Least, by Jessica Jackley (MBA '07)
Jackley has spent years learning from the poorest of the poor. Here, she outlines the most remarkable lessons drawn from the most unexpected of places. As she puts it, "The greatest entrepreneurs succeed not because of what they possess but because of what they are determined to do."
8. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, by Adam Grant
This brilliant and insightful tome pulls from established research studies as much as it does from compelling stories from sports, business, politics, entertainment, and more. Uplifting and entertaining, it's no wonder it became a #1 New York Times bestseller.
9. The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu, by Dan Jurafsky
A gorgeous mashup of culture, language, history, and different cuisines, this engaging and informative book takes you on a fascinating journey through time, linking linguistics with gastronomy. Anyone into both good words and good food will adore it.
10. The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It, by David Weil
Weil, former Wage and Hour Administrator in the U.S. Department of Labor and current professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, sheds light on the dismaying trend of corporations eroding pay and basic safety conditions of workers--and what can be done about it. 
11. Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks, by Ben Goldacre
Goldacre, known for exposing biased research studies, "quack" doctors, and bogus credentialing programs, teaches you the practical skills you need to recognize bad scientific studies yourself ... in a fun and engaging way.
12. All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis, by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera
Ever wondered exactly what happened, when, to lead up to the biggest crash of our modern times? McLean and Nocera, two of America's most recognized business journalists, give a comprehensive and fascinating outline of just that.
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"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them." Lemony Snicket

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