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The best source of information about startups is probably not business books, but histories of particular startups and industries. The most famous is Tracy Kidder’s Soul of a New Machine, but there are many good books of this type. I particularly liked Sorensen’s My Forty Years with Ford.
The one book we encourage startup founders to read is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s critically important for anyone in the business. Try to get a used copy printed before the 1960s; after Carnegie died, the book continued to be “updated” by a committee, and the changes were not for the better. I’d also recommend Franklin’s Autobiography.
Google is a good example. Everyone needs Web search, and the founders probably had something that significantly improved their own ability to find stuff online within the first couple months. And once something starts to work (a) it’s enormously encouraging, and (b) it’s much clearer what direction to take it in.
This conversation needs to be held early, and put into writing. Once you’ve had this hard conversation, you can focus on the task at hand: starting a company.
When determining whether to go full-time, it’s a personal decision that will involve a fair to high amount of risk. How confident are you in your business? How hard are you willing to work? How big of an appetite for risk do you have? What exactly is that risk? Do you have a family to support? If you start this business, how much runway do you have to start making revenue?
We strongly recommend considering all the above questions. In addition, take some time to create an honest assessment of your “worst-case scenario.” If things completely tank, where are you now? Is this worst-case that bad? Many founders will find that the pain of wondering, “What if?” is more severe than their potential worst-case scenario.
That said, investors also recognize that the best opportunity for the business to succeed and for them to make a return on investment, you need to be committed to the business. That means you do need to pay yourself enough money to survive and work on the business without taking on the distraction of other jobs and responsibilities.