August 9, 2018

Which book is the indie hacker equivalent to From Zero To One?

Hi! Would you mind answering this thread with the following template:

Book is to Bootstrapped businesses/indie hackers what From Zero To One is to venture capital backed startups, because...


  1. 23

    Start Small, Stay Small by Rob Walling:

    1. 5

      This needs all the upvotes! 馃憤

      Here are the notes from Derek Sivers:

    2. 2

      This is by far the best I've ever read. Lots of real, concrete advice and very little, if any, handwaving as so many 'business' books have.

    3. 1

      I just bought the audiobook of this book and wow!!! Couldn't put it down once I started.

      I've read almost every book recommended by other indiehackers and this one is by far the best! Rob Walling is my hero. If you want to read/listen to something with actual actionable insight where every word is precious this the book. I thank Benajmin for this recommendation.

    4. 1

      That's a good book 馃専

    1. 2

      I am always a bit skeptical when a book isn't on Amazon. It means it's not subject to reviews, you won't get updates... and it's more of a hassle to manage.

    2. 1

      Does he have a audiobook?

      1. 2

        As far as I know, he does not; but, he does have a presentation on his YouTube channel summarizing the main points of his book that you can listen to: 馃帀

    3. 1

      Great book :)

    4. 1

      Yep. I will recommend it as well.

    5. 1

      MakeBook for sure ^^ couldn't recommend it more

  2. 6

    Getting Real by 37Signals. Just read it and very concise and practical

  3. 6

    A lot of small business books have offered me insights that have changed my approach to co-running IH. But one stands apart from the rest: The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber.

  4. 6

    A few books that I see relevant for IH are:

    • The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau (how to turn your skills into a business)

    • The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman (some business fundamentals)

    • The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick (how to talk to your customers to really learn from them)

    • The Lean Startup by Eric Ries (how to validate ideas with MVPs and measure results)

    • The One Thing by Gary Keller (the importance of focus)

    • The 4-hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss (automation and optimization)

    And two that I haven't read yet, but have been recently recommended to me:

    • The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business by Elaine Pofeldt

    • Build a Business, Not a Job by David Finkel


    1. 2

      Lean startup felt kind of vague and handwavy to me, somehow. I mean, the concepts are good, but... I didn't get any takeaways from it that felt really useful.

      1. 2

        I'm not a fan of Lean Startup either. Probably because it's all so common knowledge too (even by the time it came out). I really like Running Lean by Ash Maurya, ("sequel" to Lean Startup) as it's much more practical and has actual things you can do / follow in it.

      2. 2

        If you want a more practical take on customer discovery, I might put forward my book Talking to Humans, which is used in a lot of accelerators. I'm working on finishing the sequel, which is on experiments, now.

    2. 1

      +1 for the Personal MBA

  5. 3

    Maybe 鈥渦nscripted鈥 by mj demarco

    1. 2

      His book The millionaire fastlane is also馃憣

      1. 1

        It's kind of repetitive and rah-rah, but you can just read the bullet points at the end of each chapter.

  6. 3

    I think "The Lean Startup" comes close, because it is all about bootstrapping a business and the parts about vanity metrics and nailing the growth engine remind me of how Zero To One describes different kinds of sales channels and when they are appropriate. It is as generic as Zero To One, so you can absord the knowledge and do your thing rather than go for a step-by-step approach that might not be applicable to your situation.

  7. 2

    Derek Sivers very own book is also very good on this perspective. Read it a while ago.

    1. 1

      Thanks, did not know this existed. Now bought.

  8. 2

    Wow, didn't expect so many answers, thank you!

  9. 2

    I would say the book "Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days" by Chris Guillebeau.

    Even though some of the tasks are totally unrealistic for only 1 day :P

  10. 2

    For B2B SaaS I'd say Lean B2B for sure. That book is 100% practical.

  11. 1

    I reckon the answer depends on what you are hoping to do once you've read the book.

    Purely to answer your original question, I'd second Start Small, Stay Small by Rob Walling

    Some other books in a similar vein are:

    • 4 hour work week - Tim Ferris

    • 7 Day Startup - Dan Norris

    • The $100 Dollar Startup - Chris Guillebeau

    • The Small Business Life Cycle - Charlie Gilkey

    • Launch Tomorrow - Luke Szyrmer

    Outside of that list, all the books under the Lean Startup series are great for how to make meaningful progress in building something valuable, especially Running Lean by Ash Maurya.

    If there was only one book that I would recommend that more people involved product development would read, it would be Badass by Kathy Sierra (paperback or hardback, skip the kindle version).

    The book (or other thing) that I really need is the one that gets me to actually launch. The fact that I have read so many of these books and am still an employee makes me think that finding one more book on the topic is not going to make much difference.

  12. 1

    Can we talk about Zero to One? I didn鈥檛 get why it was a big deal. Or maybe I disagreed with the hypothesis.

    1. 3

      I also found that I disagreed with some of it, but nonetheless found it very thought provoking and well argued.

      Maybe if your goal is to create colossally impactful businesses where you become the defacto solution for a given market then this book is on point.

      If your goal is to support yourself and your family with a business you created then it's not going to be very useful (but still interesting).