CEOs have a lot of responsibility.
Not only do they have to make sure their company is profitable. They must also be competent in a variety of other areas, from marketing to product development.
To stay on top of all business aspects, they must read a lot of books.
If you're looking for some recommendations, keep reading. In this post, we'll list eleven business strategy books that any SaaS CEO should read in 2022.
Grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and read on.
1. Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
Blue Ocean Strategy, published in 2005, is a business book about creating uncontested market spaces.
It starts by describing the core dilemma of strategy: when a company competes in crowded markets, it's difficult to stand out.
Then, it explains how you can create new market spaces through six paths: alternative industries, strategic groups, buyer groups, complementary offerings, functional-emotional orientation, and timeless opportunities.
Blue Ocean Strategy presents a lot of counterintuitive insights. For example, the authors contend that value innovation is more important than technology or differentiation.
Whether you're looking to spur growth or open new markets, Blue Ocean Strategy is a fantastic resource.
Key takeaway: Keep your finger on the pulse of market changes. Then, create a new market space that's uncontested and ripe for growth.
2. Principles by Ray Dalio
Ray Dalio is an American hedge fund manager and philanthropist. He made his name through Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund.
In 2017, he published Principles, a business book about decision-making and management. It's based on the firm's operating system, which has guided Bridgewater's success for 43 years.
Like many business books, Principles outlines the distinction between “Direction” and “Purpose.”
Direction is how most companies define their goals. However, most don't know their true purpose. Making the distinction helps you determine where to invest, develop a business strategy, and build a strong corporate culture.
Another important concept in Principles is radical open-mindedness. Dalio believes that anyone can be right or wrong, so it's important to have a growth mindset.
He also advocates for radical transparency and independent thinking in the workplace.
If you're looking for a good read with real-world examples and useful advice, Principles is a great choice.
Key takeaway: Take a step back and clarify your business strategy. Then, lead with a clear purpose to stay on track as you grow.
3. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
To be fair, Essentialism isn't a business strategy book, per se. However, it has practical advice that every SaaS CEO should implement in their company.
In Essentialism, Greg McKeown suggests that people can achieve more by doing less. He argues that you should focus on the essentials, not the trivialities.
He also contends that you can maximize your time by cutting out things that don't contribute to your work.
An important lesson from the book is that people judge you by what you do, not what you say. As a result, it's critical to prioritize your activities and maximize every minute of your work (and life).
Key takeaway: To accomplish more, focus on the essentials and ignore trivialities. You'll be faster, more efficient, and more successful.
4. The Outsiders by William N. Thorndike
The Outsiders is a business book about eight CEOs whose companies outperformed the market by 10x. It's based on an eight-year study of CEOs who had above-average returns in the stock market.
The book uses academic research to explain why these CEOs, including Tom Murphy of Capital Cities and John Malone of TCI, had an advantage over their rivals.
Specifically, The Outsiders explains how these leaders thought about capital allocation. Many of the CEOs were focused on buying undervalued companies, paying low prices for assets, and leveraging their expertise to generate higher returns.
The Outsiders challenge the status quo and conventional wisdom about what makes companies successful. It's a useful book for SaaS CEOs who want to grow their businesses and make sound investments.
Key takeaway: Don't just focus on growing your business. Dig deeper into how you can maximize your impact with capital allocation.
5. Built to Last by James Collins and Jerry Porras
Built to Last focuses on why some companies achieve and sustain greatness. The authors studied 18 exceptional organizations, including Disney and GE, to determine what made them successful.
Collins and Porras argue that visionary companies are built around a core ideology. They encourage leaders to remember their company's identity and aim to develop a distinctive character.
The book also recommends that leaders establish core values, communicate them effectively, and make them part of the company's culture.
Built to Last is a great read for SaaS CEOs looking for new ways to lead and grow their businesses.
Even though it's 20 years old, Built to Last remains relevant today for its enduring lessons on how to build successful companies.
Key takeaway: Develop a distinct vision for your company. Then, establish core values to maintain the right culture and sustain growth.
6. The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
Everyone knows their employees are the backbone of their business. The Advantage discusses how effective management can lead to better performance.
In the book, Patrick Lencioni explains how you can build a cohesive team through trust-based relationships. He argues that your company culture should be built around vulnerability, empathy, and understanding.
As Lencioni says in his TED talk, the key to creating the perfect team is to “get the right people doing the right things.”
The Advantage offers valuable insight for entrepreneurs who want their employees to have a shared vision and purpose.
Key takeaway: Great teams are made up of engaged employees who trust one another. You can build your company's culture by fostering vulnerability and understanding.
7. Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull
Creativity, Inc is a book about management and leadership in creative companies. The author, Ed Catmull, was the president of Pixar Animation Studios.
Catmull explains how he built a culture of creativity and continually innovated. He discusses how Pixar coped with change and created unique movies like Toy Story, Up, and Inside Out.
Creativity, Inc is a great read for SaaS CEOs who want to build their company's culture and innovate. It's also great to inspire and motivate your employees.
Key takeaway: Creativity and innovation are necessary to succeed in business. Focus on building a company culture that values creativity and fosters continuous innovation.
8. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
Eric Ries' book became a global bestseller for good reason. It explains how entrepreneurs and startups can validate ideas and develop new products.
The Lean Startup provides a scientific approach for entrepreneurs to create sustainable businesses. It's useful for SaaS CEOs who want to test and measure their strategies.
For example, Ries' “Build-Measure-Learn” feedback loop is a simple process for validating your company's business model and iterating on what works.
Ries' “PIVOT” framework can help you change the focus of your business when it's not working out.
The Lean Startup is a must-read for any SaaS CEO looking to validate ideas and iterate on their business models.
Key takeaway: Build a strong business model by identifying problems and testing your ideas. Then, iterate on what works to develop a sustainable business.
9. Zero to One by Peter Thiel
Peter Thiel is a legend in the startup world, having founded PayPal and Palantir. In his book, Zero to One, he explains how entrepreneurs can create innovative and disruptive businesses.
Thiel argues that entrepreneurs and startups should focus on creating “new things,” not competing in crowded and saturated industries. He explains how startups can succeed by “changing the world” and having a big vision for their business.
Zero to One provides valuable insight for any SaaS CEO looking to develop innovative products and come up with disruptive business models.
Key takeaway:Successful entrepreneurs should focus on creating a unique product and disrupting an industry. Stay away from saturated markets and aim for a world-changing vision.
10. Blockchain Revolution by Don Tapscott
The blockchain is the technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether. In his book, Don Tapscott explains why blockchain is a revolutionary technology.
Tapscott describes how the blockchain will revolutionize the world by leading to decentralization, transparency, and trust.
The blockchain is a hot topic in the startup world because it creates an immutable record of transactions that can be trusted by all parties.
Blockchain Revolution is a great read for any SaaS CEO who wants to understand the next big thing in technology. It's also helpful to be prepared for the future.
Key takeaway: The blockchain will lead to decentralization, transparency, and trust. Prepare your business by understanding how the blockchain works and how you can implement its benefits.
11. The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank
We can't finish our list without mentioning one of the most influential books in the startup world. The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank is a reference for how startups should develop their business model.
Blank discusses the need for entrepreneurs to develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and verify their ideas before building a business.
Don't be fooled by the book's focus on startups. The Four Steps to the Epiphany is a great read for any SaaS CEO looking to develop their company's business model.
For example, Blank discusses how customer development and early adopters will help you build a product people really want.
Blank also advises on how to develop your company's strategy and market differentiators, which are key for any business.
The Four Steps to the Epiphany provides great insight to develop a strong business model from the beginning.
Key takeaway: Validate your ideas through an MVP before building a sustainable company. Don't spend too much time developing features that won't resonate with your customers.
Stay Ahead of the Curve
The world of software is changing fast. New, innovative tools are disrupting established businesses and creating new opportunities.
If you're a SaaS CEO looking to get ahead of the curve, then you should read these books.
Some of them are relatively new. Others are classics that remain relevant years after they were written.
Read them to get the most out of your business and prepare for what's ahead.