Book: The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win
Author: Steven Gary Blank
Review: Perhaps one of the worst edited books I've read, but it's got great content. This book outlines how to develop a business that focuses on the customer. It defines what strategies to use at each stage of a business based on the type of market the business is in. Blank uses business that have failed as warnings to others (reminds me of a great demotivational poster, image lost due to blog update).
My favorite example was Webvan and how it grew too fast, too quickly and spent too much money before proving that they had a product that could support such growth.
This book breaks down the process of building a business into many steps, each with it's own set of deliverables. The process actually reminds me a bit of agile development applied to a business process. Basically, take small bites and iterate until you are ready to move to the next stage. It's difficult to predict where the market might take you so be flexible, preserve capital, and don't jump ahead of the market (spending millions on branding is not always the best use of capital before the product is even available as is pointed out in a couple examples in the book).
What I like most about this book is the focus on the customer and market type. These are very important concepts when starting a business but are often times overlooked, especially by entrepreneurs that have a technical background. If you're starting a business and you want to succeed, you should definitely read this book.
*NOTE: The book reviews on my blog are written for developers considering starting a Micro ISV. The rating (recommended, not recommended, etc) is based on content from that perspective only.