As the founder of a social enterprise called LSTN Headphones, I often look to companies and entrepreneurs I admire for advice on navigating our growing business while continuing our mission to do well while doing good. Below are a few of the books I’ve found to help guide our startup through new challenges and inspire the team to work harder to make our company succeed.
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- Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard: Yvon Chouinard is in many ways the original social entrepreneur, starting Patagonia in 1973 and 1% For the Planet in 2002. Patagonia brings in over $500 million annually and has donated millions of dollars to many environmental causes. In this incredible book, Yvon details his journeys around the world looking for inspiration for Patagonia. He explains how he incorporated giving into his business model from the very beginning.
- Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie: Blake is the founder of TOMS, the famed leader of the “one for one” movement — a trend that has expanded to many industries and products worldwide. Start Something started with a small, humble idea in 2006 that grew out of his apartment. He now gives away 10+ million pairs of shoes to children in need. An easy and inspiring read, the book teaches that it really is possible to marry fun, profit and social good.
- Get Big Fast and Do More Good by Ido Leffler and Lance Kalish: Get Big Fast is about how two young entrepreneurs took a natural beauty brand called Yes to Carrots from a dream to the reality of 28,000 retailers in 25 countries in less than five years. Ido and Lance launched the Yes To Seed Fund with a mission to plant micro farms within schools in Africa to help supplement students’ meals with nutritional fruits and vegetables. The program plans to feed 100,000 students a day by the end of 2014.
- Screw Business as Usual by Richard Branson: Founder of the Virgin Group, everyone knows Richard Branson as one of the most incredible, famous and admired entrepreneurs out there. Screw Business as Usual is his take on bringing more meaning into your life while changing the world. Branson provides a treasure trove of real-life examples and how-to’s from his own foundation. He also sites companies as varied as Method and General Electric, which have used their businesses to make the world a better place.
- Mission in a Bottle by Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff: Mission is the story of Honest Tea’s ascent from small local business to where it is today. One hundred thousand retailers are currently selling it, and it’s being purchased by Coca-Cola. Seth and Barry detail their quest to become a big beverage company that is organic, healthy, authentic and yes — honest. This book is particularly unique as the layout is in comic book form. While many business books can come off as dry and inaccessible, this one could be just as entertaining to a seasoned entrepreneur as a teenager interested in business.
What other books would you add to this list?
Bridget Hilton is founder of LSTN Headphones, a music start-up based in Hollywood, CA that makes high quality wooden headphones and funds hearing restoration programs globally. To learn more, watch: http://youtu.be/WTBTkldU6M4
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.