Idea generation and entrepreneurship books review

EvilJoy reviews the selection of books for an aspiring entrepreneur. The final score is subjectively composed of how well the book covers the topic of idea generation, 10 would be an absolute brilliance.

We aim to cover books that focus on start-ups and entrepreneurship with an increased interest on the ones with idea generation chapters.
1. John Williams “Screw Work Let’s Play
One of the first bold and provocative books we had. Yet it is not very easy to pick it up on a shelf. It can be regarded as a self-help book, or most probably just ignored for its slogan. Friends call it either ‘blank’ or ‘controversial’, bland for the first ones and too daring for the latter. Yet it is simple and very approachable. There are some useful exercises and straightforward guides. John explains that the idea is simply within you and your hobbies.
9 for the daring, easy to read but slightly provocative thought.
2. Alexander Osterwalder “Business model generation
Allegedly it was a thesis at first. It became a collaboration within a research. It is a magnificent work of how people can actually structure business models, how they generate and develop them. It is truly logical, structural and helpful (especially for the very creative and holistic types). You can use the framework to define your business model or use it to develop your sketch further.
8 for the structure and business acumen, minus very abstract concepts. Useful.
3. Hugh Macleod “Evil plans
High is not an academic or a writer. He is an artist who produced thousands of miniatures depicting comical business situations. The pictures were at the back of the business cards. That was a creative way how Hugh interpreted his advertising agency career and how he actually persevered to continue with the drawings. couldn’t refuse to check out the “Evil Plans” book. Random thoughts, random objects. You create an anticipation for a change. A change would mean you come up with an idea.  
7 if you like quirky images, you can also buy Ignore Everybody.
4. Steven Johnson “Where good ideas come from
Most probably the best book on social networks, creativity flows and idea generation you can get now. It doesn’t focus on idea generation as such, but it discusses the grounds for it to happen - how important it is to be connected, so the ideas can merge, spillover and create something beautiful in the environment of free sharing, some external noise and collaboration. It starts a bit too academic and scientific, but read on, it is a very thoughtful piece of work.
8 as it is not really a tool to generate ideas, but it is a brilliant work on where they come from.
5. Gavin Ambrose “Design Thinking
This is not a classic business book you would expect from the topic, yet if you read between the lines you notice how design thinking is applied to structuring your business, planning and prototyping. Key elements of the book can be easily applied to business planning and designing a business model. Creative and makes you think about parallels.
6 for the thought, lower score for a non-necessity factor.
6. edited by David Lester “Start your own business
It is a typical example of a simple to follow guide which shows and explains all basic processes and as they say ‘all you need to know to start your own business’. One thing it really doesn’t cover is to guide you how to get that idea. This is a common problem with the books on startups.
6 for a very good guide on start-ups lacking idea generation chapter. Buy it when your idea is ready.
7. Cheryl Rickman “The digital business start-up workbook
This one is a classic easy-to-read ‘how to’ material for the ones who already have an idea to launch an online business, but not too sure what to do, or better say what is there not to forget about. In our opinion very much of a common sense book, not really telling anything new, but very easily digestible.
2 for not so much of a value, but just common sense checklists.
8. Williams “Business start-up 20xx” (FT)
This is a classic one, edited and reprinted every year, we applaud Financial Times for making it possible. It is boring, very detailed piece of work which mainly focuses on legal structures, finance and accounting - all those necessary things that you would do or outsource when you establish your business entity.
6 as it is not relevant for idea generation, but a very thorough work on legal, financial and accounting aspects of your new business. Buy it when you are ready to launch.
9. Dragons’ Den “Start your own business”, “Grow your business”
This BBC show’s hype created a demand for more common-sense style books, which are full of advice, clever written article on ‘where you should focus your attention’. It is a satisfying read, yet think of it as non-fiction series which would give you some insights, just not too focused on anything in particular. Good easy read for motivation as well.
4 as it is really middle of the road. We love the show though!
10. Stefan Mumaw “Creative Bootcamp”
You would probably not pick up that book as the title is too cheesy and the cover is khaki, yet it is very relevant exactly for the idea generation process. It focuses on boosting your creativity in general, gives advice, explains some exercises that you can do in order to generate more ideas. It is very generic, but you can use this nicely if you shift your thinking from just creativity to new business ideas and target those exercises precisely for the new business ideas.
8, surprisingly
11. Edward De Bono “How to have creative ideas”
Classic work, most probably very useful for beginners in advertising industry as it focuses on generating a lot of creative ideas, again, not necessarily in business, but you can simply shift your thinking into using the tools for your new business idea generation. His random word, multiple connections and problem solving exercises are basic, but very useful to get your creative juices flowing. Substitute his random words with your full set of hobbies and interests and start generating ideas on your new business.
7 for basic but useful exercises
12. Mary Bragg, Andrew Bragg "Developing New Business Ideas: A Step-by-step Guide to Creating New Business Ideas Worth Backing".
It is the best book that describes idea generation process and some major approaches and tools for idea generation. Brainstorming, convergence and seeking similarities are all discussed among others. It is part of FT series so expect a bit dry and academic writing with bullet points and somewhat lengthy descriptions of the processes. Yet it is very useful, buy it for your reference.
9 as the only criticism would be the difficulty of reading (though some people would like that style)
All of the titles are available at Amazon, check them out and enjoy.


27 Feb 2014