The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

Ranked #3 in Venture Capital, Ranked #3 in Entrepreneurshipsee more rankings.

A lot of people talk about how great it is to start a business, but only Ben Horowitz is brutally honest about how hard it is to run one.

In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley's most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, draws on his own story of founding, running, selling, buying, managing, and investing in technology companies to offer essential advice and practical wisdom for navigating the toughest problems business schools don't cover. His blog has garnered a devoted following of millions of...

Reviews and Recommendations

We've comprehensively compiled reviews of The Hard Thing About Hard Things from the world's leading experts.

Mark Zuckerberg Founder/FacebookBen's experience and expertise make him one of the most important leaders not just in Silicon Valley but also in the global knowledge economy. For anyone interested in building, growing or leading a great company, this book is an incredibly valuable resource - and a funny and insightful read. (Source)

Larry Page Co-Founder/GoogleBen's book is a great read - with uncomfortable truths about entrepreneurship and how to lead to a company. It's also an inspiring story of a business rebirth through sheer willpower. (Source)

Andrew Chen General Partner/Andreessen HorowitzRecommends this book

Michael Dell CEO/Dell Computerseval(ez_write_tag([[250,250],'theceolibrary_com-large-mobile-banner-2','ezslot_8',164,'0','1'])); Ben, an influential venture capitalist (of Andreessen Horowitz) and entrepreneur, candidly talks about the very real thrills and perils of starting a business. This book is loaded with great lessons and advice from a successful leader and innovator. (Source)

Dustin Moskovitz Co-founder/Facebook and Asana[Dustin Moskovitz recommended this book during a Stanford lecture.] (Source)

Peter Thiel Entrepreneur, InvestorEvery management guide presumes that all great companies follow a formula. But successful startups don't imitate; they build innovations that can't be copied. Ben Horowitz knows no recipe guarantees success. He has written the first true guide for protecting a startup from self-sabotage. (Source)

Satya Nadella CEO/MicrosoftRecommends this book

Drew Houston CEO/DropboxOne of the great things that [the author] wrote in [this book] is the hardest part of being a CEO is managing your psychology. (Source)

Steve Blank Recommends this book

Max Levchin Co-founder/PayPal, CEO/Affirm, Investor[Max Levchin recommended this book as an answer to "What business books would you advise young entrepreneurs read?"] (Source)

Azeem Azhar Creator/Exponential ViewRecommends this book

Marvin Liao Partner/500 StartupsThe other book I recommend is "The Hard Things About Hard Things" by VC & ex-Operator extraordinaire. It reflects the real reality of startup founder life & gives very excellent advice. A must read for all founders. (Source)

Luis von Ahn I like this one, but it’s not for very new entrepreneurs. (Source)

Danielle Morrill Co-founder/MattermarkRecommends this book

Ken Norton Recommends this book

Dennis Yang CEO/UdemyI read this book at a time when Udemy was rapidly growing—over the 18 months where we went from 30 to 200 people. It was helpful to read about Horowitz's challenges, worries, and triumphs when addressing the same types of issues at a similar stage of growth. There are so many big decisions you need to make where there's just no clear-cut, right or wrong answer. There are a lot of gray areas. You gather information from your team, but the hard decisions rest with you. This book helped me realize that while I needed to carefully and objectively consider feedback, I was responsible for making a... (Source)

Mark Roberge CRO/HubSpotThe Hard Thing About Hard Things is something that I really enjoyed recently. It's been out there for a while, but I think for an entrepreneur is fantastic. (Source)

Damien Mulley The first half could easily be made into a movie or TV series. The second half is just blog posts and is boring but I guess padding was needed. The first half is the story of how Opsware was sold and you get the backstory and the backstory of the backstory and it's gripping and full on honest which is very different to most of the books from millionaire business people that retcon their success. There's an anecdote in there on how to keep the company going they needed to keep one guy in a client company happy. So it ended up with them buying a company for $10M in order to get him their... (Source)

Matthew Barby One that I've really, really enjoyed, and has personally helped me figure out a bunch of problems recently has been The Hard Thing about Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz. Really great book on figuring out incredibly tough management decision, and how to be able to help, nurture, and grow, highly motivated and talented people within organizations. And also how to deal with when the shit hits the fan. (Source)

Rodrigo Fuentes Must-read, I think everyone's already read it though, so I don't know if that's going to be very useful. I think everyone absolutely needs to read "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" by Ben Harowitz. I mean that book is just a treasure of advice and future wisdom that I'm sure I have not used all the wisdom that's in there yet, but it's in there. It's like a field book for the trench warfare that startup founders find themselves in. (Source)

Melody McCloskey I really like Ben Horowitz's book "The Hard Thing about Hard Things." 'Cause he goes real dark and he's very honest about how gnarly it can get and throughout the book you're like "Stop. What are you doing? You're crazy. Hang up those spurs." 'Call it a loss. And he's just like, then we kept going. And I think that tenacity, because tenacity and resiliency are the two, in my opinion, most important factors to be a founder. I think he talks about that a lot and I respect him for that. (Source)

Zack Onisko I think my favorite over the last couple years has been Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things. That's one that sticks out. (Source)

Vasil Azarov I usually do audio books all the time, because I'm always on the move, so audio, I listen to Ben Horowitz' Hard Things About Hard Things. Usually when I'm on the crossroads, when I'm riding my own company, this is the book that's kind of always on the back of my mind right now, because it helps you as founder and CEO of the company to relate to some other very challenging, extremely challenging situations that a more experienced founder was facing. So I love that book. (Source)

Darren Chua Ben Horowitz is brutally honest and the lessons are very much applicable to my current startup. (Source)

Sanja Zepan I also liked Hard Thing about Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz, that talks about startup management. (Source)

Leah Lizarondo I am also reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things - Ben Horowitz. As 412 Food Rescue grows and I have more and more people on the team, it really becomes clear who will become successful at this organization. I think managing people is the hardest part about organizations and being honest with yourself and your staff about what it will take to be part of something is important. Striking a balance between being unapologetic about this and being sensitive is key. There are a lot of "hard things" about starting and growing something--I have so much respect for entrepreneurs, it truly takes... (Source)

Andrea Loubier The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horrowitz because it’s real, and empowers you to think big and prepares you for the worst when pursuing entrepreneurship. (Source)

Michael Herrmann Very deep insights into what it's like to run a VC-funded startup. Not just interesting for such startup founders, but also to people who want to know what it's like. (Source)

Deepak Chhugani I got a ton of value out of reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. I was wasting a lot of time making decisions, ranging from picking our company name and logo to deciding whether to raise money or try and make our company profitable. I read this book over the course of two weekends and I came away with two main conclusions: 1) It’s almost as important to be decisive as it is to make good decisions (speed in decision making is very important with startups) and 2) The only way for me to keep sane with our startup’s journey is to embrace the chaos and uncertainty that comes... (Source)

Bogdan Iordache There are quite a few good business books on technology, and I'll list below some I find to be a good starting point. Personally, I like biographies a lot and I mostly read biographies of dead people, because those are the most honest ones. So because the computer age is still very young, there won't be a lot of biographies in my list. (Source)

Peter Rex 21/ Hard Thing about Hard Things. @bhorowitz delves into the hardest situations a CEO will face, and how to move forward where there are no good answers. This is a great book to understand what it means to have the buck stop with you, i.e. act as an entrepreneur. (Source)

Scott Kupor @BooValu23 @portfoliobooks @a16z Honestly, I don't think there are too many out there - best business book generally is @bhorowitz Hard Things About Hard Things (Source)

Hillel Fuld Recommends this book

Sean Si Recommends this book

Satya Patel Recommends this book

Josh Bersin Recommends this book

Yaniv Feldman Recommends this book

Eytan Levit Recommends this book

David Cancel Recommends this book

Raoul Pal Without question, to me, The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz is, by far, the best, most brutally honest and incredibly useful book about the realities of starting and running a company, ever written. (Source)

Julie Zhuo Recommends this book

Marty Cagan Recommends this book

Aleyda Solis Recommends this book

Anurag Ramdasan An exciting startup story well narrated by Ben Horowitz.

Laurentiu-Victor Balasa There's a paragraph there in which he talks about hiring managers. I can't remember the exact passage (Underline didn't exist at the time) but it was something about the criteria for hiring good managers. That really came in handy in my previous startup, T-Me Studios, when I was hiring project managers. I remember applying some of those principles in different interviews. (Source)

Mikhail Dubov A few books had affected how I run the company [...] The Hard Thing About Hard Things. (Source)

Alexandra Stroe [I'd recommend] Scaling Up by Verne Harnish, The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz and Measure what Matters by John Doerr for scaling and managing the business. (Source)

Anant Jain The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz is on top of my list of must-read business books. It’s full of straight-to-the-point, hard-hitting advice coming from one of the most successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. (Source)

Cody McLain Based on your top book recommendations list, this one needs no introductions. (Source)

Igor Debatur In addition to a ton of practical recommendations, it helped me to start overcoming the everyday burden of being a CEO. To read this book is like having a friend who pats you on a shoulder and tells “Hear hear, everything will be alright, it’s normal that you suffer, all of us suffer, it’s alright”. In addition to patting you on a shoulder, Ben added a lot of value: there are many practical recommendations and motivation that helps to concentrate on what really matters and move your business further. (Source)

Alex Circei Question: What five books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path & why? Answer: Screw It, Let's Do It: Lessons In Life by Richard Branson Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action by Simon Sinek The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki (Source)

Catrinel Hagivreta As a startup entrepreneur, it is easy to get distracted by so many things: how to capture your first client, solving the bugs of the platform, writing an article or hiring your first employees. And all this chaos is affecting the company’s culture and its energy, especially when you have a small team. I remember I was together with my partner and brother George one day and we were concerned about the culture of our company. How can we keep employees engaged and motivated when, sometimes, it’s difficult even for us to be so? We were considering team building events, bonuses and other things we... (Source)

Javed Khatri Running a company is mostly about taking the right decisions at the right time. This book will teach you that. (Source)

Ng Rong Xin I often resort to reading for wisdom and emotional support. The recent episode was when I read Hard Things about Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers a couple of years back. There were so many personal stories that he shared (particularly the one he shared about how he had spent so much time on his business, he almost destroyed his family) that I could relate to as an entrepreneur. Reading it gave some kind of moral and emotional support - it’s kinda good to know that you are not the only one going through the same difficult journey! (Source)

Matthieu David-Experton The Hard Thing About Hard Things has made me be aware that very admired entrepreneurs or people who are seen as very successful could have gone through very similar questions, courses of actions and troubles as young and small business owners. (Source)

John Doherty I was traveling quite a bit for work at the time and remember sitting in an airport (I can't remember which one) ordering food and reading. I literally could not put the book down and during that sitting I felt an overwhelming sense of relief that every entrepreneur deals with make-it-or-break-it moments many times, and that it is indeed possible to push through and come out the other side stronger as a person and as a business. (Source)

Audrey Russo Question: What books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path? Answer: Anything by Peter Senge. The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz Once you are Lucky, Twice you are good – Sara Lacey Revolutionary Wealth – Alvin Toffler Black Swan – Taleb Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change, by Ellen Pao. Creative Class – Richard Florida Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis American Government 101: From the Continental Congress to the Iowa Caucus, Everything You Need to Know About US Politics – Kathleen Spears The Tao of... (Source)

Theresa Evanoff Here are some of my favourites around purpose, positive habits, positive thinking, and business goals. I’m a firm believer that subject expertise can be learned, but character-building traits, like perseverance and purposefulness, must be honed. “Purpose Driven Life”, Rick Warren “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey "The Magic of Thinking Big", David J. Schwartz "The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" by Ben Horowitz “Good to Great”, Jim Collins “Doing Good Well”, Willie Cheng (Source)

Chris Oliver The Hard Thing About Hard Things was fantastic. Since I'm in startups, there are a lot of very tough decisions to make and you have to have a lot of courage to make them. (Source)

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