Top 5 books to turn your high-tech innovation into a successful business

Technology's riff on the American dream runs something like this: Young people hang out in a garage, create a world-beating technology, and build a wildly successful company.

It doesn't usually happen that way, of course. That last part about building a successful business is especially hard work that requires specific business skills that technology entrepreneurs often lack. Fortunately, there are thousands of books on the subject that can help garage entrepreneurs make the leap to successful executive. As someone who has been working in family businesses, starting and growing my own businesses, or teaching entrepreneurs for most of the past 40 years, I've read hundreds of these books – and written six of my own. Here are my picks for the Top 5 books every entrepreneur should own:

1.The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What To Do About It

The 1988 book, "The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What To Do About It," is still relevant today. (Courtesy of E-Myth Worldwide, Inc. )

By Michael E. Gerber (HarperBusiness, 162 pp.)

Although some may argue that this 1988 classic has gotten a little long in the tooth, I still recommend it. In a relatively short book, Gerber gives a realistic job preview that all first-time entrepreneurs should read before they jump in the water. The original edition is a bit hard to find, but no worries. The revised edition – "The E-Myth Revisited" – is just as good.

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers

Entrepreneurs meet to discuss business. The book, "Business Model Generation," outlines how to create a successful business plan. (Photo illustration / Design Pics / Newscom)

By Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur (Wiley, 288 pp.)

Speaking of myths, one that needs to be permanently eradicated is the notion that a business plan is the ticket to a successful venture. It is not. Learning how to develop a sound business model is the ticket to a better chance for success. Osterwalder and Pigneur's book captures the process of developing a business model more clearly than any other book published. It has changed how many of us approach teaching entrepreneurship.

Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model

"Getting to Plan B" shows how to create a dynamic business model. (Courtesy of Fortier Public Relations)

By John Mullins and Randy Komisar (Harvard Business Press, 272 pp.)

Part of the process of developing the business model is engaging the market and using customers to help you get your business model right. We rarely get it right ourselves. This book is the perfect companion to "Business Model Generation." It helps show how to create a dynamic business model that adapts to the market.

Guerrilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business

Two women work on a new business together. The book, "Guerrilla Marketing," gives advice on starting a business on a tight budget. (Photo illustration / Steve Nagy / Design Pics / Newscom)

By Jay Conrad Levinson (Houghton Mifflin, 384 pp.)

One word that every student remembers from my classes is "bootstrapping," the art and science of starting a business when you have very limited start-up capital. This is the classic book that captures the essence of what it takes to start and grow a business when cash is tight.

Growing Pains: Transitioning from an Entrepreneurship to a Professionally Managed Firm

"Growing Pains" is in its fourth edition, and it continues to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses smoothly. (Courtesy of Management Systems Consulting Corp. )

By Eric Flamholtz and Yvonne Randle (Jossey-Bass, 496 pp.)

A wise old entrepreneur once told me: "The leading cause of failure for entrepreneurial businesses is success." If not managed properly, high-growth ventures often fail due to the inability of the entrepreneurs to successfully transition their businesses through the various stages of growth. Now in its fourth edition, this book still offers entrepreneurs the best insights into what it takes to successfully navigate through the white water that constantly faces the owner of a high-growth venture.

Jeff Cornwall directs the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.