Worth your time: The best content for non-technical SaaS founders in 2019

Written by Laura Bosco

There’s more startup advice than ever (which is pretty cool), but not all of it is worth tuning into. 

Andrew and I have both consumed hours of content, every day, for years.  Some of that content has altered the way we operate. Some of it has been a total waste of time. 

To help you put your scarce time to good use, we've rounded up some of the best content sources we know. 

This outline highlights what we spend our own time and energy on. It’s some of the best advice out there for non-technical entrepreneurs getting started on a SaaS product. 

Help with SaaS products...and more 

As a founder, you’re not only dealing with the ins and outs of building a SaaS product. You’re also dealing with: 

  • Business Operations: Figuring out systems and processes that get results and help you operate efficiently. 
  • Management: Beyond wrangling yourself, you also need to oversee projects, freelancers, third parties, and (eventually) your own hires. People are no cakewalk. 
  • Creativity: You may not think of yourself as “ a creative,” but being a founder demands loads of creativity. At every turn, you’ll face challenges, and you’ll need creative thinking to move past those. 
  • Productivity: You wear ten different hats and juggle a hundred to-dos. Knowing how to get work done can mean the difference between moving fast, or banging your head against a wall. 
  • Wellbeing: You are the most valuable asset on your team. Do you know how to maintain your mental, emotional, and physical health? 

This is why the lists below don’t only deal with making great SaaS products. Sure, there are plenty of resources on products in here, and you don’t want to miss those. But we also list people who serve up powerful advice on creativity, productivity, leadership, and not losing your mind in a startup.

These resources won't teach you to be an overnight success—primarily because those doesn’t exist. What they will do is equip you to make smart decisions at every turn and build your company in a sustainable manner. 

You are the most valuable asset on your team.

It’s not easy being a non-technical founder, and there aren’t many simple answers. But you’re not alone. In fact, if you’re in the trenches, you’re in pretty good company. 

Table of Contents 

  • Books: I’ll let you in on a secret—we don’t love non-fiction. But these books make us want to read about work...even after we’ve worked all day. 
  • Blogs: It’s unbelievable how much free information is out there. These blogs consistently produce original, excellent content that will coach you through your toughest startup challenges. We know, because we’ve followed most of them for years. 
  • Newsletters: Building email archives (or swipe files) of stellar advice and company case studies is my favorite life hack. When you get stuck on something, search your inbox. You’ll have a rich (and pre-vetted!) stash of insights to keep you moving. 
  • Podcasts: Brew a fresh pot of coffee, pull up a chair, and tune into other founders talking about where they’ve been and what they’re facing. 
  • Twitter: Yes, social media can be an ugly place. That’s why we’re careful about who we follow and listen to. These voices are some of the reasons we still have Twitter accounts. 

Books you should two-day ship 

You might find these at your local library, but you’ll probably want to write all over them and dog ear tens of pages. So two-day ship a few pens while you’re at it. 

Lost & Founder by Rand Fishkin

Have you ever messed up? Rand has, and he shares all the details in this book. It’s a collection of stories and lessons from his time running Moz. Rand goes over why VC money is meh, the importance of psychological safety, and why good programmers don’t make good managers. 

Profit First by Mike Michalowicz

Honestly, it’s downright embarrassing finance isn’t a part of high school curriculum. For those of you who, like me, missed “managing money like a pro” lessons, this book will set you straight. Incredible advice for keeping your business profitable and your expenses lean, from day one. 

Making Things Happen by Scott Berkun

As a CEO, you can’t skip project management. Because marketing, development, and design? They involve project after project after project. The good news is, you don’t have to be technical to manage technical projects. I did it for three years. This book won’t make you laugh out loud (buy Managing Humans for snark), but it will give you straightforward get-shit-done advice out there. 

Keep Going by Austin Kleon 

This book is primarily written for “creatives.” But it’s some of the best advice you can find on entrepreneurship as well. Besides, we’ve already established you’ll need creativity to run your startup. Immensely motivating. 

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Especially if you’re bootstrapping, you’ll spend a lot of time negotiating. Whether for lower rent, more feedback from customers, or employee salary. Written by an FBI negotiator, this book is filled with great stories and counterintuitive negotiation advice. And the skills are applicable to way more than business, which is a bonus. 

Especially if you’re bootstrapping, you’ll spend a lot of time negotiating.

Blogs worthy of your bookmark bar

Dealing with people 

Know Your Team

KYT’s incredible CEO, Claire Lew, is our go-to for the messy business of leading and inspiring people. Lew authors every article on the blog, and her short posts draw on both data and personal experience. Make sure you sign up for her newsletter if you’re managing a team. 

Know Your Team transparency

Lew’s thoughtful writing has helped us navigate sticky topics—like transparency and culture—for years.

Rands in Repose

Michael Lopp, better known as Rands, is the VP of Product engineering at Slack and author of Managing Humans. His articles get into some entertaining weeds, but most his writing deals with communication, meetings, management, and everything tangential to those topics. 

Through the Looking Glass

Julie Zhuo is Product Design VP at Facebook, where she’s worked for over a decade. Her content is a rich catalogue of strategic and managerial advice. If you like her blog, you’re guaranteed to enjoy her book, The Making of a Manager.

Helpscout

Most customers are willing to pay more for excellent support, but few companies deliver it. Helpscout, through their Customer Service archive, explains how you can empathize, support, and guide customers. They’ll also teach you how to give the boot to anyone who is toxic and say no to requests that don’t make sense for your product. 

Building a noteworthy company

First Round Review

While they feature companies that are miles away from your 1 person startup, you can still learn from these long reads. It’s like going to coffee with every successful business you’ve heard of and coming away with a cheatsheet. They also have a handy search base. Use it to find quick help on common topics. 

Groove HQ

Groove has made some big changes since we started following them, including a massive update to their blog. For thoughts straight from the founder and CEO, Alex Turnbull, check out the entrepreneurship category. Most of his reads are short, experience-based, and brutally honest. He’s given us plenty of strong nudges when we needed one. 

Groove blog post

If you’re looking for coddling, you won’t find it from Turnbull. Or anyone else on this list, for that matter.

Baremetrics

Founded by Josh Pigford, Baremetrics is a pioneer of the #openstartup movement. Their blog documents everything they’re learning about building and growing a successful startup and remote team. Pigford’s honesty and encouragement will remind you you’re not crazy, founder life is hard, and success is worth toiling for. 

Stripe Atlas

Technically, this isn’t a blog. It’s a set of guides written by industry experts and Stripe’s excellent editorial team. We’d gush about how much we love every guide on this page, but that’d get embarrassing. Suffice it to say each guide is thorough, written by an expert, and specifically catered to early startups. 

Stripe atlas guides

A few of the 25+ guides from Stripe Atlas.

Signal v. Noise

Basecamp describes their blog as, “Strong opinions and shared thoughts on design, business, and tech.” The strong opinions piece is particularly true. Basecamp’s founders, Jason Fried and DHH, are known for drawing hard lines and building a startup that doesn’t consume you. They include plenty of examples from their own company, and they’re sure to spark some ideas for you.   

Price Intelligently

If you’re wrestling with how to price your SaaS product, there’s no better place to start than Price Intelligently’s blog. Packed with teardowns and advice, you’ll learn how to set prices, present them to customers, and adapt as you grow. 
Product Habits: The rich case study-esque articles on the blog will give you a closer look at some well-known names you’ve heard. And don’t miss the free ebook on the homepage. Product Habits is led by Hiten Shah and, like his other content, it’s 100% worth your time. 

Product Habits

It’s easy to idolize companies from a distance. Product Habits takes you in for a closer look with rich case study-esque articles that feature well-known names. Product Habits is led by Hiten Shah and, like his other content, it’s 100% worth your time. Oh, and don’t miss the free ebook on the homepage.

A product habit's blog post

Shah’s deep dives are chock-full of strategy and business tips.

Producing content that adds value, not noise

Grow & Convert

Great content on producing great content. How meta is that? Grow & Convert has built up a rich library on the how, what, and why of content marketing. If you’re considering the content route, bookmark these guys. 

Animalz

Our other favorite content on content. Animalz is less case study heavy and more strategic. We love nerding out on their sound advice. 

Actually getting results 

James Clear

Every Clear article has practical advice for the way you work and behave. He delivers powerful, research-backed insights on setting goals, building habits, and making consistent progress. If you want your goals to be more than a pretty post-in note, don’t miss this blog. 

Newsletters you won’t trash

We spend hours in email each day, and newsletters are one of our favorite mediums. We like that we can skim and glean, whenever is convenient for us. 

Tech news and cool products

The Weekly Habit

Produced by Hiten Shah, The Weekly Habit serves us some of the best reads on products and related product-making skills. You could spend 20 hours a day combing Twitter, HackerNews, and Medium. Or you could subscribe to this. 

Product news gold.

Indie Hackers

Created by Courtland Allen and acquired by Stripe, Indie Hackers is one of the most positive and helpful startup communities on the internet. Their newsletter gives you a quick summary of the best posts on the site at any given time. Note: you must join the community to receive the newsletter. 

Product Hunt Daily

In a few fast years, Product Hunt has become the place to learn about new and interesting tech products. Their daily newsletter is the perfect way to keep tabs on top products--especially if you don’t want to get sucked into spending hours on the site.

Startup Watching

Andrew read Startup Watching for over a year before he purchased it. Now, he curates knowledge, inspiration, and background stories from all over the startup world. 

Dense Discovery

Once a week, Kai Brach compiles articles, apps, websites, and projects worth your attention. The majority of it is tech-related, but you don’t have to know code to enjoy it. His newsletter is a good place to discover cool ideas, beautiful products, and provoking reads. 

CB Insights

Written—or at least, signed—most days by CEO Anand Sanwal, this newsletter covers what’s happening in tech and the world of venture in particular. Each issue is packed with useful information and hilarious anecdotes. Oh, and it goes out to over 565,000 readers. 

Emerging Tech

Morning Brew, the company that made reading business news cool again, has branched into tech news, and that’s good news for us all. Emerging tech covers a variety of technologies in an entertaining and easy-to-skim fashion. A good option for keeping up with tech at large.

Emerging Tech newsletter from Morning Brew

If you don’t want news about gelato drones, honestly, I’m not sure what you DO want to read about.

Keeping your business up and running  

The newsletter for busy founders

We wouldn’t produce it if we didn’t think it should make the list! Our newsletter consists of short reads on product-building, being a founder, and keeping your sanity. We scour the internet for the best advice and condense it for you, so you don’t have to do it all yourself. 

Stacking the Bricks

Besides serving up some damn good business advice, Amy Hoy will put you in the kind of side-splitting laughter that helps blow off all founder stress. Both her and her business partner, Alex Hillman, are full of awesome product knowledge. 

Stacking the bricks newsletter

La-la land isn’t where you find real success. Hoy’s advice is empathetic, actionable, and brutally honest—exactly what you need to build products in the real world.

Paul Jarvis

It’s easy to get stuck in the startup echo chamber, where you hear the same advice over and over. If you ever get stuck there, Jarvis will be the first one to bust your bubble. You should have a contrarian voice in your life, and Jarvis delivers some of the most challenging pieces I’ve ever read.  

Justin Jackson

We have a paraphrased reminder from one of Jackson’s posts on our white board: “Be weird to cut through the noise and understand your customers better than anyone else.” Jackson serves up fantastic thoughts on marketing, customer development, and bootstrapping. 

Staying sane & productive 

From the curious mind of Jocelyn K. Glei

It’s no exaggeration that Jocelyn K. Glei has done more for my focus and productivity than any other person or blog. If you want to figure out how to actually get work done and feel progress, don’t miss her bi-monthly newsletter. 

Podcasts so good, you’ll look forward to commutes

The Pitch

The premise of this podcast is real entrepreneurs pitching to real investors for real money. It’s amazing what you can learn when the stakes are, well, real. This is, hands down, one of Andrew’s top picks. 

The Startup Chat

If you’re dealing with it, they’ve talked about it. Hiten Shah and Steli Efti co-host this long-running podcast (we’re talking hundreds of episodes) about life from the trenches of business. Both hosts are serial entrepreneurs who have founded multi-million dollar SaaS startups. Each episode is honest, experience-based, and packed with insight. 

Hurry Slowly

Jocelyn K. Glei’s podcast exists to help you find more creativity and meaning in your daily work. Glei does an excellent job pushing against “conventional wisdom” such as busy is better, keep everything in folders, and use more tech. If you want to work in a way that's both effective and sustainable, tune in here. 

Hurry Slowly podcast episode

Glei isn’t contrary for the sake of being contrary. She pushes against the grain to uncover real ways you can bring more creativity and meaning to everything you do.

Founder Chats

Every week, Josh Pigford (founder of Baremetrics) sits down with another founder and chats about entrepreneurship. If you ever wished you could grab coffee with 50+ successful founders, well, now you kind of can. 

Indiehackers

Hosted by Courtland Allen, the founder of Indiehackers. Allen chats with the founders of profitable online businesses and digs up strategy, insights, and honest moments. 

Wandering Aimfully

A truly delightful podcast run by startup duo Jason and Caroline Zook. They dive into their relationship (both run businesses), minimalism, mindfulness, entrepreneurship, and a whole lot more. If you’re looking for a dose of quirky meets real, these are the two you want to tune into. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting with ep. 026.

StartUp

The first season was so good, it was adapted into an ABC sitcom called Alex, Inc. StartUp takes a documentary approach to the entrepreneurial life and uncovers some of the grittier details you may not hear in interviews. Oh, and it’s won some nice awards too. 

Without Fail

Hosted by Gimlet media’s cofounder, Alex Blumberg. Each week, he chats with someone who’s made a big bet—usually, a very big bet. Some have won, some have lost, and every person has an interesting story. Great lessons on both success and failure.  

Reply All

Okay, fine, this won’t teach you to be a better founder. But the stories are fantastic and you shouldn’t work 24/7 anyways. Besides, it’s a podcast about the internet, so it’s loosely related, right?

Folks who keep Twitter worthwhile 

In addition to everyone we’ve tagged above, here are some more thinkers who keep Twitter an honest and encouraging place. There are many, many more people worth listening to on Twitter. These are a few of the reasons we keep logging in. 

Tina Roth Eisenberg

Being a successful entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice kindness, compassion, and a relentless belief there’s a whole lot of good in this world. Eisenberg will remind you of this every single week. She’s a successful founder who’s launched CreativeMornings, CreativeGuild, Tattly, and a Brooklyn coworking space. 


Vlad Magdalin

Magdalin is the co-founder and CEO of Webflow, where he makes creating websites more approachable for those of us who can’t code. On Twitter, he’s generous with advice, open about his experiences as a founder, and a driver of the #nocode movement.

Anil Dash

Dash is the CEO of Glitch, a place where you can create and discover cool ideas. You’ll usually find a mashup of encouragement, interesting news, and internet oddities in his feed. He advocates for a more inclusive and humane future of tech, and it’s not too early for you to think about this as well.  

Val Geisler

Selling something? You’ll email customers at some point. If you want to do that well, start listening to Geisler. She's an email conversion strategist and copywriter, and you’d be hard pressed to find better email advice. 

Pieter Levels 

Levels is the maker of Nomad List and a few other projects. He’s an adventurous spirit (both in travels and business) with a feed full of cool updates and product advice. 

Jess Wallace

Wallace is a part-time maker and creator of coderstory, where she interviews developers. She’s also a football fan—as in, the original football. Follow her for soccer updates, insightful blog posts, and interesting products. 

Pat Walls

Walls launched and sold 24hrstartup.com and now has two new projects in the works. He participates in #openstartup, so you’ll see him post updates on actual revenue, what it’s like being a founder, and current frustrations. A great person to follow for behind-the-scenes updates. 

Sahil Lavingia 

Lavingia is the founder of Gumroad and someone who is open about his journey building a profitable company that hasn’t always been profitable. He has great insights on growing a business and promoting diversity in tech. Oh, and his website is definitely in my top 5 favorite personal sites. 

Stephanie Hurlburt

Hurlburt co-owns Binomial, a software company in Seattle. She’s refreshingly honest and provides generous encouragement—especially in the realm of mental health.

Veni Kunche

Kunche is the incredible woman behind Diversify Tech, which promotes scholarships, jobs, and opportunities for underrepresented people in tech. She also runs Code with Veni, a newsletter for women and non-binary coders. 

Tyler Tringas

Tringas is changing the conversation about how entrepreneurs raise money for their startups. He’s behind Earnest Capital, a company that invests via Shared Earnings Agreement. We’re pretty darn excited about what he’s doing there. 

Alexis Ohanian

Ohanian is cofounder of Reddit, cofounder of Initialized, and owner of a few other projects. Initialized is an early-stage VC firm, “the honeybadgers of capital” and they’re behind companies like Instacart and coinbase. Expect to find useful information on investing and growing a business. 

Ben Tossell

Tossell is an experienced no-code maker who runs MakerPad. We’re continually impressed by what he puts together and the community he’s actively building. He’s at the forefront of the #nocode movement, and he’s a great person to follow for prototype and product inspiration.

Abadesi

An author, techie, and podcast co-host. She’s not afraid to cover topics other founders shy away from--like diversity, mental health, workaholism, and culture-fit gone wrong. 

Anne-Laure Le Cunff

An ex-Googler turned startup founder (Ness Labs) turned indie maker (MakerMag). Le Cunff interests range from product-making to neuroscience, and she unearths some pretty fascinating corners of science and the internet. 

If you’re curious about tagging along with Andrew or I, you can find Andrew at @AndrewAskins. I'm at @lauraebosco. Andrew posts occasional football facts and what it’s really like running an agency. I share what I’ve been reading, weird science, and thoughts on freelancing. 

If you’re in the startup trenches, you’re in good company.

Who do you tune into? 

We spend most of our time online, but we certainly haven’t scoured the internet from top to bottom. 

What blogs, newsletters, books, and people have radically shaped the way you operate as a founder? 

Especially if it’s in the #womenintech, #diversityintech, #nocode or #openstartup realm, find Andrew or me on Twitter, and let us know who we’re missing. 



Worth noting: No one paid us to be on this list. None of these links are affiliate links. These are all people and companies we listen to regularly, link to in our writing, and recommend to our friends. 

Laura Bosco is a writer and people person. She helps tech startups do tricky things, like explain who they are and what they're doing. Ping her on Twitter to say hi.