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3 Books Small Business Owners Should Read

Rieva Lesonsky
books small business owners should read

There is so much small business owners need to know to operate at peak performance. Luckily we live in the Information Age with plentiful resources. To help you sift through some of the data, every week we’re going to look at three business books small business owners should read and the lessons you can learn from reading them.

Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World ($27.99)

By Joann S. Lublin

As a woman of a certain age, I truly did believe by now we’d have more women in top positions in business and as entrepreneurs. But according to this book, more than 75 percent of Millennial women say there’s still gender bias in the workplace.

The author, Joann Lublin, is a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and the management news editor of The Wall Street Journal. She interviewed 52 corporate female leaders who, Lublin writes, “dismantled the old boys’ club, destroyed myths about capabilities of female leaders, and continue to serve as role models.”

Reading about the challenges and triumphs of these women will not only inspire you, but inform you as well. There are a lot of lessons about what to do and what not to do for women who are striving to propel their career or business forward.

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living ($25)

By Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

Are you a stoic? According to the authors, stoicism is a “unique blend of practicality and wisdom,” which kind of leaves me out (I’m not the practical type). However, I found a lot I could relate to and learn from in this book.

Certainly there have been many admirable stoics throughout history (including, the book notes, George Washington and Ralph Waldo Emerson) and today, such as LL Cool J.

The authors maintain that “whatever you’re going through, there is wisdom from the Stoics that can help.” To make this book easy to consume, digest and learn from, every day there is a quote from a noted Stoic and a short, yet powerful story expounding on it.

I’m going to try to remember all year the message from Marcus Aurelius for my birthday: “Calm is contagious.” That’s certainly a lesson I need to remember.

Surge: Time the Marketplace, Ride the Wave of Consumer Demand, and Become Your Industry’s Big Kahuna ($26.95)

By Mike Michalowicz

Mike Michalowicz, who made a splash with his first book, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, is a serial entrepreneur—and a personal friend of mine. He writes like he talks, meaning this book is not only informative, it’s funny as well.

Surge is about one of my very favorite small business topics: trends and how to spot them. Michalowicz offers a five-step process you can use to identify coming trends and capitalize on them. Plus, there are plenty of stories and case studies about small business owners and entrepreneurial legends.

Michalowicz loves systems—and that’s just what this book offers you. Surge (standing for Separate, Unify, Rally, Gather and Expand) gives you a systematic way to spot existing trends, so you can “quickly position your business to ride the wave to industry domination.”

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Author information

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.