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3 Books Small Business Owners Should Read

Rieva Lesonsky
3 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.

Stand Out: Tools to Master the 8 Fundamentals of Standing Out in Business ($24.95)

By Winnie Brignac Hart & Lorrie Brignac Lee

The authors, marketing and branding experts (and identical twin sisters), say selling or making superior products or providing standout services isn’t enough these days to separate you from your competitors. Instead, they say, what’s needed is “a consistent and genuine message that communicates the company’s core values, beliefs and purpose—in short, a brand.”

The sisters fill the book with tools and exercises illustrating how you can build your brand, including what they call the “Brand Positioning Assessment,” which enables you to compare your company to your competitors.

The key, they write, is authenticity—meaning you have to be what you say you are. This is a well-designed book, structured to help you learn and grasp the tools you need to make your small business stand out from the pack.

The Sales Coach’s Playbook: Breaking the Performance Code ($24.95)

By Bill Bartlett

Author Bill Bartlett, a well-known business coach, says many people confuse coaching with training, but they’re very different actions. Training, he writes, “is about teaching skills, [while] coaching is about empowering people to use their existing skills more effectively to achieve greater success.” Things go awry because sales coaches need to “focus on critical behavior modification, not the imparting of new skills.”

Before you start sales coaching (or hire someone to do it), you need to have a clear understanding of each saleperson’s existing skill set. Bartlett’s coaching system relies on the “questioning strategies” at the heart of the Sandler Selling System.

One of those—active listening—is a very important tool, says Bartlett, since “most sales managers listen with one ear and never fully engage.” This book is packed with tools and techniques explaining how to be an effective coach, so you, your sales team and your business can all benefit.

Career Courage: Discover Your Passion, Step Out of Your Comfort Zone & Create the Success You Want ($16.95)

By Katie C. Kelley

At first glance you might think this is a book targeted to those looking for a fulfilling job. But author Katie C. Kelley, a career coach, says she wrote the book to help people at all stages of life “find their true calling and start moving in a promising direction.”

Kelley says to get started you need to answer tough questions in 10 critical areas, including what motivates you, how do you conquer your worst fears, can you build a strong network and do you have what it takes to think—and act—like an entrepreneur.

Easy to read and filled with callout boxes and charts, this book offers something useful for everyone, no matter where you are on your entrepreneurial path.

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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.