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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 them.

The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success ($27.99)

By Emma Seppälä, Ph. D.

With success comes happiness, right? Not so fast, says author Emma Seppälä, who is the Science Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University and the founder of Fulfillment Daily. Seppälä maintains that both success and happiness are harder to come by these days.

Seppälä says we’re burning ourselves out because we’re driven by outmoded definitions of success: “We have simply accepted overextension as a way of life.” But getting ahead is no longer dependent on “doing everything that’s thrown at us.” In fact, that’s counterproductive to productivity. Instead, Seppälä believes, “Being happy is the most productive thing we can do to thrive.”

The Happiness Track presents the six major false theories of success and lots of solutions. I recognized some of my own behaviors in the book: For example, it’s not what’s on our to-do lists that leads to stress, but rather our constant worry about getting them done.

Reading this book may not make you happy, but it should get you on the right track to getting there.

20/20 Hindsight: If I Knew Then What I Know Now I’d Be a Whole Lot Richer ($14.95)

By Parviz Firouzgar

Parviz Firouzgar is a serial entrepreneur who, after 25 years of business success, believes “success is a learned skill.” Once you learn to apply those skills, he avers, “success becomes achievable.”

But Firouzgar wants to save you from all the trial and error that goes into being an entrepreneurial success. His book is packed with the lessons he’s learned to help you avoid making the typical mistakes small business owners make.

There’s a lot of solid advice in this book, from finding a mentor to staying motivated to breaking the rules (but not the law). I like Firouzgar’s philosophy that he learned more from his failures than he did from his successes. Reading this book should help you avoid some of those failures.

You Want to Be an Entrepreneur: Success Requires More Than Just a Great Idea ($9.99)

By Jeff Stoller

Author Jeff Stoller has the perfect background to tell startup entrepreneurs how to launch a business. He’s an attorney, accountant and professor of finance at the University of Southern California.

But this book is not just for startups. There are lots of examples, charts and clear explanations of terms entrepreneurs encounter at every step of their journey, from startup to mature businesses.

Stoller doesn’t pull punches. While others may tell you startups can get funded, he acknowledges that while theoretically there seem to be a lot of funding sources startups can tap, in reality, that’s not necessarily the case. And if anyone needs some tough love—and a healthy dose of reality—it’s small business owners.

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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.