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3 Books Small Business Owners Should Read

Rieva Lesonsky
books small business

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.

Unscalable: Unorthodox Startup Growth Stories ($15.99)

By Charlie Guo

Author Charlie Guo, an entrepreneur (he’s founded two companies) and software engineer, has written a book straight out of the startup world of Silicon Valley. Guo was inspired to write this book of triumph and failure by an essay by Paul Graham, Do Things That Don’t Scale, and the failure of his second startup in the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator.

Guo decided to bring to light other stories of failures and unlikely successes in Silicon Valley and in this book, he interviews many of the key players behind them.

There’s a ton of truly valuable advice in this book, which could have been subtitled, “Out of the Mouths of Entrepreneurs.” For example, Tony Xu, cofounder of DoorDash, told Guo, “It was very important that we, the founders, were the first to do every job...Because it’s very hard to hire somebody...if you don’t really understand the job yourself.” You don’t have to be a tech entrepreneur to find value here.

The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy ($26)

By Chris Bailey

I’m a sucker for productivity books, ones that promise (indirectly) I’ll get to sleep for more than 5 hours a night. Chris Bailey, a productivity expert, spent one year immersing himself in a series of productivity experiments, such as getting little or no sleep for weeks, eliminating sugar and caffeine from his diet, and working a 90-hour week.

These experiments led to some best practices, such as sleeping your way to productivity and understanding when you need to empty your brain.

Bailey came up with some interesting (and often counterintuitive) solutions, such as: strive for imperfection, schedule less time for important tasks and become a productive procrastinator.

This is a very readable book—each chapter starts with a “takeaway” and an estimation of how long it will take you to read it. Each one is well worth the few minutes of your day it will consume.

Bootstrap Selling the Sandler Way: Or: How to Own Your Career and Make It Flourish ($19.95)

By Bill Morrison

Author Bill Morrison spent more than two decades in sales leadership roles before opening a Sandler Training office in Switzerland. From this expert perspective, he believes bootstrap selling “is grounded in the concept that all sales are entrepreneurial in nature.”

The successful Sandler training methods are at the core of this book. Understanding the “Sandler Success Triangle” (technique, behavior and attitude) is key—it says that while technique is important, it’s really just a tool to use to “achieve changes in behavior, which in turn leads to a new attitude.”

Morrison offers lots of good advice. He says, “At least once [in every sales process], stop and ask yourself if the deal makes sense.” He also believes the “sales process is filled with detours and booby traps erected by the customer in an effort to level the playing field.” Reading this book will help guide you through the rough road of sales and put you on solid ground.

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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.