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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.

Get Scrappy: Business Insights to Make Your Company More Agile ($24.95)

By Dave Berkus and Kim Shepherd

Authors Dave Berkus and Kim Shepherd pack a lot of business know-how and expertise into this book. Berkus is an early stage venture capitalist, and Shepherd is the CEO of Decision Toolbox, a virtual recruiting firm.

This book covers the serious topics all small business owners need to know more about—but it’s written without jargon, so you instantly understand what the authors are telling you and can quickly act upon their advice.

Shepherd says for a business to survive (if not thrive) today, it must be agile and scrappy. Too many business owners, she adds, “forget the value of simplicity.” A few of my favorite parts of the book include “The Best Advice Startups Will Never Follow” and “Good, Cheap, Fast. Pick Any Two.”

Berkus says business owners often have to think (and act) like coaches—and this book helps you do exactly that.

Be Your Best Boss: Reinvent Yourself From Employee to Entrepreneur ($14.95)

By Williams R. Seagraves

As the founder and president of Catchfire Funding, which helps corporate execs make the jump to entrepreneurship, author William Seagraves has heard it all. In this book he starts with the most basic, yet most important question for aspiring entrepreneurs, “Are you ready for a new boss?” Of course that new boss would be themselves.

Once he leads readers through figuring out if they’re ready to start a business, he explores the next steps, including funding options; whether you should buy a franchise or other existing business; and how to make it through the crucial, yet volatile, first six months of business operation.

The book is packed with checklists, worksheets, tips and things to watch out for, making it a vital companion for anyone considering starting a business.

Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders ($9.99)

By Jon Mertz

This book is directed to Millennials, who author Jon Mertz acknowledges are, “adaptable, confident, connected, and dedicated to making the world a better place.” But, warns Mertz, if you want to lead, you cannot do it in a vacuum. He says you have to “grow your leadership skills by learning from those who came before you. Enrich your organizations and relationships by bringing your unique talents to the table.”

Mertz had an epiphany while hiking in the woods. When his group came to a grove thick with “tall, lean, vibrant trees, diverse in size and age,” the guide announced, “You will never see an aspen alone.”

Apparently aspen trees, according to the guide, “are bound together by their huge, incredible root system” and Mertz argues Millennials, like aspens, “are designed to thrive.” But he urges them to realize there’s only a “thin difference” between generations and that we need to “eliminate the myth of the age gap and reduce the risk of creating a leadership gap. When we share experiences and expertise we all realize our individual and collective potential.”

In Activate Leadership Mertz shares his accumulated business wisdom to encourage, inform and inspire Millennials to “lead on purpose.”

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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.