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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.

Reframe: Shift the Way You Work, Innovate, and Think ($24.99)

By Mona Patel

Author Mona Patel is the CEO and founder of Motivate Design, which explains how beautifully packaged this book is. But Reframe is an immensely useful book as well, centered around Patel’s eight-step process, which she calls Reframework, that can get you unstuck and out of a rut.

Patel is an innovation and disruption evangelist. That’s how she runs her company—and how she wants you to run yours. One of my favorite chapters is called “Creative Openers to Problem Solving.” Part of the exercise is asking eight “creative openers” that can lead to all sorts of discovery. Some of the eight you’ve likely asked before, such as “Why?” or “What if?” But have you considered that a question seemingly grounded in negativity like, “What if I can’t?” can lead to positive results?

Patel applies a lot of design principles to a broad array of entrepreneurial challenges—and it works here. For instance she advises, “In design, you try something, and if it doesn’t work, you try something else. There’s no reason to be scared or stuck in analysis paralysis.”

If you are stuck there (or anywhere else along the path) this book will get you moving in the right direction.

Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth ($27.95)

By Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

Many entrepreneurs are told, “You’re crazy!” as they embark on their startups. But for one of this book’s authors, Gabriel Weinberg, that phrase was an overwhelming refrain as he launched DuckDuckGo, a search engine competing with Google. Weinberg’s launch has a happy ending—over 10 million searches a day take place on the site (many by me).

Weinberg’s experience motivated him to team up with Justin Mares, also an entrepreneur, to help other startup entrepreneurs “get traction.” This book not only showcases the advice of the authors, but also taps into the wisdom of more than 40 founders of small businesses.

Traction in the startup universe, say the authors, is “a sign your company is taking off.” And the idea of a startup, they say, is “to grow rapidly.” If you have traction, they explain, every aspect of startup from raising money to getting press to hiring becomes easier.

The authors take you through the 19 channels you can use to build your customer base, as well as The Bullseye, a three-step process that helps you figure out which channels will work best for you.

The Machine: A Radical Approach to the Design of the Sales Function ($22.95)

By Justin Roff-Marsh

The author, an entrepreneur and sales management expert (he prefers “radical”), wants to start a revolution. And he wants us all to join in.

Roff-Marsh is a leading proponent of Sales Process Engineering, a “radical new approach to the management of the sales function.” He says there’s a new sales order, and we can either participate in it or fall victim to it. The sales process, argues Roff-Marsh, needs to be put in the hands of “a tightly synchronized team of specialists,” making it an “inside activity instead of a field operation.”

The book details how to change your sales organization and the four main principles you should know in order to do that. Roff-Marsh isn’t arguing that sales are getting worse, but that “the rest of the [business] is getting so much better while sales cling to the same structure.”

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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.