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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.

The Heart-Led Leader: How Living and Leading From the Heart Will Change Your Organization and Your Life ($26)

By Tommy Spaulding

As the economy continues to improve, the challenge of attracting and retaining top employees gets harder. Author and leadership expert Tommy Spaulding believes the way to do that is by being a “heart-led leader.” But that’s not enough to make your business successful, he argues; you also have to “deliver results.” Using real-life examples, Spaulding shows you how to do just that.

“Results don’t come from numbers and spreadsheets,” Spaulding says. “People are the primary drivers of results in any company.” The idea is not to focus on “hard” leadership skills, such as strategy and finance, or “soft” leadership skills, such as leadership or marketing, but to integrate both of them so you can become an authentic—and better—leader.

One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams Into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others do the Work ($25)

By Stephen Key

The dream of many entrepreneurs is to be able to make money while they sleep. Licensing is one way to do that: Create a product and let others market and sell it for you.

If that sounds appealing, you’ll want to get a copy of the “revised and expanded” One Simple Idea. Author Stephen Key knows this industry: For more than 30 years he’s developed ideas for new products that were then licensed by other companies.

Key takes you through the process, telling you how to know if your idea is marketable, as well as how to protect your concept, develop a pitch and find the best company to license your idea to. There’s a lot of information here, and Key explains it well. If you’re an “idea person,” this book is definitely worth reading.

The Business of Family: How to Stay Rich for Generations ($35)

By Linda Davis Taylor

Do you run your family like a business? Chances are you don’t—but Linda Davis Taylor, the CEO and chairman of the Clifford Swan Investment Council, believes you should. “Applying a business mindset” to your family will help you build and retain wealth, Taylor says.

Taylor advises that the first thing you should do is create a plan and a defined vision. That, she says, is what will keep your family together, even when times get tough.

This book is perfect for small business owners. The author says knowing how to run a successful business is nearly the same as “understanding how to run a successful family.” While the book is not specifically directed at those running family-owned businesses, it will really resonate with you if you do.

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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.