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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.

The Moonshot Effect: Disrupting Business as Usual ($26.95)

By Lisa Goldman & Kate Purmal, with Anne Janzer

I still remember that night in 1969 when I watched Neil Armstrong take that first step on the moon, fulfilling a challenge issued eight years before by President John F. Kennedy.

The authors, who have extensive and impressive business resumes, believe Kennedy’s moonshot is a “lesson in how to achieve the remarkable and unexpected.” And they write that “moonshots are an act of human courage, imagination and determination.”

This book is filled with real-life stories explaining how you can create your own moonshot in your business—from selling your vision to executing the plan. There’s plenty of information for businesses that are scaling and for startups as well. In fact, the authors focus on 24 leadership and management practices they say are crucial to launching a successful moonshot.

The American Retail Value Proposition: Crafting Unique Experiences at Compelling Prices ($34.95)

By Kyle B. Murray

The author, a marketing professor and the Director of the School of Retailing at the Alberta School of Business, says the U.S. economy is dependent on consumer spending and the success of the retailers trying to get those shoppers to buy from them.

And while today’s big retailers have achieved success by streamlining operations, cutting costs and competitively pricing their merchandise, that’s no longer enough to succeed. Murray says retail today is more competitive than ever and that “a dollar spent at one store means a dollar not spent somewhere else. Consumers’ dollars are migrating to those retailers that offer the greatest value.”

Murray conducted more than a decade of research and interviewed executives from top retailers including Starbucks, Walmart, Apple, Amazon and Lowe’s to offer insight into the best retail practices. “Ultimately, successful retailing is not about offering lower prices than Walmart or besting Disney World’s customer experience,” he writes. “The key to retail success is creating value for consumers by crafting unique experiences at compelling prices.” That’s good news for small retailers.

This thorough book discusses everything a retailer needs to know to compete effectively, including setting prices and the importance of the shopping environment, product selection and customer engagement.

The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity ($28)

By Lynda Gratton & Andrew Scott

New research says babies born today have a 33 percent chance of living to be at least 100 years old. And according to authors Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, both London Business School professors, more than 50 percent of people in their 60s today will live past 90 and more than half of Millennials will live past 100.

If you’d like to live that long, Gratton and Scott offer insightful advice on what they call the “risks and rewards of living much longer than ever imagined.” The book is essentially a “roadmap for rethinking finances, education, career and relationships in order to create a fulfilling 100-year-old life.”

The authors argue there’s a lot that needs to change in society in order to support so many centenarians. And my guess is the increase of “encore entrepreneurs” (people starting businesses after age 55) is a big part of this trend.

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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.