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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 and the lessons you can learn from reading them.

Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection ($25)

By Jia Jiang

Chinese native Jia Jiang came to the U.S. to “become the next Bill Gates.” Needless to say, he didn’t—his entrepreneurial dreams ended in rejection. The experience made Jiang realize that his fear of rejection was the biggest obstacle standing in the way of his success. So he set out to conquer that fear by purposely seeking rejection over the course of 100 days. He parlayed that quest into a lot of media coverage and a blog and video series.

Jiang shares the lessons he learned (rejection is a powerful motivator and rejection toughens up and prepares you to take on greater goals) and techniques for handling rejection.

This book is funny and informative and well worth the read.

The Sumo Advantage: Leveraging Business Development to Team with Heavyweights and Grow in Any Economy ($24.95)

By Bernie Brenner

The premise of this book is that so many entrepreneurs seek to become the “800-pound gorilla” in their industries, meaning they strive to dominate. But author, entrepreneur and business development expert Bernie Brenner, the cofounder of TrueCar, contends that while gorillas have enormous power, they lack the “X factor,” or ability to strategize, which is what actually accelerates market dominance.

The sumo wrestler, however, while also large and physically domineering, is all about “positioning, outsmarting and out-psyching the competition.”

Small businesses are not able to be sumos themselves (small being the operative word) so they need to seek out sumo companies to partner with them. Brenner helps you do just that by telling you how to find, court and partner with the sumos of the business world.

Miss Jessie’s: Creating a Successful Business from Scratch—Naturally ($24.99)

By Miko Branch with Titi Branch

What an uplifting book Miko and Titi Branch have written. The siblings are cofounders first of a hair salon and then of Miss Jessie’s, a line of hair-care products based on “concoctions” their grandmother, Miss Jessie, “whipped up at her kitchen table.”

The book is both a memoir and a small business guide as you follow the sisters on their journey from kitchen table to the shelves of Target, from nothing to multimillion-dollar sales.

There’s a lot to learn here, from knowing when to go with your gut, to dealing with the inherent “bonus” challenges of running a family business to a 13-step “simple small business recipe.”

Sadly, right before publication, older sister Titi died. This book is a great tribute to her spirit.

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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.