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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.

Values, Inc.: How Incorporating Values Into Business and Life Can Change the World ($25)

By Dina Dwyer-Owens

Upfront, let me tell you I know and admire Dina Dwyer-Owens. She is the co-chair of The Dwyer Group, which owns and operates eight franchises with systemwide sales of about $1 billion. Dwyer-Owens is a trailblazer, and has long fought to help entrepreneurial women and veterans.

Dwyer-Owens says, “It’s been said that 95 percent of companies that have a code of values don’t even use it.” She credits The Dwyer Group’s “Code of Values” for the company’s success, and with this book, she set forth to create a roadmap for others to follow. Values, Inc. is full of advice and examples of how to operate a business with integrity.

How important are values to a small business? As Dwyer-Owens says, “Who we are and what we chose to do changes lives....Every good deed that was ever done was based on at least one value.” This book will help you define yours—and make your business more valuable in the process.

The 4 Lenses of Innovation: A Power Tool for Creative Thinking ($35)

By Rowan Gibson

Business innovation expert Rowan Gibson believes that everyone has the capacity to innovate. “Some expert guidance, the proper tools and a little practice” is all it takes to improve your creative thinking skills, he writes.

The 4 Lenses of Innovation is beautifully crafted, engagingly illustrated and a great read. Gibson explains the many similarities between the innovators of the Renaissance, such as da Vinci and Galileo, and the innovators of today, such as Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos.

Gibson says most successful innovation follows the “same distinct patterns of creative thinking,” which he calls lenses (or innovation perspectives). These four lenses are Challenging Orthodoxies, Harnessing Trends, Leveraging Resources and Understanding Needs.

Using these lenses will help you uncover the “limitless opportunities for radical innovation,” Gibson says. Innovation, argues the author, is not about a Eureka! moment, but rather about “understanding patterns of thinking that unlock our ability to innovate.”

Leading With Cultural Intelligence: The Real Secret to Success ($26.95)

By David Livermore

This is the second edition of this book, which tells business leaders how “to lead and relate in any multicultural situation.” Those skills are more important than ever these days, as the Internet and ecommerce have made the world more inviting for small businesses, and as the work force becomes more diverse.

Cultural intelligence (or CQ) is our “capability to function effectively” in different cultural environments, explains author David Livermore, who is the president of the Cultural Intelligence Center.

Filled with current statistics and real-life examples, this book will show you how to develop your cultural intelligence, how to create a CQ strategy and how to adapt it to different cultural situations. If you expect to grow a successful small business today, improving your CQ is going to be key.

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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.