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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.

The Art of the Start 2.0: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything ($29.95)

By Guy Kawasaki

You could rightly claim that the original edition of The Art of the Start launched thousands of businesses. I expect this one will perform at least as well. This new version is not merely an update, but an overhaul of the iconic book first released 10 years ago.

Guy Kawasaki is known for many things—he was the chief evangelist at Apple and now holds the same title at Canva. He’s a serial entrepreneur and investor, and the executive fellow at the Haas School of Business at U.C. Berkeley.

So much has changed since Kawasaki first released The Art of the Start. Businesses are, he argues, “easier, cheaper and more democratic” to start. Public relations and advertising, previously the key ways to promote a business, have been supplanted by social media. And who needs investors when you can crowdfund?
This book is filled with great advice, actionable information and tons of resources. Mostly, I love Kawasaki’s attitude. He writes, “Few things are right or wrong in entrepreneurship—there’s only what works and what doesn’t.” And as he says, “If your goal is to change the world—not study it” this is the book for you.

The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age ($25)

By Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh

A few years ago the authors (entrepreneurs all, and Hoffman is the founder and chairman of LinkedIn) captured a lot of attention for a article they co-wrote in the Harvard Business Review calling for a complete change in the way we consider work. Instead of thinking about “lifetime employment” (and who does that anymore?), they argue for employees having “tours of duty,” which are specific, finite missions. This book furthers that argument and says it’s “time to rebuild the employer-employee relationship.”

There’s a lot of counterintuitive advice in this book. For instance the authors advise business owners not to worry so much about their good employees leaving, and instead hire people with an entrepreneurial mindset who want to start businesses one day. They also say you should encourage your employees to socialize, gossip and make connections—even give them a “networking allowance.”

The Secrets of Business Mastery: Build Wealth, Freedom and Market Domination for Your Service Business in 12 Months or Less ($24.95)

By Mike Agugliaro

Small Business Forum readers might remember some of the secrets entrepreneur and business coach Mike Agugliaro shared with us last year. In this book, Agugliaro, who has built a $23 million business, offers advice to help you dominate your market within a year.

To help you get there, the book is filled with exercises, practical advice and action plans. Agugliaro’s approach to service businesses was game-changing, and with this book, his goal is to help you change yours.

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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.