Skip to main content

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 look at three business books small business owners should read and the lessons you can learn from reading them.

The Power of Thanks: How Social Recognition Empowers Employees and Creates a Best Place to Work ($25)

By Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine

The authors, Eric Mosley, the CEO of Globoforce and Derek Irvine, a Globoforce VP, have something in common with my mother. They all think “thanks” is one of the most powerful words in our vocabulary. Mosley and Irvine make a compelling case, showing how creating a “culture of recognition” in a company increases employee engagement and loyalty, unifies teams, improves customer satisfaction and increases profitability. That’s a lot of impact from one small word.

The Power of Thanks makes instituting that kind of company culture fairly easy to do. There are plenty of summaries, charts and insights to help you get started, making this one of the most useful books small business owners should read.

As the Millennials continue to enter the workforce in record numbers, you’d be smart to consider how important employee recognition is. Survey after survey has shown most Millennials want a job that involves “meaningful work” and where they feel appreciated.

Empty Abundance: Finding Meaning Through Mindful Giving ($16.95)

By Tim McCarthy

In Empty Abundance, Tim McCarthy recounts his story of growing up as one of 10 kids, “getting fired from a C-level job at [the age of] 34, having the assets of his business frozen at 43, and then becoming extraordinarily wealthy at 54.” That was when McCarthy sold his business for $45 million.

McCarthy’s tale is a very personal one, but he broadens the lessons he’s learned so most of us can find something to connect with. He contends many of us suffer from “anhedonia,” which he says is “the emptiness or the lack of pleasure derived from material things [others] usually find joyful.” It’s about the chase; we’re always looking for the bigger or better payday—and most times when we get it, it’s never enough.

McCarthy practices what he preaches. He took his millions and started a foundation to help others. And he implores all of us to “take a giving pledge” and give (whether that’s in the form of money, time, knowledge, love or kindness) to the less fortunate.

Seven Disciplines of a Leader: How to Help Your People, Team and Organization Achieve Maximum Effectiveness ($28)

By Jeff Wolf with Ken Shelton

Seven Disciplines of a Leader defines itself as a “working manual,” and indeed it is. Although the author is a well-respected thought leader on leadership, this book is more than a theoretical discussion of how to be a better leader.

Instead Wolf offers takeaways, hands-on advice and summaries that add up to action steps, providing real-world, practical advice you can immediately start implementing in your own business.

Reading Seven Disciplines is like hiring a business coach; it will help you build leadership skills, improve your decision-making and become a more effective leader.

Want more assistance growing your business online? Join the Small Business Forum for free access to our library of ebooks, the latest industry news and support from other business owners, entrepreneurs and working professionals. Join a Group to ask questions, share your opinions and grow your network! Visit to learn about our full range of affordable website design and online marketing services.




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.