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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 small business owners should read and the lessons you can learn from reading them.

Unmistakable: Why Only is Better Than Best ($25)

By Srinivas Rao

Unmistakable is the account of Srinivas Rao’s journey from hopeful MBA (“I had hoped to do creative and meaningful work,” he writes) to life on “the corporate hamster wheel” where he found himself stuck in “soulless corporate jobs” at companies that only wanted “people who would conform to the rules.”

So Rao jumped off the hamster wheel and pursued his dream—learning to surf. That might not sound like a smart business strategy, but Rao was inspired to create the Unmistakable Creative podcast, where he’s interviewed hundreds of “wildly creative” types such as marketing guru Seth Godin.

This book is structured as surfing steps (the Paddle Out, the Ride, the Stroke, etc.) and is designed to help you cast off the conventional and “find meaningful, joyful and unique work.”

This is a simple book—and I mean that in the best possible way. It is a powerful tool for self-motivation.

Make Your Own Waves: The Surfer’s Rules for Innovators and Entrepreneurs ($21.95)

By Louis Patler

Speaking of surfing, author Louis Patler is an entrepreneur (president of the B.I.T. Group, a thought leader and a surfer). He brings those avocations together in Make Your Own Waves and writes, “If you look closely at the Big Wave surfers, you can see a mindset, skillset and toolset that would serves any entrepreneur or innovator well.”

Patler’s contention makes sense when you consider, as he writes, that surfers “are driven by curiosity and the thrill of a challenge.” The connection becomes clearer when you consider that both surfers and entrepreneurs “are diligent when it comes to their attention to anomalies...[and] test the water with new processes and products. [They’re] far from reckless...they take calculated risks...are ready to make quick decisions and adjust to changing conditions.”

Patler uses the “rules of the water” to create a 10-step roadmap to get you from start to startup—and then “onward to starting on the next opportunity.”

Millennials vs. Boomers: Listen, Learn and Succeed Together ($15.95)

By Eric Harvey and Silvana Clark

This is a cleverly designed flip book. One side is called Millennials vs. Boomers, the other Boomers vs. Millennials. Both are designed to create greater understanding between America’s largest generations.

The book is peppered with quotes, statistics, different perspectives and plenty of insights. It offers each generation a look at how the other one thinks and acts, enabling better understanding and communication in the workplace.

If you have employees from different generations working for you, give them all this book and encourage open conversation about its key points. The authors’ goal is to help you create a workplace where “with more understanding and greater appreciation, [employees from different generations] can meet in the middle—and succeed together.”

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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.