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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.

Fail Fast or Win Big: The Start-up Plan for Starting Now ($21.95)

By Bernhard Schroeder

In today’s startup environment, you have to move fast or you’re likely to be left in the dust. Few entrepreneurs have the luxury of waiting months (or a year) to actually launch their new business, or so contends author Bernhard Schroder, who is the director of programs at the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center at San Diego State University, a business advisor and entrepreneur himself.

Schroeder is an advocate of what he calls “The LeanModel Framework,” and tells you how to leverage all the lean resources around you, create a “solid” business model instead of a formal business plan, and develop a rapid prototype–all so you can get actually started in 90 days. He contends, “If you want to sell a product, just make it. If you want to sell a service, just deliver it. If you want to create a company, just create one. There has never been a time like the one we are living in right now.”

If you want to start a business and are looking for inspiring success stories, great advice and a compelling argument, then it’s time you picked up this book so you can “quit planning and start doing!”

Selfish, Scared & Stupid: Stop Fighting Human Nature and Increase Your Performance, Engagement and Influence ($22.95)

By Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan

Authors Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan, who are behavioral strategists, believe people and businesses fail because we design our organizations, systems, processes, etc., so they can only succeed under “ideal laboratory conditions” and not in the real world.

All too often, the authors say, we run from failure. Instead, they suggest, we should “assume failure is part of the process” and “design [for the times we’re] “selfish, scared and stupid.”

I particularly like the chapter on fear. Instead of trying to become fearless (an impossible task, I believe), the authors say we should see fear as a “lever for positive change” and actually use our fears to “fuel our performances.

Stacking the Deck: How to Lead Breakthrough Change Against Any Odds ($28)

By David S. Pottruck

We all know many people fear change, while some embrace it. But if you own a business, particularly an entrepreneurial one, you need to make sure your team is ready for change. Unfortunately, “Introducing and implementing breakthrough change is an uphill battle,” writes David Pottruck, the chairman of HighTower Advisors, a wealth management firm, and CorpU, a leadership development organization.

To help you win that battle, Pottruck has created a nine-step “Stacking the Deck” process to guide you and your team in embracing change and avoiding the mistakes he’s made as an entrepreneur. Pottruck makes it easy, leading you through the process and offering action items in every chapter.

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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.