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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.

Branding For Dummies ($24.99)

By Bill Chiaravalle and Barbara Findley Schenck

Of course we’re all very familiar with the Dummies books, a wildly successful series launched in 1991 with DOS For Dummies. The books really need no explanation; they routinely take a topic that’s often complex and explain it so almost anyone can understand it.

But that doesn’t mean the information isn’t immensely helpful—it is. In this particular title, Branding For Dummies, the authors, who are both branding and marketing experts, explain how good branding is essential for achieving marketing success. Branding is not just for the big guys, nor is it something only startups need to worry about. So whether your goal is to build a new brand, strengthen your existing brand or repair a broken one, you’re going to find something of value in this book.

Branding For Dummies is newly updated and covers everything from explaining that you likely have a brand (even if you think you don’t) to branding in the digital age and using social media to engage with your customers. There are lists galore, including one to see if your brand is aging and in need of revitalizing and another to help you write a brand launch marketing plan.

Primal Teams: Harnessing the Power of Emotions to Fuel Extraordinary Performance ($24.95)

By Jackie Barretta

Over the course of my career I was told by a few of my bosses that I was too emotional—as if that were a bad thing. Of course emotions can interfere with level-headed decision making. But can they also be a force for good? Yes, says Primal Teams author Jackie Barretta, an entrepreneur herself, who says you should tap into the power of emotions to grow your business.

Like I was, many employees are expected to stifle their emotions once they get to work. But Barretta explains that’s an impossible expectation: Employees are naturally going to feel emotional about the work they’re doing. Barretta writes, “Only by working directly with our emotions can we release the energy that we need to become world-class creative problem-solvers.” She cites studies that show people working as a group who experienced positive emotions were three times more likely to find a solution than other groups who hadn’t.

Barretta explains how to get the most out of your people by allowing them (and helping them) to connect to a deeper purpose. This book makes a lot of sense–after all, emotional employees care about your businesses and are going to work harder to help you succeed.

What Motivates Me: Put Your Passions to Work ($24.95)

By Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

Speaking of emotions, what about your own? Are you doing what matters the most to you? Entrepreneurs and bestselling authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton say it’s vital to figure out what you’re doing on the days you feel excited and energized, so you can “unleash your full potential, your best ideas and your productive power.”

What Motivates Me examines the science behind motivation and the factors that separate the disengaged from the motivated. This is a personal book designed to help you identify your core motivators. Like Barretta, the authors believe, “It would be hard to overstate how important meaningful work is to human beings.” What Motivates Me helps you figure out where you are, where you want to go and how to get there.

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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.