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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.

Crazy Is a Compliment: The Power of Zigging When Everyone Else Zags ($27.95)

By Linda Rottenberg

“Everyone needs to think and act like an entrepreneur.” So says Linda Rottenberg, an entrepreneur herself. It’s hard to argue that point, especially today when, whether you own the business or work there, thinking outside that proverbial box (or zigging when everyone else is zagging, as Rottenberg says) is key to your success.

Rottenberg argues that uncertainty is at the root of all this. She writes, “We live in a time of uncertainty. Our economies, our companies, our jobs are no longer stable and secure. Change is the only constant....Everyone needs to take some risk, or risk being left behind.” But the good news, she says, is “Anybody can be a change agent today.”

She says entrepreneurs (or entrepreneurial thinkers) come in four different “species”: Gazelles, Skunks, Dolphins and Butterflies. What type are you? You’ll have to get the book to find out. But it’s a great and informative read, so it’s worth it.

What More Can I Say? Why Communication Fails and What to Do About It ($15)

By Dianna Booher

Do you ever wonder why your employees don’t react to your advice the way you assumed they would? Maybe it’s not their fault, but yours. That’s the premise of this book, written by business communications expert Diana Booher, who has coached and taught scores of executives on how to communicate better.

Booher says the problem is many of the phrases we use when talking to employees, such as, “What it all boils down to is that you just don’t...” or “The reality of the situation is that...” Instead of listening, employees tend to hear that as manipulative or disciplinary. Instead, Booher suggests you say things like, “I hear what you’re saying. My experience has been different...” or “My impression of what’s happening here is...”

This book is full of practical and actionable advice that will help you sharpen your communications skills.

The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace ($25)

By Ron Friedman

Award-winning psychologist Ron Friedman wants to help you turn your ordinary business into an extraordinary one. He does that by highlighting the stories of actual businesses and current research to show how you can “promote smarter thinking, greater innovation and stronger performance.”

There’s a lot of counter-intuitive advice in The Best Place to Work. For instance, Friedman says incorporating distractions into your schedule actually helps you make smarter decisions. This book is worth reading, if only to find out why you should place a fishbowl near your desk. Really!

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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.