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3 Books Small Business Owners Should Read

Rieva Lesonsky
business books

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.

Ditch the Pitch: The Art of Improvised Persuasion ($22.95)

By Steve Yastrow

Many businesses, large and small, don’t let their salespeople out in the field unless they’ve perfected their sales pitch. Usually a well-rehearsed spiel, the sales script is usually a collaborative effort between management and the sales and marketing folks.

Well, Steve Yastrow, an entrepreneur and consultant, says it’s time to Ditch the Pitch and embrace spontaneity. In other words, he thinks sales pitches should be improvised. Yastrow says if you want to be persuasive, you need to engage in fresh and spontaneous conversations—and those don’t come from sales scripts.

According to Yastrow, there are six habits we need to ditch. He shares tips and provides a framework of how to sell successfully without the script. What I really like about the book: Yastrow interviewed those who know improvisation best—comedians and musicians—to get their insights into how to master the art of spontaneity.

Moxie: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership ($26.95)

By John Baldoni

I love the word moxie—it’s a word I learned watching old movies from the 30s, 40s and 50s on television. In my (likely faulty) memory, one of the reasons Spencer Tracy loved/hated Katharine Hepburn in all those “battle-of-the sexes” movies was that Hepburn’s characters always had moxie.

But John Baldoni, author of several books on leadership and a well-recognized and honored expert on leadership, defines moxie as Mindfulness, Opportunity, an X factor, Innovation and Engagement.

Baldoni says leaders with moxie share four key characteristics: Fire (a desire to make things happen); Drive (a willingness to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains); Resilience (the ability to pick yourself up after a fall); and Street Smarts (a knowledge of how to read people, both your friends and enemies.

Any book that cites both Margaret Thatcher and Dolly Parton as people to emulate is all right with me.

The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan ($19.95)

By Hal Shelton

I know it’s “in” these days to not write a business plan, but the truth is if you ever want to raise or borrow a dime, you have to write one. However, business plans should be for more than raising money. Business plans force you to think about what you’re doing and how you’re going to do it.

Hal Shelton spent years as a corporate executive. Now a SCORE mentor and angel investor, in this book Shelton offers, in clear and concise language, step-by-step guidance for creating each section of your business plan, as well as worksheets in every chapter.

Shelton is no slave to the business plan. His goal in writing The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan is to show you how to spend less time writing the plan so you can devote more time to setting up your business.

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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.