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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.

Cooking Up a Business: Lessons from Food Lovers Who Turned their Passion into a Career—and How You Can, Too ($16), By Rachel Hofstetter

Technology is not the only business that can make you a mega-successful entrepreneur. One of the best—and most fun—ways to capture the hearts—and wallets—of American consumers is offering them something delicious to eat.

Author Rachel Hofstetter, a self-defined “food entrepreneur groupie” and former food editor at O, the Oprah Magazine, profiles recent foodie successes, those who “came of age in an era of social media,” and tells you how you can emulate their accomplishments.

One of the great things about the food business, Hofstetter points out, is you can start and scale it from anywhere in the country. And the market is a broad one. There’s money to be made appealing to people looking to eat healthy (Love Grown Food or Hint water) as well as to those seeking an indulgent treat (Vosges Haut-Chocolat).

But profiles of successful food entrepreneurs are only one part of Cooking Up a Business. Hofstetter also offers plenty of tips, advice and inside info culled from experts and entrepreneurs. The story about how one entrepreneur went from hiding his lunchtime Doritos to developing Popchips is a fascinating one.

If you’ve ever dreamed about starting a food business, this book is sure to get you off to a great start

Agile Selling: Get Up to Speed Quickly in Today’s Ever-Changing Sales World ($27.95), By Jill Konrath

Even the best business ideas will go nowhere unless you know how to sell your concept. Selling today has become a far more complex endeavor, incorporating traditional, digital, mobile and social aspects. Jill Konrath is a sales pro, with more than 20 years of experience as a strategist, author and speaker. Here she explains how to turn your business into a “differentiator”; tackle your biggest competitor—the status quo; develop recovery strategies after you make those inevitable mistakes; and move prospects to action. She even encourages the power of “negative thinking.”

Konrath, the author of several business bestsellers, offers smart advice. She explains how to quickly learn new skills and get rid of bad habits. The use of worksheets and charts throughout the book makes the learning process easier.

The Nice Reboot: A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur ($19.95), By Penina Rybak

Reading The Nice Reboot, you could guess author Penina Rybak runs an educational technology consulting firm, because the book is thorough and packed with advice and resources. I was lucky enough to get an early preview and here’s what I said at the time: “Whether you’re driven by necessity or opportunity, The Nice Reboot offers that perfect combination of information and inspiration to put [women] on the path to entrepreneurial success. Rybak takes the mystery out of business startup. Follow her simple formula–Creativity + Passion + Timing = Entrepreneurial Success–and you’ll unlock the secrets of achieving your dreams of business ownership.”

Rybak’s mission is to get us all comfortable embracing change. She launched another business, The Nice Initiative, to help bring this about. Her view that while change is scary and hard, it is also good and necessary to “nourish your soul and set your creativity free,” is essential entrepreneurial thinking.

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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.