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3 Books Small Business Owners Should Read: November 7

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.

Accounting for the Numberphobic: A Survival Guide for Small Business Owners ($19.95)

By Dawn Fotopulos

When this book showed up in the mail, I thought Dawn Fotopulos wrote it just for me. Numbers have always intimidated me a little bit. But Fotopulos (whom I’ve met a few times), a former banker and current Associate Professor of Business at The King’s College in New York City, set out to “make financial literacy fun for small business owners.”

Fotopulos has spent over 20 years working with entrepreneurs, helping them turn around failing businesses. In fact she says her mission is to prevent small business bankruptcies.

Accounting for the Numberphobic certainly supports that goal. Fotopulos challenges the common reason given for business failure (undercapitalization) and says failure is more likely due to “management ignorance.” Too many business owners don’t understand basic accounting principles, she argues, and that can lead to mistakes, some of which can cost you your business.

Fotopulos explains these principles in plain English. The book has plenty of charts and graphs to show you how to do a breakeven analysis or how to create (and read) a balance sheet. At the end of every chapter is a list of “Key Takeaways” which essentially read as an action plan.

The bottom line? If you can’t read your financials, you’re in danger of losing your business. Accounting for the Numberphobic shows you how to understand your financials and keep your company fiscally fit.

Moonshot! Game-Changing Strategies to Build Billion-Dollar Businesses ($27.95)

By John Sculley

Henry Ford once said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” John Sculley agrees that you can learn as much from failure as you can from success. And that’s one of the lessons you’ll learn reading Moonshot! Sculley, who over the course of his illustrious career led Pepsi and Apple Computers, talks about today’s disruptive technologies and how all business owners need to be prepared as their industries shift and transform.

Sculley, an investor and mentor, wrote the book to help entrepreneurs become “adaptive innovators who will survive and thrive as the business world transforms.” Sculley says today’s new technologies have essentially put the consumers in charge and we need to tap those technologies, such as cloud computing, Big Data and mobile devices, in order to build billion-dollar businesses.

Sculley believes this is “the best time in history to build a billion-dollar business” and in Moonshot! he explains how you can do it. For instance, he says the business plan is becoming passé, and you need to develop a customer plan instead.

Don’t think Moonshot! is just for startups. It’s not. If you already own a business, Sculley says, you need to adapt to what’s going on today, or you will lose ground.

Scale: Seven Proven Business Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back ($27.95)

By Jeff Hoffman and David Finkel

Who among us hasn’t wished for more time to spend with our friends and families, or just to relax? Well, serial entrepreneurs Jeff Hoffman (on the founding team and former CEO at Priceline) and David Finkel (CEO of Maui Mastermind, a business coaching company) think entrepreneurs need to take their lives back. Scale is their roadmap for doing just that.

The authors are not telling us to sacrifice our businesses to spend more time at home. Rather, they offer a plan for business owners to grow their companies and “take back control of their time.”

In order to build a stronger company, they write, you have to “start with three core elements”: Getting the right systems in place, having a strong team and having strong internal controls.

The authors believe “the only way to truly scale and grow your company is to reduce its reliance on you.” And to help you do that Scale offers a step-by-step game plan to help you move forward, grow your business and enjoy your life.

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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.