When Timothy Ferriss was about to give a critical presentation, before going on stage he went online to see what advice small-business bloggers could give. After reading tips and viewing a video at "How to Change the World," a blog by Guy Kawasaki at blog.guykawasaki.com, Ferriss, owner of a vitamin supplement business called BrainQuickenLLC and author of the best-selling entrepreneurship guide, The 4-Hour Workweek (Crown, 2007), aced the presentation. "It's extremely good for marketing and positioning," the San Jose, Calif., businessman and author says of the blog written by former Apple executive Kawasaki.

Along with "How to Change the World," Ferriss reads just two other small-business blogs, Pmarca written by ex-Netscape entrepreneur Marc Andreesen at blog.pmarca.com and Micropersuasion.com, where blogger Steve Rubel holds fort. Andreesen's blog, Ferriss says, is "just about unbeatable" for its take on innovation and big-picture strategizing, while he prizes Rubel's insight into public relations. Ferriss is so careful of his time that he refuses to read daily newspapers or just about anything not directly related to his work. He began reading these blogs after meeting all three bloggers and wanting to know more about their thinking. It pays regularly, he says, most notably when his Kawasaki-inspired presentation at a media conference helped bump The 4-Hour Workweek onto The New York Times bestseller list.

If you don't get the opportunity to meet top-notch bloggers, the sheer multitude of small-business blogs out there can make it difficult to pick which ones to read. In addition to Ferriss's personal choices, a few different sources have, however, tried to pick out the best and most influential blogs using different methods. Business owners who read them can be assured of at least getting something better than the usual. Here are some other top blogs for small business:

Ducttapemarketing.com: The blog by marketing consultant John Jantsch focuses on low-cost, high-impact marketing techniques and tools for small enterprises. It was named a top business blog by Forbes.com.

Small Business Trends: The everything information guide About.com liked this blog at www.smallbiztrends.com. Blogger and former corporate executive Anita Campbell covers a wide range of topics for a wide range of small businesses, from her experience meeting Michael Dell to the latest technology.

Instigator Blog: Blog Top Sites, using the technique of ranking blogs by the number of visitors each receives, picked Instigator Blog as a top business blog. Blogger Benjamin Yoskovitz, a business consultant, tries to keep it light by injecting humor into his posts on entrepreneurship, technology and marketing.

Successful Blog: This site Blog Top Sites ranks as a top 10 in the business category is penned by publishing veteran Liz Strauss and numerous guest bloggers. It stretches the concept of business blog by discussing topics as widely separated as resumes, graphic design and search engine optimization tricks.

Franchisebrief.com: Bloggers Choice Awards, which lets readers vote on their favorite blogs, ranked this one higher than any other small business-related blog. Primarily a directory of franchise business opportunities, it also includes a clearly written blog with entries on topics like "Franchise 101" as well as a sizable volume of news, some of it real insider stuff, about franchising.

Entrepreneurial Mind: Forbes.com favorite Entrepreneurial Mind is written by Jeff Cornwall, director of the entrepreneur center at Belmont University in Nashville. Cornwall's take is less academic than you might expect, with healthy doses of down-home vernacular.

Perhaps the best endorsement of small business blogs would be that other small business bloggers read them. It can be hard, however, to get bloggers to talk about much besides the business value of writing your own blog. But when prompted even some of the most fervent bloggers may admit to reading and profiting from others' blogs.

Duct Tape Marketing's Jantsch, who lives and works in Kansas City, uses a tool called Bloglines to organize a rotating group of more than 50 blogs he tries to keep up with. "It's a great way for you to find cutting edge information, in some cases before the traditional mainline press even hears about stuff," Jantsch says. "I find that reading blogs really helps me keep the pulse of what's going on and what's new."

Mark Henricks is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas.