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Social and economic conditions are forever in flux, so effective small business entrepreneurs must continually update their understanding. Failing to learn and grow with your business risks being left a step behind your competitors, which can have catastrophic consequences for your company or sole proprietorship. Fortunately, resources are available to keep you in step with changing times and business best-practices. Among them, several noteworthy business books can help you build a strong foundation and to adapt as commercial conditions change.

Whether you need to answer specific questions about running a business or want to expand your general entrepreneurial understanding, these worthwhile titles can help you elevate your small business success.

Built to Last – Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

Case studies and business profiles are valuable references for business owner/operators, furnishing unique insight into effective companies’ path to prosperity. The format, studying success stories, provides firsthand knowledge you can use to shape your thinking and guide you through real-life business dilemmas.

Have you ever wondered how a successful company navigated a complex commercial environment? Or marveled at a positive professional outcome, without really understanding what was behind the success? Built to Last, written by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, focuses on visionary companies, encapsulating a six-year study conducted by the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. In their book, the authors trace the growth of well-known companies, tracking the businesses’ progress from square-one to present day success.

Sprout Funding logoRather than keying in on a particular CEO or product, the book instead provides overviews and comparisons of various organizations, attempting to identify some of the ways successful companies set themselves apart. Built to Last – Successful Habits of Visionary Companies is most concerned with organizational culture and the business fundamentals that help visionary companies endure. Within its pages, you may identify building blocks and principles to help your small business grow and succeed.

Start With Why – How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Business leadership styles are as varied as the owners and operators responsible for making decisions. In his book, Start With WhyHow Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek explores two principle methods for moving other people to action. Between manipulation and inspiration, Sinek advocates for the later, identifying inspiration as an effective, sustainable tool for prompting human behavior. The concept is germane to small business operations, because effective leaders need to influence actions, driving desirable outcomes.

Mr. Sinek’s title choice aptly conveys his believe that an important motivator for human behavior is a general sense of purpose. In his estimation, answering “Why” before turning to “What” and “How,” is one way to bring people together, uniting them in pursuit of common goals and shared objectives. Start With Why advances the notion that entrepreneurial leaders focused on “Why” won’t lose sight of their business origins, sparking creative, innovative thinking, which naturally carries over to staff and collaborators.

Traction – Get a Grip on Your Business

There’s no single blueprint for entrepreneurs to follow, guaranteeing success, across the board. But Gino Wickman’s Traction – Get a Grip on Your Business provides a valuable problem-solving resource. He presents the material in an approachable format that’s easy to read, without being simplistic. Rather than tackling small business minutia, Traction puts forth strategic ideas, supported by tools and techniques business owners can use to get back on track.

At its core, the book adheres to the recommended Entrepreneurial Operating System®, promoting it as a practical approach to business success. The System looks at big-picture business concerns, encouraging entrepreneurs to control their businesses, before their businesses take control of them. Touted as a simple philosophy combined with practical tools, EOS is said to have helped many businesses reach their potential, not with “spot treatments,” but instead with techniques capable of addressing myriad business issues, by focusing on their root causes.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Stephen R. Covey’s book dates to 1990, but the information and insight he shares are timeless, motivating and inspiring personal growth and understanding. Dr. Covey frames the book not as a day-to-day guide, but rather a potentially transformative paradigm shift for readers from all walks of life.

Dr. Covey urges readers to work on their attitudes when small life changes are needed, but to focus on paradigm, when larger, primary changes are desired. Though it isn’t a small business manual, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People can help entrepreneurs tune their thinking for successful professional outcomes. Of particular value to business-oriented readers, some of the 7 habits explored can help entrepreneurs and small business owners achieve the balance required to carry concepts to fruition. Sharpen the Saw®, for example, is a principle suggesting your professional and personal activities should not be allowed to overcome your need for self-renewal and continuous improvement. Specifically, the book identifies physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual self-renewal as keys to growth and change. Embracing these and other Covey concepts may prove beneficial to small business success.

From professional consulting to online entrepreneurial case studies, widespread small business resources help owners answer questions and devise sustainable, profitable strategies for diverse ventures. Among the many learning opportunities supporting small business success; several print resources reinforce general entrepreneurial understanding and outline specific strategies for addressing business dilemmas. These select titles may provide answers, tools, and techniques you can use to elevate your personal and professional performance.

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