Summer is a time for enjoying beaches, boats, and – yes – books. Whether your vacation takes you to familiar haunts or new frontiers, or you’re spending long weekends relaxing by the pool or in a backyard hammock, why not dedicate some downtime to exploring a few fresh ideas to help your small business grow?

These seven books are filled with best practices and first-hand anecdotes that address specific business challenges and offer inspiring big-picture strategies. Each offers plenty of food for thought for first-time entrepreneurs and experienced small business owners looking to scale new heights.

1 – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

First published 25 years ago, Covey’s groundbreaking book continues to read as fresh and practical. Considered by many to be an anthem for small business owners, Seven Habit’s focus on timeless principles makes it ideal for anyone looking to balance work and personal life successfully. Covey advises you to work with your end result in mind and map out the steps that lead to it. He also encourages business leaders to tune in to their inner voice as well as engage fully with their surroundings, noting, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

2 – Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

In his latest book, Newport explores the concept of time management on a macro scale. He specifically examines how to dodge the distractions inherent in running a small business so you can focus on growth. Instead of arguing that digital diversions such as email and social media are bad, the book celebrates the power of technology to aid our work lives and offers practical advice to help you concentrate on intellectually demanding tasks and complete them with efficiency and ease.

3 – Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collas and Jerry I. Porras

Following a six-year study at Stanford University, Collas and Porras detailed 18 successful companies from their origins to the present day and analyzed their findings in this highly informative and insightful book. Built to Last offers an unprecedented inside look at the trajectory business often takes, charting the companies’ ebbs and flows and highs and lows. Small business owners and entrepreneurs will find inspiration throughout, as the authors examine what separates these industry giants from their competitors and how and why they have succeeded.

4 – Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

The COO of Facebook crafted this bestseller back in 2013, and her take on balancing family and work while climbing the corporate ladder has proven to be indelible. Sandberg shares personal stories and uses research to shine a light on gender differences in the workplace. Her practical advice is designed to empower women leaders in companies of all shapes and sizes to achieve their goals and inspire them to work together to create a more equal world.

5 – Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

“Be the leader you wish you had” is the pithy sentence that headlines Sinek’s website and encapsulates the mission of his lead-by-example book. An impassioned public speaker and motivational coach, Sinek galvanizes business leaders to identify the reasons why they began their companies and translate this information into a mission and meaningful brand messaging that will inspire and motivate their teams and their customers.

6 – Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Cialdini’s three decades spent analyzing sales trends and consumer habits brings an overarching perspective to the ever-changing world of influence in the social media era. His book gets down to the brass tacks of what makes people crave a product, exploring what convinces consumers to say “yes” or “no,” and why. Rather than focusing on gimmicky sales tricks, Cialdini provides valuable advice for how your business can foster an irresistible demand for the products or services you sell.

7 – Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman

In addition to authoring this go-to book on problem solving, Wickman is the founder of Entrepreneurial Operating System, a leadership development company aimed at the entrepreneurial community. An expert on the struggles of running small and medium-sized companies, he asks the essential question: “Do you control your business or does it control you?” His book provides plenty of tools and techniques to help you get and stay on track, with an emphasis on holistic strategies for growth. Accessible and insightful, Traction is a must-read for every small business leader who grapples with the challenges of wearing multiple hats.

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