Happy holidays all. Being as it is that magical time of year, it got me thinking about ‘ol Kris Kringle himself, Santa Claus.
What does Santa have to do with your business, you ask? Plenty, as it turns out. If there was ever a brand to be envied, it would have to be Santa Claus. So let me suggest that if you want to add some holiday cheer to your small business, you would be wise to be like Santa:
Ask them what they want, then give them what they want: A SCORE counselor gave me this tip many years ago, but it just as easily could have been shared by Santa. Santa of course, gets requests from children around the world and in turn works to give those good boys and girls the gifts they ask for. That is part of his appeal – his desire to please his audience.
Your small business should do the same. Ask your customers what they want, and then give it to them. I know a guy who owns a deli and when he started, he refused to put mustard on the tables, concluding that his chefs knew better about how much mustard belonged on a particular sandwich. The ensuing mustard uproar caused him to change course within a few months. “If they want to use mustard as they please," he told me, “who am I to stop them?”
Know your brand, and reinforce it again and again: Quick, what is the name of the jolly old chubby man in the red suit and white beard? Santa Clause, of course. Santa knows he is the brand and he is not seen in public without his trademark red suit.
And by the same token, Santa knows the value of a good tagline, his infamous: “Ho, ho, Ho!” He uses it repeatedly, to good effect.
It is sort of like the Nike swoosh and catchphrase, Just Do It. We all know the swoosh stands for Nike, and we all know that Nike stands for just doing it. Having a brand and catchphrase used consistently is a smart way to get your message across in a flash.
Be an inclusive manager: One thing that is certain about Santa Claus is that he must be a good manager. For starters, Santa clearly has a great team around him. Whether it’s the elves, Mrs. Claus, or his reindeer, Santa’s team is focused on the goal and they all work together to accomplish that goal.
By the same token, it seems obvious that like any good manager, Santa doesn’t mind sharing the credit for a job well done. Moms and dads often take credit for the work done by Santa and his elves, but he clearly doesn’t seem to mind.
Finally, Santa seems very willing to promote from within and trust that his troops are capable. Take the case of Rudolph. It took a management genius like Santa Claus to see that Rudolph actually was a born leader waiting to shine. He is not just a little reindeer with a red nose.
Don’t be afraid to start from where you are: No, you may not have all the money you need to get started, but look at Santa – his business is based from his home and he employs his family. Use what you’ve got and go from there.
And finally, love what you do: Enthusiasm is infectious, and people love to work with enthusiastic people. Witness the global growth of Santa Claus. His passion, giving nature, positive energy (and ability to hit a deadline on time) have catapulted him to global success.
So this year, I say to you dear readers, be like Santa, give it away, and we hope you have a Happy Holiday season!
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.