Coffee, sleep, angel investors—what more does an entrepreneur really wish for?
As the holidays roll around once again, it’s time to show thanks to those who work hard all year long. And few work as hard as entrepreneurs, whose deadlines, commitments, and demands mean their most-appreciated rewards should be pretty specific. Though time machines and cloning aren’t quite an option just yet, there are plenty of goods and services out there now that might make the burdens of running a small business a bit lighter—or at least a bit more tolerable.
Katie Hughes, a writer, inventor, and chief executive of Slip-On Dancers, says most entrepreneurs would benefit from the gift of help from an outside expert—like a business coach or marketing guru. “Many entrepreneurs can’t see the obvious because they’re too stuck in the weeds,” she says. “A session or two will help raise them up so they can achieve great things in the business.”
Even an extra push on the physical side might be a treasured gift—like a few spa treatments or sessions with a personal trainer. “If your body isn’t taken care of, it’s tough to take care of all the other balls you’re trying to keep in the air,” Hughes says. “When you’re moving, it’s a lot easier to think about problems in different ways.”
Here’s a look at what Santa’s enterprise might consider, including items of encouragement, aids for those precious few downtime moments, and gifts that can get those inspirational juices flowing.
When Sun Tzu was penning his thoughts on strategy in The Art of War, he didn’t give much thought to the ladies. The classic Chinese military tome—an ‘80s executive suite staple—has been re-imagined by Becky Sheetz-Runkle, a jujitsu master and marketing pro whose book, Sun Tzu for Women, translates those ancient lessons for modern women in business, with updated principles on financial and personal matters that address the unique challenges females face.
Now hear this, not that
If you need to get in the zone or tune out noisy distractions, a pair of noise-canceling headphones is essential. Try Able Planet’s headsets ($79 to $349), which utilize advanced hearing-aid technology to deliver clear sound from any of your pile of gadgets, while keeping the volume low enough not to disturb those around you.
If commuting means pedal power, the winter months often mean you'll be hitting the streets in darkness. Pure Fix Cycling considered that with its glow-in-the-dark frame option for its fixed-gear bicycles ($399). The paint is solar-powered and stays light for hours. The technology makes the bike more visible to those on four wheels and gets you home—or back to the office—safely.
Lifesavers in the deskdrawer
If you’re looking to go practical, consider the smart survival kits from Minimus.biz, including their travel-size packs that are geared to convention-goers, office dwellers, male and female road warriors, and actual, non-zombie-apocalypse-related emergencies. Prices for packages start around $10 and are easily customized—and could be a godsend when your time is limited.
Clever at the cuffs
Aiming for a Bond-like turn during a presentation? Consider the ooohs you might get from your audience thanks to UBS flashdrive-equipped cufflinks (starting at $125) from CuffLinks.com. What panel of tech-savvy VCs wouldn’t be impressed when you whip out up to 8GB of flash-drive space with a flick of your wrist, or even their WiFi-enabled models. For the hardcore nerds, there’s even an R2D2 lookalike.
An extra hand
No matter how hard you try, you still can’t be everywhere at once. Nevertheless, there are cost-effective solutions to help lighten the load for busy entrepreneurs. In the New York area, there’s PA for a Day, which, for $20 per hour, lets people hire short- or long-term personal assistants to do everything from dog walking and grocery shopping to moving assistance, schedule keeping, and event planning—and gift certificates are available.
Rent a power tie
If you’re about to go before a VC panel and need to look extra sharp, here’s an easy, inexpensive way to fake it until you make it. The Tie Society, dubbed a Netflix for fine neckwear, offers top-notch men’s accessories from brands that aren’t necessarily for beginners, or to meet those one-time-only needs, like bow ties or specialty cufflinks. Plans start at $10.95 a month (and gift certificates are available).
Is that knot in the muscles between your shoulder blades aching again? There isn’t an entrepreneur in the world that couldn’t use an hourlong session that squeezes the stress out of their body and brings on the bliss. Get a gift certificate or a regular massage package for a local spa—and support another small business in the process—or grab a SpaFinder gift card, which is accepted at more than 20,000 locations.
OK, maybe just a bit more coffee
If the mere thought of drinking another cup from one of those little concentrated packages gives you the shakes, maybe it’s time to aim higher. Try supporting another startup: Ideal Brew, based in Indianapolis, offers a monthly pack of three samples from three small-batch roasters, with the option to buy a full-size bag if you like what you’re drinking. The monthly shipment is $9.95, but the access to quality joe? Priceless.