Tis the Season for Giving Thanks
Around the holidays, it's easy to get bogged down by the day to day of launching your startup -- especially if you have a seasonal business or one that kicks into overdrive this time of year.
But the holidays should also be a time for introspection, review and giving thanks. Given the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. -- and the emotions of everyone from family members to employees running raw -- following this regimen may be more important now than ever.
Here's a list of people to consider this time of year and how to pay them thanks:
If you’re fortunate enough to still have your parents in your life, let them know how much you appreciate them. Even if you went through some patchy times before, ultimately they helped instill the values that launched you on your entrepreneurial journey. Make an effort to reach out and invite them to lunch. Verbalize your appreciation.
Also, if you have a family of your own, be sure to remind your loved ones that they’re your first priority. Find time to spend a family weekend together, away from work. And start plowing money away for college, or even a start-up nest egg.
Friends that you’ve made early in life will keep you humble and give you perspective. It can be harder to forge real friendships in adulthood, but if you keep an open mind, you can still make genuine connections. If you have friends who are struggling financially, try to pick up dinner or drinks even when it’s not your turn. If they’re your real friends, they would do the same for you.
You don’t have to give money to charity to give back to your community, or other hard-hit communities. Get involved in community organizations. Give your time. In many ways, it’s more valuable and meaningful than your money. Volunteer on a holiday or organize a fundraiser with charitable proceeds through your company. Work to make your business sustainable. Not only is it a powerful ethical decision, it’s a sound financial move. Consumers are becoming more and more aware of sustainability and will actively seek businesses that reflect their values.
If you have a particularly good month or quarter, reward your employees accordingly. They are the life-blood of your company after all. Little gestures like free muffins or sushi go a long way. An outing for dinner and drinks to celebrate the holidays, or even just a big sale, builds team spirit and shows that you're eager to share the rewards of success. Again, make time for your employees. Address their concerns individually and with candor, and verbally acknowledge people who are putting in extra effort.
Share your positive attitude with those around you who are willing to accept it. There will always be a collection of negative and cynical people don't care. Ignore them and focus on communicating your entrepreneurial mindset with other positive people and those looking for a boost. In a way, a person with a powerfully infectious positive attitude gives more back than anybody.
You don’t need a monocle and a sailboat to start being philanthropic. Benevolence and altruism are states of mind. Adopt them, and let them influence your business, your interactions with loved ones and your relationship with your community.
How have you thanked the people in your life this year? Let us know in the comments section.
Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.