- Posted by Alaia Williams
- On December 19, 2018
I confess: I’m not a great gift giver. I do give gifts on occasion, but it’s usually at random times, when I see something and think of who it would be perfect for. I’m not so hot with birthdays and Christmas. To be honest, picking out what to give to adults gives me anxiety most of the time! But invite me to your baby shower, I’m great at baby presents.
With that in mind, know that this gift guide is:
- not a traditional list of accessories and tech gadgets (though you can totally hit me up on recommendations for those, I’ve got plenty)
- great for last-minute gift givers
- also about you, because you can treat yourself, too.
The gift of organization. It’s no secret – I’m a planner junkie! I love planners, even though I spend most of my days hammering things out on my computer. I love writing down check lists, brainstorming ideas and creating plans on paper – and I know I’m not alone in that. I don’t have one planner to recommend, because everyone has different needs. But, I do have a list of the best planners for small business owners. Check it out and find the perfect one for you or whoever else is on your list.
Can’t get it to them by Christmas? No sweat, have it on their doorstep by January 1st! Who wouldn’t love a bonus gift to ring in the new year?
The gift of accountability and getting things done. Every driven, motivated person has goals. This goes double for those of us who are entrepreneurial. Hate to break it to you, but goals do not equal results. Action needs to be taken in order to turn goals into reality. This is where things often fall apart for small business owners. We want to launch something new or learn a new skill, but we’re so busy juggling our day-to-day personal and work commitments to everyone else, that we often push ours to the side. What was once an exciting goal looms over you for months – or even years. Enter Walden. Walden is one of those things I really wish I’d thought of myself.
Walden is a hybrid mashup of project management and coaching. Let’s say you have the goal of launching a podcast. When you sign up for Walden, they’ll create a project plan for you, so you know what to do (and when) and then you’ll get matched with a coach that you can chat with anytime. If you need to talk things through, you can upgrade your plan and get two action-focused calls with your coach each month. I love Walden because its more personal than a project management app but less of a commitment (time wise and financially) than hiring a coach. But you can certainly use Walden if you have either of those things – I do!
Through the holiday season, Walden is offering gift cards – making this a great gift not only for yourself, but for clients, friends and family who want to turn their ideas into action, too. This one is also great for you last minute shoppers – there’s nothing to send through the mail!
The gift of a good book. In addition to being a planner junkie, I’m a bibliophile. I love a good book and love giving and recommending them. I’ve always been an avid reader, though reading is often that activity that gets cut when I’m feeling time starved or my brain is overloaded. But when I travel or find myself with a free Sunday, there’s nothing I love more these days than learning something new or getting inspired by someone’s life. Let’s face it, we could all stand to have our perspectives widened and enjoy a little more time away from our computer and smartphone screens.
I usually give people Barnes & Noble or Amazon gift cards so people can pick out what they’d love, but if you’re looking for some specific suggestions to get you jump started, here are a few books on my must-read list:
- Get Clients Now! – One of my absolute favorite business books. I’ve been using this book since at least 2008. That’s one of the things I love about it – you can use it over and over and get something new out of it each time. If you’re a service provider looking to improve your marketing and sales, definitely check this book out.
- Body of Work – I love everything Pamela Slim puts out. But this book holds a special place in my heart because when she wrote it, I felt like she “got me.” If you’re looking for an effective way to tell your story, this book is for you. If you’re like me and have a diverse work background and are looking for a cohesive way to bring the threads of your story together, this book is for you. I’ve recommended it many times over.
- Rework – This has always been one of my favorite books to gift to my clients. I see so many people put obstacles in their way while growing a business. Obstacles that really don’t need to be here. As the description of Rework says: “The truth is, you need less than you think. You don’t need to be a workaholic. You don’t need to staff up. You don’t need to waste time on paperwork or meetings. You don’t even need an office. Those are all just excuses. What you really need to do is stop talking and start working. This book shows you the way.” Jason Fried just released a new semi-follow up this year, It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy At Work. I just added it to my cart.
- Getting to Yes with Yourself – this book is a follow up to the best-selling book Getting to Yes. The author, William Ury, wisely notes that before you can get to a good place in your business relationships and negotiations, you need to get to a good place with yourself. Both books are must-reads in my opinion – but start with this one first!
- Born A Crime – I loved Trevor Noah’s memoir. It was funny, I learned a lot and there were definitely times his mother reminded me of my own. After I finished reading it, I told my mom she had to read it right away. She actually did! Probably because there’s so little media I consume that I actually think she’d enjoy. Everyone in my book group loved it as well and it was probably my favorite group selection of the year.
- Becoming – Michelle Obama. ‘Nuf said.
The gift of time. As business owners, we have tons to do. We don’t clock out at 5pm and leave work behind until 9am the next day (well, many of us don’t). I’m a big fan of doing whatever you can to create breathing room in your life. Here are a few great ways to give the gift of time to yourself or another busy business owner in your life.
- Meal-in-a-box services. Yes, it may be a little more expensive than going to the grocery store. And heck, you may even find cooking fun and therapeutic. But if you’re rushing around dealing with a hundred things and you’ve forgotten to stop at the grocery store or you’ve only got enough time to stuff your face with junk food, meal prep services can be amazing. A few years back, I was working a job that involved commuting. I left home at 7am (or earlier), got back into my neighborhood at around 7pm and the LAST thing I wanted to do was spend my evening in the grocery store with every other 9-to-5er. So, I signed up for Gobble. I chose it because most of the prep was done for me and the meals took 20 minutes or less to be in my belly. It was a sanity saver. At the same time, my landlord, who had a much shorter work commute preferred Blue Apron, because she had more time and loves the food prep process. There’s a meal box out there for just about every kind of home chef and dietary preference.
- Meal delivery services. My mom really gave me grief about this, but I had to do what made me feel less stressed during the day. I work from home. Keyword, work. And no, I don’t work a “four hour workweek” and many of my clients are much better at stopping work at 5pm than I am. Occasionally (well, more often than not), I have back-to-back calls midday. It’s not the time for me to stop, cook lunch and clean up. And sometimes, when the day is done, I really don’t want to cook. Especially if I have to go to the store before I can make a dinner I wouldn’t be ashamed to tell myself I just ate. So, I gave myself a budget to spend on meal delivery. Living in the Los Angeles area, Grubhub, Postmates and Doordash give me 100’s of options. I found myself actually eating healthier and more balanced meals when it was brought to my door than when I was scrounging in my kitchen. It may not be an affordable option for every meal every day, but treating yourself once or twice a week could free up hours of time to kick back and relax.
- An extra pair of hands. Newsflash: you can’t do it all yourself. Sometimes you need an extra pair of hands. If there’s a lot on your to-do list, consider using a service like Task Rabbit, Fancy Hands or Upwork to press through an intense time or a short term sprint. Get that extra help you need to run errands, do research, make appointments or build your bookshelf – and don’t guilt yourself about doing it. If you need long term help, I think there are more budget-friendly solutions, but in a crunch, people from one of these services can jump in and help you – often times within 24 hours or less.
Go forth and gift!
Grab my list of 15 free systems for small businesses
You'll also receive tips, resources and advice for growing your business.