This year, instead of compiling my own list of gift ideas, I thought I would ask a number of entrepreneurs what's on their own wish lists.
COLUMN: Gifts suitable for entrepreneurs
GREAT GIFT IDEAS FROM YEARS PAST: 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005
Dave Burgess, chief technology officer of a San Francisco start-up called Social in SoMa (it's still in 'stealth' mode, so I can't tell you what it does), says tech entrepreneurs need a full collection of mobile devices — iPad, Android tablet, iPhone and Android phone — so they can test their new products. Since every business owner needs to think of mobile first, that certainly would help make sure the company's digital presence looks good on a variety of mobile devices.
Not in your price range? OK, how about this?
Burgess recommends sending start-up entrepreneurs holiday gift baskets filled with food "to feed us while we work through the holidays."
And everyone, even geeks, likes to have a good time. So Burgess suggests seeing if you can wrangle your favorite small-business owner an invitation to a holiday party thrown by a big corporation.
"They're usually lots of fun with great bands, dancing, and free alcohol," Burgess says.
For Burgess, the best present he personally could get, given the shortage of talent in Silicon Valley? "Refer great software engineers to me."
Sometimes the best holiday gifts for a small-business owner involve getting a! way. But you don't have to spring for a beach vacation; other kinds of respite work.(Photo: Getty Images)
President and Founder John Barrow of Coolibar of Minneapolis, which makes UV sun-protection clothing, suggests giving the special entrepreneur in your life a vacation.
"Many entrepreneurs work really long hours and don't take much time off," he says. "So a vacation that's a complete break allows them to go away, have a great time, then return refreshed."
Barrow has less-expensive options for holiday gifts for small-business owners and entrepreneurs, too, such as a gym membership or at least a regular time to play a sport, such as tennis.
"Getting exercise is also very important for entrepreneurs." Or give tickets to a comedy club. "If you can take a break and laugh, then that's a great way to refresh and recharge."
And, once again, reflecting small-business owners' need to find great employees: "A professional membership to LinkedIn to use to help recruit people."
Anne Marie Bonneau, owner of the editing service 2020Revisions in Mountain View, Calif., wants a really, really good fountain pen. Why would such an old-fashioned tool be a good choice for an entrepreneur in the 21st century?
"There's no waste; I hate throwing away plastic pens," she says. "And it looks good if you're in meetings, pulling out a nice pen instead of a 29-cent plastic pen."
A weekly tennis date can help keep an entrepreneur in shape.(Photo: George Doyle, Getty Images)
Katie Dolan Dix, owner of Campannari Ice Cream in Mount Prospect, Ill., wants something far more precious but impossible to buy at any store: "Time. As a business owner, oftentimes we need more hours in a day or more days in the week. If you can s! end that,! I'll be set for the holidays."
An off-the-wall gift with a sense of humor can be a big hit with the right person.
"It's always a delight as an entrepreneur to receive a gift that re-frames what you do in a unique and unexpected way," says Kari Warberg Block, founder and chief executive of Earth-Kind in Bismarck, N.D. "One gift that I love to both give — and get — are handmade chocolate mice from Burdick. As the inventor of the first humane EPA-registered rodent-control product, handmade chocolate gourmet mice take it 'over the top' for me!"
Just remember to gauge your recipient's sense of humor.
Like many entrepreneurs, for Jen Hoey Padgett, chief executive of the Community Technology Alliance in San Jose, Calif., the best gift would be money for her start-up. Padgett's start-up, Beacon Pack, has a noble mission: to bring the Internet and online learning to undeveloped, remote areas by turning solar-powered backpacks into mobile hotspots.
As an entrepreneur myself, I know what Santa could bring that would thrill me: a Tesla Model S.
Since it's an electric car, I could use the money I save on gas for all the office supplies I need. It's innovative, the perfect image for an entrepreneur. And it's gorgeous!
If you plan to get me one — the cars start at $63,670 with a $7,500 federal tax credit — just let me know, and I'll happily send you my address.
OK, a Tesla Model S, which starts at $63,670, isn't exactly affordable for most gift givers, but think of the good you would do for the environment.(Photo: Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY)
Rhonda Abrams is president of The Planning Shop and publisher of books for entrepreneurs. Her most recent book is Entrepreneurship: A Real-Worl! d Approac! h. Register for Rhonda's free newsletter at PlanningShop.com. Twitter: @RhondaAbrams. Facebook: facebook.com/RhondaAbramsSmallBusiness.Copyright Rhonda Abrams 2013.