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Happy Holidays: A “Gift Guide” for the Entrepreneur in Your Life

With winter and the upcoming holiday season just around the corner, experts, professors, investors, and veteran entrepreneurs at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business have put together a holiday gift guide published by The Washington Post‘s website for anyone trying to make it in the world of small businesses and start-ups.

If you know an up-and-coming entrepreneur who has been especially nice this year, or you just want to treat yourself (and your own small business) to some vital knowledge this holiday season, here are some stocking stuffers and tips that are sure to please.

For Building the Business

If you or someone you know is just getting into the thick of life as an entrepreneur, they may have questions or concerns about equity splits. If that is the case, check out Founder Solutions. FES is an easy-to-use modeling tool helping startup founders make fair and well-grounded decisions on how to divide equity. You can try the service out here.

“This is a quick online tool for helping founders avoid the 50-50 equity trap. Nothing too revolutionary, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said David Kirsch and Brent Goldfarb, associate professors of management and entrepreneurship at Smith.

For Those Who Like Giving or Receiving Advice

“Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll buy a funny hat. Talk to a hungry man about fish, and you’re a consultant.” –Scott Adams

So maybe that’s not how the quote originally went. But either way, the next gift to give on this list isn’t something that you can put under a tree per se; it’s simply a piece of advice for the special entrepreneur in your life. Edward Barrientos, president and chief executive of networking site Brazen Careerist, advises that all entrepreneurs receive a set of blinders this year:

“These are typically worn by horses during races so that they don’t get distracted by the competition. Why is it on the list this year? Because there has never been more faux start-up hype than in 2013. Everything you read and hear suggests that everyone but your own start-up is ‘crushing it.’ Entrepreneurs are best to ignore everyone else and not get discouraged by over-hyped claims from the start-up ecosystem. Keep your eyes on your prize and build your own business. Let others build theirs.”

For Those Who Need to be Inspired

If you’re looking for a gift that’s a bit more tangible, take a look at “Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work,” by Steven Pressfield. David Aidekman, founder of the Trip Tribe, calls the book “an inspiration for entrepreneurs to focus and find the motivation to take action on building their dreams with their business.”

For Building a Team

Another key to start up success is having a good team around you—after all, Santa wouldn’t be able to make Christmas work without his hardworking staffs of elves and trusty reindeer.  But while it would be easy to just ask the big man in red for an all-star supporting cast to help you and your dream business, something tells me he won’t be able to bring that down the chimney with him. According to Dan Berger, chairman and chief executive of Social Tables, what he can do is supply you with a book, some software and hardware to help you build the dream team you desire:

The Book: ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,’ (Patrick Lencioni, 2002), because it teaches you how to get peak performance from your team.”

The Software: “Asana, a Web/mobile app designed to improve team communication, because it keeps you, your team, and your direct reports organized.”

The Hardware: “Mophie battery pack for your iPhone, so you won’t run out of power closing deals and tethering.”

For Signing Off

Finally, for those who are aiming to be ahead of the curve and tastemakers in the realm of entrepreneurship, Jason Shrensky, co-founder of UberOffices and entrepreneur-in-residence at Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, suggests looking into digital documents:

“While not novel technology, I hope 2014 is the year that electronic signatures become the norm. Please don’t e-mail me a document that I need to print, sign, scan and e-mail back to you. I don’t care if you use HelloSign, DocuSign or EchoSign. I want to sign documents using only my mobile phone. (And please end this nonsense of requiring documents to be submitted via fax. Government agencies, banks and insurance companies, are you listening? Modern people don’t have fax machines, and we resent visiting a Kinkos. Make it easier for small businesses to do business with you or someone else will.)”

We hope that you have a fantastic holiday season in whichever Metro you call your home. Enjoy your eggnog and fuzzy holiday sweaters, and best of luck in 2014.

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