I’m a believer that gifts should be practical. Things you can use. Things that will make your life better, easier, and most importantly, things that you’ll continue to use all year long. Here’s my list of 7 things that will make any small business owner or entrepreneur happy, and some are tax-deductible, too!
(Be sure to read through to the end -- there’s also a free one in there!)
Live Video. Everybody’s doing it, and if you aren’t, you might want want to make a resolution to start. I finally jumped on a Facebook live video about a month ago, and I wished I’d done it sooner. Yeah, I was nervous, and the first few were... well, you could tell they were my first ones. But they were actually pretty effective! When I watched the videos back though, it was pretty obvious that I needed some better lighting. With Facebook live, you can livestream right from your phone, and this little cellphone ring light works well and is a bargain at less than $10.
And while we’re at it, if you’ve got the space, and you think you’ll be doing lots of videos, this lighting kit has also made a big difference for me. It was a great deal at about $50, and I use it at night when I’m filming from my phone, and anytime when I’m recording from my computer in my dark office. It's the type of kit you see the pros using, and this particular set comes with two white umbrellas, two black/silver ones, a table top light stand, the bulbs, and a carrying case for the umbrellas, and second, smaller one for the bulbs.
Do you ever listen to audio recordings or podcasts and wonder if the person recorded themselves in their bathroom? And while we’re still talking video, another way to create better recordings and sound more professional is to start with a quality microphone. I recommend this Logitech because not only does it produce great sound, but it’s also a high quality HD webcam. This mic/webcam has come to my rescue for all of my videos, and also makes me sound great in audio presentations and my podcasts.
It was under $300, and it’s one of the best investments I’ve made all year. While it won’t necessarily work as your main computer -- you can’t download software, and it only supports Chrome apps -- a Chromebook is absolutely great for traveling. First, in order to access anything, you need to log in with your google/gmail password. So, if it somehow get stolen or lost, you don’t have to worry about someone stealing your secret files or passwords. Second, it’s ready right out of the box. Buy it. Turn it on. Log in with your google password. And you’re up and running! There’s nothing to set up or install. Easy, peasy! Third, it’s lightweight and easy to carry. I’ve done video calls, recorded audio, created slides, lots of documents, and it has a fast web browsing speed as well. You can also work offline with google docs, slides, and sheets, as well. And fourth, and most importantly, it’s super inexpensive. If you do end up losing it or breaking it while you’re on the road, it’s easier to come to terms with a $300 loss than $1000 or more for another laptop.
Okay, this one’s not directly business related, but it’s a lifesaver for any busy entrepreneur. I can’t be the only person who’s ever become so engrossed with work, or had a meeting run late, and suddenly realize I should have started dinner hours ago. Well, never fear, because the Instapot will come to your rescue. You can cook a whole chicken in 30 minutes! This handy appliance has saved me many times (I have two hungry teenagers who do after-school sports and come home STARVING!). It comes with a cookbook, but pressure cooking seems all the rage on the Interwebs right now, so a quick google search will bring up lots of great recipes.
6. An SSL Certificate.
“Gimme an S!” An HTTPS, that is. This one doesn’t really seem like a ‘gift’ sort of thing, but starting in January 2017, if you ask for passwords or have a credit card field on your web site, and you have the standard HTTP protocol without the S (which stands for secure), Google’s Chrome Browser will mark that page as insecure. Getting a secure certificate is really a gift for your SEO and your business. These ‘certificates’ can be purchased through your web host.
I'm Melanie Downey, small business brand innovator and public relations expert. I like to teach and write about what I've learned in 20 years working in brand development, PR, and marketing. And when I'm not doing that, I cook, drive my kids around, hang out with my hairless dog, Penny, and practice playing my ukulele.