The holiday season is coming up again and I wanted to share some gift ideas for entrepreneurs. Some of these things I already have and find super handy, some just look like they'd be cool and are on my own wish list. These 20 great gift ideas for entrepreneurs could be great for that busy entrepreneur you know, or anyone else who just likes to stay productive and organized. Some of these are affiliate links, so if you buy through them, it helps out Think Entrepreneurship, too.
While there are a lot of online scheduling tools that I think work great, sometimes seeing a big calendar right in front of your face is the most helpful. I have a dry erase monthly calendar that I really use a lot, made by The Board Dudes. You can use different colors for different types of events, like personal stuff, business meetings, out of town conventions, sports or music practice, etc. I like having a little extra space on the side of the calendar for extra important items or just tasks that need to be done but don't have a specific day to do them. Most dry erase boards are also magnetic, so you can even stick your tickets for the game on next Saturday.
Have you tried cold brew coffee yet? It's a special kind of coffee that's lately been sweeping the nation—nay, world—and I know an especially tasty brewer. Uel Zing's elevator pitch is simply, “Super strong, super smooth!” Using cold water instead of hot water, the coffee is brewed in slow motion, getting all the good stuff and leaving behind a bunch of acids and bitter flavors—it's actually about 60% less acidic than hot brewed coffee. Hand-bottled in Bloomington, Indiana, Uel Zing has their own signature blend locally roasted, with beans from Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and Sumatra, for notes of blueberry, chocolate, and smokiness. They ship 4-packs of ‘ready-to-drink' 12oz bottles, or larger bottles of ‘CONK' concentrate. The CONK is really where it's at, I think, because it's like having espresso on tap in the fridge—swig a shot for a buzz in a rush, cut it with hot or cold water for regular coffee, or my personal favorite: mix it with chocolate milk for a mocha!
A can of soda can get a bit nasty after a while on your desk; solution: bring the fridge with it. This tiny fridge fits exactly one regular 12 oz / 330 mL can of your favorite beverage, powered by the USB port on any computer. A cold plate cools the inside to 45° within about five minutes, and a magnetic latch keeps the door shut. They would go perfectly with any trendy computer desks, but it could just be more desk clutter, could be the best thing ever.
Wrap-A-Nap is like all those neck pillows you see at the airport, but raised up a notch—to your eyes. They look a bit goofy, but they make the most sense. Imagine: a fuzzy, adjustable pad around the part of your head that will actually lean up against a window or wall, plus light and sound deprivation. I heard about these through a friend of a friend who actually knows the creator, and it's a classic entrepreneurial journey from a living room and a sewing machine to network television morning talkshows (and plenty of rest in between).
Digitize your old-fashioned pen and paper notes into searchable, cloud-based text. That's right, everyone's favorite notebook company, Moleskin, has teamed up with Evernote, a popular note-taking and organizational software. The pages have a special grid system of dotted lines that enable a clean digital capture when you snap a photo with the Evernote Page Camera on either your iOS or Android smart phone. Evernote is a subscription based software, and the notebook comes with three months of Evernote Premium.
Starting and running a business can require a few basic software purchases, like a website and hosting, an e-commerce sales platform, or accounting and other organizational software. I have a whole page of Resources devoted to my favorites for each of these needs, just click here to check them out. I also have a few reviews of the various companies that do similar things, like 1-800 phone number companies or tax software. Maybe you've got a friend who runs a business? They might be interested in something like these restaurant software reviews. Maybe you've heard your entrepreneurial friend mention Quickbooks, Bluehost, Grasshopper, or Big Commerce—well, you might not be able to set up any accounts for them, but a little cash toward the subject could be just what they need.
A lot of entrepreneurs want it done right, so they do it themselves. If this sounds like your favorite entrepreneur, they'd probably be interested in building some cool projects on my other site, DIYPete.com. I have ideas and plans for a bunch of neat, easy-to-make pieces of furniture and other home improvements, or more complicated projects too, like concrete tables. The site also has a Resources page full of all the tools I use and recommend, with most of their prices listed right alongside. A new angle grinder or a Kreg jig, and a link to DIYPete.com could result in that new bar for the basement they've been wanting for years!
8. A Good Book
Our last post was a review of over 25 great books about entrepreneurship. Covering topics from classic entrepreneurial theory to productivity to negotiation to inspiration, I'm sure you'll find something good from the list. It always feels nice to curl up on the couch with a good book, and the holidays usually offer a bit more leisure time to do so.
Early in the morning or in the middle of that all-nighter, a little motivation and inspiration can go a long way for an entrepreneur. Signs of the Mountains creates high quality aluminum signs with a variety of famous quotes and motivational phrases to hang on the wall for a little pick-me-up. You can choose from the signs on their site already, or have something totally custom made, with options for different shapes and sizes, colors, and whatever words or designs you think the entrepreneur in your life would most appreciate.
10. Yoga Classes
Everybody's doin' it, from teenage girls to corporate execs. I've taken a few classes just to try it out, and I've found that yoga can be both relaxing and a good workout, and classes vary widely in their intensity and their overall vibe. Similar to a gym membership, you can pay a monthly fee and have access to all of the studio's classes, or pay by the class—usually around $15, give or take a few $. For a gift to someone new to yoga, I'd recommend finding a local yoga studio and prepaying for a few classes. Besides comfortable clothes, all you need is a yoga mat, which most places have available to rent for a couple bucks.
11. Hydro Flask
The newest coolest water bottle to have this year is the Hydro Flask. It's a stainless steel bottle that comes in a bunch of spunky colors, like Green Zen or Orange Zest, and it's extra special because it is “double wall vacuum insulated.” Basically, it keeps your beverage hot or cold for a really long time, and it won't sweat or be too hot to handle. A wet, sweaty water bottle doesn't seem like a big deal, but if you throw it in your bag next to some important papers, or leave it on your nice wooden desk, it can wreak some havoc. They come in a several different sizes, too—I like the 32 oz and 40 oz sizes because they have wide mouths, which make it easy to clean and put in ice.
Never let your phone die again, even in a remote desert or jungle. Anker is a leading brand in the world of backup battery chargers, and I really like the 2nd Generation Astro Mini 3200mAh. It's a “lip-stick sized,” sleek little charger than will fire up your iPhone or iPad, and most other phones too. Their larger models offer more speed and more juice to power more items, but the Astro Mini is just so small and convenient, and will get you by for a good while. The one thing to be aware of is that it doesn't come with its own wall charger, just a USB charger—so you either charge the Mini with your computer's USB port, or use the USB-to-wall-outlet piece that might come with your other devices.
Why not have wine shipped to your entrepreneurial friend's (or your own) door every month by joining a wine club? There are several clubs out there, but I think Wine Cellars Club is a great starting point. Wine can be really intimidating, but they make it easy by having their experts choose cool, great tasting wines for you. There are about six different packages to choose from, each with different price points and number of bottles to be shipped; examples of the packages include the Red Trio Club, International Club, West Coast Club, etc. Wine Cellars Club also makes it easy to ship to a different destination as a gift, and there isn't a monthly minimum at all. The only thing to watch out for is that certain states can be tricky to ship to, so not all wine clubs will ship to all states.
14. Chubbies Shorts
“We do shorts and only shorts,” say the makers of Chubbies, who are taking on pants (or off?), with a vengeance. These California entrepreneurs have found their niche in thigh-high shorts, offering high quality fabrics in a ton of colors and crazy patterns, sewn together locally in the Bay Area. With a 5.5″ inseam on every size, they might not be for every entrepreneurial guy-pal of yours, but my younger brother assures me that short shorts are what the kids are wearing these days.
15. Plated Meals
Plated delivers fresh ingredients and a corresponding gourmet recipe for you to cook up yourself. The subscription service offers new dishes each week designed by Chef Elana Karp—graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Paris—and you choose however many you want, with several meat, fish, and vegetarian options, and their difficulty level and prep time clearly noted. The New York-based start-up currently delivers to an impressive “80% of the continental US.” I typed in Bozeman, MT's area code with no luck, unfortunately, but my hometown of Aberdeen, SD, is included, so you just have to try your own area code for yourself. So, full disclosure, I have not personally tried Plated yet, but it sure seems like a great idea if you like to cook but just don't have time to plan a meal and shop for the right ingredients.
16. Gym Membership
If your entrepreneurial friend is interested in keeping fit and energetic, then a gym membership may be perfect. For the traveler, a national gym could be the right fit, with membership access to all chain locations. Or for more of a community feel, a local gym might be better. Membership fees can vary according to what kind of equipment, classes, or hours that you want access too. There is usually an initiation fee and then ongoing monthly rates; you could pay for just a few months to try it out, or a couple years if you know they'll really use it.
17. Ninja Blender
I like to make quick, healthy fruit smoothies with the Ninja blender—and shout ‘hi-yah' all the way home. Instead of a single blade on the bottom of the barrel, Ninja blenders have a vertical spindle with blades attached the whole way up, so every layer gets blended up real quick. There are a couple different models, all with 1000 watts of power, give or take 100. Most also come with smaller single-serve cups that you can use instead of the big pitcher. They have their own blade system—just one at the bottom—and are really handy because you can use them as cups too. Blend your drink, then just take them off the base, screw on a matching lid, and go.
These machines save lives. Well, actually, they just make coffee-making really easy. Just insert a little K-Cup full of the coffee of your choice and push a button. They're pretty straight forward; the different models simply have a few options for the size of cup it brews, and larger reservoirs of hot water, so you can make more cups on one tank. My coffee-pro brother (see Uel Zing iced coffee online) is even coming around to them. He says that with the re-usable K-Cups, you can put in high quality, freshly roasted and freshly ground coffee beans, and “in theory, you could make a good cup.” For me, there are enough different flavors ready-to-go to get the job done, and I can even make hot cocoa or chai tea if I'm not in need of caffeine.
iPads (and the rest of the Mac fleet) are pretty much ubiquitous these days, but worth mentioning. When I head to a coffee shop to do a bit of work, I prefer the iPad over a laptop because it has a much different feel. If I'm going to catch up on some news or other reading, I think the iPad just looks a lot cooler and casual than pulling out a big laptop—much better for a breakfast table, poolside, or even at a bar. Versus a smart phone, the iPad's size makes it easier to read and type, and is much better for videos—not to mention, sitting on a phone for extended periods can look a little anti-social. For an entrepreneur, the iPad can run most apps that you need to stay organized, and they make a nice point-of-sale interface if you're selling anything. I see more and more little shops with iPads for registers, and I just think they're really practical. If you really want to go the extra mile alongside the iPad, you can have a look at some of the best printers compatible with iPads. This way, you are able to print documents from you iPad to your printer manually, which could make your life a lot more easier instead of having to transfer documents from one device to another before printing.
Are they as good as they sound? The reviews say yes, but I didn't hear your question! …If you're a frequent flyer or do work in public spaces often, noise cancelling headphones can make life a lot quieter, helping you to focus on what really needs your attention. I have a pair of one of the around-ear versions by Bose and I really like them. Bose more recently introduced noise-cancelling ear buds; while I'm a bit skeptical of their capabilities, everyone who has tried them says they work well. Unlike regular ear buds, they require power from a USB-rechargeable battery that lasts up to 16 hours. Like regular earbuds, they have an “aware mode” in which the noise-cancelling is turned off and they work as regular head phones—plus they still produce great Bose sound even if their battery is dead, just in aware mode.