A holiday gift guide for entrepreneurs

December 9, 2012

It’s back: The annual entrepreneur’s gift guide, compiled by the folks at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. We asked experts, professors, investors and veteran entrepreneurs for their ideas on what to buy your favorite budding business owner.

Here’s some suggestions:

To get them thinking ...

“Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why it Matters” by Richard Rumelt.

“One of the best books on strategic thinking to come out in a decade. It will change not only your business, but your career.” — Brent Goldfarb, associate professor of management and entre­pre­neur­ship.

“To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others” by Daniel Pink (scheduled for Dec. 31 release).

“Pre-order it. He applies the lessons on employee motivation to motivating the rest of the world to action.” — Glen Hellman, chief entrepreneureator of Driven Forward and board member, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.

“The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand.

“Stand tall and proud not just for working long hours, but for using your mind to create value where none existed before. Rand’s books are the must read for entrepreneurs: They provide a moral sanction for the producer, the thinker, the innovator, the artistic creator — those who dare to take the ‘first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision.’” — Rajshree Agarwal, academic director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.

“Rework” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson; “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” by Eric Ries; “Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model” by John Mullins and Randy Komisar; “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin; and a subscription to Inc., Entrepreneur or Fast Company magazines.

“Aside from the scientific ability to clone oneself, or the perfect angel investor, books and magazines make great gifts. This is my list of critical reading for any start-up entrepreneur.” — Lisa Friedlander, chief executive and co-founder, Activity Rocket.

To make work easier … and more comfortable ...
The Business Model Canvas, a downloadable strategic management and entrepreneurial tool (www.businessmodelgeneration.com/canvas).

“This is an essential tool to understanding business problems, and hence to developing entrepreneurial strategies.” — Goldfarb.

15-inch Apple MacBook Pro Retina.

“Pricey, but worth it. You can cut corners on your mobile phone and tablet. But when it comes to the most important tool you use every day, invest.”—Jason Shrensky, angel investor in-residence, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.

Kindle Paperwhite.

“Smaller e-reader without sacrificing reading space. Innovative low-eye strain front- lit screen.”— Hellman.

Stand-up desk.

“I predict the current craze of stand-up desks is not a fad. I’ve been doing it for a month, and my back and neck have been thanking me ever since. Don’t want to invest in a desk right now? I use an abandoned bookshelf (thanks to the Kindle there are a lot of these). I place my laptop on a shelf at eye height and put my wireless keyboard and trackpad on a shelf about 8 inches below. Perfect.”— Shrensky.

To help them get more done ...

WiFi hotspot subscription.

“I’m always on the go and find myself relying on public WiFi connections (especially on trains and buses) that are, well, unreliable. This means a significant decrease in productivity, which I can’t afford. I would love a Verizon gift card that gave me a one-year subscription to the personal hotspot feature. This feature lets you turn your phone into a Wireless hotspot, which you can use on your laptop, too. No more dead zones.”— Mili Mittal, CEO and co-founder, Mor.sl.

Frequent-flier miles.

“Traveling to conferences and trade shows is important to build networks and find customers, but getting to them can be costly. Many airlines (and hotel point programs) allow you to book your rewards miles and points for other travelers. This is a great way to help bootstrappers work on low budgets.”— Geoffrey Milsom, CEO, 10G Systems.

For winning friends and influencing people...

The gift of PowerPoint.

“For sales meetings or investor presentations, nothing helps close the deal like creative, thoughtful, well-designed slides.”—Elana Fine, managing director, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.

“Zagat Washington DC/Baltimore Restaurants 2013” guide.

“Taking the prospect to dinner can always help seal the deal, but not if your idea of a good meal is walking the food truck line downtown.”— Liz Sara, managing director, Best Marketing LLC.

Cupcakes.

“In the office, we like to get cupcakes for the team. It’s something small that most people love to devour.” — Manpreet Singh, president, Seva Call.

12-month subscription to 1-800-Flowers.

“For all the birthdays, anniversaries and other special events you will forget in 2013 while you’re working on becoming the next big thing.”— Sara.

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