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From the Smith School of Business, gift ideas for entrepreneurs

Monday, December 13, 2010; 29

What do you get for that budding innovator starting the next Google in his basement? Here are the must-haves for the entrepreneurs on your list this holiday season, as recommended by some of the experts at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business:

1. Visa card -- with a $50,000 limit

"If you're starting a business, be prepared to put in a significant chunk of your own money. You'll probably be maxing out your credit cards, looking at taking a second mortgage (if you can get one), and dipping into your savings. You can't expect others to invest in your idea if you're not willing to put up your own cash."

-- Bob Baum, associate professor of entrepreneurship

2. "Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose," by Tony Hsieh (2010)

"Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh finds making money and happiness go hand-in-hand. A must-read for any entrepreneur."

-- John LaPides, senior adviser to the dean on China

3. Impressive business cards

"Make sure you have a super-sleek business card with an impressive CEO title -- as they say, 'fake it until you make it' -- there's nothing wrong with that!"

-- Oliver Schlake, Tyser Teaching Fellow and faculty champion for the Entrepreneurship Fellowship Program

4. An extra-large Rolodex . . . or better yet: Etacts.com

"It's all about networking -- get out there and make some new contacts. I have been increasingly recommending Etacts.com -- a great tool for 'casual dating' and building relationships before you need them. It integrates LinkedIn and Gmail and helps you remind yourself to touch base with key contacts at regular intervals."

-- Ben Hallen, assistant professor of entrepreneurship

5. "Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup," by David Cohen and Brad Feld (2010)

"Read a little, do a lot. This is a great collection of lessons learned from both entrepreneurs and investors in the technology space. While there is no silver bullet and the given advice is contradictory at times, it is far easier to learn these lessons from others than through your own trial and error."

-- David Kirsch, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship

6. A month's supply of Red Bull -- keep the caffeine coming

"Forget about the 40-hour workweek -- you'll be working around-the-clock to get your business off the ground."

-- Asher Epstein, managing director, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship

7. "Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die," by Chip and Dan Heath (2007)

"Entrepreneurs need to be able to explain their business in an interesting and succinct way. This is obviously important for sales, hiring and raising investments. But perhaps even more important is that difficulty explaining a business often indicates that a strategy is either incomplete or flawed. This book will help entrepreneurs address these issues."

-- Hallen

8. Apple iPad

"For the entrepreneur who can't be tied to a desk. Your clients and partners expect to be able to reach you, anytime, anywhere."

-- Harry Geller, executive-in-residence

9. An extra battery for the laptop or BlackBerry

"There is nothing worse than a dead laptop or BlackBerry when an important e-mail needs to be sent or phone call needs to be made. Extra batteries are an essential for all entrepreneurs."

-- Epstein

Looking for some advice on a new business, or need held fixing an existing one? Capital Business and the experts at the University of Maryland's Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business are ready to assist. Contact us as capbiznews@washpost.com.

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