giving thanksBy David Nilssen

This time of year we’re told to count our blessings and be thankful. Gratitude is wonderful, but giving thanks and giving back are even more important. Here are some suggestions for walking the walk.

Giving to Charity
You’ll always be able to find an excuse for not donating time or money to those less fortunate. From cynicism about administrative costs for large charities to a blame-the-victim mentality, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to the needy. But taking five minutes to make an online donation or a few hours to volunteer your time is good for your community, your business, and your self-worth. It just feels right. At Guidant, we hold food drives for local organizations, empower future entrepreneurs through Youth Ventures, and participate in races and walks for the American Cancer Society.

Thanking Your Employees
Managing people has its share of frustrations and on any given day you may have employees who try your patience. But overall, you couldn’t be in business without them. Take the time to thank them. Tell them their work is appreciated. Employees always appreciate holiday bonuses, but if that’s not in your budget even gift cards for small amounts and a handwritten note can make the difference between your staff seeing you as a Santa or a Scrooge.

Appreciating Your Family
Most of all, don’t overlook your family. Whether they’re working by your side each day or keeping the trains running on schedule at home, they’re your support system and the reason you’re able to run a business. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of working long hours and taking your family for granted and it’s tough to get out of that rut. Make it a top priority to let your family know they are loved and appreciated. After all, aren’t they the reason you do what you do?

David Nilssen is the CEO & Co-Founder of Guidant Financial. Read more tips about becoming a successful entrepreneur in his book, Making the Jump into Small Business Ownership. He can be found on Twitter at @DavidNilssen.