With Thanksgiving upon us, it’s the perfect time for entrepreneurs to set aside time to be thankful for all the good things in their lives. Given all the challenges you face, it’s far too easy to focus on the negatives. Remembering what you’re grateful for can improve your mood and give you the energy to take action. Here are five groups that you should be sure to thank this Thanksgiving.
They’ve entrusted you with their money, which shows how much they believe in you. Even when you don’t hear from them, they’re thinking about you and searching for ways to make your business more successful. When you need help, you can ask them to pitch in, and they often have great connections and insights.
Rather than waiting for your next board meeting or investor update, take the time to reach out to your investors and thank them for their support. Tweet This Quote
Rather than waiting for your next board meeting or investor update, take the time to reach out to them individually and thank them for their support. Just don’t be surprised if they ask you, “Are you looking for more money?” They’re not used to spontaneous expressions of thanks!
They’ve invested their precious time and money in your product. Unlike your investors, who assume that the majority of their investments are going to end up worthless, your customers are counting on you to succeed. When you meet or exceed their expectations, they love to talk about you and share your story with their friends. When critics say nasty things, customers can defend you in a more credible way than your mom or your PR firm.
Give your customers something extra to express your gratitude. Not something financial, like a discount or credit; treat them like a human being, not a wallet! Maybe it’s a kind note. Maybe it’s a party to celebrate the great things you’ve accomplished together. Best of all, when you thank your customers, not only do they feel good, but they’re also more likely to tell other people about you.
When critics say nasty things, customers can defend you in a more credible way than your mom or your PR firm. Tweet This Quote
Every single one of your employees is a volunteer. They don’t have to work for your company; they choose to join your mission every single day. They probably spend more time working for you than they spend with their own family, which demonstrates their devotion. Even when they cause a mess or need you to intervene, they’re still generally trying their best to do what’s right for the company.
Every one of your employees is a volunteer. They don’t have to work for your company; they choose to join your mission every day. Tweet This Quote
During this holiday season, take the time to see your employees as ends in and of themselves, rather than as the means to an end. Don’t do nice things for your employees to boost their engagement and productivity; do it because it’s the right thing to do. Most importantly, engage with them as human beings, not as tools. Find out what’s important to them outside of work, and see how you can help them. Maybe it’s buying them something they might never buy themselves, like a gift certificate for a date night. Maybe it’s giving everyone an extra day off for holiday shopping. Whatever it is, demonstrate that you respect who they are outside the office, not just their professional role.
Your Friends and Family
Take the time to reconnect with your friends and family. These are the people in the world who truly love you and want the best for you (even if they’re sometimes wrong about what that “best” really is—sorry Mom!). When you decided to start a company, you signed them up for a roller coaster they never really agreed to ride. Because they care, they’ve been dragged along for your ups and downs, and they’ve been the people who picked you up when you got discouraged or exhausted.
All your friends and family really want is the thing you haven’t been giving them – your time. Tweet This Quote
All they really want is the thing you haven’t been giving them – your time. If these are the most important people in your life, show them that you care by spending more time with them than with your CFO. When you’re with them, give them your whole attention. You might even want to turn off Slack notifications for an hour or two. They understand that this time is temporary, and soon you’ll be back to working day and night to build your business. But occasionally, you have to remind them of the reasons why they decided to care so much about you to begin with.
Finally, don’t forget to thank yourself. If you don’t do it, who knows who will? While the other folks on this list have supported you along the way, you were the one who made the decision to start your company, and every morning, you make the decision to keep going.
As my friend Reid Hoffman puts it, starting a company is like jumping off a cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down. Making the leap requires incredible courage; completing the airplane before you hit the rocks at the base of the cliff takes incredible skill (and incredible luck). Be thankful that your life experiences gave you the confidence and conviction to make this choice and the know-how to back it up.
Starting a company is like jumping off a cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down. Tweet This Quote
You might be lucky enough to have investors or friends and family who tell you when you need to take a break, but then again, you might not. Make the commitment to show some gratitude to yourself, so that someone is looking out for you. Take the time to exercise – it will make you happier, healthier, and more productive. Set aside a few hours to do something that you truly enjoy. If you don’t remember what you enjoy, think about what you loved doing in your childhood.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve been truly blessed. You have the opportunity to pursue your dreams with the support of so many around you, including your investors, customers, employees, and friends and family. Take the time to thank them for their support. Happy Thanksgiving!