Business owners should give thanks this season, too

The holidays are upon us and it’s time for most of us to enjoy time with family and friends, indulge in overeating, and have some fun. It’s also the time of year when we take stock of our lives and show gratitude for our blessings.

If you’re a business owner and have successfully navigated the economic hurdles of the past few years, you have cause for thanksgiving (we all know of companies that haven’t been so fortunate). Have you thanked those individuals who have helped make your business strong? Nothing is better for building relationships than letting people who have helped you know that you appreciate them. It’s an important practice that’s good for your business.

Let’s look at some people who are deserving of thanks.

First and foremost, the only reason any of us stays in business is the loyalty of our customers. We should all make sure to thank those who do business with us and it shouldn’t just happen during the holiday season — it should be year-round. Take the time to send a letter or card of thanks, buy them a gift or take them to lunch. They will appreciate knowing that you acknowledge their loyalty and value them. And it might go a long way toward cementing that loyalty.

Second in line for people to thank should be our employees. Economics have necessitated that many businesses demand more of their staff. Some employees have accepted lower wages or reduced benefits, while others have worked longer hours to make up for staffing reductions. In many cases, the efforts and teamwork of the employees have helped keep their companies healthy … or maybe even stay afloat. They’ve come together as teams for everyone’s benefit.

It’s a good idea to regularly show your employees that their hard work and dedication are valued. One of our clients in El Paso, Texas, sets a great example by hosting company-wide monthly potlucks to celebrate birthdays or major holidays, and we were lucky enough to attend one of these recently. It was obvious from the conversation and happy expressions that the employees felt valued and they, in turn, valued their employer.

Have you thanked your employees for all they’ve done over the past year? As an owner of Advantage Manufacturing of Colorado Springs, Laddie understands what a difference the company’s team has made to its success. He would like to thank the employees for really stepping up to the plate and helping to make the company successful.

Vendors are also an important group of people to thank. The generosity and consideration of vendors have made it possible for many companies to work through the tough times of the recession. Whether it has meant helping to control costs or providing special terms to assist with tight cash flow, many vendors have accommodated their customers’ needs. Have you taken time to thank your vendors?

Business owners often receive help through their relationships with other people. Do you have trusted advisors or mentors who you’ve turned to for advice or help with issues you’ve faced? What about your referral sources who have sent business your way? Maybe you’ve received exceptionally good advice or extra assistance from your attorney, accountant or consultant. Have you taken time to thank those who have helped you be a better business owner?

How about your family? If you own a business, it’s a certainty that in some way or another your family has helped carry the load. Have your family members pitched in to help when you were short-handed? Have they been patient when you’ve had to work late or on weekends, miss meals or skip important events? Maybe you’re like us and work with your spouse, with each of you supporting the other and helping where needed. If you haven’t made a point of thanking your family for hanging in there and supporting your efforts in business, now is a good time to do that.

Finally, we should never forget that we are blessed to live in a country that permits us to own businesses and operate them with freedoms that are denied people in other parts of the world. Those freedoms exist in large part because of the sacrifices made by personnel and families of our armed forces and those who work overseas in support of our military (our son is in Afghanistan as this is written). So the next time you encounter one of these individuals, take a minute and thank them for their service and sacrifice.

If you’re a business owner, the bottom line is that you have much to be thankful for, no matter who you are or what your personal circumstances happen to be. Letting those who have helped you know that they’re appreciated is good for them, good for you, and good for your business.

Laddie and Judy Blaskowski are partners in several businesses, including BusinessTruths Consulting. They are authors of The Step Dynamic: A Powerful Strategy for Successfully Growing Your Business. Connect with them on LinkedIn.