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With the holiday season in full force, many people often find themselves over stressed and worked with the planning and excitement around self and family. However, for some small business owners, the holidays also means they must take into account their clients. Small business holiday etiquette is important if you wish to please and grow your current and prospective client base.

The first step is to divide your clients between the “gifts” and the “cards”. The gifts are your high dollar clients that your revenues rely heavily upon. The “cards” are still important clients, but they aren’t pulling in the dough like their counterparts. After you have distinguished between your clients, it is then time to go shopping. If you don’t know if a company is a gift or a card, always go gift. It is better to surprise a client with a present than with nothing at all. 

When choosing a present, it’s important to keep several simple factors in mind. First of all, remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas. A simple “Happy Holidays” will suffice if you are unsure of a client’s beliefs. If you are positive that everyone in his or her company celebrates Christmas, then a present could be used. Offending a client that does not celebrate Christmas is never in your best interest.

For the gift, a present that has the potential to please everyone in the office is ideal. Examples include cheese sets, bottles of wine, cakes, or untraditional “creative” presents. By making yourself standout to your client, however, you are taking a gamble. A gag gift could be use to spark a sense of humor and attempt to maintain a relationship more personal than simply business-to-business. However, this is highly frowned upon in a professional setting. More traditional gifts are expected, anticipated, and rather quite boring. Finding that niche gift that isn’t traditional, or risky, requires in-depth research and thought. But if you find yourself as that client with the “thoughtful” and “creative” gift that everyone in the company is talking about, then chances are you will remain in high regards for months to come.

While some people see these Holiday gifts as an unwelcome burden in business mentality, I believe they should be seen as a way to foster a unique dialogue that rarely happens in the business realm. When your 9-5 involves all work, no play, and rarely any personal conversations, then you should use the Holiday season as a chance to revamp some client bases and spark a new outlook on your company.

This Financial Services article was written by Colby Almond on 3/31/2010