Shortly after she moved to Newburyport, Mass., in 2009, Erica Holthausen got a haircut at a local salon. A week later, she received a thank-you note and two $10 gift certificates from the hairdresser at Shanti Salon — one for her and another for a friend.
Holthausen remembered the experience when she launched her own business a few months later — and she still does. “It really influenced how I interact with clients, colleagues, and vendors,” she says. Holthausen, owner of Honest Marketing Revolution, now advises solopreneurs and microbusinesses on their marketing strategies. She and her friend still get their hair cut at that same salon, too.
Saying “thanks” is more than good manners. Sincerely expressed, gratitude can be a smart business strategy: It encourages loyalty from your customers and nurtures your spirit and your business.
Here are three ways to include gratitude in your business plan for 2013:
1. Identify who deserves thanks and then express it. Take five minutes now to list of people for whom you are sincerely grateful: customers, vendors, colleagues, employees, and others. Who provided an unsolicited referral or testimonial for your business? Made an extra phone call? Who gave you special customer service? “Then, create an action plan to communicate your thanks, with no hidden agenda,” advises Fast Company blogger Howard Jacobson.
2. Send hand-written thank-you notes. Holthausen says she writes a “simple and sincere” thank-you note — on real paper — each time a client begins work with her. She sends another note to the client at the end of the project. “It expresses my gratitude for our work together and shares a little bit about what my client taught me,” she says. Expressing your gratitude builds stronger relationships with clients, which results in referrals and repeat business.
3. Maintain a positive, grateful attitude. Psychologists say that this can boost your health, beat stress, and help you sleep better — all of which will help you run your business more efficiently. Spend a few minutes each day counting your blessings and thinking on that which makes you grateful. Get started by taking 10 of those minutes to watch this short and moving video about gratitude from TEDxSF.
Holthausen says that gratitude helps to keep her motivated and energized, as well as to persevere when business isn’t going as smoothly as she’d like. “Gratitude helps me remember why I love what I do,” she says. “It keeps me connected to my purpose and my values and makes my work even more enjoyable.”
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