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Venture Catalyst Consulting helps entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship support organizations (ESOs), and ESO funders achieve sustainable success.

About Venture Catalyst Consulting

Venture Catalyst Consulting seeks to improve the financial stability and happiness of all deserving entrepreneurs by helping business owners build successful, sustainable companies and by helping organizations that support those business owners to build thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems and effective entrepreneurship support programs. Keep reading…

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Venture Catalyst works with entrepreneurs around the globe to help them grow successful, sustainable businesses. While our consulting services center…

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The latest from the blog

Best Gifts for Entrepreneurs 2017

The snow has started to fall – at least here in Chicago, the holiday jingles are on repeat, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner so that means one thing: this week’s post is the annual list of the best gifts for entrepreneurs, 2017 edition.

Please note that some of the links are affiliate links but rest assured, I decide on my gift list first and then go back and see if I can use affiliate links for any of the items, not the other way around, so everything on this list is something I truly think would make a great gift for the entrepreneur in your life.

Okay, without further ado, let’s jump in:

Google Fi

I’m not sure if Google Fi still has a waitlist or not but, even it does, it’s well worth the wait. Fi is Google’s cell service and I love it: $20 per month plus $10 per GB of data that you actually use – and partial GBs are counted as partial GBs – plus the international calling rates are great and the data is the same in something like 120 or 180 countries so that the entrepreneur in your life can stay connected while traveling. I already have it, love it, and have been telling everyone I know about how awesome it is for well over a year.

Portable Charger/Power Pack

Most entrepreneurs never really stop working, which means their cell batteries never get a rest. A good portable charger can be a life-saver. These come in a range of prices, so scope them out, read reviews, and make sure you get one that properly connects to the type of phone your favorite entrepreneur uses.

Amazon Echo

Entrepreneurs like their toys, especially toys that make their lives easier and the Amazon Echo is the king – or queen, I suppose, since her name is Alexa – of robot assistant toys. I actually have both an Amazon Echo and a Google Home  in my condo – the Echo upstairs and the Google Home downstairs. While it pains me to say because I am a full-fledged Google fangirl, Alexa is better at most things right now so I had to leave the Google Home off the list this year.

A Great Mattress

There’s nothing more important for an entrepreneur – or anyone, let’s be honest – than a good night’s sleep. If you’re not well rested, you’re not clear of mind and able to kick butt at building a successful business so having a really great mattress beneath you every night is key. You don’t have to spend a million dollars to have a great mattress either. I use the Brentwood Home Bamboo Gel Memory Foam and my boyfriend and I love it. We had friends come and stay with us and they ditched their $900+ mattress to replace it with ours. We recommended it to other friends for their guest room (clearly for selfish reasons) but they ended up loving it and using it as their main mattress. I can’t recommend anything else more.

Noise Canceling Headphones and/or Earbuds with Inline Mic

Whether you’re traveling, in a co-working space, or in a home office, when you’re an entrepreneur there are bound to be lots of distractions that can derail your focus and slow your startup’s or small business’ progress. Sometimes you need to give your focus a little helping hand by canceling out any potentially distracting background noise with a good pair of headphones.

Yes, I get that headphones that are this pricey are not for everyone. If you have a tendency to get easily distracted, however, these will do wonders for your ability to get in the zone and get stuff done.

Whether you’re willing to spend that much or not, an entrepreneur, at minimum, needs a pair of noise-canceling earbuds with an inline mic so that we can get calls out of the way while we’re on the move. I use and love these ones by noot, which are decidedly more affordable than the Bose ones for those with serious distractability.

Touchscreen Gloves

It’s super annoying when you can’t check something or answer a text easily because it’s cold outside and you’re bundled up. Save the hassle with some touchscreen gloves like these ones.

Maid Service or At Least a Roomba

We all look for excuses not to wash the toilets and a customer crisis certainly works, so it’s easy to let the house get a little messy when you’re stressed out trying to build a business that can support you and your family. Help the entrepreneur in your life out by gifting him/her house-cleaning service. Or just a ROOMBA, whichever.

Other services that might be great include massages/facials/pedicures and other pampering.

There’s also always the entrepreneur’s favorite bottle of alcohol.

A Getaway

Now, most entrepreneurs aren’t going to go for someone else planning a long vacation without their involvement because they have clients and proposals and deliverables to worry about, however, a night or two away, even if it’s not that far from home can be a really wonderful reset that can recharge the batteries and help the business owner in your life be more productive when he or she gets back. No matter your budget or style, Airbnb will usually have something to fit the bill for whatever your perfect weekend getaway is.

Amazon Prime:

Or, alternatively, if you just don’t know, an Amazon Prime membership is always great. We all need stuff. Amazon has almost all of that stuff: everything from computers to clothes to toilet paper. When we order that stuff, we all want it RIGHT NOW. What’s not to love about a year of free 2-day shipping plus other goodies like free streaming movies, music, and shows?

 I hope this list helps you be the best gift giver around for that special entrepreneur in your life!

Understanding Employee Handbooks and Culture Guides

Today I want to talk to you about the much-dreaded employee handbook.

In my experience as a business coach, few things cause more grunts and groans from business owners than the idea that they should create an employee handbook. (more…)

What People Have to Say About Working with Cate

  • “Cate Costa is one of the most insightful people I have ever known for her incredible insight in understanding entrepreneurship and what it takes to start and sustain businesses. My interaction with her as a consultant for a national fellowship gave me a deeper appreciation of her as a pragmatist and someone who is constantly thinking outside the box of traditional economic development. She is thoughtful, visionary, and pragmatic at the same time…Cate’s perspectives has helped me adapt my work as a Policy Analyst in scoping out and implementing special projects and strategic initiatives to help diversify and expand  the economic landscape of Boston.”

    John Smith, Policy Analyst, Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, City of Boston
  • “Cate’s knowledge and expertise in business strategy, helped me personally transform how I thought about my business. I now look at my business from a strategic perspective versus tactical…In third quarter 2016, five months after taking Cate’s class, my company achieved more revenue in one quarter than all of 2015 and this trajectory has continued into 2017. Rarely do you find a person who has the skillset to help others see the opportunities in their business and provide them with the tools and coaching to execute those opportunities… Cate is that person! I highly recommend, Cate’s consulting services as she is truly transformational. She has the ability to be  a catalyst in moving your business forward.”

    Karen Fleshman, Co-Founder and COO, Haskins Advisory Group
  • “Cate has become a great resource that has allowed me to look past the stumbling blocks that bogged me down as a business owner. A two minute conversation with her gave me a simple strategy towards assessing the risks necessary to grow any business. After our time together my business saw a 25% increase in revenue. I’ve taken the necessary steps to expand my company which will allow for exponential financial growth! She’s helped me understand the key numbers that all financial institutions look at when deciding to approve funding!”

    Maurice Sanders, Owner, Cornerstone Logistics