code culture website design and branding studio

Well, it’s only 6 days until Christmas and the pressure is on to make sure everything is just perfect! From wrapping presents to wrapping up projects, my list of things to do seems to be getting longer instead of shorter. I know I’ll get everything done – we always do, right? – but in the back of my mind, do you know what I’d rather be doing?!

Reading… (Yeah, you heard me).

I have a confession to make: I’m a self-development junkie.

When I see the snow falling, the Christmas tree twinkling and the fireplace roaring, all I want to do is curl up in a big comfy chair with a tall glass of wine–or a whip creamy hot chocolate–and get lost in a good book.

I’ve always been a bookworm, but with this whole business thing going on, I often find myself feeling guilty for picking up Vampire Academy when I know I should be spending my time reading books that’ll help me get ahead. It’s this wave of thinking that has led me to read an insane amount of self-development books over the past year. Every single time I read a book about business, or money, or simplicity, or health, or spirituality, or… *insert non-fiction category here*, I always come out of it feeling like (a little bit of) a better person. Whether I’ve learned something to apply directly to my life or business, been motivated to do something major or just gained some worldly insight, I’ve never regretted finishing any book I’ve picked up.

If you’re taking time off for the holidays, you might find yourself looking for something productive to do to pass the time between the chaos–like reading some cool sh*t.

So, here’s my list of recommended e-books to read over the break! Hopefully at least one of these will tickle your fancy.

Oh, and the best part: they’re totally FREE!

10 FREE & AWESOME E-BOOKS TO READ OVER THE HOLIDAYS

    BUSINESS SUCCESS:

  1. Freshbooks: Breaking The Time Barrier — This will change the way you think about your business and the way you bill your clients!
  2. Seth Godin: The Bootstrapper’s Bible — Learn how to start a business with NO money!
  3. Brian Tracy: 100 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business Success — Life, money and business baby.. These laws are essential.
  4. MONEY MANAGEMENT & GETTING OUT OF DEBT:

  5. Dave Ramsey’s Guide To Budgeting — Anyone who knows me well knows that I am obsessed with Dave Ramsey. I even nerded-out hard at one of his live shows in Grand Rapids, MI. He’s a life changer!
  6. Dave Ramsey’s Guide To Investing — I’ll never understand why we don’t have to take mandatory personal finance classes in school. This is an absolute must read.
  7. MINIMALISM & SIMPLE LIVING:

  8. Leo Babauta: Thriving On Less — Leo Babauta is the man when it comes to minimalism (and just generally rocking at life).
  9. Leo Babauta: Focus — A simplicity manifesto in the age of distraction… (literally… that’s the subtitle).
  10. ONLINE MARKETING:

  11. Gregory Ciotti: 10 Ways To Convert Customers Using Psychology — Learn how you can dramatically increase your conversions by changing a few simple words.
  12. 29 Secrets About Content Marketing (And The Undercover Agents Who Shared Them) — Always good to learn from people who have been there, done that!
  13. SPIRITUALITY:

  14. Deepak Chopra: The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success — When it comes to spirituality, nobody does it like Deepak!

Okay, there’s my list! Let me know if you found it helpful or if you have any other suggestions for free and awesome e-books. I’ll add them to my next round up!

Happy reading,

happy holidays code culture

Have you ever worked with a company who went above and beyond to make you feel appreciated as a customer during the holiday season? I’m talking really appreciated here, to the point where you’re like, “Wow. I can’t believe how much they care about me! What a fantastic company. I’ll definitely work with them again and tell all my friends!”

Oh, you haven’t? Well, to tell you the truth, neither have I.

Yes, I’ve got a stash of ballpoint pens and stress balls covered in company logos, and yes, I’ve gotten holiday cards that have generic, typed out greetings and the scanned signatures of 75 employees on them, but I’ve never really gotten anything that made me feel like I was individually cared about as a customer.

Now that I’m a business owner, I have a hard time understanding why this is the case. The holidays seem like such an awesome opportunity to make people smile, show them how important they are and get them thinking about your business all in one fell swoop. Doesn’t it just seem like the obvious thing to do if you want to maintain a working relationship with them in the following year? After all, the foundation of any well-respected and long-lasting organization is excellent customer service.

HAPPY CUSTOMERS = HAPPIER NEW YEAR

So why not take advantage of this wonderful time of year by really thanking your customers individually for working with you? Make ‘em feel special! When they know you value them, they’ll like you. When they like you, they’ll want to work with you again (and tell all their friends). Trust me, you want all their friends to know.

Here’s a few little ideas you can use to get your customers feeling all warm and fuzzy this holiday season:

  1. Send them a personal, hand-written Christmas card. First of all, make sure they celebrate Christmas (the whole paying attention to them individually thing kinda goes out the window if you get the holiday wrong)! If you aren’t sure, just use “Happy Holidays”. Make the message personal! Thank them for their business. Tell them that if they need any of your services in the oncoming year, you’ll take care of them.
  2. Give them some logo swag that they can actually use. Okay yes, I use pens from my logo pen collection, but it’s so overdone that I don’t even think about the companies that gave them to me! Put your logo on something different and practical that they’ll use all the time. For example: A tote bag, a USB stick, a lanyard or a corkscrew. Everybody loves a corkscrew.
  3. Give them a small but awesome gift that doesn’t necessarily have to do with your business, but would just make them really happy. Put it in the envelope with the card that you personally hand-wrote just for them. Throw a piece of your practical logo swag in the envelope too, then sweeten the deal with one of these babies. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful! 

    For example, a $5 gift card to Tim Horton’s or Starbucks with a note that says, “Hope you stay warm this holiday season! Use this gift card to enjoy a nice hot coffee, my treat.”

    Or, if you want to spend a bit more, give them the gift of music on demand with a music service like Spotify! They have gift cards for $10, $30 and $60. Everyone loves music, right? It’d be a really cool gift for just about anyone–and no, I do not get paid to say that!

    For large-scale clients, you might consider giving them a cool and inexpensive monthly service such as: BirchBox, Dollar Shave Club, Bark Box, Ipsy, Indie Gift Box, Tea Sparrow, Nerdblock and more!

You know how after winning a music award, the artist will thank the fans? Well as a business owner, your customers are your fans. Without each of them, your business wouldn’t be where it is today–and your life probably wouldn’t be as rad.

Of course, however you choose to show your appreciation to your clients will depend on things like how much money they’ve spent with you over the past year, if you want to continue a working relationship with them, how many clients you have etc. Do it in a way that works for both of you! It’s not something to stress over or go into debt over. If you’re just starting out, a nice card can really do the trick. However, if you’ve got the funds available and you’re in the Christmas spirit, take advantage. You can likely write it off as a business expense anyways! ;)

Stay humble, feel grateful and show your appreciation. To an individual customer, the little things go a very long way.

Happy Holidays,

lauren-lund

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