Creating a business is an intentional act. Even if you inherit or buy a going concern, you purposefully plan and execute the steps you believe will make your company prosperous.

Expressing gratitude is one way to help your business thrive, and often, it tends to get lost in the day-to-day. It distinguishes you from a sea of competitors, and even small acts of appreciation can solidify your key professional relationships. It can create a connection that becomes the basis for a powerful alliance you never considered.

Over my years in business, I've learned that expressing gratitude is a powerful thing. It yields results I couldn't have predicted in a business meeting. So while gratitude might be at the top of your mind during the holidays, why not make a mindful decision to incorporate it into your thinking year-round?

Consider your various constituencies: customers, clients, staff, vendors and alliance partners. Who is crucial to your business and at what intersection points?

I suggest making your appreciation tangible when you interact with each of the important people who help make your company thrive. It's more than sending a box of pricey chocolates or making a donation to your favorite charity in their name. It's knowing your contact well enough to show them you care in ways they value. 

If your team just won a major piece of business -- working nights and weekends to make it happen -- a heartfelt thank you, ideally in-person or by phone, is step one. But why stop there?

Grant them some extra time off to enjoy their triumph. Give them gift certificates to a local spa or concert tickets -- you should know them well enough to know which they'd most appreciate, and if you don't, ask. Dig deep and figure out what will make a lasting impression on each person.

Showing your colleagues you value their hard work and dedication can pay off in the long run. According to an employee appreciation survey by Glassdoor, 53 percent of employees admit they would stay longer at their company if they felt more appreciation from their boss. 

How you express your gratitude speaks to who you are as a person.

Showing your emotion isn't weakness. It's strength. It builds memorable bonds that transcend your business relationships.

Here's a simple yet effective way to build expressing gratitude into your life. Ask yourself: Who am I grateful for today? Who helped add to my success or challenged my thinking?

Maybe it's a particular customer who had a problem with your product or service and helped you work through a viable solution that benefits many. Perhaps your lawyer saved you a bundle by insisting you insert a special clause in your contract. Or your assistant remembered to follow-up on your behalf, making you look like a hero. 

Don't sit on those feelings. Take action. Gratitude felt but not expressed is like planning a new product line and not launching. 

Get in the habit of expressing your thanks as you go (it's also far easier than saving them up until the holidays). A thoughtful email or handwritten note will go a long way in showing someone you appreciate them.

Sure, throw your team a holiday party if that's your thing. Just remember that it's your one-to-one humanity that sets you apart from the masses who give gifts that are soon forgotten.

Published on: Nov 8, 2018