Many successful entrepreneurs draw inspiration from the life stories of others who have achieved success. They read biographies of leaders and influencers such as Steve Jobs, Tony Hsieh and Richard Branson to name a few. Yet there may be one iconic “influencer” who we’ve overlooked for modeling and inspiration…the man in the red suit. So as business owners, what can we learn from the big guy? Turns out, quite a bit. Here’s just a few standout lessons from good old St. Nick:

  1. Give the people what they want

Not what you think they want. Not what you want. What they want. And how do you know what they want? Ask them. Ask current and/or potential customers/clients questions and listen closely to the answers. They will let you know what their needs are and when you address those needs, that not only leads to higher client retention, satisfaction, and possible recommendations but those needs may spark you to develop new products and services. Crowdsourcing is a beautiful thing.

  1. Be a joyful business person

Does that mean “Stepford Wives” happy all the time? No. Not only would that be creepy and most likely inauthentic. Many of my favorite business owners are a bit on the crotchety side….except when it comes to their niche. But when they are talking, sharing, selling, teaching about the topics specific to their world, there is an animation and joy that is absolutely infectious.

  1. Make a list and check it twice

Santa creates and updates a “naughty” and “nice” list and this list is important enough for him to check at least twice. This lesson is twofold for business owners and can apply to your own clients/customers. In regards to the “naughty” or “nice” factor as it pertains to your clients, think about the 80/20 rule and perhaps consider stepping away from some of those on your “naughty” list who may be using up valuable time and resources that should be used to nourish relationships and increase numbers of those on the “nice” list.

In regards to list making and marketing, there’s a less festive version of this is called market segmentation. Break down your client/customer base into segments with commonalities and market to them accordingly. Think of each groups unique needs.

  1. Santa’s not selling…he’s giving

Really think about this and how it can apply to your social media strategy. You’re the expert in your field, right? Share your insight…for free. Share tips and tools, expert advice and how-to content. Giving some of your specialized knowledge away doesn’t lead to less of a need for your services. It increases your visibility, your reputation and much more. Turns out that being the source people look to for great information makes you the person they will trust and look to when making a purchase. The 80/20 rule, as mentioned previously, also applies to your social media….serve up 80% great content that solves the needs of your customers and 20% of the time you promote your product/services. In giving, you shall receive.

There are clearly so many other areas where we can learn from Santa Claus, both personally and in business such as: making others feel good, motivating and appreciating your team, having an interesting story to tell, the power of free delivery, creating a niche and more. If we just take a few of these tips into 2016, we may end up bringing more community, joy and success into the New Year.

Happy Holidays everyone!  #Santapreneur

Written by Pasqualina DeLucia

Pasqualina DeLucia is the Assistant Director of America’s Small Business Development Center New Jersey at Brookdale Community College