US News And World Report:

With consumer spending in a rut, 2008 is not shaping up as a happy holiday season for many small-business owners.

Still, there’s nothing like the right gift to take a businessperson’s mind off the recession.

And at a time when every penny counts, why not pick a present that can also improve a business’s bottom line?

1. A video camera or web cam. This isn’t just a good gift for a business owner who likes making home movies. Anyone with a business should consider talking about the business on camera and posting the results online. It’s now easy for anyone with an Internet connection to quickly view videos, and businesses of all sizes have been taking advantage of that breakthrough.

2. An account for an online invoice system. The mantra for many small businesses during a recession is “Cash flow is king.” That’s why it’s so important to keep a sharp eye on accounts receivable. If you’re disorganized, a simple forgetful mistake could be quite costly. For that reason, several services offer online invoicing intended to simplify how small-business owners get paid.

3. Internet postage. With so many small businesses operating purely online these days, a retailer may not need to leave the house to get most things done. But you still probably need to run to the post office to ship out orders, especially during the busy holiday months. That trip, however, can be made unnecessary, too. Several services, such as Endicia or, allow you to print postage from your computer and even print it directly onto envelopes.

Photo by FlyCat.

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