We love the holidays; the shopping, the parties, and the festive food dishes! However, we also know that the holidays can be a stressful time, especially for small business owners trying to juggle holiday events, a pipeline of business and planning for the new business year.
Sometimes we end up feeling like the Grinch before we realize the holidays have come and gone. This year, we’re encouraging you to take a few steps to enjoy a stress-free holiday season as a small business owner:
Plan, plan, plan. It’s so important, we had to say it three times! It’s probably the #1 key to ensuring a stress-free holiday season. Look at your calendar at least thirty days ahead and be realistic about your time and setting priorities. Three ABC’s to consider when making a plan:
A.) Plan ahead for client deliverables: If you know you’re going to be traveling or simply wanting to enjoy some time off, make sure you plan to have any client deliverables done ahead of time, and don’t try to cram everything in at the last minute. You will make a strong impression on new and existing clients by demonstrating a strong work-life balance during the busy holiday season. This is a great time to excel in service for your clients.
B.) Be intentional about business development: Unless you are a retail business, many of you will experience a lull in your pipeline during the holiday season. Inevitably, we hear from small business owners around January 2ndpanicking about the slowed pipeline of new business going into the new calendar year. Making sure you have specific business development activities on your calendar during the holidays will ensure a pipeline going into 2012. Schedule lunch with strategic partners (businesses who can bring you clients); send holiday greetings to partners thanking them for the business; promote holiday specials using social media; invite a small group of colleagues together for a Power Team Holiday referral exchange for the new year.
C.) Set a schedule and clear expectations: For those of you that have a team of employees, (in-house or freelance) developing a schedule for covering the holidays is extremely important. Be clear about “open for business hours” with your team and notify them in advance that all holiday time must be approved and scheduled by you. Do you have a different pay structure for holiday pay? If so, make sure everyone understands this compensation in advance. Does the staff with seniority get priority holiday time? All of these things need to be taken into account and we suggest having a team meeting to set clear expectations. There will be less stress and more time to celebrate the holidays if everyone is on the same page.
Delegate. You don’t have to do everything yourself! Examine your deliverables, and be realistic about what tasks you can offload to your employees. As a small business owner, it can be tough to “let go of the reigns” and hand things off, but hopefully you’re staffed with trusted employees, and there’s no better time to exercise their capabilities than now!
Take time for your family. Enjoying holiday traditions with your family creates memories that will live forever. Will you look back and say “I should have worked more instead of spending time with my family?” Chances are, the answer is no. If you use our advice on planning and delegating, we believe you will have the time and ability to make special memories with your family.
Be flexible. Even the best-laid plans might need some tweaking. If you’ve followed tip #1 above, and planned your holiday coverage, don’t be afraid to change it along the way if something unexpected arises. By the same token, be willing to alter your expectations if it becomes clear that you have tried to plan too many things into your schedule.
As you can see, there’s nothing earthshattering in our tips, but a lot of us small business owners need reminded once in a while (every holiday season!) about how to actually enjoy the season, with our business and our family. This year we hope you relax a bit, enjoy the holidays and your family, and take time to be joyful!