Winter is a busy time for us business owners. As well as keeping our companies running we also need to find time for things like Christmas shopping, family events and, of course, the big day itself.
For some businesses, such as retailers, this is the busiest time of year as customers rush to stock up on gifts and treats. And then there are things like sick days to deal with, as winter colds and flu work their way around (pass the Lemsip!).
Try coping with all that and staying stress free!
Thankfully there’s still time left to get – and stay – organised. Here are my favourite ways to Christmas-proof your business.
If you run a product-based business, make sure you have enough stock to cope with extra sales at this time of year. If your products would make lovely gifts, chances are you’ll be selling loads more than usual.
And if you need materials to make your products, buy some more in early so you don’t find yourself running out in the middle of a rush or having to pay a premium for extra-fast shipping.
Book networking events for January
This is my busiest time of year, with lots of projects already in progress. Plus I’m booking lots of new ones in too, as people want to start the new year with some lovely new branding or a shiny new website. That means I have less time available for networking right now.
If that sounds like you too, don’t stress about how you’re going to squeeze in networking events now. It’s ok to stay home for a bit and concentrate on getting your work done. Instead, book yourself into some events for after Christmas so you can start your year reconnecting with people, making new contacts and hopefully lining up some new projects.
Order more business cards
Make sure you’ve got plenty of business cards, flyers and brochures for all these events you’re booking! If you’re running short now is a great time to reorder. And make sure to check that contact details are up to date or maybe even get the design refreshed.
Allow extra time for printing
Many print companies get busy at this time of year, so your order might take longer than usual. Additionally, if your order needs to be posted out to you, deliveries may take longer. So if you allow extra time for getting work printed you can avoid panicking about it being ready on time.
Add buffer time to your projects
Talking of extra time, make sure you add some extra, buffer time to your schedule between projects.
With all the colds and coughs going around, you or your clients could easily get ill and that could delay your projects. If you work from home, chances are you might be able to get some work done from your sick bed, though you really should take time off to let your body rest and fight off the bugs.
If you’ve packed your schedule so full already that you’re not sure when you’re going to sleep, taking a sick day or two is going to have a major effect that could see you doing oodles of overtime to play catch-up once you’re better.
Or if your client gets ill, they’re not going to feel like going through your proof and giving you feedback on time, so your carefully planned schedule will start falling apart.
But if you add some empty buffer time between projects rather than scheduling them back to back, you have space to be a little flexible. If you or your client need extra time to get stuff done or recover from a bug, you have the space in your schedule to let that happen, stress-free.
And if you don’t end up needing to use the buffer time, you’ve just earned yourself an afternoon off to watch a Christmas film – bonus!
Don’t leave Christmas cards + newsletters to the last minute
If you’re planning to send out customised Christmas cards, get in touch with your designer now. If you leave it too late they might not have time in their schedule to fit you in.
Alternatively, if your to-do list is just too crammed to even think about Christmas cards, why not postpone them. Send New Year cards instead. As well as clearing something off your list now, sending cards after the holidays will cheer up your clients on grey January days and make your business stand out from everyone who sent cards in December.
And if you’re going to send out newsletters, start working on them now.
Email newsletters can be created in advance and scheduled to be sent out later but if you leave them to the last minute, that’s just something else on your to-do list to stress about.
You might also like: How to create your own Christmas cards (even when you’re short on time)
Have a Christmas party
Yes, I know. That’s something else to add to your to-do list. But it’s worth it.
One of the few things I miss about being an employee is the Christmas party. Ok, it’s about the only thing. And I’m not talking about dinner for one either. Working by yourself doesn’t mean you should miss out.
Every year I treat my mum and her partner to a nice lunch followed by rather a few cocktails. They help me throughout the year (mum is an excellent housekeeper when I’m on a deadline and the dishes are piling up!) so it’s a good way to thank them for their support. And it means I get a Christmas party.
So why not organise your own ‘work Christmas party’. Get together with friends or family or other solopreneurs in your area. Put on your Christmas jumpers and go celebrate! It’s a great way to support each other and let’s face it, at this time of year you need to take some time out from work and have some fun too.
Let your customers know about your holidays
If you’re taking time off over Christmas, make sure your customers know about it in advance.
All my existing clients know I always close up for 2 weeks over Christmas and New Year and I make sure to tell new clients that are booking in now too. They need to know things like how the holidays will affect project schedules, when I’ll be available for answering emails and so on.
Make sure you let your clients know these things too. Plus, add a note to your email signature listing the dates your business will be closed as a reminder. If relevant add in some alternative contact details in case of emergencies or urgent enquiries.
You could also post your festive opening hours on your website and Facebook page.
And when you do close for the holidays, remember to turn on your “out of office” autoresponder. Again, use that to list when you’re closed, when you reopen, and how to get in touch in an emergency. That’ll be another reminder for existing clients sending you messages, plus it’ll let new enquiries know when to expect a response.
Schedule some updates
If you plan to have a complete digital detox over the holidays, you can schedule things like blog posts and social media posts in advance. So you can relax with some Prosecco and Yule log knowing that your Facebook page isn’t being ignored.
You could even skip the blog posts altogether. If your readers aren’t going to be around much to read your posts because they’re all off scoffing mince pies, why not take a break from blogging and save your posts for after the holidays.
Pay your bills
If you have any bills becoming due while you’re on holiday, such as for print work or web hosting, make sure you organise the payments before you stop working. Post a cheque in plenty of time or schedule a bank transfer. This will not only keep your suppliers sweet, but also means you won’t be disturbed by people chasing their money while you’re trying to relax!
Here’s to a super–relaxing and stress-free festive break!
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