When you are running a small or medium business, depending on your situation, it is not always possible to ‘shut down’ or ‘shut your doors’ and walk away for weeks on end, unless you have structured yourself in as an employee with full annual leave rights, or have a backup income that will fund your business and lifestyle in your absence.
Being self-employed often means if you don’t work you don’t make money and don’t get paid. This can cause stress for some, especially if they don’t know what to do about this.
Some business owners even resent the season because they find it harder to get clients, know there will be a ‘lull’ in business and also in the months leading up, a lot of people use the excuse “ I am too busy now, contact me next year”
Let me share few things I have learned after working for myself for most of 16 years:
- Planning is VITAL, even if you dislike it. I am not talking about doing a full business plan for the new year if that feels too big, but it is about planning a few things.
Cash-flow – Expenses – Buffer – Momentum
The reason I have love a bit of planning is because it means that when I do have ‘down time’ I am relaxed and not stressing about money or trying to work despite the holidays.
If you want a whole month off, make sure you can financially support that, this may mean slowly saving throughout the year, putting money aside into a separate account so it is there.
Planning also helps you to get more work in before Christmas and then set up some to go back to when you choose to return. This, I call the Momentum factor. If you have momentum coming up to December and through the month, you will more than likely have work spilling into the new year, use Dec to not just hop on the hamster wheel and run into Christmas like a crazy person, set some time aside to book in work for Jan – March.
- Keep in touch, how will you keep in touch with your customer base over the summer?
Send a Christmas card. Schedule some social media posts to give them some information etc or a newsletter that shares useful tips and ideas they can use, maybe schedule a couple of short ones. Use a VA (virtual assistant) if you need someone to ‘man’ your phone line and you are going to be away for more than the usual few weeks when everyone else is. Have someone handle inbound calls for that time, and fulfill orders if you need.
- Use an Autoresponder or Vacation reply so people KNOW you are away, they get a response, redirected to your website perhaps?
And say when you will be back on deck this is good manners – if you don’t want to say you are going away for security reasons, you can just say you are on leave.
- Say NO sometimes, we can’t be everything to everyone, or attend every social function.
If you are a social butterfly this may be harder than if you are not, but overloading your calendar at an already busy time of year ROBS you of energy, and precious time you could be spending getting your business to run smoothly over this time. I have also found that if I overload my diary I just get ‘over’ going to things, CHOOSE the things you like.
- Keep up your self-care, if you have a routine STICK to it like glue, your mind and body needs it even more at this time of year.
That way you head into your summer holiday feeling as healthy and fit as you can, if you don’t have one in place, DEC is a great time to start looking after yourself.
Remember, momentum can be LOST a lot faster than gained, so if you have some already, sit down and ask yourself:
- How can I keep some of this going and still have a break myself?
- Do my customers or clients want to hear from me over this Christmas period?
- If so what would they like to hear? Or know?
- What time do I want to have off completely and when do I want to return for what hours?
If you don’t have some momentum to carry you through, perhaps spending some of the time leading up to Christmas creating some, this involves networking for business, contacting your customers with an offer and other activities that can generate some activity.
Plan to enjoy this season with family and friends by being prepared, financially, personally, customer care, and growth wise. You can finish this year WELL and Start the new year even better with a bit of the old planning that is for sure.
I hope by now you have downloaded my free basic business planning work-book, many are using it now and loving its simplicity yet thought-provoking questions. If you haven’t yet had a look, make some time to chip away at it. If you haven’t yet you will find it on my home page at the top.
I wish you a very happy and healthy Christmas and start to 2017!
Best wishes and blessings