Christmas! Summer! Holidays!
All exciting words in their own right, but squashed together with a heavy helping of small business madness, they can become less exciting.
Especially at this time when we are about to head into the craziest month and a half of the year.
There are orders to fill, client deadlines to meet and projects to finish, all hanging under the impending presence of an end of year shut down.
But don’t panic. You don’t have to go sleepless for the entire month of November and much of December. With a little bit of preparation, you might be able to swing a couple of nights sleep a week!
Here’s my tips to nail the end of year madness and still get that glazed ham on the table for Christmas Day.
Preparing Your Business For The End Of Year Madness
The most stressful part about the end of year is the unexpected nature. What will come in during this time? How will you handle it all? Or, will there be tumbleweeds blowing through your inbox?
To cope with the unexpected, it is a good idea to cover off the parts that you do know about.
When you have a list of orders as long as your arm, you don’t want to be worrying about writing a blog post or coming up with something to post on Facebook. So, as Uncle Scar says in the Lion King… be prepared.
Being prepared can look different for every business depending on the stage you are at. If you are still in the wear-every-hat-there-is-because-I-am-a-startup phase, then I am not going to tell you to outsource unless you have the resource and the inclination to do so. But that doesn’t mean you can prepare in other ways. Get a jump on the madness right now by batch creating some blogs, writing up some social media posts and scheduling them to go out over the busy period.
Of course, if you are past the startup phase and have resources at your disposal, then it can be an idea to outsource your content creation and scheduling. This then frees up your time to focus on Christmas orders or client deadlines.
You know you will have invoices to send, emails to answer and general admin tasks to complete. Try to streamline your processes as much as possible so that they don’t eat up too much of your time.
Emails: Clear them at certain points in the day and close your inbox off at all other times. If you are a Gmail user, you can use an addon called Boomerang to “pause” your inbox and only allow emails in at certain times.
Invoicing: Creating and sending your invoices is a vital yet time consuming job. Do what you can to minimise the time spent. Create them in batches, do it as part of your job completion, or set up repeating templates in your accounting software.
Admin: When it comes to admin, there are some things that cannot be left. Do those tasks during off peak times so that you don’t waste your most productive working hours on admin. Any tasks that are not urgent can wait until the new year when things are less busy.
The Money, Money, Money
Money can be a funny thing around end of year. Either there is a feast of it or a famine, depending on your business type. Many product businesses are booming, especially if you sell the kind of things people like to give for gifts.
Even though revenue is high, costs can be high too. So, ensure that you budget for the cost of stock, any wages, packaging, courier fees, and the extra coffee budget!
If you are in the service industry, business can taper off as people focus on their Christmas shopping and not their accounts! To cope with the lull in earnings, ensure you have a bit of a buffer to carry you through until things pick up again in the new year.
This quiet period can be the perfect time to catch up on any of those jobs you have been meaning to do. It is also a great time to catch up with friends and family to enjoy the loving side of the festive season.
As you well know, things get a bit manic around the end of year. Your clients will not know what to expect from you unless you tell them.
Do you have a cut off date for orders or for taking on new projects? Then communicate that date through to them.
Maybe you have a closing date where you are not willing to risk sending any more courier parcels? Advise them of that date too.
A large part of minimising client drama is setting realistic expectations. If you know there is no way you can send the product they want or complete the project they need before Christmas, then tell them. It is far better to have that conversation upfront than it is to get a shirty phone call on Christmas Eve!
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