Owning a small business is like being a single parent. You never get a day off. If you are going to travel, you need to bring the kids with you or have someone you trust to care for them while you are away. The same goes for your business. When you travel, you can take the work with you and/or delegate as much as you can to keep the wheels turning during your absence.
However, the holidays are a different animal altogether. For many small business owners, we struggle to balance the holidays with running our business. We feel as though we just cannot step away from our business. But spending time with our loved ones is important too. Can we afford to take time off? Will the world fall apart if we do?
Below are some tips for working through the holiday season.
The Work Though It Extreme
One option is to work through the holidays which is appealing or even the reality to those whose busy season is during the holidays. For businesses like CPAs, caterers, retail shops, any travel-related businesses, the holidays are the busiest time of year. Once these businesses have acknowledged that the winter holidays are a time for their most revenue and not a time to go away or be absent, they need to have this discussion with their loved ones. It will become a way of life and will not seem depressing or frustrating, but rather normal and exhilarating. These businesses can then choose a slow time of year and make that their holiday.
My CPA takes two weeks off after every April 15. She travels the world and does not check her email for two whole weeks. We all know it and if we forget, her email autoresponder makes it clear. You can do the same for the slow cycle in your business. I know a dog sitter who works through the winter holidays but visits her family during her nephew’s birthday in the spring.
The Shut Down Extreme
On the other hand, you could shut down your business completely. For the holidays one year, I spent two weeks in Sydney, Australia. I was astounded by the number of restaurants and shops who had posted a sign that said they were closed for two weeks and would return in January. I could not believe it!
Chances are your business is not going to die if you close for two weeks. If you are going to do it, you must be resolute and confident in your decision. The key is to commit and be unapologetic about it. I bet the most common reaction will be, “wow, I wish I could do that!” But it is important to let clients and customers know well ahead of time. You can send a heartfelt message to them prior to Thanksgiving or right after and let them know your holiday plans and why closing is important to you.
The In Between
It is probably safe to assume most people will take some time off around the holidays. Yet, I would argue the holiday season itself runs from Halloween to Lunar New Year, with the biggest concentration being from Thanksgiving to New Years.
During the time period you are celebrating the holidays, consider working part time. Take care of the time-sensitive client work and only handle the administrative tasks that cannot wait. Everything else can wait until you are back in full swing. It is a good time to make plans for the next year by setting up meetings that can wait in January. Therefore, you start the new year with some plans in the works and refreshed because you took some time off.
Commit, Communicate, Celebrate
Whatever time period you choose to shut down or slow down, the key is to COMMIT. Decide how you are going to approach that holiday period. Maybe you work part-time for a few days and then completely shut down for a few days, shut down for the whole period, or work as if these are not your holidays. In any case, commit to your schedule.
When you have chosen how you are going to approach the holiday season, COMMUNICATE it to your clients. Post it on your website, social media, and include it in an email auto-responder. If you train your clients ahead of time, they will not be surprised or upset.
Now that you have committed to your holiday plan and communicated it to your team and clients, CELEBRATE and enjoy the holidays with your loved ones!
We encourage you to visit our the Freedom Makers website to learn ways to enhance your small business. Freedom Makers offers virtual assistants with an array of talents and services for your business. Contact us TODAY to start a conversation about finding more hours in the work week for you!