Whether the holidays are your busy or slow season, this time of year presents challenges and opportunities for every small business owner. Taking advantage of the season requires some extra planning, but so what? Extra planning is a “Tuesday” for small business owners.
Here are some holiday survival strategies to help you enjoy, and your business profit, from this time of year.
1. TAKE SOME TIME OFF.
You’re not a machine. Don’t fool yourself. Schedule some time to take off to spend with your family, hibernating in a desert retreat, or binge watch some Netflix. Whatever helps you unwind and reset – take some time and do it.
The truth is, you’re not as effective as you think you are when you’re running ragged. You have less focus. You’re impatient with yourself and your employees. You start to forget why you started this business in the first place.
Take some time off. Your self preservation demands it.
2. MAKE SURE YOUR EMPLOYEES TAKE SOME TIME OFF AS WELL.
They’re not machines either. Keep them motivated by not burning them out. Obviously you have a business and customers to see to. Even if this your slow season, you can’t let everyone off at the same time. But make the necessary arrangements that allow you to give your employees their time off while also meeting the needs of your business.
Which brings me to tip #3…
3. HIRE ADDITIONAL STAFF, IF NEEDED.
Extra staffing helps you maintain required staffing levels while letting employees take their own holiday time. If you own a spa or restaurant or some other small business enjoying its busy season, you may need to hire extra staff to meet the increased demand. Taking small business loans to cover the costs of extra staff is a smart investment to realize the full revenue potential of the holiday season for your business.
4. UP-TRAIN OR CROSS-TRAIN STAFF. (THIS FOR YOU GUYS IN THE DOLDRUMS OF YOUR SLOW SEASON.)
Winter is notoriously slow for you construction and sub-contractors out there. Instead of leaving this as lost time, invest in improving your staff’s skills. You can send your top guys to get additional certifications in needed skills. Help more junior staff get up-trained to improve their skills. Maybe you want to take a class or certification that will help you be a more effective business owner.
Or, if you want to make sure next winter isn’t a dead season for your business, get some staff trained to provide new, winter-friendly services that you can start to offer. Interior landscaping, HVAC services, or holiday lights installation. Expand your business’s scope of services (and revenue) is resourceful way to use a small business loan.
5. SIMPLIFY YOUR HOLIDAY PARTY.
The idea of the office holiday party always sounds better than the party itself. Save your business the expense and your employees of another holiday obligation by scaling it back.
Instead of an after-business hours party, have your party during business hours. Your employees have plenty of personal errands to get done in their off-hours. Don’t take that time away from them.
Bring in a great catered lunch. Bring in folks who usually work in the field so everyone can spend some quality time with their co-workers. Then let them leave early. Remember – they have personal errands to do.
Extra bonus: Since it’s an on-premises, lunch party, no one will expect alcohol. That’s a serious savings to your bank account and everyone’s dignity.
6. SHORE UP YOUR CASH FLOW.
Has buying the extra inventory you need at this time of year put you in a cash squeeze? Did you have the cash you needed to buy that extra inventory?
Another common way small businesses risk their holiday time cash flow is by letting their quarterly, semi-annual or annual expenses accumulate. This could be taxes, insurance premiums, licensing fees – any host of expenses you just keep putting off because you can. I’ve suggested before to pay these expenses monthly into your reserve account so you have the cash on hand when the end of year bills come due.
If you haven’t paid into a reserve account this year or are scrambling to purchase extra inventory for the season, a small business loan or merchant cash advance might help you out. You don’t want to default on any expenses or miss out on the seasonal revenue potential due to poor cash flow.
7. SURF THE SEASON’S BIGGEST MARKETING CAMPAIGNS.
Everyone from big business to big media promote the hell out of a number of specialized shopping days during the season. Surf these campaigns (and their marketing spend) by including your own special deals or marketing awareness campaigns on these days.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are huge (of course). But don’t forget about Small Business Saturday, Green Monday, Giving Tuesday and Free Shipping Day. Yes, these are all real things. Do you have a lot of Canadian customers? Then you can take advantage of Boxing Day as well.
The holidays are just about on us, but you can still work these tips. Winter’s just getting started. Find your balance between self preservation and ramping up your business opportunities. That will make it a happy season, indeed.