As a business owner the festive period can be a challenge.
Our families have a set of agendas for Christmas we are expected to fall in with, and at the same time we are trying to ensure that our business does not struggle because of the reduced working days at the end of December.
However, with a little planning it can be possible to keep everyone happy.
Firstly, it is important to manage your business issues.
A key part of this is managing customer expectations of what can be accomplished before Christmas. If you are a service provider you may often be set Christmas deadlines for projects you are working on. This deadline is generally arbitary and there is no business reason why a deadline of 24th December, or 31st December, is necessary. So make sure you have the conversation with your client from the outset to find out what their ‘real’ deadline is. This will take the pressure off you without inconveniencing your client.
One aspect of the Christmas shut down is that companies, particularly large ones, use it as an excuse for not paying their suppliers. If you have invoices which are due for payment just before the holiday period make sure you contact your customers to ensure you are on the last payment run before they shut down. If payment is due over the holiday period see if you can persuade them to pay you a little earlier, so it will hit your bank over the three working days after Christmas.
If you plan to shut down your business over the festive period make sure all your customers are well aware of the fact in advance, so they can contact you if there is anything they need before you close.
For many business owners it is possible to take a break from their business completely. If you fall into this category I would definitely advise you to do – you will return to work refreshed and raring to go in the new year. In any case, most businesses find their customers are on holiday anyway and so taking the break has very little negative impact on the business.
If you do have to work try to compress the work you have to do into as small a time as possible to maximise the time you can have off.
Secondly, it is important to manage your family’s expectations.
If you have to work, make sure your family are aware of your committments so that they plan key events at times you are available to participate. Do not overcommit yourself or you will find the Christmas period very stressful indeed.
If you have staff it is also important that you balance their needs for a break with their families with your own. Many business owners will allow their staff to have a break over the whole Christmas period and then fill any gaps themselves. This means their staff are happy but their own family is not so happy. Your need for a break is as important as your staff’s – as long as you adopt a fair approach to who can take holiday, on which days, you should prevent any big problems.