Have yourself a merry little Christmas!

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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.

Fiona 🙂

It’s Carnival Time Again!


When I first moved to Wells back in 2000 I had no idea that Somerset played host to the largest illuminated carnival in world! Imagine that – in sleepy Somerset – in November!
That first year it was lashing down with rain and so I decided to stay at home in the dry with our 1 year old whilst hubby Jeff took our 4 year old.
When he came back his words were “you will not believe it” – yes just like Victor Meldrew!
Since then we have gone, rain or shine, because it really is the most incredible event. The work that has gone into creating wonderful floats is amazing and is all done by people on a voluntary basis.

No one gets paid as all the money raised goes to local charities.

You get the loud, noisy all-singing, all- dancing floats; the everything-on-the- float-moves-and-jigs-and-swirls floats; the tableaux floats where everyone is stock still; and the just plain silly floats. And in amongst the enourmous floats pulled by beefy tractors you get a little girl walking along in a fairy dress.

The reason Somerset towns are able to be treated to such a fantastic display every November is simple – team work.

Creating and decorating a float takes a large team of people You need people to design, construct, paint, sort out the electrics, drive, make costumes, help with makeup and then entertain the crowds on the 12 carnival nights. It takes time, dedication and motivation to see it through. So much so that clubs start planning the next year’s float the minute a carnival season is finished.

Also one town could not provide the resources to put on such a show – either in terms of money or the huge number of man hours it takes to create the floats.
So each town has a number of carnival clubs building floats and they converge on towns in succession throughout the month.

Surely the lesson from Carnival is this: if you work together, as a team of dedicated, enthusiastic, and hard working people, each playing to their own strengths in putting together a well planned project, anything is possible – even if it pours with rain throughtout the big event!