Hey are you like me - you've been running a business, or multiple businesses throughout the year while running a household and being the main caregiver to kids?
If you are then I bet come Christmas you are ready for a well-earned break and can't wait to sign-off and disconnect for a recharge over the break. Hang on.... Before you head for the hills I've got a few tips to help you plan your exit - here's my Top 5 Small Business Tips to ensure you can hit the ground running on your return, without too much downtime.
1# Holiday Notifications
If you're in retail it's probably really important that as you read this your holiday period hours are extremely clear on your website and that you have allowed for the delays of the public holidays in your shipping times. If you are in a service based industry and are working through the break, make sure all customers are aware of the surcharges involved. If you are shutting down shop ensure you have your out of office responder on. If you will have limited mobile coverage due to your location make sure customers are aware of this also. If you are planning to shut down completely like me, prepare some templates for how you can respond to different enquiries to book in clients for your return. Make sure to use your Google Calendar to book in these clients. Effective admin on your break can ensure you are fully booked on your return.
2# Social Media Updates
To ensure you don't fall off the radar during the break, plan out a few weeks of posting with interesting and engaging topics that are relevant to what is going on with clients in this period. There are Apps such as Hootsuite for scheduling posts, and Preview for Instagram to plan out your grid. Try to think of lighter more fun topics for this period that your clients may not be in the 'business mindset' - goal setting, new year resolutions, summer games for 'A' type personalities, engaging blog posts, help you stay connected to your audience in a more approachable way so they have you in mind if they need/want your services/products in the coming year. If you have a plan in place, you can easily post on-the-go without the hassle of posting updates interfering in your downtime.
3# EOY Newsletter
Celebrate the end of your year with an update to your clients of what's been happening in your business. If you work with contractors, and suppliers remotely and on a one-to-one basis give these partners a shout-out. Our inboxes are getting filled up with sales and marketing posts this time of year, but if you don't send many email newsletters, you're clients are probably genuinely interested to hear about what else has been going on in your business. Your highs and lows for the year, shout-outs, news and plans for the coming year. Authentic content with a personal touch is a nice way to convey important holiday information to your client base.
4# Client Gifts/Cards
At the end of the year a personal gift or card is a really nice way to reward your clients or customers with a more personal touch. It is less commonly done these days, so stand out from your competition and ensure your clientbase is rewarded by offering a small gift or token of appreciation. If you are in retail a discount is a simple way to incentivise more sales in the new year or as Christmas approaches. If you are service based maybe a discount, voucher or small promotional item like a branded drink bottle or memory stick. It's the thought that counts a handwritten card goes a long way in this digital age.
5# Schedule in Admin Tasks
A lot of New Zealand shuts down for the summer break and January can be noticeably slower for retail and some service based industries. This is a great time to catch-up on your own admin related tasks, review your accounts, update your branding, create some KPI's, update your website projects gallery, follow-up with existing clients, do a stocktake, or even clean out your desk. It can be really tempting to just hit the beach when you run your own business and work is quiet, but the back-end work you do now ensures a smoother flow with your business in the colder months.
When it comes to the branding and website industry January is an extremely busy month as people are excited to start new businesses and have new plans in place. However if your industry is slower to pick-up at this time - use this to plan for the upcoming year. Schedule in some time before shutdown to plan your goals and review your current practises, and revisit your goals after the break by planning out task-lists of how to achieve them. You could use the first week back to call existing customers and have a 'post-summer catch-up' and chat about where they are at.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Safe travels out on the road and have a rejuvenating break with family and friends.