Business Owners Guide to Christmas

11/11/2016

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The Christmas and New Year break seems to get longer and longer each year. Many industries ‘close down’ for almost a month; winding down in mid-December and not getting to full speed until mid-January.

The result; a year with 11 months of income and 12 months of expenses. Certainly a reason to make sure that 2017 is well organised and strong financially.

On the other hand, many businesses are flat out in the run up and over the festive period. Generally, their quiet time is January or mid-summer.

It’s important to have a break, some family time and to do something different – time to give your head a rest. But it’s also hard to completely shut off from the business – you’ll probably feel guilty if you do!

To help with the withdrawal symptoms here are some important things that you can do….

5 minutes
  • Think of 3 things that went well last year that you want to repeat.
  • Buy yourself a big wall calendar.
  • Review your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) – is it still valid?
  • What’s your personal dream?
  • Buy a book and/or sign up for Audible (others available). Not sure what to buy? Here’s our top 5 suggestions:

Book: How to Become a Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott / Audible: Leading by Alex Ferguson

Book: Work the System by Sam Carpenter / Audible: The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz

Book: The Referral Engine by John Jantsch / Audible: Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Book: Profit First by Mike Michalowicz / Audible: Get a Grip by Gino Wickman

Book: Grown-Up Business by Shirley Mansfield / Audible: Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo


10 minutes
  • Mind map your personal network; include everyone you know – where are the gaps?
  • What didn’t go as well as it should have done?
  • Listen to or read a chapter, then reflect on how it would impact your business.
  • What’s niggling at you? Write it down or think of someone who you can talk to.
  • What job(s) do you need to stop doing yourself?
  • Declutter your desk of paper and rubbish.
  • Block out one morning or afternoon every week in 2017 to work on the business.
  • Check out a competitor – what are they up to?

18 minutes
  • Source a couple of suppliers, make an appointment to talk to them about out-sourcing your tasks.
  • Map out the key targets for 2017 – revenue, profit, cash etc.
  • What projects do you need to complete?
  • What improvements are you going to make?
  • Time to clear your head. Write one thought, idea, action on a scrap of paper and put in a box. In the end you’ll have cleared your head and have a pile of paper that can be sorted, prioritised and stored outside your head. Clear head = clear thoughts.
  • List our key dates (on your calendar) your holidays (yes, book them now – all of them!), VAT payments, financial year end, board meetings, renewals, new launches, key seasonal dates for your company.
  • View a TED talk – here’s 5 good ones to start with

One hour
  • Read a trade journal – who’s advertising to your customers?
  • Book a holiday or two or three!
  • Make a list of customers to personally talk to, or visit to find out what you could do better. Spread them out over a month. Then book some time to review your findings.
  • Research something you’ve been meaning to check out – ISO certification perhaps?

Half a day

Prepare your own personal development plan

  • What do you need to learn, improve on or up-skill yourself?
  • What are your own learning and development goals?
  • How are you going to learn what you need to know?
  • When are you going to do the training?

Review your customers

  • What does your ideal customer look like and how many do you have?
  • Which customers cost you money to work with?
  • Decide how to find more of the best customers and sack the unwanted customers.
  • Write down what your ideal customer is. Remind your team when you get back

If you haven’t read “The Pumpkin Plan” by Mike Michalowicz, then get this now. It has lots of great examples of this exact scenario.


Look at the world

Business is impacted by all sorts of things – many of which you don’t have control over – take this years’ Brexit and the USA presidential vote as examples. Now’s a good time to mull over what may or may not happen in the wider world. Think about changes, issues and trends in each of the following areas:

  • Environmental
  • Economic
  • Legal / political
  • Social
  • Technology

What do you think your competitors might be up to?


Go for a walk

Thinking time for any business owner is treasured, especially over the festive period; and a walk will help. Before you start your walk ask yourself a tricky question that you’ve been tackling. It’s always best said out loud. Now forget about it; your sub-conscious will work on it whilst you’re walking. We’d be surprised if you didn’t have an answer, or at least a clearer view of the problem when you get home.


A whole day
  • Do something completely different!
  • Don’t think about work at all. In fact, leave your phone at home or turn it off.
  • Experience another aspect of business that you’ve never done before. Why not make a plan to go back to the “shop floor” in the first quarter of 2017?

New year’s resolutions

Love or hate them, most of us make them; then break them. Try these instead….

  • Make just one resolution, but make it realistic. Now break it down into a series of smaller goals, it will help you keep motivated.
  • Try something for 30 days – not the whole year. The 30-Day challenge is popular because it’s achievable. You must do it for 30 days; then stop. Most people find that 30 days is usually enough time to make it a habit.
  • Make a list of 12 tasks – one for each day of Christmas that you will either delegate, automate or eliminate from your to do list. When you go back to work, address one task per week. In 3 months, you’ll have lots more free time.

Holidays

They’re so important. A chance to re-charge your batteries, clear you head, mull something over or just get some thinking time.

How many and how long? That’s entirely up to you. Some people find a week is enough, others find 2 weeks or more is essential. Long weekends can be good, while some survive with the ‘odd day off’.

If you’ve reached Christmas feeling exhausted, worn out, over tired or ill then you need more holidays (or breaks) next year.

Make your list of dates and places. Put the dates in the diary now and then get the laptop out for a bit of holiday research!


And Finally…

Whatever you do make sure you get a good dose of ‘down-time’. Rest, relax and get a clear plan in place, then you’ll be ready to hit the ground running when you get back to work!