For many small business owners, the holidays present an opportunity to increase their market, boost their sales, get their affairs in order, and plan for the upcoming year. However, it can also create a tremendous amount of stress. If you are not careful, the holidays will pass you by, and you will have missed out on the fun of the season.
It is possible to balance work and play during the holidays. You just need to prioritize the celebrations and special events with friends and family. Below we look at ways small business owners can enjoy the holidays without sacrificing their small businesses.
1. Set Realistic Expectations for Your Life and Your Business
You’re not invincible. You can’t be everywhere and can’t do everything that you or everyone else would like you to do. And, even though the holiday season may be critical to your business, your family and friends matter, too. So, too, does your health. To avoid driving yourself crazy, alienating family, or making yourself sick, be reasonable when estimating what you’ll be able to accomplish during the holidays.
It includes both your personal and professional life. You still have to run your business during the holiday season. However, your goals and expectations need to be realistic. You need to communicate this to everyone around you so that their expectations are also realistic.
2. Set Your Holiday Hours and Communicate Them
Contrary to popular belief, you may not have to set longer hours for business operations. Instead, you need to determine what your holiday hours will be in advance and then communicate them. For instance, If you run a retail establishment and can set your hours of operation, make those hours reasonable. Will you make enough sales between 9 PM and Midnight to warrant staying open those extra hours the week before Christmas?
Before deciding, consider the extra salary and utility costs, plus any potential hazards (i.e., robbery, icy or snowy roads) you or your employees would face by staying open late. If your business is in an office that doesn’t rely on walk-in traffic, you may want to consider closing early for the holidays.
3. Schedule Time Off for Yourself and Your Employees
Taking time off during the holiday season can feel terrifying. Some small business owners feel paralyzed when taking time off. As a business owner, you may get that empty feeling of not knowing how to act or what to do. If you are that person, taking time off for the holidays is paramount to your business success and health.
Therefore, schedule time off, then stick to your schedule. Yes, that can be difficult if this is your busy season, but working 70 hours a week to run the business and get everything done for your family holiday will wear you down physically and emotionally. Believe it or not, your business won’t come crashing down around you if you take a little personal time off.
Go Shopping During Business Hours
Schedule some of that time off so you can handle some of your holiday shopping early in the day when other people are working. You shouldn’t feel guilty about giving yourself this perk, but if you do, remember all the times you worked for more than 40 hours a week and consider your daytime shopping time payback.
Going shopping when others are working reduces the crowds that often produce stress. Plus, if you go shopping during the day, you can still go home and rest at night, which gives you the energy you need to get up and run your business the next day. Your employees can handle your business a few hours while you buy presents for others – including them.
Communicate with Your Employees in Advance
If you want to maintain employee loyalty during the most stressful time of the year, communicate your expectations in advance. Don’t just ‘take it as it comes.’ Your employees have lives outside of work. You need to respect these boundaries and plan your work schedule accordingly.
Also, employees won’t manage in your absence if they don’t have the needed resources to do so. Be sure they know where supplies such as register tape, staples, paper bags, or other consumables are. Distribute and post information about what to do in case of emergencies, such as fire, in-store injuries, or medical emergencies.
Do Something Fun with Your Employees
Something as small as a company Christmas party can do wonders for morale. So, schedule something nice and fun for your crew. For instance, if possible, help relieve your employees’ stress (and keep them focused on work while they’re in the office) by letting them take a few hours of paid time off to do their shopping or other chores during the workday.
To make this work, decide on the number of hours you’ll allow, whether you need to schedule the time away from the office in advance and whether they can take the hours off all in one day or split them up over several days (i.e., one extra hour at lunch for four days). If you can’t afford to give each employee paid time-off, consider offering them flex-time arrangements, so they still work the same number of hours but can shift the time of day they work.
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