The holidays are a busy time for everyone but entrepreneurs have the added pressure of running their own business at the same time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and inundated with work when you’re attempting to complete your Christmas shopping, entertaining family and friends and keep your customers happy simultaneously. Staying sane and keeping calm during the Christmas rush is crucial to getting through holidays with your personal and professional relationships still in tact.
Here are 5 tips for getting through the holiday season:
1. Get organized
As an entrepreneur it’s important to be organized. If you don’t already have one you should invest in a day planner. In our technologically driven world many people rely solely on their iphone or ipad to store all their data and schedule appointments, but investing in a good old fashioned paper day planner has its advantages – it doesn’t need to be charged and it never crashes so all your appointments and data are accessible all the time.
Plan out your time during the holidays and make two to-do lists – one for yourself and one for your business. This will help you determine what your responsibilities are on a personal and professional level. Remember to update your to-do lists as task are completed and keep track of your progress. Make a genuine effort to get through the list and you will feel a sense of accomplishment as you check off completed tasks.
2. Keep your clients in the know
If you are planning on taking time off during the holidays let you clients know ahead of time. Simply having an out of office reply added to your email does not suffice, you need to inform clients individually. Let them know how long you will be away, what services if any will be limited, and who they should contact in your absence.
You should also inform clients of your availability while you are away, how they can reach you in case of an emergency as well as how often you will be checking your email. Although you are taking time off from your business you never want to tell clients that you are fully disengaged as this will make them feel abandoned. It’s a good idea to set aside specific hours each day during which you can be reached and will be checking email. This way clients know when they can expect an answer from you if indeed they do need to converse with you over the holidays.
3. Show your appreciation
The holidays are a perfect time to show your appreciation to clients and suppliers. A handwritten Christmas card or note is a great way to thank clients for their business and let them know you appreciate them choosing you as a vendor. If you have special clients who have been with you for years or clients who’ve just offered you a large order or contract you might want to show a bit more appreciation and send them a corporate gift. However, be careful with gifting and check the corporate policies of their institutions as some companies do not allow employees to accept gifts irrespective of value.
Don’t forget about your suppliers, although you pay for their services they do help you run your business by providing you with the materials and supplies you need to service your clients. So remember them during the holidays and show your appreciation.
If you have come across some potential clients at networking events or corporate gatherings sending them a holiday card or note in appreciation of their time and conversation is a great way of staying on their radar. You can also send your business card along with you note and pass on your contact information for future reference.
4. Take time for yourself
As an entrepreneur it’s often hard to schedule in ME time but it’s something that has to be done. Take time to power down during the holidays and make a conscious effort to put your cell phone, ipad, and computer away. This does not mean lock them in a drawer and forget about them, it simply means setting them aside and using them only in moderation.
Set rules and boundaries for yourself such as no cell phones at Christmas Dinner or no checking emails during family gatherings, and stick to them. You can organize your time effectively and schedule in time to check emails and get back to clients but do not engage in work related activities outside of this time period (unless ofcourse it’s an emergency). If you can, delegate tasks to your team or assistant and let them handle things while you are away.
5. Look at the big picture
The end of the year is a good time to take a step back and look at the big picture, basically look at your business from the outside. As entrepreneurs we are constantly re-inventing ourselves, making changes to our business models, the way we do business and even the products we sell. You need to be able to see what’s working in your business and what isn’t.
Make a list of accomplishments, failures, and works in progress. Take some time to think about each accomplishments and failure individually, and examine what you did right to achieve your success and what went wrong when you failed: what would you do differently? You will be able to see your business in a new light and apply the knowledge and insight you gained from looking at successes and failures to created a new strategy for your works in progress.
Looking at the big picture will also help you set goals for the coming year and identify what areas of your business need to be improved upon and which areas are performing well.
Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world. She can be reached via Website, Twitter, Facebook or her Blog.