Thanksgiving week has arrived. With it, the holiday season is officially upon us and soon we will be heading into a new year. For small business owners, these six weeks can mean added stress due to seasonal variations in revenues and work load, filling in for employees, and balancing increased work demands with family and social obligations. Despite these challenges, for small business owners, the holidays can be a time of wonderful energy and joyful spirits. Here are some tips for making the holidays a rewarding time around your small business.
Connect with your customers
The personal element can be so important for distinguishing small businesses from large competitors. Play on your strengths. Converse with customers when they are in your business. Hold a customer appreciation event. Hand deliver a holiday card. Make a delivery personally. Send out an email newsletter with holiday stories, and favorite recipes or tips that your customers will enjoy. Connect, put your best foot forward, spread some cheer and enjoy your customer relationships.
Show gratitude to the people who make your business work
Who are the people that support you in running your business? – the people who help you make things happen? – the people who take care of your needs while you take care of your business? Express your gratitude to them. From your employees to the people who put rushes on your orders, from your postal carrier to your family and friends, offering appreciative acknowledgement can help you keep your network strong and make you feel good in the process.
Manage your time wisely
Make lists and prioritize tasks. Keep lists of the things that absolutely must be done and organize them by due date. Work on the most important things with the nearest deadlines first. List separately those things that can be done later. Group related tasks together for efficiency. Last, but not least, don’t overbook your schedule. Plan for the unexpected.
Set aside personal time
The most important time for personal time is when it feels like you don’t have time for it. Set aside even just a little time for something that makes you feel like you have done something for yourself. Read a book, soak your feet, call a friend, meditate – whatever works for giving you a break from work mode.
Take care of your body
It is hard to run your business when your energy level is depleted, or worse yet, when you are sick. Exercise, take in some fresh air and daylight, eat well, stay hydrated, get enough rest, and do what you can to stay healthy and replenish your energy.
Reflect on what has gone well in the past year
When you are working hard, it is easy to get caught up in what needs to be done and forget what has gone right. Positive energy can help motivate you and your employees as you finish out the year.
Reconnect with why you are in business
Do you love being your own boss, setting your own goals, and pursuing your own vision? Are you in business because you find the feeling of ownership of achievements and responsibilities rewarding? Is it because entrepreneurship enables you to reach your financial objectives? Whatever the reasons, reminding yourself why you are in business can help motivate you to achieve your objectives and affirm that your time is well spent. This will help you get in a good mindset for getting your business’s goals for the new year.
At the WU KSBDC, we are grateful for the opportunities that we are given to play a part in the success of so many small businesses throughout our region; and we are grateful for the network of people who help us succeed in our mission all year round.
Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving and a very happy start to the holiday season!
Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.
WU KSBDC Advisor