With Christmas less than four weeks away, how much time will you be taking off?

Running your own business means we can often look at holidays with fear. Fear of the lead-up; making sure everything gets done on time. And the fear of the return; the emails, clients with renewed plans to action now, and your own business strategy to work on.

It can be such a stressful time that we often wonder why we bother to take any holiday at all!

Throw Christmas into the mix and it’s even more stressful with all those personal to-do’s on top … presents to buy, turkey to order, decorations to put up, family politics to navigate; the list seems endless.

So how ready is your business for the Christmas break?

Well, if you’re feeling a little disorganised at the minute, now is the time to start thinking about what you need to do so you can really enjoy time with your family, friends, pets, or just chilling out with a good book and large glass of wine this festive season.

Here are three tips for to help you get organised:

1. Decide what time you’re taking off and let your clients know

You may want to take Christmas through New Year off, but can you afford to do so?

Do you have clients who need support regardless of the time of year?

Think about your situation and your clients before sticking on your out of office …. you don’t want to see in New Year financially struggling or having lost a client through a lack of care of their business.

So, decide on the dates you won’t be available, then craft an email letting them know about your Christmas hours.

If you’re not working at all over the Christmas and New Year period, I would suggest including a request that they send you work they’d like completed pre-Christmas one week before you finish up (or two weeks depending on the type of work you do). Just be specific with the date in the email for complete clarity.

Remember, communication and transparency are key.

Your clients will appreciate the notice.

2. Prioritise your work

Don’t leave the hardest task to last – that’s the first piece of advice, particularly at this time of year.

It can feel good to blast through tasks, ticking off to-do’s left right and centre and feeling like you’re on top of things.

But then you hit the toughie one day before you’re supposed to finish up.

Unless you work exceptionally under pressure, and I mean exceptionally well under pressure, you may find you freeze.

You could have a whole 8 hours ahead of you with only that one task to do, but find an entire morning slips by in a kind of brain freeze.

Then you start to panic, and an afternoon slips by!

By which point, it’s dark outside and the kids are in bed so you just do it ‘as best you can’ – but it’s not really your best. Leaving you feeling frustrated, disappointed and not at all happy with the work you submitted.

Which means Christmas is tainted by anxiety. ‘Will they still want to work with me in the New Year?’

Stressful huh?

Avoid this stress, by prioritising your work.

Tackle the toughie’s early on when you’ve got a clear head and ‘all the time in the world’, then move on to the ones you know you’ll fly through. Which should leave you ready to start the festivities with a delicious glass of mulled wine bang-on five ‘o’clock on closing day!

3. Send a Christmas and year-end message

Sending a Christmas card or New Year card is a nice way to let your clients know that you value them – providing a great opportunity to nurture your business relationship.

Whether you send an ecard, physical card, or gift, be sure to include a personal message. It can be something as simple as:

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank you for being a valued client. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with you over this last year and look forward to supporting your business in 2019 and beyond! 

Wishing you a wonderful festive period and hope you manage to take some time out for you after such a busy year!

And of course, if you know what your client(s) are doing over Christmas and New Year, mention it in the card to add even more of a personal touch.

But if you find yourself having a quiet December, don’t sit back and chill. Use this time equally wisely.

Think about the preparations you can make for your business to hit the New Year ready to grow, diversify, or scale back.

Whatever stage your business is at and wherever you want to take it, be ready to start the New Year as you mean to go on.

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Update your website
  • Ask for testimonials
  • Review your rates
  • Learn a new skill
  • Assess your current clients and profile your ideal client
  • Create a business plan with actionable mini-goals

Be organised now to enjoy your – well deserved – time off this Christmas, feeling eager for the year to come.