Avoid the Overwhelm: Prepare Your Business NOW for the Holidays

Just imagine if the worst thing we fought over was when to start playing the holiday music and decorating the stores! I think the world might just be OK.

So, are you the kind that throws up the tree shortly after Halloween or do you prefer to let the turkey have his day? 

Yep, it’s that time of year. People and businesses alike begin prepping for the holiday season. From parties and gatherings to holiday specials and marketing, there is so much more to do during this season.

Stores are full of people with crying babies and carts parked in the aisles, missing their owners. Every weekend, I look at my calendar and see the blocks filled in with events and parties and gatherings.

I personally feel very overwhelmed this time of year. It’s an outgoing introvert’s worst nightmare. Getting to meet people and learn about who they are is wonderful. Coming home to fall into my couch and wonder when I’ll get to work on my business isn’t.

However, with a little preparation, I know that I can handle this busier-than-normal season. In addition, I can use the time to prepare for an AWESOME kick-start to the new year.

How to Prepare Your Business (and yourself) for the Holidays.

As solopreneurs, it’s important to consider and focus on five key areas when preparing your business for the holidays.

  • Personal/Family Time
  • Marketing
  • Operations
  • Year End Review
  • New Year Strategizing/Planning

When you take time to carefully consider each of these areas, you will have an effective game plan for staying on top of the chaos of the season.

Personal/Family Time

Yep, I put personal/family time first. It’s often the thing we focus on by default but with the least amount of attention actually given to it. We have a lot of extra tasks this time of year.

  • Cleaning
  • Decorating
  • Shopping
  • Hosting guests
  • Attending parties
  • Wrapping
  • Sending cards
  • UN-decorating...

Most of these things we find ourselves doing because, well, we are expected to. Something gets pushed aside to make room for these extra chores. Unfortunately, that something isn’t always the best something. It might be your health and exercise plan and you end up starting the new year feeling fat and lazy!

Or it might be your business planning and you start the new year behind the proverbial eight ball. Rather than starting off the year running, you find yourself scrambling to get things going.

This year, take a moment to pause and plan out the next several weeks. The time is now to do this. Here are some tips to help.

Tip #1 – Plan early

What will your holiday expectations look like this year? When you know what you will and won’t commit to, you can better plan way ahead.It’s not too late to start planning. And you can always keep this one in mind for NEXT year.

Tip #2 – Shop early

Don’t wait till after Thanksgiving to start your shopping. Ideally, make a list and start shopping in the summer. Always be on the lookout for that unique, wonderful gift idea, buy it, wrap it and put it away with a removable note as to what it is (or take a picture before wrapping) and who it’s for. While it might be well past summer, you can start now.

Tip #3 – Growth or Reflection?

Is the holiday season a busy time of year for your business? Then it is a period of growth. Plan to let go of other things so you can focus on that growth. Does business slow down in the last quarter? Then it is a time for reflection and planning. How will you grow your business in the new year? What can you do to set up your marketing and other growth ideas now?

Download our Ultimate Guide to Delegating Here for More Tips & Tools on How to Delegate as a Solopreneur

Tip #4 – Don’t try to keep up with the Griswald's

Whether it is the amount of money you spend on gifts or how well your home is decorated for the holidays, this is definitely not the time to compare what you are doing to what those around you are doing. Decide on your own level of festivities and be OK with that.

Source: American Research Group

Tip #5 – Don’t over commit

We tend to want to be able to do it all. Decide in advance how much is too much and be OK saying no to things that don’t fully serve you and your goals.

One year, my house went undecorated because it was going to just be my husband and me. I LOVE to decorate for the holidays but felt that the full day of cleaning and decorating before and the day of un-decorating after was not worth the investment of time. So I chose to skip it.

Pro Tip

Consciously making a choice to NOT do something frees you from the guilt that often weighs you down and stresses you out.

Tip #6 – Let go!

This time of year is not the best to plan things that can be done at other times of the year. For example, don’t plan your routine doctors and dentist appointments during November and December. Decide the car doesn’t need to get washed. And your dry cleaning might be able to wait until January. What things are required and what things can wait in your personal and business life? Choose carefully.

Tip #7 –  Take time for you

It seems like the LAST thing you will have time to do with all of that chaos is take time out for yourself. However, if you don’t, your body will for you. There’s a reason many of us experience more colds and flus this time of year and it isn’t because of a widespread virus. It DOES have something to do with more stress, less exercise, and crappy eating that all affect our immune system.

Marketing

Whether you are all in and this is the busiest time of year or your business goes a little quiet, this is still a great time to do some marketing.

For health coaches, this is a prime time of year to start focusing on new year’s resolutions and healthy eating tips all holiday season.

Business coaches might start to market plans for New Year’s Goals and Planning programs.

Life Coaches might talk about new year’s resolutions and healthy personal goals.

You might not be selling a program or system during the next several weeks, but priming your audience at a time that they are aware of their pain is an excellent way to prepare them for your January sale or promotion.

Create a Marketing Plan

Prepare your marketing materials as far in advance as possible. Nailing down a concrete plan will help you with your overall strategy.

Create a marketing plan now to includes:

  • Social media posts
  • Email newsletters
  • Physical greeting cards

Are you pro-holiday music or let the turkey have his day kinda person? I honestly think that, if that was the worst thing we fought over, our world would be OK! Yep, it’s that time of year. People and businesses alike begin prepping for the holiday season. From parties and gatherings to holiday specials and marketing, there is so much more to do during this season.

Be a Resource, Not a Sales Pitch

Unless you have a very clear sale going on, use this time to be a source for great information. Constant Contact suggests offering advice and tips to make it through the holidays. You can offer advice on shopping, staying stress-free, minimizing debt or setting goals for the new year.

Consider Going Charitable

While you may not want to run a sale, it might be a great time of year to select a charity that is near and dear to your heart and sends a positive message about your brand. Offer to donate a certain percentage of your proceeds to this charity for every sale made during the holiday season.

Be Careful of the Grinch

Avoid using holiday terms that may offend others unless it’s part of your authentic brand. If you proudly wish people a Merry Christmas, then it works for your brand to celebrate the holiday in the full spirit you intend. However, if your business is more of the Happy Holidays sort, you may want to avoid using the term Christmas in your marketing.

Pro Tip

Authentically supporting a belief or cause can be an effective way to build a strong following. The key is to do it authentically.

Keep it simple

Pick one marketing plan and stick to it. Until you are ready to hire an entire marketing team to manage different promotions, keep things as simple as possible.

Think Outside the Wrapped Box

Don’t do the same old thing. Black Friday sales are overdone. People are tired of them and they are spending their money on things that will most likely go to someone else.

Get creative with your marketing. Some ideas might include:

  • Advent program where you give 24 freebies away leading up to Christmas (if it’s within your authenticity to use a religious concept).
  • Hosting a virtual holiday party in your Facebook group. (Hint, I'm throwing one of these on my Facebook group if you want to check it out.)
  • Or a 15 Days of Thanksgiving Giveaway.

Settle on one idea or concept and build upon that. Next year, if all went well, you can consider adding another.

Operations

Most solopreneurs don’t think much about operations. Operations are things like your workflows, systems, and processes. Some of these might be physical, like your computer and cell phone. Others are more general, like the process used to invoice clients.

A good way to prepare your business for the holidays is to consider your current operations.

Is there anything you can scale back for the season? As solopreneurs, this might happen naturally if your business slows down. It’s not like you have employees looking to take a vacation.

Is there anything that can be improved? The slow down for the holidays might be a great time to reflect on your current systems and make a plan for the new year to implement strategic improvements.

This brings me to the next point.

Year End Review

The Year End Review is an opportunity to reflect on how the current year went. I typically plan this activity for the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I ask questions like:

  • Did you meet your goals?
  • What went wrong? How can you prevent those things from happening again?
  • What went right? How can you make sure more of that happens in the new year?

A couple of years ago, I wrote a “recipe” for how to complete a year end review and begin planning for the new year. It’s super simple but not always easy.

If you are coming into a super busy season, you may want to do this in the Summer instead. Just because it’s called the “Year End” doesn’t mean it has to be done then.

Strategize and Plan

Once you’ve completed your year end review, it’s a great time to start focusing on your strategy and goals for the next year. Get out your goal planner (or borrow this one) and get to work.

The key is to know you are setting time aside to do this. If you have it floating in the back of your mind, you won’t get “around tuit”. It may feel like just another thing on your already bursting to-do list for this time of year but the investment will be well worth your time.

Take time now to prepare yourself and your business for the next several weeks. You’ll be glad you did.

Conclusion

The best way to prepare your business for the holidays is to have a plan. A great plan will reduce stress and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.


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