A small business owner’s guide to surviving the silly season
As the rest of Australia prepares to take time out, small business owners around the country are ramping up to make sure everyone else’s festive season is as merry as can be. For the retailers running the eCommerce sites and small stores we rely on to fill Christmas stockings, and the service providers who run the cafés, salons and attractions we flock to during holiday season, this time of year is anything but a vacation.
It’s a scenario that plays out every year during key periods such as Christmas, New Year and Easter but the key to a successful small business is more than just caring for customers: looking after your own stress levels, energy and wellbeing is vital.
1. Be prepared
A lot of customers leave their Christmas shopping or holiday bookings to the last minute, but when you’re running a retail or service business, you can’t afford to do the same. Sales and marketing strategies need to be planned well in advance so campaigns are in full swing before the December rush sets in. Lock in your holiday trading hours and communicate them ahead of time to set customer expectations. Check the trading hours of your vendors and suppliers to make sure their plans or cut-off dates won’t disrupt your business. Importantly, have sufficient stock to meet demand so you can fulfill online shopping orders.
2. Go in with a plan
Long hours are often inevitable at busy periods. Be that as it may, the endless business to-do list shouldn’t override all else. It’s equally important to rest and recharge. A proper night’s sleep is essential—implement a firm cut-off time to down tools and step away each day (and stick to it). Try to maintain your routine: if you normally walk the dog, hit the gym or attend book club, set your work schedule around an activity that’s important to you. Whether it’s time with family or relaxing in front of the TV, a mental and physical break makes a world of difference. Often when time is tight we neglect ourselves so make sure you’re fueling your body to cope with the festive season. Avoid skipping meals and make nutritious choices (try preparing batches of food ahead of time to freeze for when you need it). Ideally, step away from what you’re doing to eat—sit down, go for a stroll or take time out. Maintaining balance is key.
3. Don’t go it alone
It’s easy to get caught in a cycle of doing ‘just one more’ task. But for every task you complete during the holiday period, two more can crop up. It’s endless. Know when to stop and don’t be too proud to ask for help. Tee up willing friends or family to step in when things get really crazy, or look into temporary staffing solutions to push you through those busy peaks. There are plenty of people looking to earn extra pocket money to pay for Christmas and the gig economy makes it easier than ever for you to find each other. Try services like Airtasker and Upwork.
4. Seek out convenience
Just as you might call in extra help with the business, consider where you can outsource other areas of your life: a cleaner, lawn mower or online grocery deliveries will keep you on top of things—life shouldn’t grind to a halt and you’ve got your own Christmas to prepare for. Online shopping is also a great way to take care of your own gift buying. Look into convenient delivery options via MyPost such as Parcel Lockers where you can collect purchases 24 hours a day, when it suits you. At work, stock up in bulk on Express Post satchels and postage packaging via Australia Post so you’re covered. Make the most of a MyPost Business account to easily print shipping labels, track what you’re sending or have Australia Post collect your customer orders when you can’t step away from the fray.
5. Keep calm and carry on
It won’t always seem like it, but you will get through this. Sometimes you might feel like screaming or crying or throwing in the towel, but they too will pass. When it all feels too much, remind yourself it’s only a few weeks out of the whole year. Sure, that can be easier said than done, so look for support whenever you need it from colleagues, friends and family, or turn to fellow small business owners who understand what you’re dealing with. Working long hours during this period can feel isolating but you’re never really alone. Online forums and phone support lines are a great way to check in with someone if your mental health is suffering, even pay a visit to your GP if the pressure takes a toll.
If you can, consider booking a post-New Year holiday in advance: it’ll give you something to look forward to, a light at the end of the tunnel. When all the madness passes, you’ll finally have well-deserved time to de-stress and have your own celebration.
Don’t forget that business customers can call us on 13 11 18, chat to us online 24/7 through MyPost Business or visit one of our Business Hubs and chat to an expert in person.