Well, we made it! It’s been a hard year for many and extremely tough for some. Christmas is going to be soon upon us and it’s time to plan. I’ve listed out for you some quick and timely reminders which will likely be relevant for most businesses.
Businesses need to action these before Christmas
1. Budget for your Christmas
I know a budget doesn’t sound like fun, but many of us are being dollar conscious, so work out your party and gifts budget. Far better to plan this within your means, than to rack up credit card debt and go overboard, so that come January when you get your credit card statement, you feel stressed and depressed. This budget planning should really extend to your personal life as well. Family will understand (including children) that perhaps an expensive gift this year isn’t an option.
2. Organise Parties
Having a party may not be top of mind for you, it’s been a hard year for many businesses and I’m sure your staff have had their measure of stress as well. You may not have the funds to be extravagant (in business or at home) so think outside the box and make it fun. I remember one year I had my staff over to my home and we had a pool party. I cooked most of the dishes and I think everyone (including myself) had the best time. Give it some thought, plan and make it fun.
3. Discuss Xmas Plans with your Accountant
Ensure you discuss your plans with your account before the act. The reason is that most options are not tax-deductible or FBT is associated with them. If you have not organised your Christmas party yet, then I really suggest you start actioning this. If you are planning on going out to a venue or restaurant, then due to social distancing, there will be number and time limitations, so get in fast.
4. Establish your Closure during Xmas Season
There are some businesses totally closing. Be sure to give customers, suppliers and staff those dates as soon as possible. Be sure to also update the website as well and to also set up automatic email responders (diarise to put them off in the new year) and update phone messages which say the date of your return. Some businesses try not to show that they are completely closed (for both security reasons or to not miss business) so they use a phone answering service or one of your staff may volunteer to work some hours or answer diverted phone calls. You may even roster/share this around a few staff (if they are happy to do this) and compensate them accordingly.
5. Cover Critical Tasks
If you are operating with a skeleton crew or fully closed, just ensure that you have covered some of the more important tasks like payroll, paying regular bills and monthly suppliers that are due on 31st December. Organise and have a plan in advance.
6. Clean the Fridge/Empty the Bins
Now is a great time to allocate last-minute tasks. Who will ensure the office fridge is cleaned out (so that nothing disgusting is growing in there over the closure period) and that the bins are all cleaned and taken out? Allocate this task to ensure it happens.
7. Mail, Newspapers, Flowers on Hold
Ensure you make plans for any regular deliveries and if you do have a business neighbour who is working over your closure period, then ask them to take in any unexpected deliveries. Alternatively, if you live close by, or a team member does, a regular drive past might be wise to check everything is ok and nothing is sitting out front unattended.
8. Organise Security
If you are closing the office or premises for the holidays, have some security in place. This may mean CCTV Monitoring, a security service, motion detectors, cameras and of course, not leaving any valuables in the office. If you can remove laptops and bring them home, then I would do so. Perhaps just ensure insurance will cover these business items at home.
9. Backup your Computers
For those with desktop computers which are not so mobile, or a server, be sure that you have a backup of your system, or cloud backups so that if something does happen to your computers – whether that’s theft, fire, flood, damage or a power surge, your data is safe.
10. Plan Out your Finances
Being an experienced business coach with a strong background on finance, I always remind the clients to have a plan in preparation for any downturn. If you are closed for a few weeks this Christmas season, planning should have been done a year ago as well as saving. If you are closed for a month, then 12 months of expenses need to be covered by 11 months of income. Your budgets and profit planning and financial forecasting should reflect this.
11. Be Thankful to Clients & Suppliers
Whether it’s a Christmas card or a gift, have a plan how you will show you are thankful to your customers. Please don’t make this just a quick email; that shows little effort. It seems posting a Christmas card or handwritten note has all but disappeared, so if you do so, you will likely stand out. Never forget (as many do) the awesome suppliers and contractors who helped make it possible for you to do business. Showing thanks now will likely pave the way to continued support and exceptional service in the future.
12. Thank your Staff
The year that we have had has certainly been interesting. For some industries, they have been flat out and haven’t had time to breathe. For others, it’s been entirely the opposite, and if it were not for the likes of JobKeeper, probably would not have been able to keep their staff. Many of your staff have had a tough and stressful year too. If you don’t have the budget to do something as extravagant as you’d like, then put some thought into doing something special – which may be low cost but very thoughtful.
13. Printing & Stamps
If you are having Calendars for next year printed, or Christmas cards printed, or special promotional products planned, then get onto your suppliers and printers now. Of course, be sure to have enough postage stamps in stock as well.
14. Get in the Spirit
Find your Christmas decorations and get them out. Check that they are in the best condition then put them up. Make certain you follow Workplace Health & Safety. Good running lights are in a safe place and no chance that people will trip on it. You may have staff who do not believe in Christmas, they cannot have Christmas baubles on their desks. But this does not mean everyone else will also miss out – just have a different approach. You can have a Year-End Celebration instead of calling it a Christmas.
15. Organisation at Home
Lots of business owners have a life which includes family, kids and other commitments. Ensure you are organised on those as well. Kids’ vacation care is organised already? Christmas ham already reserved? Christmas day events are all planned as well as the shopping errands? Avoid those manic rushes on the 24th of December, it’s mayhem, parking is a nightmare and the shelves are depleted. Book your hairs and nails pampering well in advance as most people will have these appointments at the same time too.
16. Plan your Next Set of Holidays
From my experience of helping Aussie business owners, a lot of them don’t catch enough holidays. Mostly, the problem is the lack of time to organise the next trip. Now I know that at this time, our options are limited, but that is not to say that there are some amazing places to visit in Australia or within your own state. Perhaps now is the best time to get back to basics, with activities like camping, visiting a lovely B&B or having a stay by the coast or in the bush. If getting away means you actually will get a break, then be sure to make some plans now to ensure it happens.
17. Update Schedules on your Internal Calendars, Your Lists and Templates
December and January is a good time to update all those documents. You may find that the list of your staff and phone numbers have probably been erased and replaced so get an updated list and have it reprinted. You can review and refresh your standard templates. Check your online listings and update them too. Check and update your website constantly as Google loves fresh new content. You have to do this regularly, so if you haven’t been up to it before then now is the time to get to do it. The same updates should be done to standard template documents, social media profiles and especially LinkedIn.
18. Schedule Renovations and Cleaning Now
It is a good time to schedule maintenance when it’s quieter or your office is closed. Check your air conditioning units and have them cleaned. Now is the time to get the pest control done, the carpets shampooed and any other renovations you may have in mind. Now is also the best time for replacing carpets, clear the decks and have tradespeople do it. But remember, some tradies are closed so you definitely need to have pre-planned this.
19. Remember The Less Fortunate
Well, we talk about parties, gifts, income, cash-flow … I hope we also remember the less fortunate ones who don’t have them, probably will not receive gifts and will not be able to attend these lovely parties and taste some awesome food and champagne. Let’s just remember the less fortunate – help a charity thru donating your time to help or sending financial assistance. These times, we know that overseas need a lot of help but let us also consider those within Australia who are less well off.
20. Support Local Charities
Myself, I’m on a number of Boards and committees for charities. One way you can support charities is by giving your time and your expertise. If you cannot do that, then be sure to support them in using their products or services. For example, consider buying the famous Lyons Fruit Cakes, or have the staff Christmas presents wrapped at the shopping centre by the volunteers from Rotary and Crime Stoppers. All the proceeds for these activities go back to the local communities that they support. Even if you cannot help out in a big way, help out in a little way – it all adds up.
21. Plan for a Great Next Year
I have to let you know that I provide Business Planning and Goal Setting and you will see such great outcome. Though you can do this any time of the year as you need it in your business, I think that the year-end is the perfect time to do some planning for the next year’s success. We all know that success isn’t about sheer luck – a lot of planning and hard work is involved and a wise advice from a coach or mentor too. Give me a call on 0411 622 666 to get to know more about my planning sessions or general business coaching – I’d love to help.
Finally; always wishing you a wonderful and safe Christmas and all the very best for 2021.