It’s not that we don’t enjoy Christmas. Or that we’re not getting in the spirit. It’s just that Christmas time can be costly for small businesses. We know, we’re a small business ourselves, and we also serve a lot of other small businesses.
Some of you have to shut down for a period of time. Shipments can’t be sent. Business gets interrupted. Staff take holidays. Staff plan Christmas parties, secret Santa’s and other distractions. And of course it’s time to hand out end-of-year bonuses too. It’s all great fun when you’re the employee, but let’s face it, it can be a bit of a headache when you’re the business owner.
I started this business in 2006, which makes this my tenth Christmas season as a business owner. And I’ve watched many clients do the same. Here’s a few things I’ve learned along the way:
1. Send out Christmas Emails
Let your customers know that you love them. Take the time and make the effort to say ‘Happy Christmas’, whether it’s a personal email to your top ten customers, or a template Christmas card to the masses. Try to make it personal.
2. Decorate your office/factory/store/other workplace
Do it. Dress it up. Turn your workplace from drab to fab. This is the only time of year when you can get away with hanging tinsel from the ceiling. Make it fun and festive for your workforce and also your customers. Keep costs down by asking employees to bring in decorations. Do a secret Santa where people secretly pick a name out of a hat and have to buy that person a gift. Even the grumpiest of office bores will raise a smile when they open up a singing Santa mug.
3. Keep the Christmas Party Simple
Do it in December. The 10th of January is no good. You’ve missed the moment. Have it at lunch time so that everyone can go. Keep it colleagues only, no spouses allowed. Go somewhere friendly and warm and keep it professional. One (alcoholic) drink maximum should do it. Give a speech thanking everyone for their effort and finish by giving them the best present you can: the rest of the day off. That way those that want to continue partying can and those that have a family to get back to can be with them.
4. Shut Down (if you can)
Unless you’re in the hospitality trade or you’re Santa, you’re closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. If you can shut down for longer than that, it’s a good time for your staff to use up some holiday leave. Make sure you leave an out of office response on your email account and a message on your website and social media, warning customers of your closure dates.
It’s the season of giving, so give in to it. Reward your employees – bonuses, booze, whatever you think is appropriate. To your customers, wine, mince pies or chocolates (to your favourite). Consider making a donation to charity in lieu of Christmas cards and let everyone know about your good deed.
When everyone has gone home for the Christmas break, it’s a great time to reflect on your business. It’s the end of one year and the start of the next. Did you accomplish your objectives? What would you like to achieve next year? Make some plans while the office is quiet. Appreciate the year that you’ve had, be thankful to those that have helped you along the way and now go home and enjoy your Christmas break, however long or short it may be.