Can you feel it? The festive season is upon us and businesses are starting to wind down for a well deserved break. While employees are looking forward to lazy days with family and friends, business owners are working overtime to ensure the needs of their business are still met. The thought of closing up shop is terrifying for most small business owners, solopreneurs and entrepreneurs.
To reiterate this point, according to a recent study in the USA, 70% of entrepreneurs confess that they will likely work on Thanksgiving even though they planned to take time off. In response, Sam Hodges, the co-founder of Funding Circle, stated, “As a small business owner myself, I understand the challenges in taking time off and unplugging, but taking a vacation is critical to leading a balanced life.”
With this in mind, how can small businesses successfully wind down and close over the holidays? Here are 5 steps every small business can use to close their office doors for the holidays with peace of mind.
1 Give Clients Ample Warning
To the core, small business owners’ biggest fear is losing their current income stream i.e. their clients. The fear of missing that call, or not responding to an email in time, could feel like money out the door for many companies.
But, what business owners fail to realise is that all (good) clients know that they’re not superhuman. We all need a break and, without one, how are we meant to service the needs of our clients properly? A break provides the perfect pause to get some perspective on the business, and how we run it.
The key is to give clients a heads-up about a month before you plan on closing up shop. This can be done via phone call, meeting or simply attach a notice at the bottom of your email signature. This benefits them and you, because in a way it holds you accountable to being unavailable over this period.
For peace of mind, use that last month to wrap up your current projects and schedule new ones for when you are back from your holiday. Communicate what you have accomplished and your future intentions with clients, so that they are also at ease.
2 Automate Your Essential Processes
For some businesses, there might be some daily tasks that you don’t want to put aside in your absence. This could be anything from social media or newsletter publishing to client reporting.
The good news is that there are a number of scheduling and reporting tools that can be used to assist you with this. Buffer, Mailchimp and Google Analytics, for example, are just some pieces of software that can offer you this kind of automation. While setting up these schedules before you go on leave might take time, it will be well worth it when you’re sitting back and relaxing with the family over the holidays.
Every industry is unique and has its own set of requirements and processes. In some cases human intervention is essential, such as ecommerce stores that offer customer support. Perhaps hiring a virtual assistant for this period can help alleviate those tasks.
3 Let Your Security Company Know
Depending on the kind of company you are running, it is possible that you have furnished office space that could be holding excess stock. The last thing you need is to be worrying about your physical office over the silly season. The unfortunate reality, however, is that criminals know that many businesses are closed during this time of year, leaving their office equipment vulnerable to break-ins.
It is so important to contact your security company and let them know you are away over this period. Because, in the event of your office alarm going off, they will know it’s urgent and will hopefully act right away. In addition, if you plan on being out of the country, make sure your security company has another, reliable point of contact in the event of an emergency.
4 Turn Off Your Office Equipment
On your last day in the office, make sure to turn off all unused office equipment. This will help keep your electric bills down over this period. However, there might be some things that cannot afford to be off, e.g. telephones with active voicemail, or a fax machine. But, for everything else, rather unplug it.
Also, remember to set up an automated email that will be sent to recipients who have tried to get hold of you. There are many ways to get creative with your email message and put a smile on the recipients face. Here are some awesome examples.
5 Unplug and Relax
Lastly, relax. We get so caught up in our work, and think that what we do makes the world go round. But, the truth for most of us is that we can just pick up where we left off in a few weeks time.
Focus on giving your body the break it needs. Rachel O’Meara wrote the book Pause: Harnessing the Life-Changing Power of Giving Yourself a Break. If you’re someone who battles to leave the office, but is facing burnout, I recommend you read it.
The thought of leaving your company to its own devices keeps entrepreneurs up at night. But, we all deserve to live a full and balanced life, which can only be accomplished by stepping away from your computer from time to time. Follow these 5 steps and you will be able to go on leave knowing that you can relax and refuel your energy levels.