Navigating Stress as a Business Owner During the Holidays
The holiday season can be very stressful. This year is not exempt. As business owners, we need to worry about the happiness of our families, friends, customers, employees, and potential new leads – all while managing inventory, products, sales, services and more! Phew, I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
Running a small business during the holidays has made some owners feel more like a Grinch than someone who spreads holiday cheer… Lucky for you, Bookmark is here to guide you & your business this holiday season with some first-hand tools! Below, we’ll go through some ways to prepare for the hustle & bustle!
Double-check & trust yourself
We’re starting with getting organized. It’s no shock that getting & staying organized is an excellent tool for preparing for this holiday’s hustle & bustle. Often, stress stems from uncertainty, especially when it comes to holiday plans. Things like loose ends and one-off projects can lead to extra worry, so keeping your schedule neat and organized can go a long way to reduce stress.
End-of-the-year deadlines and office parties can quickly fill up your calendar, making it harder to get to your daily responsibilities. We as business owners often forget that business still happens outside our lives. We may still have our shopping to do, family events, and celebrating holiday traditions. This holiday, run through a mental checklist of what you already have prepared. Consider a couple of things; how do you handle returns and refunds for the holidays? Check. Are your employees trained on addressing customer complaints during this peak time? Check.
Doing this will help you identify any last-minute issues you have time to address. Remind yourself of all of the work you’ve already invested into getting ready. Confirming you have things in order serves as a nice confidence boost as you head into the holiday season.
Manage & expect the unexpected
With the holidays knocking on your door, it’s probably a little late to take new action on things like hiring more seasonal employees, ordering more supplies, or implementing a new tool or piece of software. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for it well in advance.
A recent study found that around 1 in 5 consumers in Canada plan to spend anywhere between 200 and 400 dollars on gifts for this year’s holiday season. With that in mind, here are a couple of things to keep an eye on & prepare for this years holiday hustle & bustle:
Stay on top of your supply
This is more for our product-based business owners! This time of the year, more than any other, you’ll constantly have to stay on top of your supply with necessary materials or ingredients to keep your business running. The increased demand during the holidays can mean a need for increased supply.
Taking a look back
Often, the best way to make sure you have what you need for the holiday season is to look at the previous year’s sales. While every year is different, reference the past to estimate how future projections might look.
Looking at your competitors
Comparing yourself to other related local businesses can help discover what you might need on the supply side this holiday season. Consider taking the time to learn from what their holiday ordering plans might be. We encourage doing some general market research to make a note of seasonal trends within your industry. Consider collaborating with your competitors to make the season a success for everyone involved; customers love to see collabs, especially during the holiday season!
By keeping a close eye on what you’ll need for this holiday season, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions and tailor your supply accordingly. The result? Inventory that meets the demands of your holiday customers and peace of mind for business owners who have done their research to be sure the busy season goes off without a hitch.
If this is your first time as a small business for the holiday’s let us at Bookmark help you stay on top of things! Click this link to connect with an expert on our Live Chat who will ensure your online store can handle the traffic this holiday!
Cheer up your employees and customers
We’re well aware of how stressful the holiday season can be. This year, do your customers & employees a favour by not being a Scrooge and cheer them up!
Okay, what are we talking about? Ensuring your spirits are high is another way to prepare for this holiday’s hustle & bustle! Let’s start with your employees. Competing demands sit at the top of employees’ stress lists. Work and home pressures are more apparent this time of year, and time seems highly compressed.
Consider planning a review of the workload and seeing if any project deadlines can be extended into next year. Giving time rather than taking it has been shown to increase your fulfillment levels in your brain as well! Consider taking a day with your employees to give back by donating or volunteering at a local women’s/men’s shelter this holiday season!
This will make for a perfect distraction and help build unity between your team! Let’s face it, stress during the holiday season is elevated, and a great way to manage it is when you turn your focus toward caring for others first.
Protect personal time
An early gift to your employees this year could be offering one extra day off leading up to the holidays! They can use it to attend to personal needs, make gift shopping, family demands, or down-time to regroup, whatever they need. Be the business that positively provides time and space for employees suffering from mental health during the holiday season. One mandatory day off can make all the difference in employee stress levels.
A win-win for everyone! Why? Research has proven this increases loyalty and gratitude on your staff and offers long-term payoffs. Research has proven that grateful teams are more engaged, community-minded, and happier at work.
A message for online employees
Overcommitting can be averted by saying no. Remember, reprioritization can help manage to multitask, and exclusion can be prevented by reaching out. Lend a helping ear & ask your co-workers how they’re doing. Listen with compassion, empathy, and kindness.
Next are your customers! The holiday rush can mean a significant boost in customer communication, from calls to emails to in-person conversations. It’s essential to keep a healthy amount of open lines of communication with your shoppers to provide a more positive customer service experience and generate valuable feedback that your company can use to make adjustments to your business plan. Finding ways to streamline this process will keep the holiday stress at bay.
Using an online portal
Create a specific page on your website for customers to contact you directly by filling out comment boxes and choosing their particular needs from a drop-down menu. Instead of an inbox crammed with miscellaneous comments and messages, you’ll have a specialized form to keep your conversations organized. Consider taking this a step farther and going LIVE on your social media, answering any common/frequent questions your customers may be asking during the holiday season!
Your involvement would be what your customers are looking for more than your products & services. Show them you’re present and ready to cater to them, especially during the holiday season!
We know how tough these times can be, so let Bookmark ease the load off your business by speaking with us today!
Build and use your support network
Like it or not, you’re not invincible. You can’t be everywhere at once and can’t do everything you or everyone else would like you to do. With the holiday season being a critical time to your business, your family and friends matter, too.
Don’t let social media fool you; the unending grind of a business owner isn’t healthy. Your health will always matter. To avoid driving yourself crazy through this holiday season, be reasonable when estimating what you’ll be able to accomplish during the holidays.
Personal tasks and commitments will fall by the wayside when things get hectic for your business. This is why you need to be upfront with your loved ones and enlist help wherever you need it.
Consider the following questions:
1) Will you be working longer hours and need your spouse or partner’s help to pick up some of the slack around the house?
2) Will you have to forego social outings in favour of keeping your business running?
3) Do you need some extra hands in the form of a grocery delivery service or a house cleaner?
Be upfront about your plans and your needs during this busy time. Not only will you find help where you need it, but it will also reduce the added stress of those guilty feelings when prioritizing your business above everything else for the time being. Another great tool is our blog on How to Reset Your Brain After a Long Day! As a business owner, you are just as important as what you’re selling or what service you offer.
This leads us to the importance of connecting with your network. Don’t let the holiday rush keep you from connecting with those around you to build a more substantial and less stressful business.
Here at Bookmark, we believe it’s important to know you’re a part of a community during the holiday season. While looking to connect to a more significant network, consider doing these things:
Upping your social media game
We’ve said it once, and we’ll repeat it! Connecting digitally through your pre-existing social media profiles can be the fastest and most stress-free way to start interfacing with members of your community. Having IG Lives, starting a digital panel on Facebook, or creating polls of stress-relieving tools on Twitter are just a few creative ideas to keep your social presence active this holiday season!
Partnering with a local charity
Charity work can give you some much-needed relief from holiday stress by doing something thoughtful for someone else. Go a step further and collaborate with some of your partners and make it a holiday tradition!
Hosting a holiday event
Of course, with COVID restrictions still in place, this is the perfect time to spread some holiday cheer by hosting an online party! Try a Zoom party with your business or other creative small business owners from your online community! Have everyone bring their favourite holiday snacks and holiday deals to have a real good time!
Reinvesting in your brand
Feeling burnt out as we enter the holiday season? Consider looking at your business’s branding. Just like a new coat of paint can bring a room to life, a unique branding style can be just the thing to bring fresh eyes to your business. Plus, a little brand renewal can relieve the unnecessary stress of seeing the same old thing when you look at your business each & every day!
Get your family to help
As many holiday movies show us, this could be fun! Just make sure not to threaten the kids with a lump of coal if they don’t! Pick things to do that those family members/friends like and things that can be done in a reasonable amount of time. Setting up an assembly line with holiday music in the background can put everyone in the mood for the holidays. Encourage them and show gratitude-don’t stress if everything isn’t done perfectly or precisely the way you’d do things.
Don’t let this holiday season make you feel like a loner – use the online and in-person community to your advantage! Not only will it ease some stress from you, but it may cheer you up & put you in the holiday spirit!
Remember what the holidays represent
If we’re being honest with you, remembering what the holiday truly represents is one of the most significant ways to prepare and navigate through this holiday’s hustle & bustle. Count your blessings that your business made it to the end of the year still alive and kicking!
Even with all the responsibility and potential for stress, being a business owner is a tremendous privilege. As you step away from the stress, take some time this holiday season to think about the best parts of owning your own business. What achievements are you most proud of this year? Focusing on the positive will put your mind at ease and help you to remember why you started your own business in the first place.
It’s inevitable that the work never really ends when you own your own business. When your personal and business lives are so entangled, it can be almost impossible to step outside the world of your business and remember what truly matters in life. This holiday, use the break as an opportunity to ground yourself in the real world. Think about your loved ones, your health, your favourite traditions.
While you gear up to get back into the workflow, hold onto the reminder that business is just business—even when you’re the boss. No matter your religious beliefs, what makes this time of year special is that it’s a time for spreading peace, joy, and love and sharing experiences and memories with family and friends.
Holiday Bonus Tips
With more online stores opening and the transition to fully remote companies trending, it’s time to set some boundaries and has reasonable holiday hours. For our service-based small businesses, make sure your hours are suitable. Leading up to the last couple of weeks of 2021, every product-based business owner should consider the following: will you make enough sales between 9 PM and Midnight to warrant staying open those extra hours the week before Christmas? Before deciding, consider the additional salary and utility costs, plus any potential hazards you or your employees would face by staying open late.
Suppose your business is in an office that doesn’t rely on walk-in traffic, consider closing early for the holidays. Change your voicemail to indicate what your holiday hours are. Ensure your voicemail will tell customers to leave a message or send an email to a unique email address to reach your business if they absolutely must.
And please, please, don’t give clients your cell phone number this holiday. If you already have, warn them that you won’t be taking routine business calls when you are off for the holidays. Set your boundaries and tell them if they have an emergency to send you an urgent email, and explain in detail what the crisis is so you can decide how to handle it without initially talking to the client.
To wrap it all up…
It really should go without saying that worrying about getting gifts and spending so much money, scheduling necessary family time, and managing your life, can all make us feel very overwhelmed. End-of-the-year deadlines and office parties can quickly fill up your calendar, making it harder to get to your daily responsibilities. We as business owners often forget that just as many customers we have, business still happens outside our lives.
Remember to stay on top of your supply. By keeping a close eye on what you’ll need for this holiday season, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions and tailor your store accordingly. Do your customers & employees a favour by not being a Scrooge and cheer them up! An early gift to your employees this year could be offering one extra day off leading up to the holidays.
Ensure you are upfront about your plans and needs during this busy time with your loved ones. Not only will you find help where you need it, but it will also reduce the added stress of those guilty feelings when prioritizing your business above everything else for the time being.
While you gear up to get back into the workflow, hold onto the reminder that business is just business – even when you’re the boss. No matter your religious or spiritual beliefs, what makes this time of year special is that it’s a time for spreading peace, joy, and love and sharing experiences and memories with family and friends.
Lastly, your business won’t come crashing down around you if you take a little personal time off. For all your employees, set and create a timesheet of what conditions to contact you under and what situations they should handle independently.
We at Bookmark acknowledge that it takes a lot of you to become and thrive as a small business. We are glad to help ease the load by being an all-in-one website solution for you this holiday. As always, we are here for you with tips & guides navigating through the hustle & bustle this holiday brings. We provide mental & physical health tips for business owners on our blog. Click the link below to stay connected with us through this holiday season! Check us next week for all things business and eCommerce tips, along with guides!