Hi everyone! It's Summer. It's still warm out. I know. But in the world of small business? It's long been time to start thinking about Christmas. I've had my Christmas designs done for months and ready to go, sure. So I don't need to worry about sweating through my design sessions for Christmas products in the Summer anymore - I've done that too many times, and yes, I've learned from my mistakes. As I write this, it's 127 days until Christmas. Christmas, for a product based business like mine, is a very busy time of year (especially once everyone sees my new Christmas card designs!) I've already been sending out Christmas orders to customers who are getting prepared very early. I've been taking orders from shops for their Christmas stock. Today I want to share Three Ways I'm Preparing My Business for Christmas. Just in case anyone else who has a small business is wondering what they could be thinking about.
1. Setting a goal.
Why do I want to set a goal for Christmas? I want to know when to celebrate. I set very clear and specific annual goals for my business, and Christmas in included in those of course. I want to know when I take that last post office trip if I've done what I wanted to for that Christmas season. I want to know what a successful Christmas season will look like for me, and I also want to know what an unsuccessful one will look like. I don't just want to look at one goal either. I want to check in a few times over the Christmas period to make sure I'm where I want to be. If I'm not? I'll have plans in place of things I can do to focus on what needs work. If I am? I celebrate. Setting my goal also includes setting my reward. So I'll sit down and make sure that I know what I'm looking forward to when it comes to reaching my goal and how I will reward myself.
2. Analysing my systems and my space.
I have a tiny little home office. I don't have a purpose built space, I don't even have nearly enough space. I make it work. I need to make it work. I regularly revisit my set up to see how I can fix pain points in it. Before last year, knowing I was going to be featured in an advertising campaign which was going to be driving a lot of extra traffic my way, I spent a week tracking how my business runs. What time do I spend on which areas of the business? What gets more difficult as it gets busier? What can I fix? Things that are tolerable (at best) during a quiet time will soon become massive inconveniences when you're swamped with orders. This led me to design and build myself a "packing station" in my office that I had never had before last year. I planned every bit of it - what needed to be to hand and where I would store it, how much space I could allow it, how it would look. It is really such a simple thing, but it has made such a big difference to how smoothly my order packing goes. I wish I'd have done it much sooner. I've already identified a few problem areas this year during some busy periods earlier in the year and made sure to make a note of them so I can start fixing them in the next couple months. I try make everything as easy as possible on myself so instead of wasting energy on stressing about things I could fix, I save that energy for what really matters - getting your orders in and sent out, making sure I have enough stock to fill those orders and making sure I have enough time to enjoy the odd peppermint hot chocolate.
3. Setting delivery and order cut offs.
There are a number of delivery and order cut offs I need to have clear in my mind before I approach the holiday season. What is the latest I can order stock from my suppliers? What is the latest I can post orders to arrive in time for the holidays? What is the latest a shop can order from me? In the past, I've been tempted to leave my customer order cut offs to the very last minute possible thinking I was doing everyone a big favour. Unfortunately, due to the massive influx of items going through the postal service at this time that can result in some disappointed people when their orders are delayed in the post and I haaaaaate disappointing people. I've since started making it a little bit earlier. Sure, this means that those who have left it to the VERY last minute won't be able to order from me, but as long as I make it clear from the beginning when they need to get their order in, I don't feel so bad. It's also nice for me to know when my last post run will be for the Christmas season. In the past I've worked right up until Christmas Eve and still been processing orders on Christmas Day (why? I'm not sure. I can't even post them for another few days!) This year, I'm going to try not to work at all on Christmas Eve. I want to try that out for a change. I certainly won't be processing Christmas orders, because it would be much too late by then. I want to make sure that for all the work I put in, I can enjoy Christmas as well!
Those are just a few of the things that I'm doing to get my business prepared - of course there are other things like ordering stock, writing out Christmas cards, etc. If I were a handmade business I would also be making sure I was making in advance whatever elements I could. Crazy thing to be talking about in August while I'm sat here, sweating at my desk, but hey, these are the joys of running a small business :) Always looking forward, always preparing.
Do you run a small business? What are you doing to prepare? As a gift buyer, do you leave your shopping to the last minute? What is on your list to prepare for the holidays? Business or personal, I'd love to know.