Three tips to survive December

Dare I mention it? It’s almost THAT time of the year again! Yes, the run-up to Christmas is the time every small business needs to review three important strategies.

1# Plan ahead

Well, if you haven’t planned ahead, chances are you are already struggling. Take this as a pertinent reminder that we all need to be thinking at least a quarter if not a year ahead, no matter how busy we are or type of business we run. Failure to do so will result in shortfalls in stock, staff, customers, and sanity. All this sadly eats into our hard-earned profit.

Regularly make a list of what you need to do over a working breakfast with a double expresso, then pin it up where you will see it every day and won’t forget to action it!

#2 Value relationships

Part of that planning ahead is very much about maintaining and valuing your relationships.

Have you communicated with customers about how you can (or can’t) help them in the lead up to Christmas? Or are you waiting for them to walk into your business the week before Christmas and look all disappointed that you can’t help them? Or worse, stand outside your business chatting with a friend about how they spent a wonderful day in the city (not their home town) spending up big for Christmas? True story, it happens all the time. Remind your customers you are here for them ALL year round and, with a bit of warning, you can even order in something special for them.

Staff are crucial and under added pressure as the Christmas frenzy approaches and family commitments pile up. Take the time to chat with them and strategise how you can all get through this busy time together. Show a bit of compassion and flexibility to help reduce unexpected absences. Likewise, this applies to you the business owner. Yes, YOUR family needs you too!

Communication is key to your customer, staff and family relationships. Plan ahead and let people know what to expect and when. And, if you are closing the doors at a certain time make it known well in advance so customers aren’t disappointed, and you and staff can plan time off with your families.

#3 Make your $ count

No business is an island as I am known to frequently mention. Lead by example and make sure that your dollars are also invested back into your fellow businesses. Hopefully they will also return the favour. Together we are much stronger.

Yes, this time of the year can be stressful but, with just a bit of basic planning, collaboration with family and staff, and clear communication, we might just come out smiling the other end.

Kerry Anderson – – businesswoman, philanthropist and community advocate from Central Victoria who is passionate about rural and regional small business