As Christmas approaches, the people in our small businesses are starting to look decidedly tired. If they’re in agriculture, chances are they are busy with harvest. If they’re in retail then it is potentially their biggest earning period of the year. And, if they’re in the service sector then it is a rush to complete those big urgent jobs before Christmas and the dreaded “shut down”!
If anyone deserves to put their feet up on Christmas Day it is our small business people. Naturally our customers would agree. Or would they?
One downside of being in business today is that there is a huge assumption by customers that businesses will be open 24 hours and seven days a week. If I run out of milk, surely a shop is open? If my toilet is blocked, it has to be fixed now!
While we love to encourage our city cousins to spend their dollars out in the region, their expectations are sometimes hard to meet. They are genuinely puzzled as they drive into a rural town to find most of the businesses closed after midday on a normal Saturday let alone on Christmas and Boxing Day.
What they fail to understand is that predominantly small businesses in rural towns are family owned and run. In order to spend quality time together as a family they need to shut their business from time to time. This is important for their personal health and relationships. Anyone who has hired staff will understand that penalty rates are prohibitive for many small businesses that simply provide a living for the owners and little profit to spare.
My advice to small-business owners is not to feel guilty. Simply plan well ahead and communicate with regular customers your intention to close for the holiday period. Place a sign on your door and website explaining that you appreciate their understanding.
And, if you are a customer, please plan ahead for your needs as much as possible. And, when faced with a closed sign on a business door, be happy that this small-business family is taking care of itself.
When we are rested, we will be back to serve you with a smile on our face.
Wishing you all a relaxing Christmas. Business will wait!
Kerry Anderson – www.kerryanderson.com.au – businesswoman, philanthropist and community advocate from Central Victoria who is passionate about rural and regional small business