The holiday season represents a major challenge for many businesses. It’s difficult to keep people productive and projects on schedule when you, your employees, and your clients are all trying to organise holiday plans and travel itineraries. You might find that clients will be unreachable, and critical team members will head off for the holidays early. You’ll be forced to shuffle tasks around, and before you know it no one will know who is doing what, or whether anything has been done at all.

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By the time January rolls around you’ll walk into the office to find that you have no data on the status of your projects, clients haven’t received an update in a month, and employees have no idea what they’re supposed to be working on.

To avoid this nightmare scenario, it’s critically important to take specific targeted steps to ensure that you can keep your business organised and on track.

Send clients a holiday update

Even if you can’t get on the phone with your clients, you can email a detailed report along with a holiday message in mid December. This doesn’t just ensure that they’re relatively caught up come January, it also gives you the opportunity to communicate any delays, and to let them know on which days your business won’t be operating.

This update gives clients something to look at when they sit down to assess the status of their own operations after the holidays. You’ll appear organised and on top of the ball, and they’ll feel more secure and well-served knowing that you’re keeping them in mind.

Build to-do Lists for January

It can be difficult to even know where to start when returning to work after the holidays. To head this off, it’s a good idea for every employee to write themselves an exhaustive to-do list for January immediately before the holidays, when everything is still fresh in their minds. These should then be shared with middle managers, who can use them to develop an accurate bigger picture of what will need to be done when everyone is back at work.

Additionally, they’ll be able to identify and proactively attempt to address critical issues that can’t wait until later.

Make financial preparations

Dealing with holiday pay, bonuses, lost clients, slumps in sales, and payment delays can easily unbalance your budget, even if nothing drastically goes wrong. This makes the holiday season an especially vulnerable time in terms of finances. To make sure that you always have cashflow solutions at hand, it’s a good idea to turn to your financial institution early to determine what your financing options are. Two important tools to be aware of would be…

Invoice factoring

If you’re expecting delayed payments, you can make sure that you’re paid up front by factoring your invoices around the holidays. Your financial institution will pay most of the value of your invoice to you up front in exchange for the invoice, and collect the payment from the client in due course.

Standby finance facility

A standby facility is essentially a loan that you negotiate ahead of time with your bank or other financial institution. You aren’t required to ever use it, and it doesn’t cost anything until you actually withdraw the funds. These are perfect for use as emergency funds, because you can withdraw them very quickly anytime after they’re set up, and you can negotiate them from a position of strength, before you actually need them.

Whether you’re a customer with Fifo Capital or another financial institution, you should consult with your representative before choosing what financing tools to use for your business. A professional can offer expert advice that can save you money and help you address your business’ unique financial needs in the best way possible.

Make room for adjustments

No matter how well you prepare, there will always be a few unwelcome surprises in January. What those will be can be difficult to predict, but you can be sure that you’ll need some extra time to get back to normal. To ensure that you can take that time to tackle these issues up front instead of a month or two down the line, you’ll want to delay taking on new clients or starting new projects for a week or two. Explicitly schedule time with managers and other key employees to identify and troubleshoot any issues, so that you can be sure that everything is running as it should.

By taking these steps you’ll nip future complications in the bud and clean the slate, so that you can approach the new year as a fresh start without having to wonder if there are any unfortunate surprises still waiting to be discovered.