The holidays can be a tough time for business owners. Not only are there holiday related costs to tackle with holiday parties, bonuses, and paid holidays, employees and clients can often be so distracted that end of year productivity is seriously affected.
Seasonal slowdowns are natural, and it’s not realistic to imagine that your business will run as smoothly in the third week of December as it does in August. However, finding yourself behind on all your projects and juggling unpaid bills in January isn’t an acceptable outcome either. There are a few important measures that you can take to prepare yourself and your business so that holiday complications don’t get in the way of your business’ success.
Budget mindfully and prepare for the worst
It’s unfortunately common for business owners to underestimate how much the holidays will cost their business. To get an accurate picture, it’s important to consider the costs of special events, bonuses, and paid holidays, as well as any revenue lost by decreased productivity during the month.
To ensure that you don’t run into cash flow issues, it’s important to have funds or the financing options to cover for any possible related issues ready in advance. For a smaller business that doesn’t have the financial bandwidth to save up ahead of time, a business line of credit or a standby finance facility can offer the protection you need.
Protect yourself from payment issues
A very common problem for B2B businesses is that clients will be so distracted with their own issues that they’ll forget to pay invoices and become difficult to reach. If, like many SMEs, you rely on payments coming in on time to cover costs, you’ll want to ensure that doesn’t happen to you.
The most reliable way to avoid late client payments is to find a way not to rely on your clients’ punctuality. Instead, you can use Fifo Capital’s invoice financing service or a financed payment plan to get paid on the same day that you issue your invoice. That way you’ll know exactly when you’ll get paid, and can turn your attention to tackling other issues while we worry about collecting the payment on our end.
Manage employee distractions
Not only are you trying to run a business while figuring out your own holiday plans, your employees are also distracted by family issues and their own travel itineraries. Because of all of this additional stress, people won’t be able to focus as well as usual, even when they are doing their best to get things done. To help keep workers on task and as effective as possible, it’s important to take a few special holiday precautions.
Delay new projects
Organising new projects requires a lot of energy and focus, and that makes December a bad time to grow your operation. Some employees might already be away on vacation, which would put additional pressure on the already stressed workers that are still in the office.
With the holidays breaking up the usual work routine, and workers not being able to devote their full attention, any new project would inevitably be off to a rocky start. This is a recipe for poorly designed projects, low quality work, and dissatisfied customers. Instead, schedule new projects to begin after the holidays, when everyone is back and ready to focus again.
Whenever you’re dealing with a low productivity period, it’s critical to get the most out of the work that does get done. Plan ahead and have middle managers work out exactly how client goals are going to be prioritised and met in the proper order. It needs to be clear exactly who is responsible for which tasks, and which tasks each worker should prioritise to maximise customer satisfaction.
This extra bit of handholding would be excessive year-round, but it removes some of the time-management burden from workers who might otherwise find themselves making avoidable mistakes due to external factors.
Keep morale up
Though the holidays are a stressful time, we continue to celebrate them because we also enjoy them. You can use this to your advantage to help keep morale up. Go out of your way to provide a friendly and celebratory atmosphere to workers, and encourage them to decorate their space and talk about their plans with coworkers. These activities can seem like a waste of time, but they can improve productivity by helping employees reduce their stress levels, and by giving them an additional opportunity to bond as a team.
The holidays can be a big challenge for business owners, but you don’t have to let that stress get in the way of your business’ health or operational efficacy. At Fifo Capital we’re always dedicated to ensuring our clients’ success, and we go out of our way to provide one-to-one service that treats your business as a unique and complex operation. Give us a call today to learn more!