5 Tips to Keep Your Business Flowing During Holidays (or unplanned breaks)

Everytime school holidays roll around I see a flurry of questions about how everyone manages to keep their businesses running. If you don’t have kiddies, like me, you will still love the 5 tips I have for you today to help you manage holiday periods or unplanned breaks.

Small people or no small people… life sometimes gets in the way of business. It has happened to me many times. Illness (both mine and others), moving house, taking a trip overseas, friends coming to stay, or just needing some time away from the grind. Stuff happens, life happens. The benefit of being self employed is that we get guilt free time out … in theory…

Be 100% in or 100% out!

Women’s guilt drives us to feel like we need to be in multiple places at once. The kids are on holidays and want your attention but you also have a business to run. So what do you do? Sit at the computer feeling distracted, guilty and non-productive. You’re not 100% in your business, you’re not 100% with your kids. You feel ineffective as both a parent and a business owner. You get nothing done and feel like you’re letting everyone down. 

It isn’t just holidays either, what about when you’re feeling tired or unwell but you can’t take time off?  You sit at your computer and try to cross something off your to-do list, but you just can’t focus. You’re not 100% in, you’re not 100% out. You still feel like picked crap wrapped in a trash bag and you didn’t achieve anything in your business.  You need to be 100% in or 100% out. 

Don’t get stuck in business purgatory

By the end of the day you haven’t really done anything other than check email, post a couple of things to Facebook and Instagram, and re-write your to do list. You could have condensed that into an hour. Instead you’re now riding the wave of guilt that you’re a crappy mum/business owner/friend/sister/daughter… You’re in business purgatory… 

I was in business purgatory a lot when mum was sick. The day after chemo was rough. I wanted to hang out and just watch t.v with her, make sure she ate when she could, get everything disinfected and cleaned, and basically be present. Instead, I would have the guilt of not working looming over my head. I would be up and down from my computer all day, half finishing the cleaning, half finishing a blog post, not accomplishing anything. Ugh.. purgatory.

So how do you keep your business flowing when you're on holidays or unplanned leave?

1. Be Realistic about the time you really have available

Don’t commit to things you can’t achieve like managing small humans while running a business 40 hours a week. Something has to give right? I have the same conversations with clients over and over again. I see their annual plans and their January sales targets and know they have kiddies that they desperately want to spend time with. When I call them out on their crazy plan to do it all I see the guilt of not showing up as a business owner all over the faces. Juggle, juggle, juggle. Something ultimately gets dropped. 

My 2018 version of the Profit Lovers Plan + Track includes an annual planner so women who do have to account for school holidays can highlight those weeks. You can then… 

2. Have your plan ready

When you have a solid plan in place you can adjust as you need to. If you know you have a big block of holidays coming up you can plan around it. If you have a solid plan and you or someone you need to care for becomes ill you can modify your plan to accommodate the time away from your business.

I made an absolute mess of my ankle a couple of years ago. The pain was like nothing I had ever experienced. I could barely make it to the fridge for self-pity snacks and I knew I would not be able to focus on work for at least two weeks. Pain medication and business don’t make a good combination!

I was able to grab my Plan and Track and quickly made modifications to my sales targets, expenses, and marketing. I already had prewritten content scheduled and old content in re-cycle mode. I then made adjustments to my targets to absorb them into following months. It took all of 2 hours to put my business into a holding pattern for two weeks. I then sat on the couch in a non-stressed Codeine haze eating Cheezels and M&M mix-ups, watching non-stop Dr. Phil until I felt like I could get back to work. The most I did each day was 15 minutes on email to keep in contact with clients and to let any potential new clients know when I would be back on deck. 

That brings me to … 

2. Get ahead with your marketing

A couple of years ago I did some serious damage to my ankle. I was in excruiting hurl-your-cookies pain. I knew I was going to be out for at least two weeks. 

3. Plan your financial buffer

I know how my Profit Lovers squeal with delight when I mention cash flow planning (kidding.. no one squeals with delight). Having financial targets that take into consideration slower sales during holidays will help you create a financial buffer. I know that January will be really slow for me. I started planning for it last November (yes, LAST November). I create a buffer to ensure I don’t run out of funds.

When you plan ahead you can spread an income buffer over several months. If you know kiddies are on school holidays during September you can bump up your sales targets in July and August to cover the slower month. You will push that bit harder before the holidays, but you need to have a target! You need to know what you’re working towards.

Knowing exactly what it costs to run your business each month will ease your mind if you need to bail on your business for an emergency or unscheduled break. I know the minimum dollar amount I need. If I had to take a month off tomorrow I could figure out what the financial effect would be in less than 10 minutes.

4. Remove all non-vital tasks from your to do list/Perfect Week schedule

There will still be some stuff you will most likely need to keep up with. Tasks like customer service, stock control, invoicing and paying bills need to happen. Instead of having a to do list full of stuff like:

  • Update font on sales page
  • Take new flat lay photos for Instagram
  • Call accountant to discuss new car purchase
  • Record video for website…

Have a “Holiday|Emergency Perfect Week Schedule” that condenses everything down to a minimum. Do only the stuff that absolutely must get done, be brutal! Now is NOT the time for trying out Facebook ads, re-jigging your sales emails or creating new products and services. 

If you focus on spending 1 hours (I suggest you use a timer) per day when you have kids around on holidays to get the essentials done you can then go spend your day 

I need to write an entire blog post on how women behave like employees in their own businesses (I literally just added that to my blog topics list) but for now I want to leave you with this..

You’re the boss. Embrace it.

If you want to be with your kids then get your vital-stuff-only to do list done, set a timer each day and focus. Once you’re done be done! Log off and enjoy guilt free time. Checking email once per day is plenty, set up an autoresponder to let customers/clients know you’re working limited hours and checking email once in the morning if you want. Set up a recorded message on your phone advising of the same.

Sitting at your desk feeling guilty and achieving nothing is pointless and soul-crushing. Get out and have some fun with the kids or give yourself time to mend if you’re unwell. 

Melanie

I need to write an entire blog post on how women behave like employees in their own businesses (I literally just added that to my blog topics list) but for now I want to leave you with this..

You’re the boss. Embrace it.

If you want to be with your kids then get your vital-stuff-only to do list done, set a timer each day and focus. Once you’re done be done! Log off and enjoy guilt free time. Checking email once per day is plenty, set up an autoresponder to let customers/clients know you’re working limited hours and checking email once in the morning if you want. Set up a recorded message on your phone advising of the same.

Sitting at your desk feeling guilty and achieving nothing is pointless and soul-crushing. Get out and have some fun with the kids or give yourself time to mend if you’re unwell. 

Melanie