So, we’re into the final quarter of the year and there are nine weeks till Christmas. Traditionally, this is a crazy time of year. Our personal obligations increase markedly at the same time projects that have been stalled for months suddenly become ‘very important to get finished before Christmas’.
While you might want to stick your fingers in your ears, sing ‘lalalalaaaa’, and pretend it’s not happening, a better approach would be to clear a couple of hours and do these five things.
Not only will they make the run into Christmas smoother, they’ll allow you to hit the ground running in 2018.
1. Book some time off
It’s so crucial to take time off at the end of the year, and many business owners have good intentions to do so. But then they find themselves doing ‘catch up’ stuff in that Christmas/New Year period because, ‘It’s quiet and I finally have time to think’.
I’ve done this so many times and every single time, the joy of ‘catching up’ was erased by the fact that I entered the new working year completely sapped of enthusiasm.
So, it’s time to consider: What do you need to do now to ensure you can get proper down time at the end of the year?
- Do you need to email your clients and say, ‘Last call for new 2017 projects or meetings is x date’?
- Do you need to coordinate staff holidays to ensure any urgencies over Christmas and New Year won’t need to be handled by you?
- Do you need to book your family into a campsite that is off the grid to ensure you get a proper mental break?
Whatever needs to be done, don’t leave it till December. That’s probably going to be too late. Do it now. This week! Give yourself something to look forward to at the end of the year.
2. Audit your prices
The start of a new year is a good line in the sand if you need to raise your prices. If you identify you’re going to do so now, you can let existing clients know if they want to get in at 2017 rates, now is the time to book. This can help ensure you start 2018 with a full dance card and might give you a boost at what can be a slow time in many industries.
3. Audit your products/services
What products/services have gone well for you this year? Which have been a complete time suck and just not worth the time or effort?
If there are products/services you’d like to drop from your offering in 2018, what do you need to do between now and Christmas to allow for that?
- Do you need to find someone else to provide that service to your clients?
- Do you need to remove it from your website now?
- Do you need to let clients know you won’t be doing that thing as of January 1, 2018?
As with point number one above, now is the time to do the above, not sometime in December (or next year). Set aside an hour or two this week to work through the points above, figure out what needs to be done … and do them.
4. Audit your energy levels
Are there things you’re doing in your business that add to your business’s bottom line, but completely sap your energy? (Things like meeting one-on-one with clients, or producing weekly financial reports?) Could these things be done by someone else? Would the costs of paying someone else to do those things be offset by you having the time and energy to do the stuff that only you can do?
If so, you might take this time between now and Christmas to document how you do those things (write a process). Then, in the New Year, when you find someone to help you with them, you already have the process written up.
5. Set up some partnerships
Is there a service your customers keep asking for, but you don’t offer it? Now is a good time to identify someone reliable to refer them to. If you’re lucky, that person will give you a kickback for the lead, or reciprocate by referring work back to you.
You could also identify businesses in your market who are operating at different price points to you and partner with them. For example, a mid-level design agency like us might benefit from partnering with a kick ass freelancer. If our services are too expensive for someone, we can refer them to the freelancer. If the freelancer is asked to quote on a project that is beyond their abilities to service, they could refer that lead to us. A match made in heaven!
It does take time and energy to set up these kinds of relationships, however. And it’s tempting to think this time of the year is not a great time for it. The reality, however, is this is as good a time as the next. Partnerships set up over the next few months might start bearing fruit early in the new year.
If you wait until the new year to start, you might never get started at all.