In my last blog post, I wrote about the fact that it’s never too early to plan ahead for holidays. This is especially important for me this year. For the first two weeks in November, I’ll be on a working holiday with a major client in Bali. I’ve never met my colleagues in person before and I’m really excited at the prospect! We have heaps of activities lined up - both work and leisure, so there’s no WAY I’m going to get the time to plan for the holiday season, although I’m staying on for a couple of extra days to do some strategic planning for Joy and Resonance in 2017 all on my lonesome.
How then do I personally plan for this time of year?
First of all I think about my goals for this time of year. The specific period I'm concerned with is that covering the period from Christmas Eve to January 2nd, and any time I’d like to take off around then. The nature of my business means that I need to factor in what my clients are doing over the holiday period in order to cater to their needs, while still ensuring my cash flow remains relatively steady.
As a result, I have 3 goals:
- Ensure I have time off to spend with loved ones and relax a little
- Cater to my clients’ needs over the holiday period
- Ensure I have enough work to maintain a steady cash flow
Goal 1: Spend quality time with those I love who are on holiday themselves
My family often comes to visit over the holidays, so I ask them their plans as early as I can. That way I can plan my time accordingly. I also have friends who hold a massive New Year’s Eve party 3 hours away which I like to get to. If I attend I usually stay overnight, so that’s something else to take into consideration. As a result, I know that I’m going to want New Year’s Eve, and preferably all of New Year’s Day off, along with a few days while my family visit.
Goal 2: Make sure I don’t leave my clients in the lurch
One of my clients operates 24/7, 365 days a year and I’ve been with them for a couple of years. Our team is global and covers different time zones. I know from experience that they'll ask us to submit the times we’d like off, create a roster from that, and then ask us to cover for each other. We’re all pretty flexible and it’s usually not a problem to get someone to cover the shifts I’d like off. Given that I also cover for others it doesn’t make much difference to my cash flow.
Other clients like to finalise work before the holidays, making it a busy period leading up to Christmas Day.
Then I have clients who sometimes require relief over the school holiday period. Despite being shut for the holidays, social media still needs to be covered, queries resolved, support provided - that kind of thing.
Whatever my client's approach, it's important that I let them know as soon as possible when I'll be away and if my office will be closed. I don’t often take time off, but when I do, I like to shut down completely. It's essential, therefore, that my vacation period isn't a surprise to clients who depend on my services.
Goal 3: Maintain my cash flow
This is probably the trickiest part of the whole thing. While income from my major client remains relatively steady, other clients may shutdown for up to a month. That can impact cash flow in a major way! This is why I try and get a feel for when people are taking time off as soon as possible. It also helps me to discover if anyone needs cover over that period.
If I find that holiday closures will have a great impact on my business, I need to plan now. I could either pick up extra work just prior to the holidays, or run a campaign offering to give people extra assistance planning for their own holidays. This could include things like:
- Planning social media campaigns
- Monitoring social media
- Taking care of clients while they’re on holidays
- Writing and scheduling newsletters in advance for December and January
- Formatting holiday templates and emails
For example, last year a new client engaged me to monitor applicants registering for a course scheduled for January. My job was to answer queries, and send them the requisite information they needed. The company was based in Australia, but the course was being run in the US for employees of a major client and they were going to be closed during the registration period. In addition, I had a couple of social media checks I needed to perform while my family were staying.
As a result, my sister and I would get up early and go walking on the beach or in the bush, and then come home for breakfast. I’d spend the middle of the day attending to business, then go swimming or have a BBQ with my mother. In this way we could continue to enjoy time spent together as a family.
The Importance of Flexibility
Whatever the nature of your business, the holiday season makes it essential to take a flexible approach to your business. Being willing to work more beforehand or afterwards, swapping hours with others if you can, and ensuring you have some quality downtime to balance the time spent working are all ways that you can ensure a steady income and happy clients. Just be sure to keep an eye on your cash flow and try and take at least one or two days off where you’re completely obligation free, except for delighting in the stuff that brings you joy.
Please contact us if there’s any way we can assist you preparing for the holiday season, or if you require holiday relief. We do have a little time to spare at the moment, but this is likely to be snapped up quickly! Don't let your holidays stress you out; make the most of them with a little preparation. We can cover your back.
We’d love to know about your plans for the holidays - where you’re going, for how long and who with! Why not head over to our Facebook page and let us know what you’re looking forward to most about holidays this year?