We’re fast approaching ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ (so said singer Andy Williams back in 1963), an exciting period where friends, families and colleagues come together, dine out more, shop more, travel more, and are in all round happy and sociable moods.

For small business owners in sectors such as hospitality, retail and travel, it’s also the busiest time of the year. Meanwhile for service-based businesses whose clients operate on a traditional 9-5 model, the work can slow down.

So, how can small businesses prepare themselves for the upcoming holidays, ensuring they get maximum value out of them?

Plan, and prioritise (especially the books)

It sounds simple, but can easily be forgotten when you’re busy, as it’s second nature to focus on what’s happening in the business, and forget about working on the business. So, put the time aside now to embrace your tech, plan your rosters, predict your sales and stock levels, and assess your upcoming payments.

All of this is tied to your forecast, so ensure you update it to account for all of the above, and then do so regularly so it reflects your actuals in real time. This is especially important during your busiest weeks and months.

Chances are, you might feel like business is booming, however at the same time a lot of casual staff will be fulfilling more hours than usual, others will be working overtime, and you’ll need to purchase more stock and supplies. By looking at your outgoings and not just your sales, you will see a true representation of the state of your business.

Monitor your cash flow for when things slow down

On the other end of the spectrum, monitoring your cashflow if you know this time of the year will be quieter is equally important. Analyse your sales to identify how much money you can put aside for the times when you won’t have revenue coming in.

Plus, re-work your personal budget in line with these slower weeks or months. This will ensure you’ve got enough money in the bank to get through, and can enjoy a well deserved break.

Double down on your marketing

Once you’re confident the books are in order, consider making some small investments in festive and summer season marketing. This will help you not only increase sales, but drive customer loyalty once the festivities end.

For the industries that thrive during this period, this could be an offer on a first purchase when customers sign up to your monthly e-newsletter, or a loyalty program where they receive a discount once a certain number of purchases are made.

For those where business is slower, this could be offering discounted rates or special Christmas packages over the period, and connecting with like minded organisations and membership communities to spread the word. Investing in a meaningful paid social media campaign with an affordable budget can also help to drive awareness among a specific target audience.

Prioritise your people

Long shifts, increased customer numbers, warm weather, and the FOMO associated with working when many loved ones are enjoying their holidays, can all impact the mental and physical wellbeing of your staff. This means it’s important to create your rosters in a way that evenly distributes the workload and allows your people to take a break, so that they return rejuvenated and motivated to get stuck in.

Look to intuitive rostering software to help manage this, and in those instances where you identify additional staff will be required, provide team members with the equal opportunity to work the extra hours, rather than allocate additional shifts without consulting them first.

Personalise your payroll

If you’re in hospitality or retail, your floor staff will be busier than ever, however most head office employees will be on holidays for at least two weeks over Christmas and the New Year. Have your finance team (or bookkeeper if you’re outsourcing) schedule employee and supplier payments before they head out, or request that a team member manages payroll in line with the company’s usual schedule even while they are out of the office, as we all know wages and payments can vary considerably over the holidays.

Keep your suppliers close

Communicate with your partners and suppliers now, so that they know you’ll need to increase your usual order numbers – and the frequency of these orders – ahead of time. When you work with them in this way, they’ll not only be able to plan ahead and meet your needs, they’ll be more willing to help you out when you need them most – such as when you’ve run out of an essential item, and need it to be replenished urgently.

The holiday season can present a number of opportunities for small business owners, however the key to maximising this time of year – whether it’s a busier or quieter time for you – is all in the planning.

Book your complimentary consultation with us, and we’ll chat through your business model and some of the ways you can maximise your cash flow both now, and all throughout the year.


Ready to go from hot mess to flaming success?

You’re wearing too many hats in your business! So, put your hands in the air, and step away from the bookkeeping-hat. Let us wear the stress and boredom of compliance and accounting.


Ready to go from hot mess to flaming success?

You're wearing too many hats in your business! So, put your hands in the air, and step away from the bookkeeping-hat. Let us wear the stress and boredom of compliance and accounting with our remote bookkeeping services.