Strategy Spotlight: How to Manage the Convergence of Holiday Season and Year End


According to the famous holiday song, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Yet for businesses of all sizes, it can also be one of the most overwhelming times of the year. Not only do you have the manage the chaos of holiday activities, parties, employees taking time off, customer needs and untold distractions, you also have to manage the responsibilities associated with year end, and for many organizations, the fiscal year as well.

For small and mid-sized businesses with tight margins and slim resources, this time of year can be especially challenging. Office Depot recently found in its Small Business Index survey that the biggest concerns during the holiday season for business owners are cash flow and productivity. Add to those concerns the looming deadlines around taxes and the ever-present worry of maintaining business growth through the sluggish, post-holiday slump, and business owners have reason to both embrace and dread this time of year.

As with anything, the right plan can help mitigate disaster and certainly put your mind at ease. Even better, with a few easy tips you can help position your business for success now, and stability over the year to come.

Plan ahead, and if that’s too late, plan now.

A plan to tackle end of year business is a must, whether your company is one person or 100. It is nearly impossible, and certainly a recipe for disaster, to approach this time of year and imagine you’ll just wing it. Most organizations find the holiday season can make or break their business, and this is especially true when it comes to allocating resources. A plan centered on organizing production, shipments, permanent and seasonal employee schedules, internal meetings and customer interactions will help give the visibility necessary to stay ahead of end of the year madness.

Consider time a strategic resource.

When you place a value on time, rather monetarily or another measurement, it becomes easier to allocate. Your time is valuable, as is the time of your employees and your customers – even more so at this time of year. To use time strategically means to focus on tasks that are most worth your efforts, while allocating other to-dos to those best suited. For example, in a mad rush to fill Christmas orders it may be an all-hands-on-deck scenario to package and ship. Yet normally, the business owner may find their time is better spent recruiting new business or ensuring customer needs are met, while the task of mailing is off-loaded to someone else. Only you can determine for sure how time is best allocated for your business, but it is worth the effort to build a strategy and ensure you are maximizing time for everyone.

Recharge, Reboot and Reassess.

There seems to be little downtime during the holiday season, and even less so for business owners. Yet finding opportunities to recharge and reboot can often provide a greater strategic advantage than planning and prep work combined. Believe it or not, the end of the year is one of the best times to spend not thinking about your business, and when that happens you might find a peculiar thing: the less you stress about business management, the more things seem to fall into place and you uncover the vision for how to move forward into the New Year. When you take the time to recharge with family and friends, doing things you love, it’s easier to approach your business strategy with fresh perspective and a renewed commitment to success.