Article by Jane Tweedy, Business Advisor, Western Sydney Business Centre
How to cope with busy periods like approaching year end
With Christmas and calendar year end fast approaching, many businesses face a busy period with everyone wanting to finish projects by year end, and obviously retailers experiencing their busiest time of the year. How as a small business owner can you cope with busy periods?
You can’t do it all!
Sometimes we need to learn a very simple reply – no. We can always let people down politely, but we can’t do everything for everyone. Temporarily increasing your workload can be okay, but know the sacrifices you’re making in other areas.
Can you outsource?
Most retailers will already have hired their Christmas Casuals, but you do also have the advantage of HSC exams and university finishing for the year, as well as many people looking to pick up extra work ahead of Christmas. Therefore, the supply of workers (especially unskilled) is high. Consider bringing in some assistance for some of the more menial, process driven tasks at least to free you up for the more difficult work.
Work harder, not smarter
If you repeat something then make sure you’ve systemised it as much as you can. Often these repetitive tasks are pre-sale and therefore are ‘non-chargeable’ (a whole separate discussion). Improving your efficiency can therefore make great improvements to your business. Some examples can be templating standard email responses – you’ll be amazed how much time this simple action actually saves.
Another great tool are Chatbots. Although you could have live chat on your website, let’s face it, who in small business has time for that? Instead set up a Chatbot like Quriobot to answer standard predetermined questions. Between this and making sure all common questions are addressed in your website and on your FAQ page, you should find customers are effectively able to self-qualify themselves. The people coming through to you are more likely to be genuine, ready to buy clients.
Plan and prioritise
The busier you get, the more you need to make the time to plan and schedule. It’s the only way you can identify whether or not you have capacity, and make sure you can slot everything in, including all the non-customer activities like administration. Small business owners often forget to invoice for work completed, because their attention is already focused on the next client.
When things get busy, you must remember to take care of yourself. All work no play will make you a grumpy, tired version of yourself – which won’t help in your customer and staff relationships. Keep getting sleep, healthy food, take time to exercise and give yourself some headspace just to relax. [Note to self, practice what I preach!]
If you realise that every November/December or even the whole last quarter post October school holidays is busy, then plan ahead. Don’t get caught out next year. Have all your ducks in a row, ready to go. Things like job ads and position descriptions for casual team members, processes that have already been fine-tuned and documented. Create a stack of emergency social media posts and blogs for when you don’t have the time.
Business Connect can assist you in sorting through ‘all the things’ to focus on what is a priority. We can also connect you with tools, Government Departments and private providers to assist with process improvement and outsourcing. Arrange to see your local Business Connect Advisors by contacting Western Sydney Business Centre.
Western Sydney Business Centre, offers 4 hours business advice at NO COST with a NSW Government funded Business Connect Advisor. We can talk about any concerns with your business, and help you connect with others. Please book here now!