As the year draws to a close, it’s important for small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) to have a strategic plan in place for business continuity. So before you get into a festive frame of mind, take a look at these top tips from Tashline Jooste, CEO of the Innovator Trust.
Consider your closing time
Depending on the nature of your business, the festive season is either dead quiet or extremely busy. Typically, businesses close their doors over the Christmas period and reopen in the new year, but if you work in sectors that are busy, such as FMCG, Jooste advises.
“You will know whether you should keep your doors open over the festive season if you have planned accordingly,” says Jooste. “If your business has quarterly plans then you will know whether the work that needs to be done warrants leaving the entire office open, or if skeleton staff will be sufficient to attend to client work.”
Jooste adds that the number of public holidays in December is enough to disrupt the normal flow of things but if a strategic plan is put in place to manage internal processes at the busiest time, then all should be in order even though running on skeleton staff.
Think of your employees
All employees deserve a break as they have worked hard all year. Over the Christmas period, when schools are closed, a long holiday will grant your employees the necessary time to rest and reconnect with their families.
Jooste suggests giving your employees a break a week before Christmas and until the second week of January. “Even if your doors are open before the bulk of your staff return, you can use that time to do some catching up and planning for the year ahead.”
Focus on your financials
Looking at your financial health at the close of one year means meaningfully preparing for the upcoming one.
If your business is quiet over the festive season, you need to plan ahead to ensure your business is covered financially. “Start with looking at your margins,” says Jooste. “Analyse where your margins are being squeezed and then dive in deep to find out what’s going on.” She adds that it is the same with variable costs, such as salaries and rent. Furthermore, use the knowledge of your business’ cash flow to prepare a budget for the coming year.
Make the most of your downtime
Now is not the time to live it up like there’s no tomorrow. The festive season, if it’s a quiet period for your business, presents an ideal opportunity for careful preparation and planning. “As the year winds down, bring your key employees together to plan for the new year,” advises Jooste, “and assess whether you have the required staff and equipment.
Complete all your strategic planning for the next year in terms of products and services being provided, and a particular focus on staffing, cash flow, stock, promotions and maintenance. “This is also a good time to look for new segments to branch out to, to grow your business and client base.”
Don’t forget the details
If you’re so inclined, rearrange and update your office to create a lovely working environment which inspires creativity. Send small notes of appreciation to your past clients, current clients, and referral partners.
On the personal front, it’s important to take care of yourself so that you can take care of business. “Get plenty of rest and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!” concludes Jooste.