Being a business owner during the holidays can be tough. It seems like everyone else has time off, while you have no paid holidays. You’re juggling multiple tasks at any given time. You don’t only do the one thing you’re best at. You take care of the entire second job of, you know, running a business.
While you take a few days off to spend with friends and family, the systems you put in place will help make sure you don’t drop too many balls over the holidays. The concept of using systems can be used across your business and throughout the year to make your life easier.
Get your email in order
Let’s start with the simplest – email. It is easy to forget, but if you will be taking time off over the holidays, you should use an email autoresponder to set some expectations for people who are contacting you during that time. Simply letting them know when you will be away and when you will return is common courtesy. If you have multiple email addresses with your company, you may need to set these for all of those accounts. The good news is, most email software and platforms have an autoresponder feature built in. Search for your email provider and the word ‘autoresponder’ to find the instructions for your specific setup.
Of course, autoresponders are only one part of the email equation. You might also take some time to craft a list of customers or business partners to send a holiday email. The holidays are a great time to get back in touch with any of your contacts. Depending on the size of your list, you may be sending personalized emails one by one, or you might draft a single email to send to everyone. It’s a less intensive version of a Christmas card. If you use Gmail, tools such as Boomerang will allow you to write the email now and have it sent out closer to the holidays (even while you’re away).
Check your newsletter dates
While we’re talking about email, if you send out an email newsletter, you might take a look at the dates you have it scheduled to go out. You might decide it makes more sense to send it early or later based on the holidays. Most email newsletter software companies have ways to customize your schedule. Of course, writing your email newsletters ahead of schedule is always the best way to ensure you’re regularly publishing quality content. You can continue to do that through the holiday season.
Stay on top of social
After email, social media is probably the next place you will turn your attention to when preparing for time off. You may think everyone will be too busy, but it can go a long way to have something in the news feed when people turn to their devices to share their holiday experience. You’ll want to schedule a few holiday greeting posts over Christmas and New Years (if this suits your audience). You might also schedule some additional content before and after the holiday. This way your social media feed doesn’t look abandoned while you’re taking a few days off. Depending on what social media channels you are using, there are a few specific customization ideas you can take. Facebook, for example, has an autoresponder you can set-up for incoming messages on your business page.
Keep your blog consistent
If you have a business blog, you should keep your regular schedule if possible. If you will be publishing directly on a holiday, you might include a seasonal message before or after your regular content or you might even decide to write an entire blog post relating the holidays to your industry. Scheduling content to be posted in the future is made easy by most popular blogging systems. Be sure to schedule links to your posts on social media using the blog short link or URL after the post goes public.
Update your hours
If you are a business with regular hours that are changing while you’re away, you’ll want to update these across your website, social media, Google places, etc. Keep track of where you updated them so you can set them right when you come back from holidays. Even if you don’t have regular hours, you might update your website to reflect the holidays and publish a note letting your visitors know when you’ll be back.
Prepare for your return
Finally, you’ll want to look ahead to when you’re back at work. Most of us take a few days to get back into full-swing after time off. Responding to emails alone can take a few days. If you have any promotions on your calendar within a few weeks of returning, you’ll want to get as much of the prep work done as you can before you take some time off.
Most of these suggestions can be started days, weeks or even months before you intend to take a few days or weeks off. The longer the holiday, the more time you will want to give yourself to prep for it. At the end of the day, you deserve a few days with family and friends. A little forethought can make relaxing over the holidays a lot more enjoyable.