A Publication of WTVP

Another holiday season will soon be upon us, and with that comes the stress and frustration of trying to balance work and family. For some small business owners, holiday sales are crucial to a successful-or unsuccessful-year. Not all businesses have an increase in activity during the holidays, but most owners and employees experience increased stress and anxiety as the holiday season approaches. I've put together a few "best practices" some of my clients have shared with me to help get you through the season.

With time constraints such as short work weeks, vacations, and illness, planning is the key. Most of you know what to expect from your business, although there's always some degree of uncertainty. Plan a little slack into your schedule to accommodate unexpected events. There's always something that doesn't go as planned. If you plan for something to go wrong, it won't be as stressful when it does.

Try not to plan large projects or aggressive deadlines during December. If at all possible, try to postpone some things until after the first of the year. Even though your business may not be directly affected by the holidays, you and your employees are. Distractions such as shopping, parties, travel, in-laws, children, and finances overwhelm you and your employees' thoughts and the ability to focus on the task at hand. Productivity is low, and stress is high this time of year.

Try to stay in the holiday spirit. Remember, this is a feel-good time of year, so take advantage of it. Instead of sending a generic holiday card to your customers and suppliers, write a personalized note inside the card saying you appreciate doing business with them. If you don't send cards, think about sending them to your best customers and business associates; this is a good opportunity to reinforce your relationships.

If you have a retail establishment that gets crazy around the holidays, make sure you acknowledge your employees' hard work and appreciate their contribution. It's easy to get caught up in the chaos, but keeping your staff happy and motivated will make your life easier.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: small business owners are among the hardest working people on the face of the earth. And too often, it's at the expense of family and friends. This season, make sure you recognize the people who make it possible for you to chase and experience your dream. Spouses, children, parents, siblings, and friends can be a great support group, so make sure they know how much you appreciate them.

I would be remiss if I didn't tell you to get your shopping done early. But everyone knows not to wait until the last minute-right? Every business has its own dilemmas during the holiday season, but the idea is to identify and address the most stressful events so the effects can be minimized or eliminated. Planning to ease stress in the workplace will ensure you and your employees have a happier holiday season. IBI