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What SME’s and Enterprises Can Expect Over the Christmas Period

December 7th, 2015

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Christmas is the time for giving, and for many small-medium enterprises it’s the busiest time of the year. Smart Company published findings from ecommerce shipping platform Temando, suggesting that 8 out of 10 SME retailers do not feel prepared for the uncertainty of the peak Christmas period, and consequent occurrences such as shipping delays. But a bit of preparation and planning can help you achieve big outcomes over Christmas.

We’ve taken a look at the major things SME’s can expect to happen over the Christmas period.

Busy business over the Christmas period

This is the time of the year where it all comes together for some companies, particularly those in retail, so managers and operators have to make sure they’re at the top of their game. For busy businesses this means making sure cash flow and stock levels are under control. Be aware of the fact that there is probably going to be a significantly increased demand for your stock, and you may even need to negotiate extended terms with your suppliers to make sure you’ve got enough stock to meet customer needs.

Staffing can also be a significant issue when you’re navigating your SME business through the frantic Christmas period. Be wary of this, and mindful of the needs of both your business and your staff members in your rostering. While this is a busy period the worst thing you can do is burn people out, and tempers can easily fray leading to frustration and stress. The onus is on you as manager and operator to ensure that staff members are adequately prepared to cope with the increased demand over Christmas, and ensuring there aren’t any choke points of parts of the team letting the company down. This is important for every business owner to be aware and considerate of.

You also have to be aware of the increased costs of keeping your business open. Will you be selling enough stock to ensure you’re catering for the added expenses of keeping staff on during the holidays? Do you need to consider extended trading hours? Are there ways you can maximise sales? These are all questions SME operators must consider during the Christmas period.

Quiet businesses over the Christmas period

Not every business sees a sharp intake in terms of activity over the Christmas period, and your SME operation may be in one of the industries where the phone calls dry up when it comes to this time of year. But that doesn’t mean that with a bit of productivity and ingenuity you can’t make this period a productive and useful one for you, your staff members, and the operation as a whole.

This is actually the best time of year to take inventory on your achievements and goals, and review the systems and processes you are currently undertaking as a business. If things are quiet it may also be a good idea to ensure as many members of your team are taking leave where possible, as they probably need a break and during slow periods it’s quite easy for productivity to take a downturn.

The end of the year is also the middle of the financial year, so it’s a good idea to review your budgets, update these documents if necessary, and even figure out some future initiatives moving forward. Often the biggest things in business come when you’re working in an action rather than a reaction mode, and quiet periods are an opportunity to set some useful processes in place for next year.

Hazards all businesses could potentially face over the Christmas period

Unfortunately, no business in the world is immune to bad luck. Only when you’ve got a good contingency plan in place can you really relax, so it’s important to be aware of the implications of bad luck such as power outages, suppliers being close, IT failures, and complications caused by extreme heat conditions. It can be hard for SME operators to keep up during these busy periods, so making sure you’ve worked ahead and put a plan in place to ensure your business will be operating at full capacity when normality resumes is the best way to cope with the busy Christmas period.

Christmas is not as easy to navigate as it might seem and, as anyone who’s operated in a SME business would agree, it’s important to make sure everything is working to full capacity. By ensuring you’ve planned and prepared to cater for the costs of these periods, you can ensure that your business is operating at full capacity when it gets back to normal conditions for next year.

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David Hill
David has over 15 years in the insolvency industry – advising clients through restructuring of their business. His clear, “straight up” style provides clients with a strong direction of what they need to do, and how the process will work. As importantly, he brings empathy to the process – which is essential at a “high-stress” time for clients.

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