Business Owners’ Christmas Holiday Survival Kit

December 12th, 2016

The Christmas festive break gets longer each year. Many industries ‘shut down’ for almost a month; Winding down in mid-December and not returning to full speed until mid-January.

The upshot; 11 months of income but 12 months of expenses. A good reason to make sure next year is well organised and financially viable.

If you’re flat out in the run up to and over the festive period, you’ll probably find your quiet time is January or mid-summer. Whenever it is this still applies to you!

You need a break; some family or ‘me’ time and do something different. A great time to give your head a rest! But it’s also hard to completely shut off from your business. If you feel a little guilty…. Don’t.

This guide will help your business withdrawal symptoms. Here are 33 important things that you can do if you want to.

5 minutes

  • Reflect on 3 things that went well last year that you want to repeat
  • Buy a big wall calendar
  • Is your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) still the right one?
  • Has your personal dream changed or even more real?
  • Buy or listen to a book. Here’s my suggestions….
The Book Audible
How to Become a Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott Leading by Alex Ferguson
Work the System by Sam Carpenter The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz
The Referral Engine by John Jantsch Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Profit First by Mike Michalowicz Get a Grip by Gino Wickman
Grown-Up Business by Shirley Mansfield Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo

10 minutes

  • Think about your personal network – everyone you know – where are the gaps?
  • What didn’t go to plan and why?
  • Read a chapter, then reflect on how it would impact your business
  • What’s niggling at you? Write it down or talk to someone who you can listen
  • What job(s) should you delegate to others?
  • Clear paper and rubbish off your desk and put everything in its place so you can find it
  • Book time in your diary to work on the business – try half a day a week
  • Have a look at your main competitor – what are they up to?

18 minutes

  • Is it time to find to some someone to do stuff for you? Start a search, make an appointment to talk to them about out-sourcing your tasks
  • Map out your numbers for 2017 – income, profit, cash etc….
  • What projects are you going to start, and finish?
  • What improvements are you going to make?
  • It’s time to clear your head of all the random thoughts buzzing around that mean you are forgetting things. Write one thought, idea, action on a small piece of paper. Now the pile of paper that can be sorted, prioritised and stored outside your head. Clear head = clearer thoughts.
  • Start filling in dates on your calendar. Start with your key dates, holidays (Yes, book them now – all of them), VAT payments, financial year end, board meetings, renewals, new product launches, key seasonal dates – in fact anything that’s important for your company
  • Watch a TED talk – here’s 5 good ones to start with

One hour

  • Look at your trade journals – who’s advertising to your customers – what are they offering?
  • Book at least 3 holidays in 2017 – block the dates in your diary now
  • Which customers should you make a point of talking to? Plan some visits to find out what you could do better. Spread them out over a few weeks and then book some time to review what you learnt.
  • That thing you’ve been meaning to look up: do it now
  • When you go out observe what happens at other businesses
  • Why not book a day go back to the shop floor in the January?

Half a day

Think about you

  • What do you need to learn, improve or up-skill? What do you want to learn?
  • How do you learn best; reading, self-study, training courses or events, whichever you prefer research them now.
  • When will you do the training?

Review your customers

  • What does your ideal customer look like? How many have you got and how do you find more?
  • Which customers should you be ‘moving-on’ because you don’t make any money?
  • Make a plan to find new ones and sack the unwanted customers.

If you haven’t read The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz then get this now. It explains how to do this and has lots of great examples of these exact scenarios.

What’s happening in the big wide world

Business is touched by so many different things that you don’t control. The Brexit and US Presidential votes are good examples. Christmas is a good time to ponder what might happen (or not) in the wider world. Think about changes, issues and trends in each of the following areas:

  • Environmental
  • Economic
  • Legal/political
  • Social
  • Technology

What are your competitors planning and what are your customers thinking?

Take a stroll

A long walk is great thinking time. As you begin your walk ask yourself a tricky question that you’ve been tackling, Say it out loud and forget it. Your sub-conscious will go to work on it whilst you’re walking. I’m sure you’ll have an answer or at least a clearer view of the problem when you get home.

A whole day

  • Do something completely different!
  • Don’t think about work at all. Turn off the phone, laptop and tablet; everything will be fine without it.
  • If you want to work how about setting out your top line non-financial business goals?

New year’s resolutions

Most of us make them; only to break them. An alternative could be…

  • Make one realistic resolution. Break it down into a series of smaller goals, it’ll help keep you motivated.
  • Try something for 30 days not the whole year. The 30-Day challenge is popular because it’s achievable; you do it for 30 days then stop. Many automatically carry on after the 30 days.
  • Make a list of 12 tasks that you’ll delegate, automate or eliminate from your to do list. Focus on one task per week. In 3 months, you’ll have lots of free time.


They’re too important to leave to the last minute; time to re-charge your batteries, clear you head, mull something over or just think.

How many and how long? That’s entirely up to you. Some find a week is enough, others need 2 weeks or longer. Long weekends can be good and some survive with the ‘odd day off’. For me the key is when you get back you already have the next one booked.

If you’ve reached Christmas feeling exhausted, worn out, over tired or ill; you’ll need more holidays (or breaks) next year.

Make your list of dates and places. Put the dates in the diary now, then get the laptop out for a bit of holiday research!

In a nutshell

  • Clear your head
  • Think about your business; solve a problem, make it better and move on
  • Decide what is important that you do that gets you closer to your goal. Now do it
  • Relax and enjoy!






Shirley Mansfield is a highly experienced business coach and Master Problem Solver. With over 25 years’ experience, she founded CoachSME in 2011 to work with business owners to maximise growth, and she is still trying to reduce the 14 handicap! Keep up to date by following me on Twitter @coachsme