As a creative product business owner, the run-up to Christmas can be stressful. There’s so much to do, plan, consider, and manage and it’s all too easy to become overwhelmed and lose focus during this important selling period.
In episode 16 of The Resilient Retail Game Plan, I want to focus on mindset and give you my best advice on how to come out on the other side of the holidays with a successful sales season and your sanity.
We’ll look at how everything ultimately comes down to prioritizing and time management – from asking for help and getting adequate rest to creating a ‘To Don’t’ list and putting RGAs (Revenue-Generating Activities) and ‘Brown Bananas’ at the forefront of your Xmas selling strategy. With the Coronavirus pandemic and state of the economy casting so much uncertainty over this key part of the year for retail businesses, I also go over the importance of looking after ourselves through acts of self-care and how we can support each other by looking to our communities both inside and out of the business world.
No time to listen? Read the episode in this blog post below!
How to keep on top of everything in the run up to Christmas? The busiest quarter for the retail industry and yet very challenging for all of us especially those in England at the start of a 4 week lockdown.
We are obviously in mid November and heading straight towards Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and of course, the Christmas selling season. The perfect time for me to share with you a few tips for you on how you can help to stay focused, sane and to make it through this very busy season in one piece!
The ‘to don’t’ list!
This is not the time of year to be doing anything other than selling to or servicing your customers – anything else – park it until January.
January is traditionally the quietest month in retail. You will have time to catch up on your projects. If you’ve been thinking that you really need to start on Pinterest, or you need to check out a different email marketing system or anything else like that – pop those on your to don’t list and wait until January. Focus on your seasonal stock. Remember me talking about brown bananas? products that are not going to be attractive to customers after certain date, whether that is dated products or Christmas related products or winter themed products. Think about those products in terms of pushing them, promoting them and getting those sold.
That really has to be your focus. Everything else goes on the ‘to don’t list’ – have a little notebook so you can keep writing things down as they crop up in your mind.
Staying focused on your must do list will help you feel less stressed.
Ask for help
Take a moment to think about everything that you have to do in your business. Is there anything that you could get somebody to help you with? Could you ask a virtual assistant, for example, for a few hours in the next few weeks help you with your customer emails? Can you ask someone to help you with your social media scheduling? If you’re getting to the point where you feel like you’re not going to be able to fulfil orders, or you’re just simply going to burn out – think about what help you can bring in. Ideally, virtually if you can’t hand it off to somebody in person.
Asking for help is really crucial, whether it’s practical assistance but also just asking for help and encouragement. This is the time to rely on your communities. I know that in the Resilient Retail Club this is an important aspect that people really enjoy and value about the club. There’s a community of encouragement, advice and ideas waiting. You can ask questions and share concerns or worries. So if you’ve got a community like that, that you can lean on right now, then don’t forget to lean on them. This is the time where you really need other people’s support and cheerleading to help you get through.
Have a breather
I was reading an interview with Mo Farah, and he was talking about how he has two teams – he has one team that takes care of his training and one team who focuses on his rest. Ensuring he is rested and replenished, ready to go – ready for training.
Your ability to rest and take a break is just as important as your ability to work. And you’ve got to think about any way that you can pace yourself. What can you do to put breaks into your day? What can you do to put breaks into your week? Yes, it’s busy right now but are there small pockets of time that you can take where you literally can take a break? Clear your mind? Are there things like meditation or yoga that can help you get a bit of time where your brain has some downtime.
We burn out if we don’t take rest time because we get so exhausted. If we’re exhausted and overtired, we’re not as effective or productive. There’s lots and lots of studies that show that taking regular breaks, having adequate rest is really beneficial to our productivity. I know as you read this you’re juggling life – possibly homeschooling whilst running your businesses, the run up to Christmas, keeping on top of your own personal responsibilities, whatever they may be – you’re probably thinking, that sounds great but like an impossible dream. If you can just accept that it’s important for you to get rest, then that can be really helpful in helping you be focused on what you need to get through the next few weeks.
Make a note
Have a notebook. Write down ideas (that you’re going to park until January) but also take a moment to keep a note of what’s actually happening for you. So as you go through this busy time, it will help you actually clarify some of your thoughts about your business, what’s going really well what’s not working so well for you. It’s this very busy time of year often clarifies for you where things are not going as you’d want them to – maybe it’s a partner organisation, for example, like your fulfilment centre that are not performing the way that you want. Or maybe you’ve just got to the point where you realise you absolutely can’t do another post office run, whatever it is capture those thoughts, so that when you do a review in January and look back on how the season went, you’ve got all those thoughts captured in your notebook.
It also means that you can clear your mind which will help you to stay focused on your key tasks, the simpler you can keep it the better. So don’t lose those thoughts and those ideas that are floating around, write them down, but don’t let them clutter up your day to day life.
Sometimes I think with our businesses, when we are in a busy time and we’re doing the same things over and over again, it shows us is it something that we enjoy? Are we now ready finally to outsource things? If you want to grow your business any bigger, then you will need to hand these tasks off. And don’t forget, if you are somebody who is on a growth path whose business has grown a lot this year, this could well be your busiest Black Friday and or selling season.
So think about how it feels? Are there bottlenecks in your business? Is it showing you areas that you can work on to improve the efficiency of your business into 2021? And don’t forget, if you are growing, then eventually these kind of high levels of sales that you’re experiencing during festive times these are going to become your normal monthly sales.
So what does that mean? Do you need to have premises? Do you need to bring more people in? What does it mean for your business when you’re this busy? And how much more can you grow? These are all really really useful things for you to think about as a business owner and really useful for you to capture this time. Keep a notebook write it down. When it comes to January you’ll be really glad that you did.
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