♩♫ It’s the most horrible time of the year.
With the vendors all calling
And everyone telling you how to run your career
It’s the most horrible time of the year! ♬ ♩
It’s the suck-suckiest season of all
With bank accounts dwindling and investments shrinking ♬
When creditors come to call
♪ ♫ It’s the suck-suckiest season of all!
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You get the picture. The allure of entrepreneurship faded long ago. The intrepid frontier spirit that once drove you to jump out of bed and tackle the day has you yearning for a steady paycheck and a pension. Nothing highlights the struggle of owning your own business more than the holiday season.
It’s the time of year when everyone needs to get paid. Accounts need to be closed out, inventory has to move, balances need to be flush. If you’re in retail, December is like an hourglass running out of sand. Every second, every grain of sand counts because whatever stock is left over is going to be 50% off in January. For those in other industries, it’s the month where simply no one is paying attention or making decisions. “Let’s get together in January,” is the most familiar and irritating refrain a small business owner hears when he or she is trying to get things done.
Then there’s the fact that you’re more than just a business owner. Your employees might only see you as such, but there are people at home counting the seconds until they can unwrap gifts for the holidays; gifts that would otherwise be paid for by the money the person who wants to “get together in January.”
It’s the most horrible time of the year.
Most small business owners who can relate to these sentiments are battle tested. Ultimately, the holidays wind up being magical and provide a much-needed break from the rigors of running a business. January will be there whether you stress over it or not and you’ll be rested and ready to tackle whatever comes your way.
At Original Funding, we’re all too familiar with these feelings. We’re a small business in the business of helping small businesses. Believe us… we get you. So from our small business to yours, here are a few words of wisdom to consider before the year closes out.
- Know your numbers. Don’t wait until January to examine the health of your business. By now you have enough information to determine how well you did or didn’t do this year. Identify your best sources of revenue, your biggest clients or best-selling items and make a plan to focus more on those income drivers next year.
- Consolidate business loans. If you have credit card debt, have drawn down on a line of credit or taken out a small business loan (perhaps all of the above) figure out the total amount you owe and look to consolidate your debt. With so many lenders looking to make deals before the end of the year, you might be surprised by what you can accomplish. Your goal should be to lower your monthly debt payments and extend the term of your obligations. Believe us, you’ll breathe easier over the holidays knowing you have this part of your life under control.
- Personally thank your biggest customers. Hand-written notes are a lost art in today’s electronic world. Head to the local pharmacy, pick up some “Thank You” cards and personally write a heartfelt note to your biggest customers or most important suppliers. This simple step reminds them that you’re a human being, not an account number or a personified invoice. (If your handwriting stinks, pick up the phone.)
- Write a business plan for next year. Sounds time-consuming and mundane but you’ll likely surprise yourself by going through this exercise. Often times business owners are so busy doing business they forget to look at their own business with fresh eyes. One useful exercise is to examine your business as though you were going to purchase it. What would you cut out? Who would you keep? Who would you add? Would you stop doing something so you could focus on something else? What is it that makes you special enough for someone else to buy you out? These questions are more difficult to answer than it may seem, but honest answers will tell you a great deal about your own company.
- Leave it at the office. When it’s time to go home and celebrate with your family, shut the lights, lock the door and leave your briefcase at work. It’s all going to be there when you return.