The holiday season is here. You’ve invested countless hours into planning and readying your business, and now it’s time to put it all in action.
It’s go time.
There’s no doubt about it—the holiday rush is an anxiety-inducing time for many small business owners. Regardless of how hard you’ve worked to get ready, this season brings stress that can be challenging to cope with.
When all of the preparation is behind you, how can you maintain your composure when the customers actually rush in? Here are a few tips to keep your stress in check.
1. Do one last double-check of your processes.
With the holidays knocking on your door, it’s probably a little late to take action on things like hiring more seasonal employees, ordering more supplies, or implementing a new tool or piece of software.
However, you do have time to run through a mental checklist of the things you already have prepared.
Do you have a system in place to handle returns and refunds? Check.
Are your employees trained on how to address customer complaints? Check.
Doing this will help you identify any last-minute issues you have time to address. Plus, it will remind you of all of the work you’ve already invested into getting ready. Confirming you have things in order serves as a nice confidence boost as you head into the holiday season.
2. Give yourself some breaks.
When your schedule is packed, your intuition tells you to just keep grinding—that the only way to get through the chaos is to keep your head down and push forward.
As you brace yourself for the extended hours and increased work of the holiday season it’s important to remember, its a marathon not a sprint.
You deserve (and actually need) some time to recharge and reset your focus. Whether it’s a brief break for a meal or a quick recess to spend some time with your family, giving yourself that breathing room will work wonders for your stress levels.
“One of the things I do is take a lunch break,” says Darlene Tenes, owner of CasaQ, which makes glass Christmas ornaments and other gift items. As you can imagine, the months leading into the holidays are her busiest time.
“For years as an entrepreneur, most days I never even had time to eat or I just ate quickly at my desk,” she continues, “Now I schedule the time like a business appointment. I step away from my desk to eat, rest my brain, and breathe.”
3. Get up and get moving.
It’s tempting to stay chained to your shop or computer to deal with the influx of holiday business, but it’s important that you prioritize some physical activity—even just a little bit each day can help.
Getting your blood pumping is obviously good for your body, but it does your mind some good as well.
According to research from Princeton University, “Physical activity reorganizes the brain so that its response to stress is reduced and anxiety is less likely to interfere with normal brain function.”
4. Lean on your support network.
When things get hectic for your business, personal tasks and commitments fall by the wayside. This is why you need to be upfront with your loved ones and enlist help wherever you need it.
Will you be working longer hours and need your spouse or partner’s help to pick up some of the slack around the house? Will you have to forego social outings in favor of keeping your business running? Do you need some extra hands in the form of a grocery delivery service or a house cleaner?
Be upfront about your plans and your needs during this busy time. Not only will you find help where you need it, but it will also reduce the added stress of those guilty feelings when prioritizing your business above everything else for the time being.
5. Trust the work you’ve already done.
This time of year is stressful enough—you don’t need to be creating your own problems and making even more work for yourself by obsessing and micromanaging.
“When the onslaught of customers start coming, this is the time to trust the process,” explains Kyle Baptist, Founder and CEO of Macaroni’s Beach Outfitters in Massachusetts, whose busiest season is actually the summer months.
“The time and effort you put in leading up to the holiday season is what makes the actual season less stressful. You will drive yourself crazy if you are running around making sure employees are selling properly and customers are finding everything perfectly,” he continues, “If you are doing that mid holiday rush, it’s too late anyway!”
Like most small business owners, less stress is probably at the very top of your wishlist for Santa. While the holiday season will always inspire some anxiety, use these five tips to keep your cool when things get busy.