Are you looking forward to Christmas?
The team at McAlister & Co certainly hope so. It should be a time of year for relaxing and enjoying some downtime, dinner and drinks with all your favourite friends and family. Unfortunately, for a large number of business owners, work commitments and concerns are too all-encompassing, and it can be tough to let go of these over the festive period.
Research from just three years ago by Ultimate Finance found that, despite opposing advice for businesses during Christmas, a quarter of small business owners in the UK - some 24% - would miss Christmas Day festivities due to work commitments.
There are almost 5.5 million SMEs in Britain, with them accounting for over 99% of all businesses here in this country – that is sadly a lot of people suffering due to business worries and workload.
Additionally, research from Zurich insurance found that nearly half (49%) of business decision makers have worked on Christmas Day – and one in five (18%) have actually gone into work.
What’s more, a heart-breaking one in ten (9%) have missed their children’s nativity play due to work pressures.
Fast-forward to the present day, and the story remains the same
Due to the current economic climate, over a third of SMEs are expecting their takings to be down over Christmas and New Year. Additionally, according to the Business Distress Index, 42,000 SMEs have been pushed into significant financial distress this year. For many, this has meant making significant cuts and job losses.
As a result, many business owners will be looking to work on Christmas Day in the hopes of preparing for an uptake in the new year, and will be seeking specific advice for businesses during Christmas and the New Year - especially if they feel they need to fill the gap of employees they let go.
What's more, with so many companies now working from home (around 24% in total), it’ll be much more difficult for these business owners to break away from the office mindset, all too easy for them to continue working over the Christmas period.
Here’s what business experts have to say about the issue:
Business psychologist Robert Stewart was asked about this surprising festive issue:
“Taking time out to spend with friends and family is an important part of life," said Business Psychologist Robert Stewart. "It can be restorative and help with mental wellbeing.
“I find that business leaders often struggle to strike this work/life balance, sometimes feeling guilty about ‘downtime’ despite very much wanting to spend time with loved ones.
“Not getting that time off can be extremely detrimental, and I welcome this research which shows the true extent of the problem which we can work together as a single business community to tackle.”
Steve Noble, the Chief Operating Officer over at Ultimate Finance, also said the following about the staggering amount of SME owners that will be sacrificing their Christmas for their business:
“Christmas is an important time of year for many reasons, not least that it is one of the few times when there is potential for the majority of people in Britain to relax with family and friends. This is particularly important for SMEs who often work extremely long and lonely hours.
“Our research shows that many small business owners are not getting this opportunity. Instead, the stresses and strains of running a company are constant. This never-ending work pattern can put strains on personal relationships, further isolating those who are not finding the time to take off. It is important that the issue of pressure on SMEs is addressed as a serious problem.”
With that in mind, here’s our advice for businesses during Christmas 2020:
1. Start planning well in advance
The earlier you plan for the festive period, the greater your chances will be of being able to enjoy a break over the holiday period. As part of this, set achievable goals for yourself and your employees to work towards.
2. Invest time into your marketing strategy
With a well-planned and executed marketing strategy, you’ll be more likely to reach your ideal audience and build the bridges to making those all-important sales.
3. Establish your Christmas business hours – and stick to them
Once you’ve decided what these are, ensure that your customers are made aware by sharing them through pinned posts on social media accounts, email newsletters and with a notice on your website and email signature.
4. Ask for help when you need it
At McAlister & Co, we have worked with several small businesses over the years whose owners have worked over the festive period in order to make ends meet.
If this sounds familiar to you, we’d be more than happy to offer you advice during a free, one-hour consultation. If your company has a viable future and are prepared to fight for your business’ survival, you'll be surprised by the options you’ll have available to you!
Simply register for your free consultation with us below and we’ll be in touch.
In the meantime, from the whole of the team here at McAlister & Co, we wish you a wonderful festive season and a prosperous new year!