By Mark Creedon
Three common mistakes business owners make at Christmas
Australia is a wonderful place to be at Christmas time, with the sun, surf, sand, and plenty of it.
It is also a pretty unique place from a business perspective.
From about Mid December to mid-January the country all but shuts down.
Of course, those in seasonal service industries and retail will definitely not be shutting down.
So I suppose business tends to fall into one of two categories, either it is in Christmas party and shut down or manic ramp up, super busy mode.
Your clients will therefore most likely fall into one of those two categories as well.
Herein lies mistake number one of the three I am going to share with you.
We get busy or start to shut down and we presume our prospects are in the same position so we stop talking to them in the way we have been all year.
We stop hunting new clients
I have had businesses I have worked with tell me that they stop hunting in December because their target market is either too busy or too quiet to be interested in being hunted.
The simple reality is this.
If you fill a need for a certain target market then that need continues regardless of the time of year.
If they are super hectic it is highly likely that the need they have will be exacerbated and if they are moving to shut down mode it is a time when they will most likely be reflecting on the year and thinking about the needs they have for the coming year.
The trick to hunting for new business is consistency and maintaining a top-of-mind strategy.
By that, I simply mean that if you are not staying in front of your prospects all year round then you will just have to work twice as hard in the new year to remind them of who you are and how you can help them.
Potentially all the hard hunting work you have done to let them know about you will be undone and you will be back at the start of the game.
It is a bit like landing on a snakes head in a game of snakes and ladders
What you want to be doing is constantly searching for the ladder to take their awareness of you to the next level.
Maintaining the hunt over Christmas will be timely either because they are slowing down and maybe finally able to consider how you can help them or because they are crazy busy and realise that the solution you have been trying to offer them is exactly what they will need in the year ahead.
Taking your finger off the pulse
The second mistake often made is to take your finger off the pulse with existing clients over Christmas.
For much the same reasons as above, many businesses simply stop their regular communication with clients over Christmas. I have often heard business owners say that their clients don’t want to be “bothered’ with information over Christmas or even worse they stop providing the same levels of service over Christmas. This is a value trap because your clients are looking for value from you no matter what time of year. So, if you are providing services, especially if it is on a retainer basis, you need to maintain the value proposition for your clients regardless of the time of year. As for slowing down (or worse still, stopping) contact with clients over Christmas it always reminds me of the ‘dead man’s switch’. It’s an awful name but it is a common function on devices such as trains. The whole concept is that the train driver needs to keep his or her finger on the button for the train to operate. If their finger comes off the switch then the train stops. It is designed to protect in the case of lack of consciousness on the part of the driver. If you are the driver of your business do you want your clients to think you have lost consciousness, even worse, do you want to see your finger slip off the button and your business grind to a halt. The lesson is to keep the contact up, keep your finger on the button and continue to add value to your existing clients across the Christmas break.
Failing to plan
Finally, the third mistake I often see is when businesses fail to plan for the next year.
If you keep in mind that cashflow will most likely follow your calendar then getting your calendar preloaded will save the slow start to the next year.
All too often I see businesses start thinking about next year’s calendar after the holidays.
By the time they have the calendar planned and loaded they are already in February.
That’s just crazy, they have missed out on a month of opportunity and they are spending valuable time planning and loading a calendar to chase the cashflow when it could have been done in the wind-down time leading up to Christmas.
Then they would have come back to a pre-loaded calendar ready to start earning money straight away in the new year.
That is where I encourage my clients to use The Rock, Pebble & Sand worksheets to map out their year to eliminate missed opportunities.
Take some time to consider these three common mistakes.
Are they part of the challenges you are facing in your business and if they are then now is the perfect time to take action?
Mark Creedon is the founder of Business Accelerator mastermind by Metropole and business coach to some of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs – helping them build a true business, not a job.
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