The holidays can be a hectic time of year for many businesses, even those that are home-based.  Almost every industry feeds into retail in one way or another, so whether you are managing a blog (or several), writing content for others, doing graphic design, or even selling goods yourself, you are bound to experience a big push in the last few weeks leading up to the turning of the new year.  And you don’t want to be caught unawares with no plan in place to handle the extra workload, especially at a time when you’d rather be cutting back and focusing on your family.  You want to be able to take advantage of additional business (since January and February tend to slow down significantly) while still enjoying the holiday season.  For this reason, a little preemptive planning can go a long way towards ensuring that your business continues to thrive throughout the final months of the year without putting you in an early grave.

For starters, you may not have a good gauge of the type of boost you’ll experience over the holidays if you’ve never weathered the season before (or if your business has grown considerably over the course of the year).  So forecasting your sales expectations can be a bit like taking a shot in the dark.  This is when it pays to participate in forums.  You can ask other professionals with similar businesses what their past experience has been and at least use that as a starting point to determine the potential percentage of increase in demand.  You can also feel out your clients to see if they have any projects in the works that they will require your services for so you can pencil them in on the schedule.

And of course, if you have an online store of some sort, you will certainly want to stock up on popular items before Black Friday and Cyber Monday hit (and consider if you want to offer any type of discount to push certain items that you have in abundance).  Don’t forget to consider shipping, as well.  You’ll certainly want to set a cut-off date to ensure that people receive items before the holidays (or post a disclaimer).  And to save yourself some time, find out if you can get a daily or weekly pick up from UPS or FedEx at your house so that you don’t have to wait in line to ship orders.

If you start to see that you’re going to be seriously overloaded, you may want to think about hiring on some subcontractors to help you out for a few weeks.  If the money is coming in, you can use this extra expense as a way to keep your clients happy and hopefully coming back for more after the New Year.  Many people look for seasonal work around the holidays to give them a little extra cash for gifts so you can help someone else even as they help you.

In short, a little planning can go a long way towards ensuring that everyone is happy when the holidays finally arrive.  You can meet the needs of your clients and your family, get the help you need to ensure your business thrives, and make some extra dough at a time when you probably need it the most.  So start scheduling, get organized, and take the holidays by the horns!

Jennifer Kardish writes for Help Desk where you can find all the best in help desk software solutions on the market today.

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