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You need time off from your business at Christmas

Time off from your business at Christmas
Do you just need a lie in?

I know, when you run a business you’re never truly ‘off’.
Business related thoughts and ideas appear at the most random moments and if
you don’t write them down they’ll be gone forever. (Or is that just me?!) The
point is, that’s the reason you need time off. Random brilliant ideas rarely
appear when you’re sitting at your desk. They pop up on the school run or just
as you’re trying to go to sleep. There are, of course, plenty of reasons why
you need time off, especially at Christmas. Here are just a couple (plus some
ideas for helping you achieve it).

The life changing magic of taking time off

As reluctant as I am to use phrases like ‘out of the box
thinking’, that one is a useful shortcut. I embrace routine as a useful energy
saving tool. Routine means that you don’t waste brain space making decisions
about the fifty billion things that need to happen before you start work. The
only problem is that you can get stuck in the pattern and it takes a bit of effort
to pull out of it and look at your business with fresh eyes.

When you stop consciously thinking about work it somehow
gives new ideas room to drift in. You don’t even have to take a full scale
holiday for it to work.

Didn’t you used to have a life?

There’s no substitute for working hard if you want to
succeed in business, but that doesn’t mean working yourself into the ground and
never seeing your family. That applies all year round, not just at Christmas.

The benefit of taking a break at Christmas is that it allows
you to step off the world if you want to. Those days when no-one is working and
school’s closed mean you can do whatever feels good. Have a lie in (I know, I
have kids too), go on a day out or watch movies knowing that you don’t have to
be anywhere in particular. It’ll remind you why you started the business and
could even let your mind wander into some brilliant new ideas.

Taking time off – the practical bits

“But Kirsty”, I hear you cry “I can’t take a week off, what
about my customers?” If your customers know you’re a one person business and
begrudge you a holiday, you need better customers. If they’re contacting you on
Christmas Day expecting a response they need help. (Unless you offer a
Christmas Day emergency service, that is.)

There are a few business who genuinely need to be open over
Christmas. If yours isn’t one of them then you need to set some boundaries. Let
people know in advance when you’re closing for Christmas and when you’ll be
back. Put your out of office on – you can even make it funny if you want. Then

Actually taking a break

Now, the hard bit. Switching off. There’s a lot of
discussion about self-care and wellness and it’s easy to offer a supposedly
simple solution. Personally, I love a hot bath but I know that many others
don’t. Sometimes the only thing that hits the spot for me is a long walk, it
depends on my mood. A lot of us feel that we must be productive. Even when we
take time off we have this urge to do something worthwhile.

I can’t tell you how to stop wanting to do something useful.
When I get a spare hour I’ve started asking myself what I actually feel like
doing. Sometimes the answer is ‘no idea’. Other times it might be something
that doesn’t seem like traditional self-care, but whenever I go with it I end
up feeling more relaxed. Let me know if you try it too.

Further reading

I’ve taken to listening to audiobooks in the last few months
– there’s something rather comforting about being read to. My latest is ‘C’est
La Vie’ by Fabrice Midal, which talks about his approach to meditation. Here’s
the link
if you’d like to have a listen.

If you’d like to start the New Year by making your marketing
less stressful, sign up to my mailing list for lots of useful hints and tips to
make your life easier. You’ll receive a copy of my free guide ‘Stop hiding your
business!’ as a thank you.

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Is your marketing plan ready to go for the New Year?

Marketing plan

When you’re a small business owner the fact that you make your own marketing plan can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s always a good idea to give a new marketing plan a few months to bed in before you look back and assess whether it’s working. When you’re the one looking at the figures (you are looking at them, aren’t you?) it’s easy to tell what people are responding to and what they’re ignoring. Then you can change things quickly if you want to try something new.

The problem is, when you’re doing your own marketing as well as wearing every other hat in your business, you start to run out of time. Where does your marketing plan come on your list of priorities? If you’re reading this without a clear plan for your marketing in the New Year, here’s where to start. I know you’re probably busy right now but I promise that creating your marketing plan won’t take too long.

Do the groundwork

The first principle of marketing is knowing who your customer is. Who is most likely to buy from you and where will you find them? (If you need a bit more help here, read this). Focusing on your ideal customer helps you to decide which online platforms to post on and what offline marketing you can do.

Next, think about what products or services you want to promote. This can be seasonal but it isn’t always. I can write blogs all year round, but if you’re a florist there are likely to be key periods when people are thinking about wedding flowers. Think about the seasonal elements in your business and use those as a focus. Keeping your message consistent means it’s much more likely to sink in with your customers.

Choose your blog topics

I’m a big advocate of blogging when it comes to making a small business marketing plan. A blog helps you to talk to your customers about the things that are important to them and tell them how you can help. This isn’t the only benefit, there are loads – here are just a few of them.

You don’t need to write loads of blogs (I do, but that’s because it’s what I do). One a month is absolutely fine for most businesses. If you want an outline marketing plan with blog topics for the whole year that’s great. If not, choose three topics to take you through the first quarter. What’s your marketing focus and what questions do people ask about it? A good blog topic can be as simple as answering an FAQ or giving a brief introduction.

Build the rest of your marketing plan around it

One of the reasons that I love blogs is that you can use them to inspire the rest of your content for the month. After all, if you want to make sure that your message is consistent why not talk about the same thing in different ways? You might think that it’ll get monotonous but it won’t. For one thing you don’t have to use exactly the same language and you can vary the types of post you use. It’s also worth remembering that no-one will see absolutely everything. (Unless you have a stalker.)

To make it even easier to create your marketing plan you can come up with themes for each day (for example #MotivationMonday or #WisdomWednesday). There’s also no harm in throwing in something fun but off topic to get your audience talking.

Do you need some guidance on creating your New Year marketing plan? Email me: I’ve opened up a few 20 minute slots in my diary to support busy business owners with their end of year content creation and New Year planning. Let’s jump on a call and see what I can do to help you.

Further reading

If you’d like some ideas for ways to reuse and recycle your blog, this is for you.

For more help on coming up with topics, read this.

Or this perennial classic from Orbit Media.

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5 business Christmas gifts that will feed your entrepreneurial spirit

Business Christmas gift

Have you made a Christmas list? When you run a business,
Christmas gifts can start to shift towards practicality, or even become completely
intangible. For most of the small business owners I know, the list goes
something like this:

  1. More sleep.
  2. Even more sleep.
  3. Snacks.
  4. Financial security.
  5. Wine.

Does that look familiar? Now obviously that list is only
useful if you’re happy to drown in snacks and wine. Actually, now I write it
down that doesn’t sound too bad. But what if your loved ones would like to get
you something that will really help your business? I promise that business Christmas
gifts don’t have to be boring. So, if you’re being asked for suggestions (or if
you’re reading this looking for ideas for the business owner in your life),
here are my top 5 ideas.

1. A Kindle

I resisted getting one of these
for years, mainly because I love actual books. Then when my husband suggested a
Kindle for my birthday I remembered how many times I’ve run out of books on
holiday and jumped at the chance. In business there is always something new to
learn and loads of business books to teach you virtually anything. An e-reader
is the perfect business Christmas gift because you can take it anywhere and
learn on the go.

2. Stationery

Stationery addiction is real and
occasionally necessary. I get through notebooks and pens at a ridiculous rate
so tend to shop at the budget end of the market. (Or go to expos and get them
for free.) However, one of my favourite gifts was the beautiful (boxed) pen and
pencil set that sits on my desk and gets used every day. It’s a small thing
that makes life better. You could opt for lovely pens or a classic Moleskine
notebook. You can even get fab digital notebooks if you prefer.

3. Some business support

No-one can buy time, but if you’re
struggling you can buy help.  If you want
to work with a particular VA/graphic designer/writer but can’t afford it, you
can drop some heavy hints. Like sharing this post on Facebook and say ‘if
anyone wants to buy me a Christmas present, Kirsty does gift vouchers for her
blogging packages [or other service of your choice]’.

It might sound like a bit of an
odd present, but by buying you help for Christmas they’ll get to spend stress
free time with you, so everyone wins.

4. Useful gadgets

When it comes to gadgets, the
world is your lobster. They’re often the easiest business Christmas gifts to
buy because they’re more in the realm of traditional presents. If you’re
thinking of buying tech for a business owner, think about what they’ll actually
use. Maybe they need a portable phone charger because their phone is always
running out of juice. Perhaps a coffee maker will help them get going in the
morning. If they work in cafes or a co-working space a pair of noise cancelling
headphones could be just the ticket.

5. Time off

I started my business because I wanted
to work flexibly around my children. In practice this often means shoehorning
everything in, or being unable to switch off at night because my brain is always
‘on’. Some business owners subscribe to the hustle culture where you don’t take
any time off until you’ve ‘made it’. To me, that’s a recipe for burnout. If you
feel as if you haven’t had a proper conversation with your partner recently, or
if your interactions with your kids consist of homework and shouting, ask for a
present that helps you to change that.  A
voucher for a meal, a family ticket for a day out or even a couple of hours
free babysitting could all help.

What do you want to ask for this Christmas? Leave a comment and let me (or your family) know!

Further reading

For more specific ideas, have a look at this post from B Plans

Or, to get your 2020 marketing off to a flying start, sign up to my mailing list and receive your free guide to getting your business seen online.