It is crunch time people: Thanksgiving is less than a week away and from then on out we're sliding quickly into every other winter holiday. No matter how hard you work or how much your business asks of you, nearly every entrepreneur will be taking at least a day or two off to celebrate with their family and friends or simply relax.
That said, I'm guessing that right about now you're more concerned with preparing for your Black Friday, Small Biz Saturday and Cyber Monday sales as well as trying to pencil in time in your head to decide what sides you're preparing for Turkey Day, and don't have room for much more in there at the moment. That's why I'm here to do some thinking for you...
The truth is, you still have to squeeze in a little bit more onto that holiday and vacation season to do list: You need to prepare your business for those precious moments when you take off - or at least prepare and manage the expectations everyone who relies on your website or business regularly. Here are some of our suggestions:
Create an Email Auto Response:
If you aren’t going to be around or answering emails on specific days and even if you are just going to be slower at answering than usual, you'll want to let people know. This can be done via an email auto responder letting them know what they can expect in terms of a response. This is essential to create not only for your customers but for press who may decide that December 23rd is the day that they ask you for that big feature interview you've been dreaming about. You don't want that to fall into the abyss! Let them know you're out. If you feel like it, you can even supply an email or phone number for "press emergencies".
Share Your Holiday Schedule Via an Email or Newsletter:
Depending on the type of business you own, this can be done via a mass email (we use MailChimp over here at Tin Shingle) or as individual emails to clients. Again, this is all about setting up and managing expectations. Let them know when you will be working and available and when you will be not. I love doing this via email as it's a solid and clear statement to not only your customers, but really yourself. You all now know what your schedule and availability is, and you can stick to it.
Bonus Newsletter Option: If you are feeling really savvy you can create newsletter in advance that can autosend while you're away. It's an option but not a requirement.
Pre-Plan and Schedule Social Media Posts:
The holidays are a great time to decompress and step away from our computers. Not only is this good for relaxation but it's also a great way to re-energize your creative side. That said I'm sure several of you are like me, and can't bear the thought of your Facebook or Twitter being "naked" in terms of new posts. No worries: pre-plan some posts now (one or two for each day, or however you usually post) and lock them in now. Sure, you can dip into your social feeds over a slice of pumpkin pie after dinner while everyone else is checking theirs as well, but by pre-planning your posts you're saving yourself from having to do the "heavy lifting" in your head, AKA the creating of strategic and savvy posts.
Predict Housekeeping Musts & Do Them in Advance:
If you really want to step away - and who doesn't - it's good to make a list of what normally gets done during the week or month at your business and plan on taking care of them in advance. This means paying bills (they don't take vacations), checking in on any appointments you have coming up, and making sure all your vendor relationships are on point. You do not want to get a call while on holiday to hear that your server is down, your store lights are out or sample shipments that were due to an editor never got there. Just make your to do list, power through it now, and lap up the freedom later!