How Small Business Owners Can Fill Up their "Lost Week"
Every year, there is a week that sees business across the country take a sharp dip. Known as the lost week, the days between Christmas and New Years see many take off for vacation, spending time with family or spending the week simply relaxing. The lost week refers to a loss in productivity, but perhaps that moniker is ill deserved, as this time of relative business limbo offers some distinct advantages for small business owners who still have their goals on their minds. Trying to hit sales goals is out, unless you are in the retail business, in which case you may find that there is more, rather than less opportunity to attract new customers who are on vacation or looking for post holiday deals. In the absence of working on new sales volume, the lost week offers small business owners a relatively rare and powerful opportunity.
The lost week is your time to recenter and refine your goals. Consider this week as a pit stop for your business. Most days of the year, you are circling the track at full speed, marketing, managing employees, and taking on any number of other projects as they come. You don’t have enough time to break away and look at what you’ve already accomplished and think about how you can build on that success. A week of dead business means that you now have that time to calibrate. In order for small business owners to really loan themselves a boost coming out of this week, here are a few ways that you can refocus in a week long program.
Take a day off. Just because you aren’t taking the entire week off like some other business owners, you should still take a day to breathe. Why? Because clearing your mind is the first step towards reevaluating your performance, thinking about your processes in a fresh way and making observations about your business that you can later use in order to grow. A single day where you don’t think about everything on your plate can do wonders for stress as well. Spend this day with your loved ones, or curled up with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa, whatever will most allow you to relax and reinvigorate before you start planning your next moves.
Take a day to look at what was working for you last year. Did you have days where it felt like your whole business was “on” and really working well? Look at what you did and reverse engineer what the extra something was. It could be that there were external events that affected your business volume. If that was the case, what were those events and why did they help you? How can you go about re-creating the conditions of those days through your marketing and PR? Also, celebrate your successes. If you’ve done something right, you deserve to feel proud.
Take a day to identify negative aspects of your business. Your relaxed, you understand where your strengths lie, now be honest with yourself. What’s not working? Look at the ROI of your projects, and evaluate the performance of your employees. Also think about your managerial style, and if problems have arisen due to communication issues. What is the real root of your business’s issues? Is it a single bad element, or is there a problem with your company culture? Think on it, and write down what you come up with.
Take a day to set some goals. At this point, you should have a pretty good understanding of where your business is currently. Now you should start redrawing the road map of where it is that you want it to go. Create goals that are challenging, yet attainable. The closer you come to accomplishing them, the better it will feel and the more motivated you will be to finally taste the accomplishment of passing the milestones you have set. Set both short term and long term goals, as short term goals will keep you focused in the pursuit of your larger goals.
Take a day to send a thank you to your employees. Nothing raises morale on a team more than being told that you are appreciated in a sincere way. Think of something nice to say about the employees who allow your business to exist, and then thank them for what they bring to your team. Sit down and write some thank you emails. If your company is too large to write a personal note to each of your workers, then simply sending out a holiday card and then thanking your team leaders personally will suffice. You will be glad that you took the time to acknowledge the valuable talent on your team.
Photo Credit to Kate Ter Haar on Flickr