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SME checklist – 11 things you need to do in December 2015

How can SMEs ride the Christmas wave and prepare for January? We offer topical, timely and practical actions for the month of December.

Sometimes, it feels like the world is against you in December. Between demanding customers, lethargic Christmas temps and Gordon Ramsey meltdowns, you can’t help but wish yourself away to January.

Yet, when a quiet moment arrives, worries about earnings can creep in. Instead of throwing in the towel and breaking for the festive season early, modest preparations can lay the ground for a productive January:

  1. The art of negotiation

If you’re a retailer, you may have already launched your New Year sale, but just remember that your suppliers might have had the same idea. Give them a call and see what a bit of magic haggling over your best sellers can achieve. Timely negotiation throughout 2016 will be invaluable if you’re looking to grow this year, but if you’re not confident, this is a time to grow your skills too. The Impact Factory is hosting an Influence Skills course on 18 January, which amongst other things, discusses how to effectively use pressure to achieve what you want.

  1. The Marshmallow challenge

If you want to know what really made your customers happy in December, there’s only one group of people who know the full story – the team on the floor. If they’re suffering from a serious December hangover, approaching them for insights might be a hopeless task, but Designer and Fellow at Autodesk (the makers of design software for engineers, filmmakers, designers), Tom Wujec advises that getting teams to think innovatively can be as simple as providing an off the wall, fun activity to get the creative juices flowing.

The marshmallow challenge, as an example, challenged designers to compete against one another to build the tallest freestanding structure using 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. Listen to his TED talk and think about what your industry’s marshmallow could be.

  1. Sign off the temps and thank the recruiters

Some were good, some were bad and some you’ll want to keep, but stay strong and let go of all temporary staff to avoid unnecessary expenditure. They can always come back next year.

  1.  Nurture your prospects

Creating a buzz about your business is top of the agenda in January, so look to you mailing list for inspiration. The influx of visitors to your restaurant or shop (and if you’re in the right location) your hotel and B&B has increased your database of prospects, as well as your bottom line over Christmas. Reach out and tell them about you and your business, and give them an offer or discount for the Spring to get return custom. Giving a little back to the customers who took the time to spend money with you will yield great rewards. Read MailChimp’s Guide for Small Business to create beautiful emails and reach out to your customers in a way they will love.

  1. Nurture your professional network

Creating valuable contacts and meetings in December is essential for growing your business the year ahead. But there’s nothing more deflating than a time-wasting, expensive event with dead-end conversations. How can you tell if the local business coffee morning is the right one for you? There are indicators of the potential value of an event for you, such as an impressive guest list, plus a plethora of great speakers and mentors. Ultimately, the value lies in the possibility to actually learn something and there’s an opportunity to socialise with people who could be useful to your business sign up. Check out the Family Business United conference in March, or Santander’s Sharing the Secrets of Startup Success as good starting points.

  1. Look at your books

What products and services did well in 2015? Whether it’s 15% off a valet with every service, or even cranking the heating in the warehouse down by a degree (no-one noticed!), look at where those savings were truly made and learn from them. It’s time consuming, but in December you should take time to brood over the numbers and get reacquainted with the calculator and make savings for 2016, making room for business growth.

  1. Compare business energy prices

Winter, when plummeting temperatures mean skyrocketing business energy bills, is usually the time when finding cheap business energy becomes a priority. Rising business energy tariffs are a common misconception; a glut of gas from fracking and exports means that business gas rates are relatively low, while some business electricity suppliers have reacted to criticism by decreasing rates. However, these can both change fast so you would be well advised to give us a call on 0330 0100 251 (or request a call back using our form) now to start saving. Our dedicated pages have lots more information about business gas and business electricity.


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