Plan to avoid festive heartache

Terry Sage of Trades Coaching New Zealand

Terry Sage of Trades Coaching New Zealand says all it takes is a little planning to overcome the traditional festive cashflow problems.

There have been many occasions over the years where I have found myself high and dry and standing alone when it comes to campaigning and demonstrating a cause.

As sad as that may sound, I am only a product of the 1960s and not one of the historical beings. So when it comes to radical campaigns I guess mine’s a wee bit on the small side, but if I win it’s guaranteed to change the world.

So what’s my fearsome, world-changing, one-man, campaign? “Kick Christmas into December”.

Who’s with me? Who hates Christmas trees on sale in September? Or Christmas decorations in shop windows before fireworks have been lit?

You can buy a Halloween costume or a sexy Santa as they hang on the same rack in the big red shed. Come on, every month has a reason or a holiday attached — who gave Christmas the go ahead to take over 33% of the year?

Then comes January — phew, peace and quiet at last, let’s enjoy the holiday. Oh no, not a chance. We still get Christmas thrown at us — “sign up now for next year’s Christmas hamper, only $23.99 a month”. Really! Come on just let me enjoy my well-earned break.

Everyone in the construction fraternity now thinks Ebenezer Scrooge has been reincarnated in the shape of a half decent business coach from Tutukaka.

Happily, that is not the case — both the Scrooge bit and the half decent. I love Christmas and look forward to it for 10½ months of the year, but only let my enthusiasm out in public on December the 1st.

Will my campaign change the world? Sadly, I don’t hold out much hope. The money makers of the world, the corporate giants and those million shop owners that rely on Christmas to survive the rest of the year may, collectively, have slightly more clout than me.

It’s all very well waxing lyrical and getting high and mighty about a great cause — and a cause that I will fight for until they ban Christmas or it becomes a 365-day holiday.

But reality says that as a business owner we do have to start thinking about the Christmas period as early as October, sometimes even earlier if you have products and materials that have a long lead-in time.

If you don’t plan then you may well find yourself with no staff, as they all want time off, no cash as all the staff want theirs, no materials, no work to come back to after the holidays and, possibly, a very grumpy family when you have to work right through to meet some deadlines. The list can be endless, and all because of not enough forward thinking.

The biggest complaint I get from business owners is cashflow before, during and especially afterwards when it comes to the holiday season.

Before, because they are paying out for materials or stock to see them through and paying overtime to get jobs finished. During, because they pay out so much holiday leave and they need money themselves. And after, because there’s no income when there is no work, plus there might not be much work to come back to and then the 20th of the month bills are due.

That’s an awful lot to have to deal with all in the space of six to eight weeks. It can take up to four months for some businesses to recover to a positive cash flow after a slow holiday period.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Really, all it takes is a little forward planning. Use September, October and November to plan, and then start enjoying December for what it should be — a time of joy and happiness, and Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve.

I will see you in the queues on December 24th — not because that’s the only time you have left to shop but because you want to.