by Chris Myers
The holidays can be a stressful time for entrepreneurs. In addition to all of the family gatherings, shopping, and travel, business owners have to contend with distracted clients, absent employees, and year-end admin.
Sure, there is no escaping the hustle and bustle, but that’s not always a bad thing for business. I’ve found that if you do things right, this time of year can actually be a productive time for reflection and renewal.
Find the time to reflect on the past year
Unless you’re a retailer, the holidays are a pretty slow time of the year, at least from a business perspective. People’s minds are elsewhere, and it’s difficult to get much done. Instead of trying to fight against the tide, take some time to reflect on what you’ve done right and where you might have fallen short over the past year.
A strong sense of self-awareness is probably the most valuable trait that any entrepreneur can foster. As with any skill, it takes time and effort to develop. I recommend revisiting your plans from the start of the year and meditating a bit on how well they held up. Advise your team members to do the same.
This isn’t just about the performance of the business; it’s about the performance of your organization as a living, breathing entity. Taking time to explore and evaluate the holistic health of your business pays dividends and can help you start the new year strong.
At BodeTree, I try to reflect on how my team and product have evolved over the year. For the team, I always schedule a year-in-review meeting where we touch on our successes, failures, and everything in between. This helps ensure that the team is on the same page and understands how everything they do ties together.
I also make a point to set up private lunches with as many of my team members as possible. I’ve found that these are great opportunities to make sure that the company is doing everything it can to help team members reach their professional goals.
When it comes to the product, I always do a before/after comparison of design and feature changes. When you move as rapidly as we do, it’s easy to forget just how much has been done on the development front in a short period.
Recognize and reward your team
It seems strange to me, but I’ve found that many business owners hate to reward their team members for a job well done. I understand that not everyone can afford to pay big bonuses every year, but bonuses aren’t always necessary.
There are plenty of other ways to reward great performance and recognize the efforts of those who choose to work with you. If you can’t afford to boost compensation, title upgrades or even a thoughtful recognition can go a long way.
We throw a holiday party every year, and not the traditional kind that is exceedingly lame and awkward. And while I’m fortunate that my team genuinely gets along, just a bit of creativity in the planning department goes a long way.
Even if you don’t have a particularly close-knit team, invest some time and money into celebrating the year. A genuine effort will pay dividends when it comes to setting the tone for the next year.
Stop and give thanks
Entrepreneurship isn’t a solo journey. It takes partners, catalysts, and support networks. This time of year, it’s so important to recognize the people that have made the journey possible.
Say thank you to your clients. And no, I don’t mean send them a real nice meat assortment from Hickory Farms. Your clients are the people that make everything possible, so find a genuine way to show them you are grateful.
Next, say thank you to your team. Again, this could take the form of additional compensation, but it doesn’t always have to be the case. At BodeTree, we have a longstanding tradition of trying to one-up each other with prank gifts.
It’s a fun and lighthearted way to build relationships and let people know that you care. Last year, my contribution was a very classy hand-drawn sketch of me hanging out with Velociraptors (long story…), which now holds a place of honor in our office. As for this year? Well, the world is not yet ready for that reveal.
Finally, be sure to go out of your way to show your partners, spouses, and family members your appreciation for their support over the past year. Entrepreneurs are a tough lot to put up with, and those around you deserve your thanks.
Don’t let the stress of the season prevent you from taking the time to reflect, reward, and give thanks. If you do these simple things, you’ll find yourself and your team energized and ready to take on the new year.