The Wednesday before Thanksgiving I had an owner of a small business call me about a project he wanted done. Though an immediate response was provided to them, the real follow-up didn’t take place until the Monday after Thanksgiving. The business owner’s thought Monday was, “It’s been six days since I contacted you!”
Let’s start from there to talk about the reality of getting things done during the holiday season.
The 20-Day End Of Year Calendar
Every year I see handfuls of business owners try to initiate a new project in the month preceding the holiday season. The problem is that the month before the holidays is one of the more difficult times to initiate a project, especially one that depends on external service professions.
The reasons for this are plentiful, but the two primary ones are 1) there are fewer working days and 2) services professionals generally run pre-booked schedules during this time period.
The result can sometimes be chaos and almost always results in a stressed or failed effort on behalf of the business owner.
Starting with Thanksgiving week, you really have 20 days to get things done before the next year begins. This can vary depending on how various days fall on the calendar but 20 days is a safe number.
If you have internal projects on the books that are getting wrapped up during this time frame, you are fairly safe—but you still have no room for procrastination.
The business owners who get in trouble are the ones who think they are going to find resources, negotiate contracts, and actually be productive during that time period. Where business owners really find themselves in a bind is when they trick themselves into thinking their project is only a couple of tasks that they think they can just sneak through to their vendors.
This past week I spoke with a doctor who is launching a new business that falls outside of his medical practice. In his mind, he was just a website and marketing email newsletter away from doing this since he was using existing office space and infrastructure. Then we got down to the reality of the real task list and the resources required to pull this off before Christmas. The list looked somewhat like:
- Attorney Tasks
- Partnership agreement
- Subcontractor agreements
- New entity formation and filing
- General business and liability consulting
- CPA/Bookkeeper Tasks
- Setup new books (software)
- File entity information and schedule quarterlies
- Synchronize with attorney on entity setup
- Valuation of any assets being transferred
- Marketing Tasks
- Phone number procurement
- Online marketing including email
- Creative for online and conventional marketing
- Print marketing materials
Let’s get back to those 20 days. Knowing that your kids have school musical programs, that you’re invited to all kinds of parties and events, and that you have shopping for presents (not to mention inexpensive gifts for your employees) and travel in your personal schedule, can the list above really be dropped on a list of vendors and completed in 20 days?
Tips For Maximizing Time At The End Of Year
- September/October is the time frame for planning and beginning execution of anything outside of your normal business day-to-day activities that you want completed by the end of year.
- Get your vendors on board early and make sure that they fully understand the time you’ll require from mid-November through the end of the year.
One tactic that a project manager will use when working with technical resources is breaking the mindset that anything can be done in one month. They usually start with the fact there are 20 working days in a month and then break down timelines from there. More business owners need to do this as they look at the end of year.