As August draws to a close and we all pretend that the nights aren’t getting longer, it’s inevitable that some annoying sod starts talking about Christmas. And right now, that annoying sod is me.
Last year Christmas planning was something that I paid much attention to. So much so, that I thought it would be a breeze to handle Christmas orders when it was my full-time job. Wrong. So very, very wrong.
Christmas is one of those times of year when people’s sense of normalcy goes flying out the window. Spend, spend, spend is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Whether it’s on dinners and Christmas Party celebrations or on the never-ending list of presents you need to procure, it’s a big money spinner any way you look at it.
For a business selling at Christmas time, there’s really no way to know how it’s going to go until you’ve been through it. It sounds counter-intuitive, but you really need to experience one bad Christmas to understand how to prepare enough to have a good Christmas. Last year, I remember sitting on the bed one mid-December morning in floods of tears saying to my Husband “If I have to make one more set of pencils, I might cry”. “But you’re already crying,” he said, in some vein attempt to lighten the mood.
And while I would never wish that feeling on anyone, I think it’s almost a rite of passage for brands at Christmas time. The first three weeks of December for me last year is a blur of constantly feeling up against it, mixed with not caring much for showers/hair washing or the like. All this was coupled with a strange combination of feeling utter dread every time an order came in via email, mixed with a guilt for not being grateful that people wanted to buy my product.
So this year I have vowed to head into Christmas feeling super prepared and promising to shower each and every day. If you haven’t started prepping yet, you’re already late to the party so let’s get this show on the road.
Sorry to burst your look-how-super-organised-I-am-bubble, but Christmas preparation really needed to start about two months ago. Just when you feel like you’ve recovered from the last silly season, you should really be sorting the upcoming one. This year, I started creating stock for orders in July. Yep, July. When you’re normally sunning yourself on a European beach. That July.
But, never fear. You still have a few solid months to get yourself together before it’s too late. September and October will be crucial to whether you come out of Christmas with any energy, hair or dignity left in the tank. Here are seven things you can do to get the ball rolling:
1. Do a stocktake. For the love of god, do a stocktake.
You’ll never know how much you can sell until you know how much you’ve got. It’s so easy to think that you’ll have all the kit you need to fulfil orders, but unless you’ve painstakingly gone through all your inventory, you’ll never really know until it’s too late. Mark a few days in your calender and do a big clear out. It’ll make you feel really good, just like those before and after reveals on Hoarder programmes.
2. Out with the old
I was talking to another online business owner the other day and she was telling me about some cards that she made over 20 years ago that she’s still storing in her garage in the hopes of selling them one day. That’s right TWENTY years ago. I just looked at her and said, ‘GET RID’.
There’s no point in holding onto old stock. Not only can the quality deteriorate over time, but the old stock is taking the place of something new and exciting. Most online platforms will do a Labour Day or Black Friday Sale in November, so get rid of as much old stock as you can during those sales. Not only will it give you more space for Christmas, it could prove to be a much-needed cash injection that you need for buying Christmas stock.
3. In with the new
When is the worst time to launch a new product? Just before Christmas. So if you’ve got a million ideas on the backlog now’s the time to turn them into a reality. When I was working in the city, I used to host team meetings that were affectionately known as the ‘Get Sh*t Done’ meetings. And that’s exactly what the next few weeks are for.
Write a list of what you need to get sorted to launch these new products by mid-October at the latest. This will give you time to iron out any production issues and make sure your products are ready for the consumer or retail.
4. Hire yourself a Christmas Elf
Lots of makers will be familiar with the concept of a Christmas Elf. Let’s be honest, you’re crazy to think you can do this all by yourself. Now’s the time to start looking for people who want a bit of casual work around Christmas time for some extra cash.
If you start looking now, you’ll have time to assign tasks properly, train your newest member of staff and get the payroll sorted. While it seems like a big step to get someone else in to help, it’ll take the pressure off you and will make Christmas seem so much easier. Even if it’s just someone to moan about demanding customers with, having a Christmas Elf could be your saviour.