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Keeping business ideas fresh in the silly season

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, tradition tells us weíre heading into the lull period of the year. Everyone is stone cold broke and full of food, and not in the mood for buying Ė unless itís i...

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, tradition tells us weíre heading into the lull period of the year. Everyone is stone cold broke and full of food, and not in the mood for buying Ė unless itís in the Boxing Day sales at Myer, of course.

How, then, can you plan to use this time effectively for your business, even if youíre not generating much revenue? Are you going to spend the weeks worrying about the little business youíre getting, or are you going to spend it getting prepped and ready to head roaring into the 2006?

The first thing you need to understand is that itís true, you probably will not be spending as much time making money over the holidays. If you can make peace with that fact, youíre well on your way to holidaying businessy success. It is not necessary to work every single day of the year to operate a successful business. In fact, you should be embracing this down time as a chance to concentrate on your business, rather than working in your business.

Businesses do not thrive on being run into the ground. They do thrive on being fed new ideas, thoughts for new products, new ways to network and market when February rocks around. You should spend at least two weeks planning your outlook for the coming months before the end of the financial year.

How did you perform in the first half of the year?
Was it everything you expected and more (probably not, but if it was, plan higher!), or is there room for even greater achievement? Work out your strongest performance areas, and what made them so. How did your approach to these areas differ to the way you handled your problem areas?

What have been your greatest sellers, or most popular service?
Hazard a guess as to why this is the case. Is it their great value for money, the high quality the customer gets, or your own marketing approach to the particular product? How can you adapt these fine attributes to other products and services? Is it possible to boost your revenue by bundling popular products with other high quality but less popular ones in order to generate more exposure for future sales?

Whatís the market doing?
Use this time to have a look at your market. Have the demographics changed? Have prices risen? Does your business reflect the needs and wants of your target audience? Make sure you are operating in the right place for your customers.

What do you hope to achieve in the second half of the year?
What changes will you be implementing to make sure 2006 is even more successful than 2005?

January need not be your lowest point of the year. We are all so busy that itís easy to forget that as time progresses, businesses evolve and new developments are made. Using slower periods to analyse these changes is a key factor in the longevity of your business.

Some things to think about doing while the turkey is digesting:

  • Use your family members! They must be good for something, right? Ask them what they think about your business, your services or your products. Do a little survey around the dinner table. This is especially effective if you have cousins you never see, they can be more objective.
  • Have a few new banners and images made up. You need not have your whole web site redesigned, but some funky new promotional images or festive web graphics can just help to keep the spice in the business relationship.
  • A new yearís press release or sales letter can work for you in two ways: it can pique the interest of your existing or previous customers, and it can encourage new customers. A good marketing writer will be able to generate newsworthiness for you, even if you think youíre not doing anything exciting.
  • Change some products around. While the milk bar on the corner might be able to get away with stocking Redskins from 1983, having new items and promotions will keep your business flowing. You could bundle some of your existing products together, bring in new seasonís colours or create a whole new line.
  • Get some spunky new marketing tools. Something you havenít done before. Die cut fridge magnets are all the rage, lollies with your logo in them from Suga or a fresh twist on your existing business cards. You neednít spend a fortune Ė even buying a ream of slightly off kilter paper to print invoices on will give you a bit of a pick me up.
  • Have your own Boxing Day Sale. Invite your friends. Make them all squish together at your front door and donít let them in until 9am. Better still, make them park in the next suburb and walk to your place!
  • Read all of your old business magazines, and watch repeats of business shows. Often all we need to spawn new ideas is a little bit of healthy inspiration and imitation. If you only archived two magazines, spend the time doing Christmas decoupage on your magazine holders and promise to do better next year.
  • Brainstorm. Get out a big sheet of paper and a texta and draw a mind map. Try to remember every little idea you had for your business when you first started out. Think of the most outlandish things you could do in business and write them down to. Put it all down. This is a mind mapScience Articles, not a loan application. You can be outrageous. Stick it up on your desk and be inspired.
  • Send Christmas cards to lowly designers. Itís good for the soul.

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Anna Spargo-Ryan is a passionate designer and writer from Australia. She owns an innovative, funky and contemporary design firm, specialising in identity design, brand consultation, web development and copywriting. Please visit for more information.

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