_Here at Eighth Day, we’re already gearing up for a busy time during December as we work on various tasks and projects for clients, as well as the usual arrangements for the festive break. Our to-do list is a unique mix of Turkey, crackers, project management and spread sheets at the minute and we’re sure every other small business owner is feeling the same at this time of year!

December is traditionally a time when the pace of work slows a little, there are longer lunches and evenings out to reward the past twelve months’ work successes and everyone is in a lighter, happier mood. But what if you’re a small business owner? It can sometimes feel as if the whole country is at a corporate-funded champagne reception whilst you’re feeling slightly less glamorous as you have to replenish teabags yourself now and the Christmas bonus is but a distant memory.

The thing to remember about December is that there are some things that won’t get done. Most companies (large or smaller) will put off decisions until the New Year.  While this may not be the best thing for your plans, embrace the fact that some decisions will wait until January and park them completely until then. Just leave them for now – and ignore the temptation to work on them or even think about them. Use the unexpected time and energy you gain (rearranged calls, order dates pushed back etc.) to your best advantage whilst the rest of the country enjoys the wind down and festive cheer. We’re not saying become a Scrooge but using ‘downtime’ to plan and prepare for the new year will help you start one step ahead of your competition for 2012.

Some ideas to utilise your December time to your best advantage:

* Placed a call and your contact is out of the office? Spend the 20 minutes you would have talked to them brainstorming one new sales lead; research this and be ready to contact in early January.

* A deal has been pushed into January for budgetary purposes? Work on your pipeline – is there anything else that may come to fruition prior to Christmas? If not, make plans for the New Year, or work on ways to keep your pipeline at an even keel during quiet times (think summer and December) so you’ll be better prepared in future.

* Those days between Christmas and New Year?  Use these days (which really are complete downtime for most businesses – you’ll be hard pushed to get a single call) as a real blue-sky exercise; what are your biggest dreams for next year? What could you achieve if everything went well? What new areas could you expand into? How feasible is this? What would you need to do?

The main thing to remember is that while the usual flow of working life has been mixed up a little and it seems that nobody is in the mood to make decisions (which can be frustrating for you!) the reality is that you may get better results in January when everyone is focussed and purposeful again. So embrace the time you’ve been ‘given back’ as things change and use it to your advantage!

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