It’s time to plant some ‘evergreens’

There’s no better time for “evergreens” than the evergreen time of year.

Evergreens are those lovely trees that dominate our living rooms post-Thanksgiving.

“Evergreens” are the things you can do now to get your small business through the holidays, preserving entrepreneurial momentum without sacrificing your quality time with family and friends. 

In newsrooms, “evergreens” are articles and projects you work on ahead of time that can run whenever they’re needed, as in they’re “ever green,” ready to go at any point. They’re not tied to a certain time or event.

When I worked for daily newspapers, we’d start stockpiling evergreens in November. When the holidays came and no one (including reporters) could be found, we still had something interesting to run in the paper.

You, as an entrepreneur, can use the same principle to ensure that your business continues to thrive in the coming months, even as your attention shifts to presents and families, parties and food.

Here are a few ideas, but brainstorm your own as well.

— Write blog posts ahead of time. Whenever I get a new blog idea, I create a new post and jot down some initial thoughts. I have about a half dozen that I’ll finish in the coming days. But they’re on broad topics or inspirational points, so they’ll be as freshly topical at Christmas as they are when newly written.

— Recycle. People love in-case-you-missed-its and year-end reviews. This is the perfect time to say, “Hey! These are some of the great things we did this year you might have missed or forgotten!” Doing that can find a new audience for existing content, and it’s a helpful reminder for your long-time customers about why they should stick with you next year.

— Schedule social media postings. Find a new website your customers might love? Know of a January event they’ll find useful? Write the tweet, Facebook post, Instragram, etc., now and just schedule it to run later.

— Run holiday/New Year’s specials. Do you teach classes? Cater events? Lead snowshoeing trips? Run a 20 percent-off sale now. It’s a great gift idea for your customers and sets you up for a busy January.

— Take an online class: Maybe you’re worried about your lack of accounting skills, or you want to improve your time management. Maybe you just want to get better at doing whatever it is your business does. There’s a class for that. Dozens, actually. Hundreds. Use the next two months to educate yourself so that 2018 is your best business year yet.

— Plan out January and do what you need to do now in order to be ready then.

If you’re attending a lot of networking events in January, for example, make sure you have enough business cards and order more right now if you’ll need them.

Or if you offer classes, email potential students the schedule now and even offer them an “early bird” discount. Schedule a reminder email to go out at the start of the New Year.

If you plan to start something in January — music lessons, cooking classes, social services — begin compiling a list of potential clients. Get people’s email addresses and check in with them.

Planning to spend and make money next year? Get your QuickBooks software or spreadsheets ready.

— Set your 2018 goals. And then plan how to achieve them. What do you want to accomplish by the end of January, February … December of next year? They don’t have to be big goals. “I want to have a name for my project by the end of January” is a great goal. “I want six new clients by the end of August” is fabulous. What do you need to do in January, March and June to get there?

If the holidays are a tough time for you, work can be a great distraction. Use that if it’s what you need.

But if you have enough to do already, don’t let your business keep you from enjoying your life. Spend the next couple of weeks planning and preparing so that you can cut yourself some slack in late November and December.

When reality returns Jan. 2, you don’t want to be thinking, “Now what?”

You’d like to be able to say, “OK, 2018, bring it on.”

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