Play the ‘What If’ Game for the Holidays

It’s important to look at your business from every angle and identify potential problems before they wreak havoc on your bottom line.

The holiday season can be a joyful, magical time of the year. Everything looks so festive, and people are in cheerful moods (most of the time).

However, if your business relies heavily on holiday sales, the final two months of the year can be quite hectic and stressful. Most retailers are acutely aware of the 31 days between Small Business Saturday (Nov. 24) and Christmas (including five weekends) – every day matters.

If you want to reduce the stress and chaos of things potentially going wrong this year, you need to play the “What If” game.

Here’s how it works:

The Game: Your objective is to create a strategic goal and a GPS plan for the 31 days between Small Business Saturday and Christmas. Done correctly, you can successfully navigate the twists and turns that pop up between the two dates without losing sales or sleep.

Strategic, Weekly and Daily Goals: The goals you create need to be specific and measurable. Most business owners choose gross revenue numbers for their goals.

For example, you want to do $31,000 in gross revenue for the holiday season. This is the equivalent of generating $1,000 a day (if you’re open 7 days a week. Otherwise, you need to divide the $31,000 by the number of days your business is open).

GPS Plan: Just as you use your smartphone to get from your current location to a specific destination, you will use your GPS plan to get from Small Business Saturday to Christmas. The plan you create should be a living, breathing document, reviewed daily, to make sure you haven’t wandered off the path to success.

It will also hold you accountable to your milestones. If you don’t achieve your daily goal, you must review what happened and how you will make up lost sales in the remaining days.

The more detailed your plan (sales, promotions, social media, hosting contests, extended hours, online discounts) the better your chances are for hitting your goals.

Avoid Delays: What if a snowstorm hits your area and shuts down shopping for three to four days? What is your backup plan?

What if a big client is late paying you? Do you have the resources to deal with cash flow issues? What if your website goes down?

I’m sure you see how this game works. Look at your business from every angle and then look at potential problems. Discuss with your team of employees, vendors and partners how you will handle the issues.

Write everything down so in the event something does happen you have Plan B ready to go. Running this exercise in advance will mitigate your downtime and reduce the possibility of making a bad decision during a stressful moment.

I’ve seen too many business owners panic because things didn’t go according to plan during the holidays, and they didn’t know what to do.

With the holiday season underway, it’s time to craft a GPS plan and play the “What If” game. It’s better to know how you will respond to adversity before it strikes rather than afterwards when you are in panic mode.

And hey, you may enjoy the holidays even more this year!

Brian Moran is the founder and CEO of Brian Moran & Associates.

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