Christmas Isn't So Jolly For SMBs

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While many of us look forward to the festive season and celebrating Christmas, or whatever else you celebrate at this time of year, spare a thought for the millions of small business owners. Westpac's Small Business Report, produced in collaboration with Deloitte Access Economics, paints a pretty grim picture for millions of business operators who struggle over this part of the year.

Well over half of small business owners expect to miss out on sleep due to work demands during the Christmas period, with 63% saying they won’t have a chance to relax and wind down over the holiday season and 58% missing out on spending time with family and friends.

And if the personal pressure wasn't enough, four in ten business owners expect payments from debtors to arrive later over the Christmas period. So, not only are they working harder and sacrificing time with family and friends, but they won't see the money for their efforts flow in on time.

That will lead to them spending eight hours per week, on average, chasing outstanding invoices to alleviate cash flow pressures.

Westpac's research also found the problems are exacerbated for female business owners. Over a third of women are willing to sacrifice their salary to pay staff, compared to 27% of men who were surveyed.

Running a business is hard at the best of times but many of the pressures are multiplied over this time of year. As a sole trader, this time of year is challenging. There's increased pressure to get things finished before Christmas and accounts departments basically shut down for three or four weeks from just before Christmas so payments are often delayed. By the time Christmas arrives and there's a chance for some time off, I'm mentally fried.

If your business works with a small business, make a little extra effort to pay them on time. And think carefully as to why you need things finished before Christmas. Are those real deadlines that have to be met or are they artificial ones created by the perceived pressure of a few days off?


Comments

    Truth.

    My partner works events, and until yesterday, she hadn't had a day off since October. One week this month she was actually working from 7am to midnight, sometimes even 1am.

    (It's been especially rough on me as her chauffeur, but I try to bravely soldier on without complaint, because I'm basically the epitome of a selfless, long-suffering martyr. The things we do for love.)

    Anyway, she's getting Christmas Day and Boxing Day off. That's... about it, until maybe the first week of January. Gruelling stuff. It's followed by a kind of work drought, at which point she'll try doing one of those craft-based side-businesses... but this is the time to make hay, so in her mind, she can't take any mental health days or turn down work because of tiredness, for fear of not getting any later.

    (This is not entirely reasonable, given that I make decent money and can look after the both of us even if she didn't work, but she hates not 'pitching in'. So... I still think she could turn down a thing or two to make sure she actually gets a day off now and then.)

    Time to start pre-billing. Ask for half or a third up-front.

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