Winter is here! The leaves have gone, the weather has turned, and the December holidays are right around the corner. The business season has changed, too. For entrepreneurs, this time of year brings its own challenges. This is a great time to take a moment, get a cup of coffee, catch your breath and ask: How’s this working for me? Take a few notes for future planning. Grab a notepad or open a new doc on the computer and jot down your thoughts.

Those in retail barely have two moments to rub together this time of year. Black Friday ushers in the Christmas shopping frenzy, and things don’t really slow down until the doors close on Christmas Eve. Are you well-staffed? Did you make enough time for yourself and family? Make a note of whether your advertising and marketing was effective, too.

Service businesses often slow down between Thanksgiving and the new year, as customers get distracted by their own sales frenzies or by the holidays themselves. Did you plan for the pace? Did your employees or contractors know that work would slow? Were you able to get the word out to clients about holiday breaks or changing hours? Do you wish you’d solicited more work for the month, or would this be good planning time for your own business, or for vacation time to simply enjoy the season?

Solopreneurs always have to balance the feast-or-famine aspect of working for themselves, no matter the time of year or business. Knowing the seasonal ups-and-downs and planning ahead to accommodate them can mean a more successful business and personal life.

No need to put a huge amount of time or thought into these questions right now. Just jot a few notes about what’s working and what’s not: Scheduling, pacing, handling the season with clients, employees, contractors, marketing, etc. Ideas and plans that occur to you for “next time” are more likely to get on the schedule if you write them down as you think of them. If you plan ahead monthly or quarterly, a quick sticky note or two will do the job until your next planning session. But, if like most business owners, you plan once a year, getting into the habit of keeping a planning notebook or a document file is a great idea. The notes you take from the front lines will have details and an urgency that you can’t recapture months later when you’re thinking back on it!

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