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5 Reasons Business Owners Dread the Holidays

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Seasons greetings. Peace on Earth. Goodwill to all men. Yeah, yeah.


The season certainly has its good parts. Elf. Eggnog. Days off. Charlie Brown. Twinkling lights. “Triple dog dares” repeated for 24 hours on TV. But, no matter what Paul McCartney says, everyone is simply not having a wonderful time. Particularly if you’re a business owner. That’s because, with all the joy and love and Rudolph and trips to Grandma’s house this time of year can also be kind of a pain for us.

Admit it. Sometimes, deep down inside, you hate the holidays. It’s OK. I get it. Me too. Why?

1. Time off. 

When the end of the year comes, things slow down. If you’re like many of my clients, they come to a grinding halt altogether. Everyone takes a holiday. You probably shutdown for the week. Which means that shipments don’t get out. Service’s don’t get performed. The mail piles up. Sure, you can use this time of year to clean up the office and do other administrative tasks. But wait a second…there’s no administrators around to do this. They’re all at home! Unless you’re in retail, your holiday season is generally about downtime, delays and twiddling your thumbs…which means lost sales and working even harder in January to catch up.

Related: Savvy Ways to Survive the Holidays

2. Bonuses.

It’s a season of great tidings, particularly for your employees. That’s because the holidays means year-end bonuses. So, besides no work being done, no orders being shipped and no cash being collected, you’re still expected to play Clause and hand out checks to your beloved people, thanking them for a job well done. There’s always an extra payroll run in December, to account for those special rewards for your employees. You try not to think about it, but you’ll be reminded of that extra big chunk of cash when you review your December loss a few weeks into the new year. Ouch.

3. The holiday party.

Of course, you have to have a holiday party. What kind of a jerk are you if you don’t? And, even though it’s been a struggle the past few years, things are looking up. And so are your employees’ expectations. They want shrimp. And wine. They’ll scrunch their noses if you try to cut a few bucks and do something in-house…I mean, what kind of a Scrooge are you, anyway? Hey, cheapskate, what about that great steakhouse downtown? C’mon, man…it’s the holidays! Show us a little love, they say. Let’s see…50 bucks a person for all 200 people in your company, plus spouses and significant others. Listen and you will hear the cash fluttering out the window. And all you really want to do is sit at home and watch football.

Related: How to Banish Holiday Stress

4. Holiday cards and gifts.

Already they’re starting to come in. You’re getting chocolates, artisan cards, bottles of wine, cakes and fruit baskets. Well…not you, because the minute any of these goodies arrive at the front desk your office staff swoops like birds on bread. But now you’re feeling guilty. People are sending you these nice gifts. That must mean you should be doing the same for your valued customers and partners. So you’re breaking out the to Godiva, Harry & David’s, and Edible Arrangements to not look like a miser. You try not to ask yourself the obvious questions like wouldn’t the money be better spent giving to a charity, or isn’t the quality of the goods and services you provide every day enough for your customers? Now they need a thank you gift, too? You do it because everyone else is doing it. Ho, ho, ho.

5. Delay.

Trying to close that big deal? Looking to setup that pivotal meeting with that big prospect? Waiting for sign-off on that new project phase? Well…you better cool your jets. That’s because the holidays are the perfect excuse to…delay.

“Let’s touch base after the holidays,” one customer says to you. “My boss is away for the holidays,” says another. “Let’s revisit after the holidays,” a big prospect emails you.

Everything’s after the holidays. Never before. The holidays give everyone who needs more time to think, evaluate, delay and defer the perfect out. For some, that period begins right after Thanksgiving and lasts pretty much through the middle of January. Which means if you haven’t gotten the deal done by then…you’re cooling your jets for the next six to eight weeks. Humbug!

Sure, you love the holidays just like anyone else. But aren’t you just a little relieved when it’s all over and you can get back to making money instead of spending it? Seasons greetings everyone!

Related: 5 Reputation Missteps to Avoid During the Holidays

Gene Marks

Written By

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Gene Marks is a CPA and owner of The Marks Group PC, a ten-person technology and financial consulting firm located near Philadelphia founded in 1994.