Right now you probably can't think of anything else but "I just need to get through the holidays" played on repeat in your head. But don't go on autopilot too much! Keep some of that brain working so you don't miss things you will need to remember after the holidays and for next year. Here's what to do now and after the rush.
Keep Notes as You Go
Do a brain dump when you can. Even if you just keep a notepad with you or get all fancy and stick it in your phone, keep notes to remember things like:
- What's selling/what's not (you should have good control of your inventory to look back at this later, but sometimes concise and easy-to-read notes are helpful too)
- Why you loved/hated the shows you did
- What parts of your booth worked/didn't work
- What's working/not about your sales fulfillment/shipping process
- Was your inventory at the right levels as you went into the season? Were you making more product than you should have during the rush?
It doesn't have to be intense, but when a thought comes into your brain about this stuff, jot it down.
Count the Wins
It can be easy to forget how awesome you when you are just a making machine! When you are going into the next year, make sure to pat yourself on the back for all of the things nailed. While it might seem like "I mailed all of my orders out on time" is just good business, it's also a win. Don't gloss over things that you might take for granted. Especially if you are just ramping up your business.
Once you've filled all of your orders and have celebrated the holidays with friends and family, you need to start to review and analyze those notes you've been taking. Really think about where you excelled and where you faltered. Then ask WHY? Always ask this when you are stating the facts of what happened during your holiday season. Ask also what you need to keep and cut. This can be keeping/cutting how you do things or items in your product line. And make sure to always think about what you did do vs. what you didn't do. What risks did you take or avoid?
Prioritize and Regroup
Once you've done a thoughtful evaluation of what your holiday season was like, it's now time to start doing something about it. But don't overwhelm yourself. Start prioritizing what you need to do next based on 1) urgency, 2) impact and 3) profitability. That means do things that are needed most now, have a big impact and will make you money (or not cost you a lot to accomplish depending on your list).
What makes something urgent? Say you learned something about your shipping policy or system that wasn't right. You don't have to wait until the next holiday to start on it. Do it now since you are going to have customers impacted by that now. Something that is not urgent is learning that a certain craft show just isn't for you. Note it for when applications start coming due in about nine months.
Don't be dictated only on what feels urgent. If there is something that will make you money now, shoot that up to the top of the list. When considering profitability also consider YOUR time. It is true, your time is money. You are probably your highest paid hourly employee so don't do it if the project is going to take so much time and can wait a month or so until you are more settled.