How to Survive the Holidays (When You Own a Small Business)


Happy holidays! It’s that magical time of year when you get to take time off work and spend it with friends and family. Well, actually that is not the reality for everyone. Business owners find the holiday season extra stressful. Small business owners work about twice as much as employees, and clock approximately 50-60 hours per week. Of course, that is in-office time. Let’s not forget the time spent being on call, or the time spent thinking (or worrying) about the business during downtime.

With such crazy work hours, many entrepreneurs wonder how they will survive the holidays.  AF Accounting has a few suggestions.

Surviving the Holidays – Why we Care

AF Accounting is on the side of small business. In addition to expert accounting, bookkeeping, and tax preparation for small businesses in Canada, we provide advice on our blog to help you master the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. We have seen many different types of small businesses and have met countless small business owners. Our observations show that…

  1. Planning for the Holidays Starts in Advance by Budgeting Cash

Many of the small business owners we meet pay themselves once a month after salaries and expenses are taken care of. This means the amount of their own paychecks vary, and there is not a lot of wiggle room when things come up short. To ensure you have cash for gifts and holiday dinner fixings, start setting aside money early. September is a good time to start. This gives you peace of mind, and keeps you away from using credit cards at the last minute.

  1. Small Business Owners Must Also Budget Their Time

It is very hard to walk away from the business for a few days, especially if your business is in the hospitality or IT sector. Meet with your team ahead of time and determine if anyone wants to voluntarily work over the holidays. Someone may want the extra holiday pay, not be celebrating the season, or live too far from family to travel. If you have a volunteer that you trust to take care of things for a few days, delegate and take some time off.

Alternately, share the holiday duties among your team. Schedule call forwarding so nobody has to watch the phone 24/7. Create reduced hours and let your customers known in advance that holiday hours are in effect. If you and your team can work from home over the holidays, the elimination of the commute would be appreciated.

  1. Talk to Your Family About Expectations

This is the Canadian business landscape, not a heartwarming Hallmark Christmas movie where an overworked Wall Street executive learns the power of family love thanks to seasonal hijinks! Most entrepreneurial families are well aware of the sacrifices it takes to run a small business – sacrifices that affect the whole family.


To survive the holidays, talk with your family about expectations and find where you all can make compromises. If you can work from home, get up a few hours early and have a closed office door policy. Do as much as you can during that time so when it’s family time, you can be fully present. If you own a coffeeshop or restaurant, can your family meet there for dinner? Can you take an hour off to eat with them before going back to the kitchen?

Have an honest discussion with your family and find solutions that fit.

Remember the Point of the Season

The holiday season is not only for those celebrating Christian traditions. It’s a time to be with those we care about. No matter your belief system, spending time with family and friends is always important. Christmas is a good time to remember that.

To survive the holiday season as an entrepreneur, start planning your time, your schedules, and your budget well in advance. Then, on December 25, take the time to enjoy the day. You deserve it.

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