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Business Bits - Backward Planning for Holiday Readiness

Monday, October 18, 2010

Can you hear it? That's the buzz of the holidays drawing near!  Seems like everyone's sharing their holiday collections & merrily preparing for the holiday rush & excitement.

{image: Sweet Petunias }

I'm trying not to be frantic or resort to panic and instead am planning "backwards." This is a nifty little technique I learned from my teaching days that hopefully can help you prepare your shop for the upcoming season!

What to do? Start with a goal & work back from there- determining all the little things you need to do by what date to achieve that vision.... In effect, you're creating mini-deadlines to ensure you meet your end goal.

To do this, I typically print off two blank calendar pages, one for November & one for December. I mark out all important dates such as my Holiday Open House as well as Black Friday & Cyber Monday and holidays affecting shipping schedules.  From there I also determine shipping cut-off dates for USPS packages (see the USPS 2009 cutoff schedule as a guideline- 2010 is yet to be released).

Then I move backwards & calculate things like this: (example)

by Dec. 20th prepare to close shop for vacation
Dec. 15th ship final holiday orders
By Dec. 1st plan on having 200 items completed & listed in Etsy shop
Nov. 25-29th advertise Cyber Monday promotion for Etsy Shop
On Nov.19th - have house cleaned & decorated for Open House
By Nov. 18th have stock of at least 300 items
By the week of Nov.15th I need 500 envelope mailers
By Nov. 1st winter collection must be completed, photographed, & listed on Etsy
By Oct. 31st send out invitations to Open House

Why is it helpful to plan like this? Well, when we just have an end date (such as Christmas) we tend to focus on that date as our "deadline"- when in actuality there are several mini-deadlines before then and really the 24/25th is not the real finish line....(unless of course you're promoting overnight shipping options on the 23rd). Because of this we often run out of time, save things to the last minute, or drive ourselves crazy trying to get it all done.

Instead, hopefully we free ourselves up for more creativity, other opportunities, and a chance to really enjoy this magical time of year!

More reading? Here you go!
10 Tips for a Successful Holiday Open House
Creating Gift Sets & Packaging for the Holidays
Business Bits - My Experience & Tips for your Etsy Shop


Pili said...

What a great piece of advice!

Meredith said...

Perfect timing for me. Thanks for sharing your thought process!

Nomsa said...

What a great idea! Last year was my first holiday season, so I had no idea what to expect. With more/better preparation this year, I think I can hopefully sleep more this holiday season :)

zoetropa said...

Thank you for this great advice, I'm going to definitely try to use it in my planning. I'm determined to not get behind on things this year and enjoy the season more! :)

Molly O'Bryon-Welpott said...

Love it, I am going to be getting work BACKWARDS lol

Anonymous said...

I have the same Nov 1st deadline. I know I need to work out my "holiday shipping dates", it's just so annoying since I don't celebrate Christmas. I'll be the only shop NOT on vacay. lol. I need to work on the other deadlines too. So, without a projected sales load, how do you determine shipping supplies? I'm new.

Lana said...

Thank you for the great advice! I'm so nervous about the holiday season. I need to relax and plan better instead of just being nervous. Have you started collecting tax on your sales. This is something I need to start thinking about doing. thanks again.