Here's the thing: think long-term for Christmas

Think long-term this ChristmasIt’s a funny time of year, November.

You might be finding, like several of my clients, that Christmas sales are slow so far, that Christmas is following a pattern of getting later each year. That, perhaps, customers are now expecting Black Friday in all its dark, looming glory.

I remember saying, back in April, that it’s still possible to launch great products, talk about them, and sell them for Christmas, without all the forward planning that’s expected and primed by journalists and bigger companies. I still believe that, though time is kind of at its last now. (Translation: if you want to sell something for Christmas, you should probably have it live and finished now.)

In that post from earlier in the year, and with much of my work, I aim to help clients and readers juggle priorities, often between short-term, deal-with-it-right-now, get-the-sales-in stuff and long-term stuff of dreams. I often talk about the difference between urgent and important (more on this below), which we tend to muddle up in the day to day.

At Christmas, over the coming weeks, it usually becomes purely about the short-term. It’s time to just get the orders out, just keep on top of stock levels, just make and sell – no long-term planning, nothing particularly strategic, save for the odd strategic coffee run.

I get that, and I encourage it. Please avoid trying to write your five year business planning in the next eight weeks!


(You knew there was a but coming, right?)

But, I do truly encourage you to keep a little notebook to hand, or a spreadsheet open, to make a note of the things that happen each day during the Christmas sales period. A place to write down how sales are going, how many hours your and your staff did that day, how your stock levels are going, whether you were featured, whether you ran out of anything or encountered any disasters (from staff being sick to the postman turning up late to running out of printer ink).

Keeping records like this, making notes of the learnings as they happen, will help you to dissect more accurately what went well and what didn’t at Christmas. Past experience helps us to anticipate future experience, and knowing what you could do differently next year will help you infinitely.

I posted a little note about this of Facebook earlier in the week, and Betsy Benn made herself a snazzy notebook, which I’m sure she’d happily share, should you wish:

After @jenny_hyde post yesterday I made me one of these! Let me know if you’d like one!

A photo posted by Betsy Benn (@betsybenn) on


Here’s the thing:

Yes, get completely stuck into the day to day over Christmas. Focus purely on orders and keeping going.

But, out of the corner of one eye, in a little space in your heart, know that there is a whole future beyond Christmas that’s worth a little of your time.

Think of keeping notes as a way of sending messages to your future self. (You can pretend to be in Back To The Future if it helps…) “Ran out of wrapping paper.” “Supplier not picking up, and extended lead times.” “Staff member sick, so calling in the cavalry (mum).”

Whatever your experiences are, you’ll appreciate being able to read them back in black and white after Christmas, so that you can remember them accurately and make plans based on facts, as well as feelings.

A little note on urgent and important:

  • Take a black page or piece of paper
  • Divide it into four quarters
  • Across the top, mark the columns as ‘urgent’ and ‘not urgent’
  • Down the right hand side, mark the rows as ‘important’ and ‘not important’
  • You now have four segments to fit your to do list into:
    • urgent and important
    • urgent, not important (like replying to a Facebook message, or dealing with a sales call – it’s happening right now, but it’s not helping your business)
    • important, not urgent (all the things that are going to make a difference to your business, but fall to them bottom of the list)
    • not urgent and not important (most social media, or piddling about)

We tend to get caught up in what’s important, but the wiser businesswoman shifts her gaze to what’s important, and not urgent, because that is usually where the most value lies.

Wherever you’re at, whatever your Christmas plans, I wish you all the best in the coming weeks. I’ll be here, should you stumble or need a clear thought. And I hope you keep track of what you’re up to.


On getting bogged down

On getting bogged downHello dear blog readers, clients, colleagues, friends, and other people of the internet.

The past couple of weeks haven’t been super easy around these parts. I didn’t quite get my ‘Here’s the thing’ blog out of Friday for a number of reasons, so today I thought I’d go off-piste and send out a blog post that’s a little off-the-cuff, a little raw, and a little more honest.

There have been some things that have hit me hard these past two weeks. We had a small (everyone’s fine) car accident in which a man opened his door into ours while we were moving, which shook me up a bit, and has taken some faff to get the car fixed. Not easy, not expected, and the sort of thing that just unsettles me.

I’ve had quite a bit of work on – lots of you are preparing for Christmas! – and I’ve been jumping from one thing to another very quickly which isn’t, I realise, a sustainable way for me to work. Once again, I’m learning about my own capacity and preferred ways of working. I’m by no means perfect, which still has the ability to kick me in the recovering perfectionist places.

I’m also doing something very exciting and brave – I’m training with Tara Mohr as part of her Playing Big Facilitators’ Training Programme. It’s a six-month stint of exploring how I can help people (mostly women) to play bigger. I’m committed to learning more about what I can do, how I can help, and what I want my business to look like, so this feels like the right time to dive in.

But oh boy, the first course module is on the inner critic, which is decidedly kicking me where it hurts! The past week has been a masterclass for me in how we can lose confidence in what we’re doing, how we talk to ourselves when things go wrong, and how we can get sucked in to the spiral of doom. Thank goodness for the tools I’m (slowly) learning, and for Tara’s approach!

So, my dear friends and clients and readers and others. I don’t have anything sparkling or wise right now, other to say that, I’m human too. I struggle, I work things out. Life hits me sometimes.

Today, I am going gently, because I can feel the cold I’ve been fighting off for weeks just tipping over into setting in, and because I need to go slowly in order to learn how to bounce back from the inner critic / spiral of doom.

I’m starting to believe, more and more, that we have the capacity to figure things out ourselves, that we have the answers, if we dare to listen to them. I’m getting clearer on the work I want to do – but I’m not quite ready to talk about it yet. I know I will be, and that will have to be enough for me for now.

With care

Jenny x


Here's the thing: Abundance

I hope we all make itEvery Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.

I know, I know. “Abundance”. It’s a Stephen Covey Americanism. I don’t think I used, thought or wrote the word until long after I read his book several years ago. And I didn’t realise it then, but the idea of abundance has (slowly, gradually) had a really big impact on my beliefs. Cheers, Steve.

So while I appreciate it might feel a bit cheesy, I’m going to ask you to bear with me, because I really believe that abundance – the idea that there’s enough and more for everyone – will have a profound impact on your business.

Money. Customers. Ideas. PR features. Holidays. Food. Friends. Lovers.

There are things we believe we’ll never have enough of, but in our minds, they are in shockingly limited supply. You may worry about some or all of that list above. You might have your own unique additions, but those are broadly the biggies for small businesses and people in general.

We believe that we need money to live – four walls, ceiling, food, tax. We believe that we need customers to give us money (and boy do we worry that there won’t be any customers left for us in six months). We believe that we’ve only got so many ideas inside us, that they’ll run out and then no one will want to work with us.

I’m not about to tell you to stop thinking about how to get more customers, or whether your profit margins are healthy. These are all important things to think about. It’s the way we think about them, and our beliefs about them, that are important.

The opposite of abundance is scarcity. If we believe there aren’t enough customers for everybody, that we’ll lose out, that it can’t be done if we’re not chosen for a homepage feature, then we limit ourselves. We’ll stop seeing the opportunities to find customers, connect with them, be nice to them, because we don’t believe they exist.

I see this in my clients. They’re still in scarcity mode, where they don’t have enough. They’re worried about investing in another staff member or stock. They’re worried they won’t sell enough to justify the cost. And my face says ‘huh?’. They’re serious. They can’t see how much it’s going to benefit them and, honestly, how much it’s going to be fine. When you invest, you step up. You make it work.

When we believe we don’t have any (or enough) money, so we don’t spend any money, so we don’t get any return. We create our own false economies – hey, look, I bought this cheaper version! Oh, wait, it doesn’t work so I have to spend just as much if not more on making it work. Or, I can’t afford to hire someone, so I’ll have to say no to new opportunities.

When you believe in abundance, what you value changes. You see things differently. You see that hiring someone with more experience or enthusiasm gives you more than hiring the person who’ll do it for less.

You see that there are enough customers for everyone. Yes, competition exists and it’s important to think about where you sit in the market, what you offer that others don’t, and all those things. But when you simply focus on connecting with the customers who want your products, rather than the customers who want someone else’s products – that’s when you make meaningful connections and things start to grow.

Here’s the thing:

Fear takes over. A lot. Especially if you’ve been in places that felt truly scarce, where you really didn’t have any money, or a safe place to live, or anyone to call on when you needed help. The recent recession didn’t help, and it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s completely over when you read the headlines these days.

It’s hard to un-remember those times, but they’re just a memory. You did survive them. There’s much more than there was then.

Imagine you’re in a world where everyone has enough, if they choose to see it. There are people who want you to do your thing, successfully. They want your products, your brand, your voice. They see value in what you offer. But you have to give them something so that they can see it.

Believing in abundance is very much connected to your self-esteem. Do you believe you’re worthy of everything you want and need? And that’s not something one blog post can instil in you.

But my parting message is this: believe, just a little bit, that there is more than enough for everyone. Take this little nudge towards being relaxed about buying in more stock than you think you need, or employing someone really good. When you step up your input, it shines through. You’re taking yourself seriously, and so will your customers.


Enter The Forge

Life's too damn short to chase someone else's definition of success. I'm here to give you the courage and tools to forge your own path.