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If only there were more time in a day. Or a week. Or even a fiscal year.

While there aren’t necessarily any scientific evidence to support it, any small business owner knows the truth. We think these things regularly. We long for more time to finish that proposal or look over that project plan, while simultaneously longing for that coveted thing known as work-life balance.

And this time of year, in particular, is the absolute worst.

Sure, it’s the most wonderful time. At least that is what everyone (including Andy Williams) says. There are holiday parties and, in many cases, paid time off. There are hor’derves to plan and Secret Santa and everyone is in the same boat because everyone is trying to get everything done in time for Christmas.

Take all of the drinks and twinkle lights and gift exchanges out of the equation and what can all of that mean for us as small business owners? Headaches. Extra time in the office (not less, like everyone, may think). And money. The holidays can be a costly endeavor, between the PTO and the costs of having special events and parties.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way. Just ask Gene Marks of Inc., who penned a brutally honest article about the do’s and don’ts of holidays as entrepreneurs.

Marks himself survived 22 years as a small business owner, and here’s a summary of the advice he had to share:

  1. Don’t send holiday emails. In summary, they seem unprofessional and cheap. Marks suggests opting for an old-fashioned paper card via snail mail to add that personal touch.
  2. Don’t worry about religion. Everyone has their own beliefs. While that should always be respected, a best practice in business is to not make any assumptions about a person based on the holidays they choose to (or not to) celebrate.
  3. Decorate the office. In the grand scheme of the holidays, this is one of the least expensive ways to bring holiday cheer into an otherwise pretty drab environment. Marks suggests doing it up, and involving as many people as possible in the process.
  4. Forget about an overboard office party. This is where the old KISS philosophy applies: keep it simple, stupid. And the best strategy, according to Marks? Simple means keeping it close to home instead of heading to the local pub or steakhouse.
  5. Do the party right. To Marks, that means having it at the office, with nice catered food, during the day, and without alcohol or outside family members.
  6. Shut down if you can. Christmas Day and New Year’s Day are given, but at least making an attempt to shut down for longer than that is in the best interest of everyone’s holiday spirit.
  7. Give. Last but never least, embrace the joy in giving. It may not be easy, but it doesn’t have to be extravagant. Find unique ways to celebrate with your employees, give bonuses, if possible. Give that extra day or two off. This is the best time of year not to be penny-wise and pound foolish.

This is the time of year when you have the best excuse to make more time in the day. There is always tomorrow to finish up that proposal or look over that project plan. In this case, work-life balance is of the utmost importance to your employees, as it is for you as well.

Don’t forget that.

Merry Christmas, from our Cloud Friday family to yours.