Article written by Allison Rice, Marketing Director of Amsterdam Printing
During the holiday bustle of family fun and festivities, it can be easy to nudge your business onto the back burner. After all, who wants to be stuck at the office late at night when there are trees to trim and mugs of mulled cider to sip? And if you are expecting guests in town, it’s even harder to tear yourself away to get some work done.
Yet a vacation away from the daily grind is a perfect opportunity to rekindle your creative spark and brew new ideas for business. And here’s the best part: Some of your typical holiday activities such as plain old having fun – can serve as a springboard for great ideas.
1. Act Like a Kid at Christmas
Do you have young guests visiting for the season? Are they interrupting your daily adult tasks by begging you to play board games and watch Christmas cartoons? Instead of shooing them into the next room, try spending time around young cousins, nieces, nephews and other children this season and see what fresh ideas you come up with. Need more convincing? Here are some reasons to sit at the kids’ table:
- Kids are honest. If you’ve been stumped about a work-related situation for a while, hashing it out with a youngster can help. They have no motives to avoid telling the truth, so take advantage of their insight.
- Kids get bored easily. If you want to know if your newest ideas are, well, boring, then run them by a kid for approval.
- Kids can break your patterns. While we don’t suggest that you call out of work during an important deadline to sit on the sofa and watch the Grinch, a little variation in the routine might be what you need to invigorate your thought process.
2. Turn Cocktails into Networking
Are you meeting some friends from your high school days for drinks and, presumably, small talk? It might be worth your while to turn the small talk into business networking. With a few questions, the conversation can turn from basic chatter into something noteworthy. Remember, other people can be a valuable resource. Try these topics as icebreakers:
- Making company meetings more interactive and entertaining
- Creating a greater online or social media presence
- Addressing difficult topics with colleagues or handling office gossip
- Handling work demands during the evening or on weekends.
- Working remotely (at home or at a coffee shop) versus working in the office.
The trick is not to make your friends feel like they are being quizzed or that you are all business, but to encourage useful discussion. Remember, if people feel that they’re being interrogated, they’ll clam up.
3. Get Back to Nature
If you’re spending the holidays somewhere scenic, take advantage of the beauty around you. You might dream up a new idea while you aren’t in the confines of your daily commute.
But even if you are stuck at home with a holiday budget the size of a postage stamp, there are still ways to let nature inspire your business. Try these tips:
- Take a long drive down a scenic street.
- If you’re normally a gym person, try biking, running or walking in the great outdoors to get your creative juices flowing.
- Watch the sun rise in the morning or set in the evening. Bonus points if you bring someone along who isn’t your spouse for a different take on things.
- Grab a camera and look for things that interest you. Look at the photos later and jot down why you were interested.
4. Get Up Early – or Stay Up Late
People tend to sleep in on vacation, but that doesn’t mean that you have to. If the quietest time in the house is in the morning, make it your business to be up before everyone else gets going. Likewise, if everyone conks out early while watching a holiday flick, take advantage of the peace and quiet to do some work or simply to think about your goals for 2014.
5. Take Notes
Don’t let ideas escape over vacation – keep a record of whatever comes to you and, more importantly, how the idea could translate into something useful for your business. Keep a small notebook with you to record what stands out as interesting during the break. Try these ideas to start with:
- Make a list of television or radio commercials, retail fliers or any sort of marketing you encounter that you find engaging – and ask yourself why.
- Record conversations that went well with family and friends and conversations that went poorly. Mull over the results.
- Use social media to your advantage and pose questions to your network regarding their goals – both business and personal – for 2014. Think about how your business can help attain them.
The holiday season might be very different from your everyday grind, but that means time to foster your own creative business ideas. Breaking out of your usual routine might lead to an amazing plan for 2014!
Allison Rice is the Marketing Director for Amsterdam Printing, one of the nation’s largest providers of promotional products for businesses large and small. Amsterdam Printing specializes in personalized marketing pens and other promotional products such as calendars, water bottles, and bags. Allison regularly contributes to the Small Business Know-How blog.