The year-end holiday season is upon us! From now through New Year’s Day, many of us will juggle additional activities. School events, family visits, and social commitments get added to our usual workload and home responsibilities. For some, stress levels increase as to-do lists get longer and time gets shorter.
An added stressor for independent professionals can be a dip in work due to slow-downs common to this time of year. As clients take time off to be with family around Thanksgiving and then again for up to two weeks at the end of December, the number of new project opportunities can approach zero. This translates to lower incomes at the current year’s end and the new one’s start.
If you haven’t prepared for an anticipated dip in income, you may find the next few months financially challenging. The good news is that it’s not too late to get yourself into a better position. You can also start now to fend off the end-of-year income dip in coming years.
4 Things to Do for This Year
Here are three activities that can help you get work now, set up work for the beginning of the year, and help you get more net income in general.
It’s always a good time to let clients, vendors, and business associates know you appreciate them, and the holiday season is especially good. The goal is a sincere expression of relationship and gratitude. What you send depends on several factors, ranging from a thank-you email to a fancy basket of holiday goodies.
Call Current Clients for End-of-year Work
Some enterprise clients may have “use it or lose it” money in their budgets. They may want to pursue projects before the end of the fiscal year. Or clients may have a wish list of projects perfect for the slower-than-usual holiday period. Now is a good time to contact your best clients to see if they need anything from you before the end of the year.
Use a Talent Marketplace to Find New Work
Online talent marketplaces never sleep. New projects are posted 24/7/365, and you will likely find some that fit your experience and skills.
Eliminate Unneeded Expenses
The other side of the income coin is expenses. Paring down your spend can put more money in your pocket. Review your records to find and get rid of unnecessary expenses. Are there apps you subscribe to that you no longer use? Online or local services that you don’t need or can reduce? You may be surprised at how much you can lower your monthly spend.
3 Things to Do Now for Future Years
Think today about how you can avoid low-income stress in future holiday seasons.
Plan to do the same things as this year
Put the activities from this year into your annual plan. Formalize your appreciation activities (and maybe extend them to other times of the year). Anticipate the potential end-of-year project slump and connect with clients well before the holiday season kicks into gear. Unneeded expenses can creep into your spending without noticing, so doing a financial review at least once a year is essential.
Think in terms of a 10- (or 11-) month work year
In your business planning for next year, assume that the last month or two will be slow. Expect to achieve your target income in the remaining months and plan accordingly.
Put away funds to tide you over the slow months
Set aside money throughout the year to ensure you have sufficient funds to weather the end of the year. For example, you could commit to put 10% of every payment you receive into an untouchable savings account. Or you could use an app like Oportun, which automatically draws a small amount of cash from your bank account on a continuous basis. Either way, you’ll have funds to use during future holiday seasons.