You’re busy all year round. But when Busy Season is here, this takes the meaning of the word ‘busy’ to a whole new level.
That’s why we are here as Your Ghost from Christmas Past.
With the increased workload and various deadlines, your commitment to long hours often comes at a cost to your own wellbeing and personal life.
So it's natural that you or your team have finished this Busy Season feeling exhausted, stressed, and possibly burnt out – but you are not alone.
And just like Scrooge’s Ghost of Christmas Past, we are here to urge you to use your recent experience to set yourself, your team, and your business up for a successful 2024/25 Busy Season.
The Early Bird Catches the Worm
"The last thing on my mind is Busy Season prep”
Now, we can fully appreciate that the thought of starting preparations for the upcoming Busy Season right now can seem overwhelming. But here us out. The earlier you start, the more time you allow for yourself and your team to hit the required deadlines for your clients.
Starting early also means you have enough time to address any unforeseen issues or explore potential opportunities ahead of your client’s deadline.
Start small. Create easy wins (the last thing you want, and need, right now is a big project!).
Take for example, pinning up a yearly calendar on your office wall (If you work remotely, use a digital tool like ClickUp). Once you've done this, add all the year-end dates for all your clients. Now you can work backwards. You’ll probably see that you don’t need to do anything in prep for Busy Season for a couple of months – nice! But having this bird's eye view is crucial in keeping your mind at ease that you are on top of everything. And we know how much you like to stay on top of things.
Now that you have this overview, when you’re ready, you can set achievable goals for yourself and your team in meeting your clients’ deadlines. You could even delegate some of your tasks to your team. Providing relief for you and a development opportunity for them. That’s a win-win. Keep in mind that they may not do it exactly like you; but progress, not perfection.
And of course, this leads nicely to creating a prioritised action plan. Now that you have your clients' year end dates flagged, you can pinpoint when and where they need certain documentation filled out. Maybe you are looking to submit an R&D Tax Claim for one of your clients. You may need to submit the pre-notification form as this has a time sensitive deadline. Also, the claim must be qualified, the claim prepared and the additional information form submitted ahead of filing the CT600 and accounts Depending on whether the client is loss or profit making, the CT600 filing (or amended filing deadline) isn’t always the deadline for the claim to be submitted. From experience, loss making companies will want to submit their accounts and CT600 earlier than 9 months after the accounting period to obtain the tax credit sooner for cashflow. Whilst a profit-making company will want to do so before their tax payment deadline of 9 months and 1 day after the accounting period. But knowing when your client’s year-end is means you know the latest date in which all the required documentation needs to be submitted. This is your hard deadline to submit the claim.
Go beyond with your client’s tax planning this 2024/25 Busy Season, with pointers in this blog post.
What time is it? Game Time!
There is no better time than the present. Busy Season just happened. Use this time to reflect on your recent experience. How did you find it? Is there anything you would have done differently? What challenges did you overcome? But also, take this opportunity to understand from your team what were their biggest gripes, what stressed them out the most, what was their most difficult aspect to manage.
Document all the thoughts that come to mind. Now you have a list that identifies all the pain points, you can work together to produce realistic solutions far enough in advance so that you and your team know what moves to make.
What about holidays? If some of your team have already booked in holidays or are planning to book, record this on the yearly calendar. The same applies to study leave and exams for your team. This will give you an idea as to who will be out of the office when and how this may impact the workload over that period. It may identify the need for new hires or additional support, but at least you are aware of this and can put a plan in place.
When times get busy, don’t neglect catchups with your team. You can book these monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly – whichever works best. Not only will this keep you up to date with their workload, but you’ll be keeping an eye out for burnout. If signs are pointing towards them feeling burnt-out such as lack of communication, being overwhelmed, not acting like their usual selves, ask them how you can help them to succeed or assign another colleague to help support them with their workload; this will alleviate some of their stress!
Drafting a game plan ahead of time will help your team feel secure well before the Busy Season kicks off.
The Bigger Picture
“God, this Busy Season was so stressful” ... “I’m exhausted after all that work” ... “Can’t wait for a holiday”
First of all, book that holiday!
And, we hear you. So we are here to say, remember your ‘why’.
We see your puzzled look, but you know what we mean. Reflect on why you started your business and what your goals are. Afterall, this is the key to staying motivated in a time when stress levels are at an all-time high. Changing your perspective to focus on the bigger picture is a sure-fire way to change your stress levels and energy towards the day-2-day activities and deliverables that are needed in achieving your goals. The external stresses will always be there, so fight them off with your internal why.
Also, remember to take a step back and recognise yours and your team’s successes.
Throughout, and after, Busy Season share your appreciation to your team. This can be sharing statistics as to what they’ve accomplished, bringing in sweet treats, taking them out for lunch, team-building exercises like an escape room, or letting them have an early finish or time off in lieu. Your team plays a fundamental role in your business’s success so don’t forget to show them appreciation.
And most importantly, don’t be so hard on yourself! You are running a business, managing a team, delivering for clients, it’s okay if a few minor things slip through the net. We are all human! At the forefront of what you do is striving to provide an exceptional service to your clients and you’re doing exactly that.
Not Busy Season, Your Season
This little visit from us was prompted by the concern for your welfare (Busy Season was tough!). Just as it was for Scrooge. That’s why we hope these little reminders will help you in bossing the next Busy Season.
“That’s one ghost down ... where are the other two?”
Good question 😉