Christmas as a builder may be a little different to what you might imagine, though it is certainly similar to other small businesses that cease trading for the Christmas break. In years gone by, we have had years where it was bliss and other years where it has created nothing but stress, but one thing is always the same, it is quiet.
Christmas as a builder without employees was generally less stressful, as we only had to worry about ourselves. The phone would stop ringing, which is always blissful, for the week prior to Christmas all the way through until the end of the first week of January.
Having worked in retail for most of my previous life, I was so excited for our first festive break, however what I didn’t anticipate was the loss of income.
In building, it is either feast of famine, there have been years gone by where the 3 weeks without income has not bothered us, and others where we get to the end of the first week and start panicking about how we are going to eat for the final 2 weeks.
Christmas for small construction businesses who employ staff is a whole other ball game. With a loss of income for at least 3 weeks, you are still expected to pay holiday wages for staff for the entire time they are off.
This differs from other small businesses in that generally only one or two staff members are able to take holidays at once, and the business just keeps trading. Sure there are added costs for the holiday period, however with the opportunity to trade, comes the opportunity to make an income to cover expenses.
Christmas is often a breaking point for construction businesses as even if they were wanting to trade, they cannot. Other than Bunnings, suppliers close down also, leaving businesses with no alternative than to order big prior to the break which messes with cash flow, and again often makes it impossible to continue.
I’m not saying all of the break is a negative thing, there is nothing better than the phone not ringing. I am however, trying to highlight just how difficult this time can be for tradies and small business owners alike.
While it might sound like a dream to have 2-3 weeks off, often as a business owner it isn’t.
Have you been faced with taking time off when you couldn’t afford to? How do you manage as a small business owner?