Celebrating the people behind British small businesses

Running your own business: the entrepreneurs working Christmas Day

Christmas Day, for many of us, is one long boozy journey between sofa, dinner table, and back to the sofa for naps and Love Actually. It’s Toblerone and unwrapping ugly scarves and having a port-fuelled argument about politics with your second cousin Roy. It’s also, if you’re an entrepreneur running your own business, another working day.

According to a survey of 224 small business owners carried out by XLN Business Services, one in five UK small business owners will be working on Christmas Day – and this won’t be the first time for many, with 64 per cent of those surveyed saying they had worked on Christmas day before and a third of those having done so more than three times.

We decided to chat to a few hard-working small business owners to find out just what it’s like working Christmas Day – and how they balance festivities with duty.

Anna Bance of Girl Meets Dress

“We offer online dress hire destination for women to rent designer dresses for a fraction of the retail price. We believe everybody deserves a Cinderella experience and it’s our mission to provide exceptional customer service all year long – including Christmas Day.

“In between those periods of opening presents and eating a meal with the family, ladies will be eager to spend their new Christmas money, so I’ll be available for any urgent questions or queries. We also have live chat on the website which many customers use for style advice. Christmas is obviously a busy time for us as we specialise in party dresses, so we find the days after Christmas leading up to NYE are some of our busiest. We also update our social media throughout Christmas, which is especially important to us for reaching out to customers.”

Will Swannell of Hire Space

“I’m the founder of Hire Space, a leading UK venue hire website, and there’s no rest for me because people are looking for unusual venues all year round – especially with all the festive season events! Because our business is online, I can take my laptop and still be productive even out of the office. The internet doesn’t sleep, but the good thing about this is that you can fit work around Christmas. There are some elements of the Christmas routine for me – I’ll still be eating a dinner with all the trimmings,  and passing out comatose in front of the telly for an hour or two – but in the gaps I’ll be getting down to work. This will be my third Christmas where I’ve worked, but I’m hoping next year I won’t have to!”

Declan Curran of HomeFix Direct

“There are two reasons why I will almost certainly be working even on Xmas day. The first is that I’ve given my personal mobile number to my clients so that they can reach me in the event of any emergencies. So even though I’ll be at home in Ireland with family, my phone will be nearby throughout the day in case some poor tenant’s boiler happens to pick that day to pack up, or the electrics in their homes short out!

“That’s reason one, but in reality once the Xmas dinner’s been packed away and everyone’s in full on relax mode, this is when my mind tends to wander to the future, and I typically start plotting and planning ideas for next year. So it’s likely I’ll be firing up my laptop at some point in the afternoon, typing ideas or checking on things that occur to me. Don’t get me wrong – I adore Christmas! But I think that for a lot of people some kind of relief is welcome from all the excess by late afternoon on the 25th. For some it’s a trip down the pub or a long walk in the park; for me it’s thoughts of business. so while many are tuning in to Eastenders I’ll likely be setting some targets and strategies for the year to come!”

Sam Cropper of Climatecars

“Climatecars is a 24/7 operation. If I expect staff and drivers to be out there working for us, I too should pull some weight. Equally, having time to work without the phone ringing or emails dropping in is very rare for me. If I can get a few hours of uninterrupted work done, even on a holiday, I will happily take the opportunity!”

Sam Parton of OpenPlay

“I’m the co-Founder of OpenPlay, which is a marketplace for sports facilities such as tennis courts, football pitches and netball courts – we make it easier to find and book them online.

“Unfortunately, I’ll be doing a bit of work on Christmas day – not a huge amount, but mainly keeping an eye on emails and our marketplace. The holiday periods are a good time to work on things which don’t require emails and phones such as strategy, finance and investment documents, so I would expect to be working on Christmas evening. However, without sounding a bit clichéd, when you work on your own business it doesn’t really feel like work. This can be both a good and bad thing, as you can get a bit obsessed and forget about other things in life! The hardest part is actually switching off from it – I’m not sure you ever really can. I think that’s the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur… there aren’t really any set working hours and there are always at least ten things that need doing.”

Adele Woodthorpe of Woodthorpe Comms Ltd 

“I’ll be working on Christmas Day because I love my company and the work I will be doing won’t feel like work. I will be working on our website content, social media, strategy and preparation for a launch event that’s taking place in mid-January.

“It’s not really working when it’s your own business, its more doing something you enjoy as well as spending time with loved ones. After all, there is only so much only Fools and Horses you can watch! My entire family have business minds and if I am not working I can guarantee we’ll be talking about business.”

Want to get festive? Why not check out more in our small business Christmas series?