For people who are ardent shoppers and deal-finders, there is nothing black about the day after Thanksgiving in the United States (and unfortunately now the actual day of Thanksgiving itself) that feels black.

After all, that is the time when bargain-hunters will line up for hours in advance in order to get first crack at various deals in their favorite stores.

I have a relative (who shall forever remain nameless) whose strategy for a favorite store that is open all night, is to arrive at the store hours earlier than the 6:00 am start of Black Friday sales, pick out everything she wants to buy, and then find a place to hang out all night (preferably sitting) with the friend who accompanies her, and then go to check out right at 6:00 am, when the sale prices kick in.

So where does the term Black Friday actually come from, when for dedicated shoppers such as my relative, it’s one of the brightest days of the year?

It’s actually an accounting term. If you have a calculator with two colors of ink, added numbers are in black, and subtracted numbers are in red.

A business that is in debt is said to be in the red. A business that is profitable is said to be in the black.

For retail businesses that are in the red for much of the year, the sales on the day after Thanksgiving are crucial to putting those businesses back in the black; hence the term Black Friday.

So what does all of this have to do with running your own business?

Simply put, would you prefer that your business run in the black for most or all of the year?

If so, then figuring out your marketing calendar for the year, including when you are going to promote your products, and when you are going to make special offers, is something to start planning right now, before next year starts.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to start on the path to a more consistently profitable year:

  1. What worked really well this year ?
  2. Of those items, which ones would it be a good idea to promote again, and possibly upgrade, next year?
  3. Where are the holes in your marketing and profit picture?
  4. What are some of the new items that you can develop to fill those holes?
  5. Working backward from the dates of those promotions, what are the tasks that need to be added to your schedule in order to get the necessary work done without putting yourself under undue stress and pressure?
  6. What help do you need to get those jobs done?
  7. Who are the right people to help you?

If those last two questions gave you a queasy sensation in your stomach, you may perhaps suffer from the do-it-yourself syndrome. I am very familiar with that particular challenge, as I suffer from it myself.

Here are the three things I tell myself when my do-it-yourself  habit tries to reassert itself:

  1. If I don’t get the help I really need, the chances are that the job won’t get done at all.
  2. Delegate is not a dirty word.
  3. Done is better than perfect.

Finally, it’s good to remember Benjamin Franklin’s words of wisdom on this subject:

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!