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Pru Chapman is the Founder + Head Hustler at Owners Collective, a dedicated digital community and global online resource hub for early-stage entrepreneurs. Pru gets giddy supporting business owners to create meaningful, sustainable + profitable business. She loves nothing more than bulletproof coffee, her pooch Maverick, and an empty mountain hiking trail.

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Winter Solstice: Lessons for Modern Business

Today marks the winter solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. This special day usually falls around June 21st in the Southern Hemisphere, and December 21st in the Northern Hemisphere. People have been celebrating this event for centuries, and their traditions offer some great lessons we can apply to modern business, helping us grow, build community, and renew our focus.

(Image credit: Gary Fultz)

What is the Winter Solstice?

The winter solstice occurs when one of Earth’s poles tilts farthest from the Sun, resulting in the least daylight and the longest night. It’s a turning point, signaling the return of longer days and more sunlight. For many cultures, this event symbolised the rebirth of the Sun and the hope for warmer days ahead.


How Traditional Cultures Celebrated

The winter solstice was celebrated for various reasons. It symbolised renewal and hope, promising the return of light and warmth. For many farming societies, it marked crucial changes in agricultural cycles, helping them prepare for the upcoming growing season. These celebrations also strengthened communities, and providing a time for reflection and future planning. Additionally, many cultures viewed the solstice as spiritually significant, honoring deities associated with the Sun and light.

Some specific traditions include:

1. Yule (Northern Europe):
Yule, or Yuletide, was a time of feasting, singing, and burning the Yule log. The log symbolised warmth and light during the dark winter, marking the Sun’s return and longer days.

2. Dongzhi (China):
Dongzhi, meaning “Winter’s Extreme,” is a big deal in China and East Asia. Families gather to eat special foods like tangyuan (glutinous rice balls) that symbolize reunion. This festival marks the rise of positive energy (yang), bringing health and prosperity.

3. Saturnalia (Ancient Rome):
Saturnalia honored Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture, with a week-long festival full of feasting, gift-giving, and reported role reversals (in which slaves and masters switched places). It was all about festivities and breaking away from social norms, symbolising hope and renewal.

4. Inti Raymi (Incan Empire):
In the Southern Hemisphere, the Inca celebrated Inti Raymi during their winter solstice. This festival honored the Sun god Inti with dances, parades, and sacrifices, marking the start of longer days crucial for farming.


Applying Solstice Energy to Modern Business

So how can we harness this incredibly significant event in our modern businesses? Many ways. 

1. Embrace Change and Renewal:
Just like the solstice signals a shift to longer days, businesses should embrace times of change and renewal. Whether it’s reassessing strategies, launching new projects, or refreshing your brand and offerings, this is a time to welcome the renewed energy and freshen things up.


  • Reassessing Strategies: Regularly take a step back to evaluate your strategies. What worked this year? What didn’t? And what do you need to change? 
  • Launching New Projects: Harness this time to brainstorm new projects and initiate action on anything that may have become stale. 
  • Refreshing your Brand and Offerings: Sometimes, your brand or offerings needs a freshen up or reskin to stay relevant. Consider updating your visual brand and messaging to align more deeply with your authentic brand direction. 


2. Foster Community and Reflection:
Building a strong team and taking time to reflect can really put some fresh life-force into your company culture and morale. With a renewed sense of optimism, start thinking about an annual team retreat or end-of-year festivities – all of which will build a stronger sense of community and purpose.

Some examples include: 

  • Team-Building Sessions: Get creative around planning some out-of-office team activities. From a pottery class, to a long lunch, your team will relish the opportunity to connect on a more personal level with one another. 
  • Reflective Practices: Ask your team to think about their growth over the past year. You could do this as a team workshop or in a one-on-one catch up with each of them. 
  • Celebrations and Gatherings: Use the end of the year to celebrate achievements and recognise everyone’s hard work. This will deepen the team’s sense of belonging and appreciation.


3. Adapt to Cycles and Timing:
As with all things in nature, businesses should run on cycles. There is time to plant, time to grow, time to harvest, and time to rest. Reflect on how these cycles play out in your business, and how you can harness them for great focus and rest periods. 

  • Seasonal Planning: Now is a good opportunity to map out your busy seasons and prepare from them accordingly, ensuring that you’re adequately resourced to easily handle the increased demand. 
  • Inventory Management: For product-based brands, keeping track of inventory based on seasonal trends can help avoid overstocking or running out of stock. REflect on past seasons to predict upcoming demand through to the Christmas purchasing season. 
  • Marketing Strategies: On the theme of holiday planning, now is a great time to start thinking about marketing strategies for festive periods. Yes it seems early, but it’ll be here before you know it. 


4. Celebrate Achievements and Set New Goals:
Take the opportunity of this signifying event to recognise your team’s success and set new goals. As the energy begins to rise, it’s a brilliant time to look forward with optimism. 

  • Recognition Programs: Get a game plan in place for recognising and rewarding your team’s achievements. All business owners are terrible at stopping to celebrate the wins, so take this opportunity to get something a little more structured in place.  
  • Goal-Setting Workshops: Host workshops to help your team set their personal and professional goals for the year ahead. Of course you want these goals to align with the business objectives, but don’t forget about the personal side too – it’ll give you a great insight into what makes your employees tick.  
  • Performance Reviews: Use performance reviews not just to look at past performance but also to identify opportunity areas for growth and development.


5. Nurture Hope and Positivity:
Keeping a positive vibe and focusing on growth opportunities can keep everyone motivated during tough times. Great leadership looks like energising the team with realistic and optimistic vision for the short and long-term future. 

  • Positive Communication: Focus on sharing regularly positive developments and future plans with your team. This keeps everyone informed and optimistic.
  • Growth Opportunities: Highlight opportunities for professional growth within the business.. This could be through training programs, new projects, or promotions.
  • Vision Sharing: Share the long-term vision of the company. When employees know where the company is headed, they are much more likely to stay engaged and motivated. Better still – ask them to contribute their vision for the business!


Wrapping Up

By drawing on the themes of renewal, community, reflection, and optimism from traditional solstice celebrations, modern businesses can harness this energy to inject a renewed sense of positive energy and fresh ideas into the team culture. As we celebrate the winter solstice, it’s a beautiful opportunity to embrace the chance for change and growth, both personally and professionally.

Happy solstice!



Owners Collective

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