Get Your Small Business Ready for a Busy Holiday Shopping Season

By on October 30, 2013

When you run your own business the holiday shopping season is especially important, but with large retailers offering below market prices to eager customers, small businesses have to work extra hard to see a comparable share of the holiday spending. Create a plan that helps you entice customers, manage the influx of orders for goods or services, extend hours, hire seasonal staff, and balance your family responsibilities.

Don’t be caught unprepared by the approaching holiday. If you’re are small business owner are you ready to take advantage of the incredible opportunities that holidays can bring? Here are seven tips to help you prepare your business and attract holiday buyers for a successful holiday season.

7 Tips to Prepare Your Small Business for the Holiday Season

1. Start Preparing Early

Small businesses need all the edge they can get to earn the attention and dollars of holiday shoppers. This hectic season will run a little smoother if you get a jump on ordering supplies, filling inventory, setting schedules early and sticking to their business plans by the beginning of November.

By planning ahead, you will save time and money, not to mention a lot of stress. You can shop for the best prices, explore the cheapest or fastest shipping options, and create thoughtful marketing materials. Then set clear goals for sales each week and hold your team accountable.

And start planning for next years holiday season as you survey your sales this winter. Pay attention to what items are popular, which marketing materials bring your a good return and which supplies you run out of first, so that you can make a plan for next year.

2. Get Organized & Prep Your Inventory

Whether your business is filling increased orders for shipping or doing multiple holiday performances, you need to have a process and a plan to get things done efficiently and correctly. Make a list of all your holiday decorations and store them in one place so you (and your employees) can easily access them as needed. Make a list of tasks to be performed each day and by hour to ensure no task is overlooked and things run efficiently.

Check your current inventory and plan for increased sales. If you run a retail business, review last year’s seasonal sales records to determine which items were most popular or sold out, and make sure you have enough product to fill orders. Don’t forget to prepare your shipping, wrapping and/or gift bag inventory – nobody wants to run out of bag in the middle of the holidays.

3. Ensure You Have an Online Presence

Every business needs a website, especially if you want to sell your products to a wide audience or you don’t have a storefront. Speak with your web developer to ensure your website and e-commerce store is set-up in time for the holiday rush. Give your website a refresh to present a professional and up-to-date image; consider changing your theme just for the holidays. And ask about using targeted, pay-per-click advertising to bring in new customers just for the holidays.

In addition to a new website, if you sell products online, you will want to make sure you’re ready for Cyber Monday – the online version of Black Friday. Cyber Monday falls on December 1st, the Monday following Thanksgiving and Black Friday. The Internet makes it easy to reach customers outside of your region; take advantage of every sales opportunity you have at your disposal.

4. Take Advantage of Small Business Saturday

Along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there is a new marketing called Small Business Saturday which encourages buyers to support local, national and home based small businesses who struggle to keep up with large retailers. Last year, more than 100 million customers spent $5.5 billion at small businesses across the country on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year Small Business Saturday falls on November 30th.

5. Prepare Your Marketing Materials

Review your marketing strategies and materials so your small business can make the most of the spike in holiday traffic and spending. Reach customers, offer deals and create a positive impression of your small business that will last long into next year.

  • Arrange to sell gift cards or gift certificates. This encourages shoppers to return after the holiday slow down.
  • Set-up daily deal on site such as Groupon or LivingSocial, or through coupon campaigns to boost sales.
  • Connect with and engage with customers using social media. Promote special deals, answer questions, exhibit good customer service skills, build trust and network with new buyers.
  • Consider an email newsletter campaign to announce holiday promotions, special hours and seasonal offers to your current client base.
  • Order holiday promotional materials as soon as possible. Custom print shops tend to be overloaded during the holidays and you want to be sure your marketing material arrives on time.

Stay connected with your customer base so you can keep your brand and business in the front of their minds.

6. Set Employee Schedules

Start setting your holiday operational hours and employee schedules now. Many stores extend their business hours during the holidays. Talk to your employees so they can plan arrange their off-work schedules accordingly and you can determine if you need extra staff to sufficiently cover your busiest days.

7. Maintain Quality Customer Service

Customers may be able to get cheap goods at large retail chains, but you have a chance to show your customers the benefits of supporting a small business which provides exceptional customer service and a personalized shopping experience. Leverage your relationships with loyal shoppers to reach new customers.

Any Small Business can Capitalize on Holiday Shopping

There will be stiff competition for every consumer dollar. If you begin preparing your business for the holiday early you can avoid experiencing overwhelming stress to meet consumer demands and shopping habits. Develop a holiday business plan, prep your marketing materials and distinguish your business to bring in the customers.

And don’t forget to take care of your own health. A small business relies on their key persons (usually owners) to ensure successful function from day to day. Wash your hands regularly (especially if you touch money often), encourage employees to cover their mouth with their elbow when sneezing, and find time to relax – stress often weakens our immune systems.

If you need more tips for maximizing your holiday business, speak with a trusted business consultant for specific advice on marketing strategies and planning.

Happy Holidays!

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About Kendrick Lee

Senior writer and business columnist for FSN - Successful businesses, large or small, will lend to successful owners, employees, local communities and markets for continued economic growth. Since there are so many risks, finances and procedures to consider when running a business, Kendrick is dedicated to sharing business tips, strategies and ideas in the public sphere. Find Kendrick on !

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