Here we are in the midst of summer, and the holidays are likely far from your mind. The truth is, as a business owner, preparing for the holiday season should be at the top of your list of priorities at the moment.
As an experienced business owner knows, certain times of the year are busier and more profitable than others, one of which is the holiday season. So, prior to these highly active times for your business, you should be putting together a detailed business plan to get the most out of each busy season.
Income throughout the year can be unpredictable for many small businesses. As a business owner, you want to be able to count on seasons where you will see an influx of business in order to boost your bottom line and overall success.
Not only are busy seasons helpful in creating profits, but they also have the potential to grow your customer base. Shoppers who otherwise wouldn’t know about your business may find it during their hunt for the perfect holiday gift or service. After just one positive experience, they could become a returning customer for years to come.
This year, allocate your time and resources to your business plan and reap the benefits of a strategic approach to the holiday season. To get started, follow a few of these tips to make sure you have all your bases covered.
Start Preparing Early
It’s never too early to start planning for the end of the year! To prepare for the increase in sales that may come your way, start by putting together a robust business and marketing strategy that will ensure you hit or exceed your sales goals for the busiest time of the year.
In addition to creating a marketing plan, you’ll need time to carry out that plan and complete other important tasks for your business. This can include hiring additional staff and securing necessary inventory for the season. Each of these projects will require time and attention, so it’s best not to leave anything until the last minute. However, if you haven’t gotten started yet, don’t waste any more time getting your business prepared for the busy season ahead.
Set A Budget
It’s important to note that planning can only go so far if you don’t set aside the time and resources to get it all done. Unfortunately, there may be circumstances where your elaborate plans for the upcoming season are not achievable given your current financial circumstances. As you probably already know, it takes money to make money, so the extra investment will likely lead to a more profitable season than in years past.
In order to alleviate some of the financial strain that this prep will have on your bottom line, you may want to seek out a business line of credit to boost working capital and keep you on your feet while you amp up your efforts for the busy season. A business credit line can assist you in paying for the various tools and services you will need to prepare for and succeed in the holiday season. This is a quick and easy way to cover costs without the hassle of taking out a loan, applying for a grant, or any other form of money lending that has large interest rates and major restrictions attached.
Without a tight budget holding you back, you can begin to focus on areas of investment that will help you easily navigate the work to come.
Utilize an Order Fulfillment Partner
Increased sales mean increased work on your end. Rather than limiting your sales capabilities or running into hurdles with fulfilling orders and inventory management, an order fulfillment partner can help take some of that work off your plate. By allocating these processes you won’t have to sacrifice the number of potential sales you can make on your products, creating greater profit.
When it comes to putting together an order to send out to a customer, there is so much more to it than simply packing up items and slapping a shipping label on them. It’s important to have sophisticated tracking software to keep orders organized and accounted for, along with keeping track of how much inventory you have available to sell, gathering and organizing shipping information, getting orders out on time, and managing your customer service needs. This can quickly become overwhelming, if not impossible, as you experience an influx of orders in a short period of time.
That’s why an order fulfillment partner will be essential if you want to have the most successful holiday season possible. A partner of this nature can do all of the heavy lifting, leaving you to only worry about your customers’ happiness and your business health overall. With a smooth purchasing and shipping system in place, your customers will be delighted with their purchases, and your profit margin may increase!
Hire Temporary Employees
A busy holiday season means all hands on deck. That likely means hiring more helping hands to ensure that you can keep up with an increased amount of work in a very short period of time. Hiring seasonal employees is an ideal solution to this issue.
If you need to hire a few extra people to help out with your business operations, the time to get started is now. Just because these employees won’t be on your team permanently doesn’t mean you should take any less time with the hiring and onboarding process. Your team of seasonal employees have to work as effectively as possible during this hectic time, so ensuring that you hire ambitious and flexible people who can quickly get up to speed with how your business is run will be essential.
Whether you choose to invest your resources in a talent management system to acquire the best talent for your business, or you plan to spend an increased amount of time interviewing and onboarding seasonal help, you are going to have to work harder than normal. While you may feel like you’re biting off more than you can chew when the busiest time of the year rolls around, you’ll be glad you spent time hiring quality employees who will help boost your bottom line.
Focus on Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday Marketing
Two of the most profitable days of the holiday season will occur just after Black Friday. This is when consumers will look to support local businesses and search the web to find the perfect gift for their loved ones. As a business owner, you’ll want to make sure your business is top of mind for these consumers as they begin their shopping journey. Get your marketing plan together as soon as possible to ensure that it is not only tactical but reaches enough potential customers to make it worth your investment.
The most effective way to get the word out about your business is through a combination of digital and print marketing. If you aren’t doing so already, you’ll want to pursue a digital marketing campaign locally to ensure you get as much foot traffic as possible on Small Business Saturday and web traffic on Cyber Monday.
Whether you utilize email marketing or ads on social media platforms and local news sites, this is the easiest way to get your name out in the community.
Not only can digital marketing make your local community familiar with your business, but you can potentially reach new customers all over the country depending on your strategy. Targeting larger audiences on social media has the power to bring in a larger and more diverse customer base.
In addition to digital marketing, print marketing is also a great way to target your local community. You could partner up with another local small business and cross-promote one another with your print marketing in-store. In addition, putting up fliers and spreading smaller print materials in popular local spots can help keep your business top of mind when the busy shopping season comes around.
Look The Part
You shouldn’t neglect to make your business’ storefront look inviting and exciting for the season. This will draw customers in and get them excited to explore all that your business has to offer. Even if customers do not make a purchase while in your store, they will surely remember the way the environment made them feel, and will keep your business in mind for future purchases.
You can begin by creating a window display that not only shows off your product offerings but highlights any sales or promotions you actively have going on. Highlighting aspects of your business that customers will appreciate most is sure to draw them into your storefront.
Given that you are promoting your business for the holiday season, keep the decor on theme with seasonally appropriate items. Whether you want to decorate for Christmas, other denominational holidays, or a combination of all, be sure to get your decorations up early to get shoppers thinking about the season ahead.
The holiday season is an exciting time for small businesses. You are likely to see more success and growth than you have all year. When this holiday season rolls around, don’t let the stress of increased work get you down. Instead, bask in the joy of the season and the lasting impact it will have on your business in the year to come.