Sunday, November 1, 2015

Tips to Help You and Your Small Business Get Ready for the Holidays

Is your Small Business ready to handle the Holiday rush?  
Or is your business one of those that experiences a holiday “slow down” instead?

Either way, there are steps you can take to prepare or weather whatever the holiday season brings!

Planning ahead as much as possible is key.  

For example, if you are a product based small business, having enough inventory on hand to meet customer demand is important.  
And if you are a service business, knowing you have the time and manpower to fulfill all your client’s needs makes sense.

In order to compete with “big business”, it is especially savvy for small businesses to have all their ducks in a row when it comes to their holiday promotions.  

Here you will find out both what you can do to plan for the holiday “rush” and what to do if this is your “slow” time!

What You Should Do to Get Your Small Business “Holiday Ready”  Tweet This!

Planning for the Holiday Rush

  • Plan Your Holiday Strategy
For many Small Businesses, the holiday season is the perfect time to reach new customers, strengthen the bond with existing customers, and increase sales. 

However, you need to keep in mind that planning is necessary so that your business can handle the increased demands.  

According to Troy Constance, Suncorp Bank; "It is critical that small business owners remain in control of their cash flow and manage staffing, resourcing, budgeting, and stock availability to provide not only a great experience for their customers but a profitable time for their business."*1

Suncorp also lists 5 holiday preparation tips.  My favorite is the need to have “Festive Funds”.  This means managing your finances in order to cover the increased stock or supplies you need over the holidays.  Certainly makes sense!

Read Suncorp’s additional tips through the link below!* (Source 1)

  • Hiring Seasonal Workers?  Start Early!
If you are in need of additional help for the Holidays, your best bet is to start early.  Being proactive will give you the best pool of potential employees to pick from.  

It will also give you the time to screen and train them accordingly.  
This is particularly important as you will be pulled in many different directions during this hectic time.  Knowing you have well trained and safe new employees is critical to your small business continuing to run smoothly.

Find more tips here on “Making the Best Holiday Hires”! 

  • Get your Social Media Strategy Ready Now!
Even if the holidays find you busier than ever, you can’t neglect your social media presence.  You need to continue to post regularly.  That includes your own blog articles along with sharing the relevant posts of others.

However, the holidays are also a great time to get creative.  Expand your holiday marketing to include some things you may not normally do.

Jenn Herman of Jenn’s Trends shares 9 suggestions to get you started!  My favorites .... “Ask Interactive Questions” and “Invite Photo Sharing”.  Anytime I can do something to elevate my connection and strengthen my relationship with my readers, I AM IN! 

And of course Herman’s tip to “Support a Charity” is completely in line with my own belief in “Paying it Forward” and trying to “Make a Difference”!

Find more of her tips in “Is Your Social Media Strategy Ready for the Holidays?”. * Source 2 

  • Keep Your Employees Feeling Happy and Valued
During the holiday rush, and the increased demands of running your Small Business, it is often easy to overlook those that are working hard to make your company a success.

We may forget to recognize how essential our employees are in creating a productive and positive workplace.  And while this should be an on-going effort on your part, a little special notice over the holidays make sense.

It could be something small like a written note expressing your thanks (no emails here) or even a quick “thank you” to an individual or your whole team.  You might also consider providing a work day meal or snack to help your employees recharge.

Gifts like bonuses or gift cards are also great ideas.  

For something with more substance, nothing speaks louder than paid time off.  If at all possible, doing this during the holiday season is a great way to reward your employees with more time to spend with family and friends.  However, if this is not possible, then the promise of a break as soon as the season ends is best. 

Remember, gestures of thanks can have a great impact ~ and are perfectly inline with spreading holiday good will!

  • Keep You and Your Employees Healthy and Rested
Stress can play havoc on your and your employees’ health and sanity.  It can make you less able to focus, more susceptible to colds and headaches, and even impact your family and social life.  

And if your company is one that is in “commando mode” over the holidays, than this is even more true! 

The best way to avoid complete melt down is to Step Back.  

Many times the importance of downtime is either ignored, misunderstood, or thought to be impossible.  Instead, we all need this time to give our minds and bodies the rest it needs.

How can you achieve this when your small business is crazy busy?  

My favorite tip is to Incorporate Breaks into Your Work Schedule.  Make it mandatory that you and your employees step away and take a break.  A quick walk outside, a moment to close your eyes and sit back, and even an opportunity to get up and stretch can help.

In the end, allowing you and your employees the chance to Step Back can make you all more productive and save your sanity!

Find out more on how to feel less stress and stay healthier Here!

What if you are one of those businesses where the holidays means less work, not more?

My business is usually in a wind down mode when it comes to the holiday season.  Many of my clients are not actively hiring and the need for my services lessens.

And while I don’t stop work completely, there is a definite reduction in the time I need to spend on daily tasks.

This works out perfectly for me as the holidays are my absolute favorite time of the year!  I truly begin celebrating mid November, and and happy to continue well into January.

I am unabashedly all-in when it comes to decorating, parties, and good food.

So what can you do if your Small Business experiences the same lessened work load?

Plan for Holiday “Down Time”
  • Pre-Plan as Much as Possible
To support my “holiday habit”, I pre-plan as much as possible (much like I do when taking a vacation).

For example, I complete and invoice for any outstanding projects.  I pre-schedule all my blog articles and social media posts (a tip that is essential whether the holidays are busy or your business experiences a down time). I also pay any bills that will be due during my break.

While doing all this pre-planning and scheduling initially adds to my work, it is completely worth it to me to be able to enjoy the holidays.

Discover more tips to help You take a break from Your Small Business Here!

  • Focus on Client Appreciation
Handwritten cards, including a note of thanks (much like you should do for your employees) is a good start.  If you are in the habit of also sending gifts, then be sure to order early!

Offering year end discounts to your best clients is also a possibility (especially if your fees are going up next year).  

You may even consider inviting your local clients to lunch. Getting the chance to see them face to face is always a great idea.

No matter what you choose, your clients need to know that you value them and their business!
  • Wrap Up this Year & Take a Look Forward to the Next 
To end this year on a good note, taking a look at your finances makes sense.  Start with consulting your tax preparer or financial adviser.  Be sure you are up to date with all pertinent information.  

You can also organize receipts and start your year end totals. This will give you a jump start on tax season.

If you have time, you can also begin to look forward to next year.  

This does NOT mean making business New Year resolutions!  

I believe in celebrating the holidays.  I find myself too wrapped up in planning and enjoying them to really set business goals. (You can find out why and what I do instead here!).

Instead, take some quiet time to celebrate your business.  Focus on what you did right.  Congratulate yourself and be satisfied that you worked hard this year.    

Hold off on looking at any mistakes you have made (and we have all made a few) until another time.  This helps you end the year on a positive note!  

The holidays can be exciting, but they can also be busy and, sometimes, even frustrating.  These tips can help you not only enjoy them, but come out of them a little less stressed and tired!

Getting Your Small Business ready for the holidays starts now!

What are You waiting for?  

Please Pay it Forward and Share this article with other Small Business owners!  Thanks!

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Source 1:  News Mail ~ 
Signs are Right for a Busy Christmas

Source 2:  Jenn Herman, Jenn's Trends ~
Is Your Social Media Strategy Ready for the Holidays?

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