Small Business Holiday Planning.

18 11 2009

Navigating the holiday season is not easy – particularly if you’re operating a business. Preparing your business for either an increase in traffic or lull can be daunting; regardless, it’s important to recognize the opportunities in front of you and prepare yourself accordingly.

Before setting out to structure preparedness, it’s likely a good idea to get a pulse on the market. The National Retail Federation is a great resource for understanding what makes both retailers and consumers tick. And as a small business owner (retailer or not), having a meaningful grasp on what consumers are thinking about this year is crucial to preparing yourself for a successful end of year.

For instance, the NRF’s recent 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions survey found that consumers are aggressively looking for bargains, while retailers are greatly cutting back on inventory due to weak demand. The conductors of this survey also put together a list of the top ten trends for this year’s holiday season, as suggested by the survey results (categorized for small business owners between these Part 1 and Part 2 articles). Acknowledging these trends may allow you to focus your priorities on the type of tasks that will help your business be more profitable in the coming months.

So what do you do to avoid becoming extinct? Broadly stated, this article promotes the following six success tips for staying afloat:

  1. Bank enough savings – to ride out this recession storm.
  2. Emphasize good customer service – because personal customer relationships make up a key asset that small businesses have over big chains.
  3. Strategize on attracting the deeper pockets – as price becomes more of a focus over quality this year, directing your efforts towards wealthier clients less affected by the recession may help to keep your business afloat.
  4. Look to web and online opportunities – by means of an online presence (or store) that attracts more visitors or intrigue.
  5. Watch your inventory – by finding products/services that can be delivered/offered within a few days to avoid stockpiling.
  6. Try out affordable advertising and beef up promotions – with creative and targeted strategies.

And with marketing in mind, spare yourself the awkward moment of lost creativity and check out these five holiday marketing tips (several are inexpensive and easy). Much of marketing is simply staying engaged and connected with current and prospective customers – diversify your on and offline promotional tactics to stay relevant through the new year. I think the most important one of the bunch is #6: “Beef up your customer support” – without the staff and infrastructure to respond to increased business, marketing is a waste of time.

In the end, the holidays are the holidays. Staff, yourself included, will want a break to see family – but you still need to run a business! Thinking about these ten small business holiday planning tips will surely provide you with the know-how to navigate potentially unpleasant waters when dealing with the absence of employees, training temporary employees, and balancing each employee’s circumstances.

Tis the year to think farther ahead, think more efficiently, and think more consciously. Make the most out of the busy times and use the quiet times to review your business plan and plan for the long-term. (Check out this great year-end legal check up blog post by Equinox Business Law Group.) Preparedness is merely a concept for maximizing your time, time which you value highly.

Photo courtesy of Tiny Prints.

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