The holiday season is upon us, but as a business owner, you already know that. For many businesses, this is the most profitable time of year. For some it’s exciting, and for others, it’s a little nerve-wracking.
Here are 5 ideas to help you prepare and grow your small business during the Holiday Season:
1. Prepare your cash-flow
Small businesses often face a post-holiday cash-flow slump. Your business might face increased costs to accommodate for the influx of sales. With many staff on holiday leave, it’s also possible for invoices to be ignored and cash-flow problems to arise. By offering early payment discounts to customers, you could avoid having to chase up those payments well into 2018. Moreover, it is important to take the time to forecast your cash flow, as this can help you identify periods when cash usage may be high. If you feel like you need some extra funds to tide you over for the holidays, it could be worth reviewing your credit score and taking out a loan with a lender such as OnDeck. OnDeck offers small business loans from $10,000 – $250,000 over 6-24 month terms, and applying online takes only 10 minutes.
2. Set sales goals
It’s hard to know what you need to prepare for the holiday season without knowing your goals. Sit down with your trusted team members and carve out goals for hitting different targets along the way, from now until the end of the year. Take into account possible peak periods – such as Boxing Day sales. Define your goals as the following:
- The minimum goals you need to reach
- Your expected goals
- Your stretch goals (these are what you hope to achieve by going beyond your current capabilities and performance)
Be sure to not only define these goals in terms of revenue. These goals should be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Add any other goals you may have such as social media following or business growth.
3. Create a Holiday-focused marketing campaign
The holidays are a time of joy and excitement, so let your target audience know that you have what they need. Since you’re a small business, you can show your customers that you actually care about them, and you can probably do it better than the big guys. Whether you have a brick-and-mortar shop, or your presence is predominantly online, getting into the holiday spirit can help attract new customers. It could also help you strengthen the loyalty of your existing customer base. Decorating your storefront windows, offering holiday specials or providing your customers with your holiday trading hours are just a few ideas. Engage with them further by utilising different platforms and channels to share relevant information with your existing and potential customers. You could even send out a Happy Holidays email to your customer base and go that extra mile to show you care!
4. Make a plan to stock up on extra inventory
You’ve done your best to anticipate the crowds, their needs, and to prepare your business, but is it enough? Make sure you have a plan to purchase extra inventory quickly if your holiday sales are better than expected. You don’t want to be left empty handed when you could be making sales! An OnDeck small business loan could be a great way to provide that extra funding you might need to help you stay on top of the holiday rush.
5. Train your seasonal employees
It’s likely that you’ve hired a few employees to help you over the busy season – especially if you’re a retailer. Invest your time and train them properly. Even though you may not see its worth now, the better their training, the better experience your customers will have, and the less stressed you’ll be about the unexpected rush. Putting in the hard yards short term can greatly benefit your business in the long run.