It’s the most wonderful time of the year. (For small businesses, that is.) With more people shopping and eager to open their wallets, the holiday season can be incredibly busy and lucrative, with retailers earning an average of 19% of their annual sales in November and December alone.
Holiday success isn’t limited to certain types or sizes of businesses. Any business can have a successful holiday season, regardless of size or number of employees. For small business owners, the holidays do not need to be overwhelming or stressful if you have the right resources and access to capital.
Here are four ways to prepare your business for the holidays:
Create Digital Holiday Marketing Campaigns
’tis the season for shopping. No matter the type of business, it’s likely to see an uptick during the holiday season when customers are eager to spend. In the holiday season 2023, a staggering 72% of shoppers plan to buy from a small business—up from 65% last year. But even if customers want to shop small, they have to know about your business. The holiday market is crowded, so connecting with eager shoppers requires a robust marketing campaign and holiday promotions.
A seasonal marketing campaign can attract new customers, build goodwill, and increase in-store and e-commerce traffic. Since millennials and Gen Zers make up the bulk of customers looking to shop small, a strategic digital marketing campaign can put your business in the online channels where your potential customers already are. Plan ahead to make the most of your holiday marketing budget with cost-effective channels like social media, content marketing, and influencer deals.
Digitize Billing and Invoicing
Billing doesn’t stop during the holidays. But it might face some challenges with days off and observed holidays. Prepare before the holiday rush to factor in holidays to your billing cycle. Removing the observed Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays can throw off an established billing routine without proper planning. If possible, set up automatic billing or payments or pre-pay bills to avoid getting thrown off by the busy season and potentially incurring late fees.
Preparing for the holiday rush is also a great time to digitize your billing and invoicing for smoother transactions. Software like Intuit Quickbooks, FreshBooks, and Square Invoices is tailored to small businesses, making it simple to reduce paper for faster, smoother payments and invoices. Digital invoicing means you have one less thing to worry about during the busy holiday season.
Support Seasonal and Full-Time Employees
Employees are always the heart of your business, especially during the holiday season. Look at the previous year’s sales numbers to determine if you need to hire seasonal workers to staff your store, warehouse, or contact center, whether it's one person to spend a few hours fulfilling orders or someone to step in 40 hours a week at your store. Be sure to allow time to train seasonal employees so they feel comfortable working your systems and interacting with customers. With 34% of small businesses reporting it’s harder to find seasonal help, you can stand out by offering fair wages, providing clear training, and asking for referrals from customers and employees.
Whether or not you hire seasonal employees, don’t forget about your permanent employees, who are likely putting in extra effort to prepare for a busy time of year. Schedule holiday PTO early to ensure your business is properly staffed while allowing employees time off to celebrate. Year-end incentives, such as bonuses or holiday gifts, can also be arranged beforehand so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute or risk forgetting to show appreciation to your employees.
Keep Momentum Going Next Year
The holiday season can be a jumping-off point for continued growth in the new year. It might seem far away, but planning now can help you move more smoothly into the new year after the holiday rush is over. Consider what you’ll need in the new year, such as inventory, staffing needs, and available cash. Placing orders now ensures you'll have supplies and inventory in place to hit the ground running in the new year.
The holidays are also the time to plan a marketing campaign to retain your new customers in the new year. Build on your progress by advertising future sales and events, offering return purchase discounts, and building your social media brand to capitalize on the attention you'll receive during the holidays.
The holiday season is critical for your small business—this is your time to shine and build customer loyalty and satisfaction. Prepare now to make the most of the busy and opportunity-filled season, and you can keep the momentum rolling into the new year.
Disclaimer: Fundbox and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.