Post-COVID trade is promising. The National Retail Federation predicted that 2021 holiday sales would be 8.5% to 10.5% higher than in November and December 2020. For small businesses in America, the recovery couldn’t come soon enough.
As of March 2020, this industry was hit hard, with around 400,000 small businesses closing over the next three months. The positive change, however, is here. In the third quarter of 2021, even the sectors most affected by the shutdown, such as leisure, hospitality and personal services, saw an upturn.
As a small business owner, it’s important to prepare for the holiday sales boom. Create an authoritative plan that can take into account increased capital production, short-term debt, and possible inventory shortages due to supply chain issues. Collect holiday sales numbers to use as a benchmark to beat. A warm winter is coming.
5 tips for running your small business while on vacation
Increased vacation spending is the perfect opportunity to make up for lost income that you have suffered in the past 18 months. By planning well, you might even exceed your sales goals. Here are five tips to quickly prepare your way to success.
1. Set goals
Use Small Business Saturday as a marker. This national holiday, founded by American Express and co-sponsored by the Small Business Administration, celebrates American small businesses. It lands on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and in 2021, it’s November 27. Make preparing for that date your main goal.
Tony Whatley, the founder of 365 Driven, a community of entrepreneurs, says preparing for Small Business Saturday puts you in future thinking mode. “It’s an important date because it allows people to focus on deals and opportunities. It is a way to test your processes and your accomplishment. If you can make bigger sales someday, why not 365 days? Setting records creates momentum for the New Year.
Also check out the 2020 holiday sales, then go back a few years. If your business existed in 2018 and 2019, get these numbers. You want to use them as numbers to be exceeded.
“Every business should think about growth,” Whatley says. “If you don’t evolve, you are dying. Look back on historical data for reference. These numbers never lie. You should always try to improve yourself.
2. Stock up on inventory
Unless your business is strictly service-oriented, inventory plays a crucial role. The last thing you want to do is run out of supplies needed to fill the orders. Focus on how you will manage to stock up on your supplies while keeping your spending under control.
Unfortunately, supply chain issues have arisen as a result of the pandemic, affecting a wide range of businesses. If you can’t get the ingredients, machines, or supplies you need on time, you may have to get creative.
“The economy is different this year,” Whatley says. “The shortage of desirable products will drive up prices. Consumers will be looking for availability, which may be the most important to you. Historically, Small Business Saturdays were designed for retailers to run out of inventory, but the game has changed. Now people just want things even though the prices are higher. If you know this and can find what people want the most, what they need to have no matter what, you’re good.
Also, don’t forget where the products come from and that you want to retain customers after the holidays. Supply chain issues can continue to be hit and miss for months or even years. Not only can you entice buyers with great service, Whatley says, but also with locally produced or domestically produced items because they won’t be stranded at the port.
3. Create a marketing plan
Marketing puts your product in the public eye, so strategize.
If you don’t have a solid social media presence now, put energy into building it immediately, says Maleeka Hollaway, Atlanta-based publicist and owner of TheOMGBiz. With simple and easy-to-create images and videos, you can reach an astonishing number of new customers.
“Wherever your target audience resides online, your presence there should be magnified 10 times by the New Year,” says Hollaway. “Pinterest, Instagram and TikTok allow you to be extremely creative in showcasing what your business has to offer. And the shelf life of an item on these platforms can give you additional visibility and sales even after the holidays. .
Use every method possible to connect with new customers, including Facebook and Google ads, as well as the scouring sites journalists use to find information and experts. “Watch out for Help to a Journalist posts and feature your business in holiday feature articles,” says Hollaway. “There are media platforms that are always looking to consolidate gift lists. “
If you don’t have the time to manage your marketing campaign, hire. A public relations professional can guide you towards the most effective advertising and media strategy. Their job is to get you noticed, which will result in increased sales. For cost-effective social media management, connect with students on break who want to gain work experience. Most are social media pros, and the price can be right.
4. Open an online storefront
If you haven’t already, explore online storefronts and e-commerce platforms, even if you already have a physical storefront. COVID security remains an ongoing issue for many consumers, which is why a certain percentage of holiday shoppers prefer to shop online. Other consumers have found that it is more convenient to press the “buy” button than to park, queue and spend too much time in stores and malls.
Nicki Pomije, owner of The Cookie Cups, based in Minnesota, went digital during COVID. “The pandemic closed one location, so we switched to online sales, producing cooking kits for children. You need to change. For us, we started selling non-food products instead of our baked cookies. “
Most online storefronts are simple to set up and inexpensive. For example, Shopify’s basic plan costs just $ 29 per month. Etsy charges a listing fee of $ 0.20 per item and a transaction fee of 5% of the price you post. The Professional plan for Amazon is $ 39.99 per month, plus additional selling fees.
“I like Shopify because it’s user-friendly, not technical, and they have great customer support,” says Pomije. “I hope to sell between 4,000 and 5,000 units in the next 75 days. As for Amazon, it’s great for growing your business because they help you reach millions of people.
Also, be sure to offer buyers the option of receiving their products via contactless delivery or pickup. The key is to be flexible now. “COVID is still a factor, so we’re going to be placing orders with people sitting in their cars, delivering to their homes, all contactless. Anything they want to make them feel comfortable.
If you are selling your business e-commerce website, take a speed test now. You will want to be sure that your site can handle any increase in traffic. Google PageSpeed Insights is free and fast.
5. Track your finances
A balance sheet shows the assets, inventory, and liabilities of your business. Prepare one now. A small business calculator will help you calculate the numbers.
If your business has more debt (for example, loans or small business credit cards) than assets, it’s in the red. And if you have more than you owe, it’s in the dark. Either way, you’ll want to move on, using this season’s sales to either reduce debt or increase profits.
Getting and staying financially organized is also crucial, especially during the chaotic sales season. Accounting software like QuickBooks can put you on the right track. With it, you can stay on top of accounts receivable (the money owed to you), accounts payable (the amount you owe to vendors or vendors), cash on hand, and how much you need. to perform the payroll.
Liz H. Kelly of Goody PR, a small business public relations firm, says now isn’t the time to tinker with your bookkeeping if you’ve never done it yourself.
“Accounting software tools are great, but you have to learn how to use them,” Kelly says. “I encourage my small business clients to hire a professional, especially now. They need to focus on vacation sales. I don’t want them to worry about their financial accounts, but they need to be sure of the numbers.
The bottom line
Stick to your plan and don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to those who can do them better or faster than you. Your goal should be to market your product or service to the shopping world so that you can have a successful year. Running your business effectively will allow you to exceed your goals for the holiday season 2021 and beyond.