By Evan Singer, General Manager for SmartBiz
Bye bye Black Friday. The big day for small business owners is November 28th this year.
Launched in 2010, American Express Small Business Saturday has become an annual tradition celebrating independent retailers. It’s a great way for small local businesses to compete with larger companies for holiday dollars.
Last year, 88 million people showed up to Shop Small on Small Business Saturday. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to promote your business and increase sales. If you’re a small business owner, here are 5 mistakes to avoid as you prepare for the big day:
1. Not Enough Holiday Inventory.
Have you taken seasonality into account when stocking your shelves? Running out of merchandise that could generate profit is a big fumble. If you’ve determined that one of your items might be a big seller this year, plan accordingly. Consider inventory management software if you don’t already have a system in place. There are multiple downloadable programs and mobile apps available.
To make sure your cash flow keeps flowing, look into additional financing to balance the extra upfront inventory costs. Secure financing ahead of time so that you can get the most affordable rates and terms for your budget (visit SmartBiz to find out in about 5 minutes if you prequalify for an SBA loan).
2. Not Enough Marketing.
The American Express Shop Small website makes it easy to bulk up your marketing efforts. Free marketing materials, free online ads and listings as well as free “Shop Small” merchandise are all offered. The goodies include everything from printable signage to balloons. These days, it’s important to build social media into your plan as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook blow up on Shop Small Saturday. Simple social media posts taking advantage of trending hashtags can put you in front of shoppers that you haven’t reached before.
Visit the Shop Small social media channels here:
Even if you haven’t done enough pre-marketing, you can still launch day-of marketing promotions to bring back a one-time customer. Offers like “Shop today and get 30 percent off of your next visit” can be a good motivator to return to your store.
3. Time Sucking Accounting Systems.
Small businesses have diverse accounting needs. If you don’t have a seamless process, you’re probably spending too much time on your books vs. growing your business. Before the holiday season hits, assess your small business bookkeeping. If it’s overwhelming, look into cloud based accounting software, like Xero or Quickbooks Online, created specifically for small businesses or hire an outside professional to manage the books. There are many temporary staffing companies, like 1-800 Accountants, that handle accounting, finance and bookkeeping responsibilities.
4. Not Having A Cash Budget.
Your small business cash budget is an estimate of the cash inflows and outflows for a specific period of time. Cash budgets can assess if you have sufficient cash to fulfill operations or whether too much cash is being used in an unproductive way. By creating a cash budget, you can anticipate when a cash deficit might exist and the extent of that shortfall. In turn, the budget can indicate when you need to explore outside funding options.
5. Insufficient Holiday Staff.
Is there anything more annoying to a busy shopper than an unanswered phone call or not being able to find a store employee? It’s a time to scale up your staff in anticipation of Small Business Saturday and the approaching holidays. Temporary or part-time workers can be found through outplacement recruiting firms. Make sure any new staff you bring on has been properly trained so that they know your business and can handle stressed out shoppers. Small Business Saturday is your brand’s introduction to new customers so you’ll want to ensure that those on the front lines are friendly, knowledgeable and efficient.
Evan Singer leads the operational, tactical and strategic activities associated with SmartBiz, the company’s small business loan product. He is responsible for the overall profitability, growth and success of SmartBiz.