Preparing for Your First Holiday Season As a Small Business

Preparing for Your First Holiday Season As a Small Business
Updated May 30, 2023
Kevin McGrath
Written byKevin McGrath
Zachary Ace Aiuppa
Edited byZachary Ace Aiuppa
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For many small businesses, the holiday season can bring a windfall of economic opportunity. However, the holidays could be a rough time if you're caught off guard. If you're a new entrepreneur getting ready for your first holiday season, keep reading to learn how the holidays could impact your business and some smart ways to prepare.

How the Holidays Could Impact Your Business

While the holiday impact on your business depends largely on your industry, very few small businesses will get through the holidays completely unscathed. The last quarter of every year presents unique struggles and opportunities that every business owner should be aware of.

Increased Demand

In the United States, the holidays, including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, mean big business. According to the National Retail Federation, retail sales in the US during 2019 exceeded $730 billion. Many companies rely on this increased demand at the end of the year to maintain profitability. Large retailers like Walmart, Target, and Tiffanies increase sales dramatically during this time of year, with some earning more than 30% of their annual sales in November and December alone.

Longer Hours

Increased demand during the holidays for your goods or services will likely require extra hours from you and your employees. To help accommodate these extra hours, many businesses hire and fire seasonal employees every year. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, retail stores laid off 683,000 seasonal workers after the 2019 holiday season.

Shipping Delays

While the holidays can wreak havoc on shipping times across America, your customers likely expect to receive their orders before Christmas. Carriers have already listed their cutoff dates below.

2020 USPS US Holiday Deadlines

  • Retail Ground: Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

  • First Class Mail: Friday, December 18th, 2020

  • Priority Mail: Saturday, December 19th, 2020

  • Priority Mail Express: Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

2020 FEDEX US Holiday Deadlines

  • FedEx SmartPost: Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

  • FedEx Ground: Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

  • Home Delivery: Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

  • Express Saver: Monday, December 21st, 2020

  • 2Day Services: Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

  • Overnight Services: Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

2020 UPS US Holiday Deadlines

  • Ground: December 15th, 2020

  • 3 Day Select: Monday, December 21st, 2020

  • 2nd Day Air Services: Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

  • Next Day Air Services: Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

Tips to Help Your Business Succeed This Holiday Season

Now that you know some of the challenges you may face, let's explore how to solve them. Below are seven tips to prepare your small business to have a profitable holiday season.

1. Be True to Your Brand & Your Customers

Every religion, culture, and family celebrates the holidays differently. How your small business embraces the holidays should be equally diverse. Take the opportunity to do some brand work for your company and decide how you can use this time of year to stand out. Remember to put yourself in your customers' shoes and think about how to add value for them. From your communications to decorations, make sure you offer your customers an experience that meets their needs and stays true to who you want to be as a brand.

2. Keep Your Employees Cheerful

Your employees will play a vital role in carrying out your holiday plan. Be sure you are meeting their needs during this busy time. Start planning your staff's holiday schedule far in advance. You can start by determining your holiday hours and asking existing staff to complete any time off requests. Determine from there if you will need to hire any seasonal employees to meet extra demand.

Don't forget to share some holiday cheer with your employees. Consider throwing a holiday party, giving away prizes, or even sharing the holiday profits in the form of raises or bonuses at the end of the year. Keeping your employees happy will help keep your customers happy as well.

3. Keep a Close Eye on Your Inventory

Once you set your staffing needs, take a look at your inventory. This is another area where planning ahead will be vital to your success. Work closely with your vendors, suppliers, and manufacturers to predict any increase in demand for your products. Make sure you get all orders in with enough time to receive extra inventory before the holiday demand begins to grow.

While most industries have consistently seen year-over-year increases in holiday spending, 2020 may be difficult to predict. The Coronavirus Pandemic has brought hardship to many families, and some small businesses will feel that this year. According to a survey of 1,000 consumers, 40% of shoppers anticipate spending less this year compared to last because of COVID-19 related concerns.

4. Make It Festive In-Store & Online

Even with consumer optimism waning, it is crucial to keep things fun and festive throughout your business. For your office and in-store displays, try getting the whole company involved in an after-hours decorating party. You can play your favorite holiday music, order food, and make quick work of it.

Make sure your online presence gets some holiday love, too. Spread the cheer on your social media accounts, and consider creating holiday-themed images and banners to share throughout your website.

5. Develop a Holiday-Focused Marketing Campaign

Guide your brand's holiday aesthetics with a holiday-focused marketing campaign that connects the dots for your customers. This is where your brand identity and having the right team in place will really make a difference. Some of the most popular ways to help drive holiday sales include:

  • Running a social media contest or giveaway

  • Doing a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising campaign

  • Sending out holiday-themed emails to new and existing customers

  • Offering holiday discounts (Black Friday Sales)

  • Giving customer rewards to encourage repeat business

  • Stepping out of your comfort zone with video marketing and hashtags

6. Keep Good Records for Next Year

Keeping good records will be a huge timesaver when preparing for everything your business will need to anticipate for the holidays. No detail will be too small. From extra toilet paper for the bathrooms to creating branded gift cards for last-minute shoppers, write everything down. If this is your first holiday season as a business, reach out to your network, other owners in your industry or city who may be able to help.

7. Continue to Invest in Your Future

One way to help you keep track of inventory and other bookkeeping is new business software. Making investments like this in your business will help promote future growth. Likewise, if you expect increased sales during the holidays, make some plans to allocate the extra cash flow. Creating a strategic investment in your inventory, training, or other tools will help make sure you are around for many years to come.

Get Tax Savings by Forming an LLC Before the Holidays Start!

One of the smartest ways new business owners can invest in their future is by forming an LLC. Limited Liability Corporations offer their owners tax advantages and limit their personal liability should any legal trouble occur. Swyft Filings offers unbeatable services that will make filing the paperwork for your LLC fast and affordable. To get started, visit our LLC page and enter your location to form your LLC in less than 10 minutes.

Originally published on October 24, 2022, and last edited on May 30, 2023.

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