I know, I know! We have yet to even hit Halloween. And I am one that still wants to see the Spook-tacular decor in store and not entirely ready to see Candy Canes....However, preparing for the end of fall and being willing to usher in the holiday season is crucial for small business owners to ensure they can capitalize on the opportunities and challenges that this time of year presents. And with proper planning, it doesn't have to be scary! To help you get ready (while also celebrating where we ARRRG - please excuse my festive Halloween and autumn references while also providing some handy holiday information.
1. Pumpkin-Spiced Planning:
- Create a Holiday Calendar: Start by outlining important dates like Halloween, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and New Year's. Then, work backward from these dates to plan marketing campaigns, promotions, and events.
- Decorate Your Store: Add some seasonal charm to your physical or online store. A "spooktacular" window display can attract attention and create a festive atmosphere. It doesn't have to be complicated, but regularly changing your window displays to coincide with the seasons is a great way to continually catch the eyes of passersby and entice folks to periodically shop because they can see it is likely something new to discover! A well-decorated storefront can be the "potion" to lure customers inside.
- Inventory Check: Make sure you have enough stock for the upcoming holiday rush. You wouldn't want to "ghost" your customers with empty shelves. Remember the Target Canada debacle?
2. Boo-tiful Marketing:
- Promoting your business shouldn't be scary: Consider running on-themed promotions to draw customers in. Use humour where appropriate that is tailored to your audience, as it tends to help information stick
- Social Media Content: Share creative seasonal content on your social media platforms. There is still time to capitalize on some Halloween traffic, too! Post pictures of your team in costume or ask your audience to share their best costume ideas.
- Email Campaigns: If you don't already have an email list started, make 2024 the year you prioritize this. Just don't treat your email list like a social media account and send something every day. You know how you hate being drowned with emails from Old Navy... Pick a schedule that works for your workload and the volume of information that needs to go out. Maybe you only send one quarterly, or like us - monthly with an occasional additional timely message. In no time, you'll be sending out "fang-tastic" email newsletters with holiday offers and gift suggestions.
3. Treats, Not Tricks:
- Customer Appreciation: Show gratitude to your loyal customers with special discounts or early access to holiday products.
- Customer Service: Train your staff to provide excellent customer service during this busy season. A great customer experience is better than any sweet you could offer- less cavities, too. This staff training should also include some appreciation for your staff - being in customer service can be emotionally draining, and appreciation goes a long way. Also, a quick reminder for yourself that no one cares about your business as much as you do, and you can't expect that your employees will - if they do, you've got something extraordinary and have found the perfect people to help support you and your vision - treat them well!
- Gift Cards: Offer gift cards for those who are unsure about their holiday shopping. It's a "boo-nanza" for last-minute shoppers.
4. Plan for the New Year:
- Set Goals: Outline your business goals for the new fiscal year. What do you want to achieve? Use this time to reflect on your past performance and strategize for the future.
- Budgeting: You don't want any frights in this area! Review your financials and allocate budgets for marketing, expansion, and any necessary improvements.
- Team Alignment: Ensure your team understands and is aligned with your goals for the coming year. A strong team is your "holiday miracle."
6. Be Ahead of the Sleigh:
- Fulfillment and Shipping: Make sure you have a robust fulfillment and shipping process in place to handle the holiday rush. Consider offering free or expedited shipping options if you offer products online. It's also a great time to consider transitioning to discrete shipping to help keep gifts surprising!
- Returns Policy: Review your returns policy to accommodate gifts and purchases made during this season.
7. Network Like a Vampire:
- Holiday Networking: Attend local holiday events and business mixers to build relationships and foster partnerships for the new year. Might we suggest the After Dark Party at Horton Market on November 25 ;)
- Collaborations: Explore collaborations with other local businesses for cross-promotions and events.
8. Year-End Clean-Up:
- Inventory Clearance: Consider offering end-of-year clearance sales to reduce excess inventory.
- Financial Review: Meet with your accountant to review your year-end financials and get your taxes in order.
9. Celebrate and Rest:
- Holiday Party: Organize a holiday party for your team to celebrate your accomplishments and unwind. You could treat them to a night out for the After Dark Party *wink*
- Relax: Take a break to recharge for the new year. You've earned it! Get this break on the calendar now, and if adjustments to store hours or availability need to be made to accommodate a break, post the changes early to give your customers a good heads-up.
With these "spooktacular" tips, you'll be well-prepared to navigate the end of fall and the holiday season while aligning your small business with your goals for the new fiscal year. Happy Haunting and Happy Holidays! 🎃👻🎅🎉
But, I also have a question...Is the Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween or a Christmas movie?
As a small business owner, you have a lot of responsibilities. You wear a lot of hats and have multiple tasks in the air on a daily basis, so it can be challenging to focus on the bigger picture. But January is a great time to widen the lens and examine what your bigger picture for the year ahead looks like. To work towards business growth in 2023 and beyond, setting SMART goals is essential.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Setting goals that meet these criteria will ensure that you’re taking meaningful steps towards achieving success for your business this year. Let’s dive into what each of these elements mean for goal setting.
Specific and Measurable
Specific goals are more likely to get accomplished because they provide direction and clear objectives that you can work towards achieving. They should also be measurable so that you can track your progress throughout the year. For example, if one of your goals is to increase website traffic by 10%, then you will be able to track how close you are to reaching this goal at any given point in time by tracking website visitors or other key performance indicators (KPIs). This will help keep you motivated as you move closer towards achieving your goal!
Attainable and Relevant
Your goals should be attainable but also challenging enough to push yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s wise to set realistic expectations to avoid becoming overwhelmed or discouraged when something doesn't go as planned. Additionally, make sure the goals are relevant to where your business currently stands and where it could potentially go in the future. For example, if your current customer base is primarily local customers, then setting a goal of increasing international customer numbers might not be feasible or relevant right now.
Lastly, all goals should have an end date attached so that there is an element of urgency and motivation behind achieving them by a set time frame. Without a deadline in place it can be easy to procrastinate, leading to decreased productivity levels over time. So make sure all of your goals have an end date attached!
When setting goals for your small business this year, remember to keep them SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound—so that they are achievable yet still challenging enough for growth! Doing so will help ensure that 2023 is a successful year full of progress towards achieving bigger and better things!