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Advice from Small Business Owners: How to Survive the Holidays

Dec 4, 2017

Every small business is different. The holiday season may bring more customers and busier days, or adversely, it may bring slower sales and necessary adjustments. We asked some small business owners what advice they would give to make it through the sometimes-unpredictable holiday season for whatever category your small business fits into.

“For the holidays, of course the obvious is that my inventory is increased along with the addition of holiday specific merchandise. But one helpful initiative is that all the small businesses in my neighborhood all work together on a whole series of holiday promotions. We have Black Friday sale pushes, an exclusive Friends and Family event and then afterwards we have another push for a 76% off sidewalk sale. This is the perfect push for when things slow down after the holidays. The number one tip is to work with neighboring businesses. Band together as a group to support the mom and pops and get people out of the chain stores and the mall. The results can be amazing.”

small business loansJeffrey Parish, Owner Junc
Boutique Retail Store

“We always make sure to add holiday elements and additions to the catering menu for variety. For example, we will include additional stuffed turkey items and roasted chicken. You want to shape and promote the idea that your product fits well with holidays.

Sometimes, the holiday season is slow. Operations wise, it’s important to know when to adjust employee hours to reflect how much business we are getting.

With advertising, remind customers that you are still there.  We try to capitalize on the fact that people may not want to cook during the holiday season. We actually plan on staying open for Christmas in our second location because we did research on the area and knew there would be a good opportunity to stay open then.

Study and forecast the area and know what to expect during the holiday and prepare. To cut back on costs, leave out expensive items with low profit margin to remain profitable.”

new business loansJavier Ramirez, Owner El Güero II
Mexican and Seafood Restaurant and Catering

“As a boutique physical fitness studio, our goal during the holiday season is to get our brand in front of as many people as possible. Plain and simple. What do people do during the holidays? Eat. On average, Americans gain 7 to 10lbs over the holiday season and most Americans make resolutions on New Year’s Eve. So the natural cycle of our business is to increase our client base during the first 12 weeks of the year.

While our spend on marketing usually increases in the 4th Quarter, the ROI in First Quarter has been quite high.  As we’re focused on health and fitness as a lifestyle, our clients are able to hit their short-term weight loss goals and have typically joined our fitness family on long term contracts as a result of that push before the holidays.

My advice to other small business owners? Get up early (earlier), grab a pen and paper and write down every idea that comes to mind about how to grow the business. Draw up a plan, seek wise counsel (a mentor for example) and execute.  Small business is about testing varying strategies and seeing what attracts your target demographic.  If something works, run with it.  If it loses its effectiveness over time, try to determine why, go back to the drawing board and start again.”

startup business loanChris Parish, Owner 2 The Next Level Fitness
Gym/Physical Fitness Training Center

“Plan ahead/anticipate – times get busy, and busy means people are buying and you are selling.  Schedule out ahead of time or automate whatever tasks possible so your attention span is freed up to focus on selling and customer interactions. Get into the spirit! Joy is contagious, get into it so your customers feel your excitement and buy into your brand. Be active on social mediaSocial media and online channels are extremely active during holidays and in the 4th Quarter. Be active and engaging to get your brand and product in front of people daily and in a compelling way!”

sba business loanColin Gazley, Ground Up Digital, LLC
Media Production Company


$3,098,641,569 dollars funded