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I used to be in the retail shoe business and always knew the holiday season was quickly approaching. It can bring new customers and increased sales to help your business to succeed. The National Retail Federation (NRF) found that 20 to 40 percent of yearly sales for small and mid-sized retailers take place within the last two months of the year, so there is no doubt that it is important for small businesses. The NRF also projects that consumers will spend 4.1 percent more than last year during the winter holidays. If you take steps to prepare your business and capitalize on these valuable opportunities, it can truly be the most wonderful time of the year.

A few of the biggest shopping days come at the end of November – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. A 2017 survey conducted by market researchers OnePoll and commissioned by Groupon found that 67 percent of Americans preferred shopping at small businesses over large national chains for their holiday shopping. With more people wanting to shop local, it’s important to be prepared with enough staff to handle an influx of customers. As a former small business owner myself, I understand nothing can get done if you do not have the people and resources to do it. In the same vein, if you are promoting incentives like gift wrapping or a small gift with purchase, be sure to have plenty of the necessary equipment. As always, it is best to prepare for these things in advance so big days like Small Business Saturday can run more smoothly.

Advertising is an important part of running a business, and it’s especially important during the holidays. If you are having any sales or events, be sure to promote them on your website, your social networks and any other media outlets you think will work for your business. Offering great sales is one thing, but it’s just as important to get the word out about them. The Small Business Administration provides countless tools for small business owners, including tips for Small Business Saturday and advice on preparing for the holiday season. It also offers free advertising materials like posters, press releases and social media posts for Small Business Saturday.

When I owned my shoe store in Gillette, I found that one of the most important things you can do to get ready for the holiday season is to plan ahead for success. A simple place to start is filling out a calendar with holidays, events and sales. Once you have the important dates written down, you can think about how you can prepare for each. By planning ahead and establishing a schedule, you can take necessary steps toward a more positive and productive end to the year.

Make this holiday season one to remember and keep the tradition going in the future by taking steps to prepare for it. I hope the joy of this special season stays with you and your business throughout the year.