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How to Thrive During the Holiday Season

How to Thrive During the Holiday Season

Each holiday season, consumers are bombarded by ads from major brands, all vying to be the one chosen to finish off your holiday gift list. But these retailers have millions to spend, and our nation’s small business owners are finding it difficult to compete. Vistaprint recently surveyed 500 owners of main street small business owners nationwide to find out just how important this time of year is for their business, and what exactly they struggle with the most.

Of those surveyed, 29% of business owners say that they would be facing closure if they don’t generate the revenue they plan on for the holidays. A further 40% said an unsuccessful holiday season will cause their business to struggle over the next 12 months. But with such high stakes, there are several obstacles in their way. Our survey told us that the top barriers for business owners this time of year are a lack of time, ideas, and budget.

There’s no doubt that the holiday season is a crucial and challenging time for small business owners, but there are certain steps you can take to maximize your potential during this season:

Plan Ahead

The good thing about the holidays is that they come every year, which means you don’t have to wait until the last minute to start planning for them. We recommend starting in October and allowing plenty of time to create your plan of attack. That way, when things get hectic, you’ll be all set. When doing this, also decide on a holiday marketing budget. Our survey revealed that small business owners spend an average of $560 marketing their business during the holidays. Decide what works best for you, and make sure to stick to it. Here is a holiday checklist we put together that begins in October and goes through the entire holiday season. Hopefully this will give you more time in December to relax, spend time with friends and family, and get ready for the New Year.

Get Creative

A smaller budget and lack of resources shouldn’t hold you back from being creative, and there is a lot you can do to stand out and be successful during the holidays. While the absence of a large team and the day-to-day challenges of running a business can make it hard to plan for promotional activities, you’ll be surprised at what can be achieved in a short timeframe and small budget. According to our research, small business owners spend just a few hundred dollars to decorate their storefront window for the holidays. With that in mind, we created a guide for store owners to create a holiday display that stands out and brings customers in that may have simply walked by in the past. Start by determining your message and what you want your window to say before getting into the design.

Play to Your Strengths

As well as representing the backbone of our economy, small businesses offer consumers significant value. Whether it’s spending that little bit longer creating products, going the extra mile to keep customers happy, or greeting them by their name when they walk in the door, that’s the kind of added value that can be attractive to customers. Make sure you communicate these unique qualities as part of your holiday marketing strategy. One way of doing this is to ensure you’re replicating the personal service that consumers love across your social media platforms, by closely monitoring their comments, and responding in a customer-centric way. You should also showcase your holiday spirit, through sharing videos and images of your new products, your store’s décor, and motivated team who are ready to serve customers during this busy period.

Know You Are Not Alone

The holidays can be extremely overwhelming and stressful for small business owners who often wear many different hats during the busiest time of year. It is reassuring to know that many business owners out there are feeling the same way, with over half (56%) saying they find it difficult to compete with the large retailers this time of year. Network with fellow business owners to learn what has worked for them in the past, and vice versa.

The holiday season poses many challenges for small business owners, but these tips will enable you not only to survive, but to thrive both throughout the holidays and the year to come.

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by Sarah Nunes // Sarah Nunes leads Vistaprint's Brand Management team, which encompasses content marketing & social media, PR, and marketing communications. Sarah has worked in both sales and marketing roles at companies large and small, including General Electric and Bank of America. She received her B.A. from UCLA and her M.B.A. from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.