The holiday shopping season is here. According to the results of a holiday consumer spending survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, holiday sales are expected to increase 4.1 percent this year.
Now’s the time for small business owners to take advantage of the holiday rush. Whether it’s financing seasonal working capital needs, updating marketing plans or hiring temporary workers, the U.S. Small Business Administration can offer help in maximizing sales.
For those who need help meeting short-term and cyclical working capital needs, the SBA CAPLines Program offers assistance. From contracting to purchase orders, CAPLines provides financing through a revolving line of credit. This helps small businesses owners get the cash on hand to manage their cash cycles, scale up and create jobs. The SBA streamlined the program this year to make it easier for small business owners to get financing even if collateral is tight.
For those who hire temporary or seasonal workers, remember that some of the laws and regulations that apply to full-time employees differ from those that apply to seasonal or part-time employees. Remember, too, that independent contractors and employees are not the same, and it’s important to understand the differences.
Take time to review the SBA publication titled “Equal Employment Opportunities Law – Who’s Covered?” to determine whether a person is an independent contractor or employee and which are covered under federal laws. The publication is available on the SBA website at www.SBA.gov. Don’t forget that labor laws still apply to seasonal workers, as do some benefit and tax laws.
There are endless ways to promote small businesses during the holiday season. Here are just a few budget-friendly tips to consider:
Use your website and social media to promote your business. This is true year-round, but your online presence, e-mail marketing and social media networks are great ways to connect with consumers during the holiday season, whether it’s through timely updates, compelling calls to action, promotions or discounts. Consider developing holiday themes for your e-mail templates and update your website and Facebook profile picture with a more festive look.
Host an open house. Use the holiday season as an opportunity to “open” your business and give customers an opportunity to check out your merchandise or holiday menus.
Get involved in community and charitable events. Supporting a charity or sponsoring a community event is a great way to generate awareness for your business during the holidays. Even if you don’t have the budget to donate large sums of money, think of other ways to get involved, such as offering volunteer services, equipment or even space.
Don’t forget that Small Business Saturday is scheduled for Nov. 24. Small business owners can join in this nationwide initiative. Access free marketing materials — including sample posters, press releases and social media updates — by visiting www.smallbusinesssaturday.com.
The holiday season can be overwhelming for some small business owners, but the SBA is here to help. Our goal is to provide the tools and resources for small businesses to start, grow and succeed.
Visit the SBA website at www.sba.gov to learn more about preparing your small business for the holiday season or to find your local SBA office for one-on-one service.