Small business isn’t just important in America. It’s an essential part of the fabric of our communities and economy.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, our country boasts more than 30 million small companies. And despite the pandemic’s effect on buying behaviors and commerce, entrepreneurs continue to dream big and found startups every week. If you’re a business owner, innovator, and calculated risk-taker, you know how true this is. You also know that this year has been difficult. However, you have an upcoming opportunity to improve your financial standing: Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday, which is sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, has gained serious momentum since being introduced about a decade ago. In fact, 2019’s Small Business Saturday numbers were record-smashing. Collectively, small companies brought in just shy of $20 billion.

What will this year bring in terms of holiday shopping? No one can be sure. Nevertheless, you’re in a position to remind your community of your presence so they can honor the important role your business plays. After all, when a neighbor buys from you, their money adds to the local tax base. They’re not just purchasing an item — they’re purchasing new green spaces, improved emergency services, and top-notch schools.

Of course, you can’t just rake in some last-minute profits before year’s end without a little planning, and COVID-19 presents some real challenges. First of all, no one’s interacting with businesses the way they did before. The world is different, and vendors need to adapt. Secondly, you can’t safely host a bunch of people in your brick-and-mortar store because of social distancing policies. Finally, consumers might hold onto their wallets a little tighter due to personal fiscal concerns.

How to Prepare Your Business for Small Business Saturday

Despite these obstacles, you can’t afford to let Nov. 28 — 2020’s Small Business Saturday — pass you by. Instead, consider employing some (or all) of the following Small Business Saturday strategies to make the most of this yearly tribute to entrepreneurship.

1. Keep lines of communication open between you and customers. Your customers want to hear from you right now, so keep on giving them information so they know what’s going on with your business. For instance, if you’re operating a business in The District in Columbia, Missouri, you might be planning to participate in the Nov. 30 local community shopping event as well as Small Business Saturday. But don’t assume that your patrons will know about these events: Tell them by sending out emails and texts and posting about them on your blog and social media accounts.

2. Make it easy to shop with you during Small Business Saturday. Think about your environment and your customers’ comfort levels concerning interactions with your staffers. Are you set up for social distancing? Can patrons pay with plastic to avoid handing over paper money? Whenever possible, make transactions a piece of cake. Offer curbside delivery or allow patrons to pay online for merchandise they see in the store. Get creative and be sure everyone knows that you’re not just acting like “business as usual.”

3. Refresh your website. You might not have revisited your website in a while. However, knowing the importance of Small Business Saturday’s potential effect on your fourth-quarter revenue, it might be a good idea to take some time to update everything. You might even want to add an e-commerce section or put extended holiday hours front and center on the homepage. While you’re at it, fix any broken links or other stumbling blocks. Your goal should be to make finding information easy for shoppers. If nothing else, at least offer gift cards: They’re a terrific way to secure money upfront.

4. Plan to have enough staff for superior support. Depending upon your industry, you might want to hire a few temporary folks for the Black Friday weekend. This isn’t money lost — it’s goodwill gained. The last thing you want is for customers to be annoyed because you’re understaffed. Show that you took preparing for Small Business Saturday seriously by having enough personnel on hand in case you get a tidal wave of customers. What a great “problem” to have, right?

5. Stock up on popular items. Do you anticipate that certain things you sell could become hot commodities this year? Although you don’t want to end up with excessive overstock, you also don’t want to run out by noon. Look over last year’s sales data to gauge what you might need. Comparing 2019 figures to this year’s won’t be like apples to apples, but the analysis of past purchase history should help you make thoughtful inventory decisions.

Excited to celebrate Small Business Saturday as a kickoff to the end-of-year buying season? Me too! Let’s trade notes by following each other on Facebook. (I also share more SMB- and entrepreneurship-related thoughts on there.) I look forward to hearing the other creative methods you have in your arsenal to welcome consumers into your local store or restaurant. Feel free to drop a Facebook comment if you have any suggestions to add to this post!

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