season

For small businesses, the holidays can be an overwhelming, stressful time. It’s often the biggest sales opportunity of the year for retail-based businesses, and there is a lot of pressure to capitalize on the season under normal circumstances.

Of course, in 2020 this is magnified significantly as businesses have persevered through a challenging year due to the Coronavirus pandemic including forced store closures and mass uncertainty.

What can – and should – small businesses do to survive the 2020 holiday season and thrive? Here are four pieces of advice from successful business owners around the country to help their peers make the most of this holiday season.

Be patient with new customers. Right now, so many businesses and customers alike are shopping online for the first time. This is going to include some growing pains on both sides, so be patient! I’ve had grandmothers reaching out to ask questions about our products or ask how to get catalogues. My advice is to talk to your customers 1:1 as though you were in person. They will appreciate your attention, and you might just create loyal, return customers in the process by establishing that personal connection.” – Dr. Dionne Mahaffey, Founder of Culture Greetings

Embrace your inbox. Now is a great time to be creative. Get innovative with how you interact with customers since we have to stay socially distanced from each other. Embrace the technology we have at hand to connect with people. Right now, 70% of my Messenger inquiries end up in a sale. The opportunity to connect with customers one-on-one, even though it’s not in-person, can be really powerful. – Latosha Stone, Founder of Proper Gnar

Watch out for burnout. The holidays are a busy and stressful time. Go into the season with realistic goals and don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your team. Tell your employees to rest! Make sure you do too, and carve out time to actually do what you love when it comes to the business. The great benefit of selling on social is that you’re not going to miss any opportunities, there’s always a visible list of conversations that you can follow up on later.”  – Kel Cadet-Lyons, Founder of R-Ki-Techt

Leverage Your Network. During stressful times, it’s important to know you’re a part of a community. I regularly connect with other women in Los Angeles, and across the country, through platforms like Messenger for Business. We all share the same burning passion for entrepreneurship, and being able to nurture these relationships, knowing that other business owners have experienced similar things, can be really helpful. While we may not be able to network in person right now, connecting virtually and cultivating a community is still so important. – Tay Watts, Founder of Posh Candle Co. 

By following these four tips small businesses can make the most of the upcoming holiday shopping season, and hopefully gain loyal customers who will shop with them in 2021 and beyond.

Dr. Dionne Mahaffey is the Founder of Cultural Greetings, Latosha Stone is the Founder of Proper Gnar, Kel Cadet-Lyons is the Founder of R-Ki-Techt and Tay Watts is the Founder of Posh Candle Co.

Season survival stock photo by ehrlif/Shutterstock