5 Ways to Prepare Your Biz for Q4

The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, and there’s a definite chill in the air. It can only mean one thing: fall is upon us. But with autumn comes many things to look forward to—Halloween, Thanksgiving, and perhaps more important for small business owners, the beginning of Q4. Yes, it’s that time of year again. There’s only three full months left of 2014.

If the fourth quarter means a big sales push (fairly likely if you’re in the retail or hospitality industry), now’s the time to really start planning—even if Christmas seems a long way away. By starting your plan now, you’ll be less stressed when the busy season comes. So, without further ado, today we share our best tips on how to prepare your business for the final quarter of 2014.


1. Establish measurable goals

What are you hoping to accomplish next quarter? Are you trying to beat Q3’s sales numbers by 25 percent? Perhaps you’re setting out to sell a certain amount of a particular product? Try to make your goals for Q4 measurable rather than simply vowing to “increase sales”.


2. Plan your marketing

Marketing and advertising are a huge component to any brand’s holiday sales, so decide now what your budget will be and what channels you plan to use. You may choose to continue using your existing tried-and-tested marketing channels—such as your company blog and social media—but you might want to consider adding in a few more, such as paid advertising.


3. Consider hiring

If you’re in the retail business this is likely a no-brainer, but it’s important not to wait until Black Friday to start hiring temporary employees. Begin thinking about hiring additional staff now, as it will allow you to train them to a point where they’re comfortable in their new role long before the holiday rush begins.


4. Re-evaluate your shipping

Do you sell your products online? If so, it might be time to think about whether you’re set up for bulk mailings. Consider putting a strategy in place to avoid the need to rush to the post office five times a day. Try to lump your mailing together and ask your carrier whether they can pick them up, or consider an online shipping service rather than that regular post office commute.


5. Take stock of your inventory

It’s a wise idea to bulk up your inventory order to accommodate the increase in sales that this time of year inevitably brings. Take a look at last year’s numbers to see if you’re able to gauge how much you think you’ll need this year. Also, consider seeing if your suppliers will cut you a deal if you order larger quantities than you would ordinarily. Any savings—big or small—can make all the difference to a small business.


Bonus: Plan special promotions

Do you plan to have a major Black Friday blowout, or will you be offering smaller sales promotions (think buy one get one free, 30% off, free shipping, etc.) throughout the season? Whatever your plan is, ensure you have a strategy. Don’t implement too many promotions all at the same time—you don’t want to overwhelm your customers.

By Andrew Patricio

October 01, 2014