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Is Your Cash Flow Ready for the Holiday Season?

You may not be trimming the tree just yet, but it’s definitely time to make sure your business is ready for the biggest shopping season of the year. From retailers to restaurants, the majority of small businesses will significantly boost their bottom line in Q4. According to a recent survey from Vistaprint, 75% of consumers indicated that they’re likely to do at least some of their holiday shopping with small businesses this year. Here’s a quick checklist to make sure you are ready to maximize your profits this holiday season:

  1. Check your inventory. Whether your priority is ensuring you have the latest and greatest products or cleaning out some aging inventory, it’s essential to plan what and how you will sell this holiday season. Decide which products you want to push and order enough inventory. You’ll likely need more products in stock than you would throughout the rest of the year, and you don’t want to risk running out of stock or shipping delays, both of which can cause you to miss out on potential sales. Plus, by ordering early and in bulk, you may be eligible for a discount from your suppliers. It certainly can’t hurt to ask!
  2. Plan for extra staff. Holiday hiring may be more difficult this year, as there aren’t as many people looking for work. Unemployment fell to a 16-year low of 4.2% in September. Whether you are planning to give your current employees additional hours or hire temporary staff, starting early will give you an advantage in finding the qualified help you need.
  3. Remember the extra expenses that accompany the holidays. Yes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s also the most expensive. From decorations to employee parties, the holidays come with many extra expenses for small business owners. When budgeting, consider all of the “extras,” such as customer appreciation or kid-friendly events, employee bonuses or gifts, entertainment outside of your store or restaurant, and giveaways or other holiday promotions.

Once you have a better understanding of the cash flow required for the next few months, decide whether you will need a small loan to make the most of the holiday season. Having sufficient cash flow to cover your holiday AND normal day-to-day expenses is critical. Many small businesses need to finance those additional expenses. If you decide to move forward with a loan, take the time to understand all of your loan options, especially the interest rates, transaction fees and prepayment terms. Rushing to find a quick loan so you can get a jump start on the holidays could lead you to a predatory lender that may not only negate your holiday sales, but ultimately put your business in danger. Here are a few straightforward resources to help you make an informed decision about which loan options may work best for you.

  • Loan calculator - Pinpoint what types of financing are ideal for your situation.
  • Types of loans - Learn the most popular types of loans for small business owners, as well as their features and things to consider before applying for funds.
  • Glossary - See an unfamiliar term from a lender? Check out exactly what it means.
  • Mission-driven lender locator map -  Mission-driven lenders not only provide affordable loans, but also the education, counseling and support that small business owners need to succeed. Find one near you.

By assessing your holiday expenses and ensuring you have the necessary funds, you’ll be ready to roll once the frenzy begins after Thanksgiving. Want more small business financing facts, tips and news? Follow Venturize on Twitter and Facebook!