Christmas has come around so fast yet again and businesses are left wondering how prepared they are for the festive rush. If you're one of these small businesses, relax because we're sharing with you the steps to take to ensure your business is ready to roll this December.
How to Get Your Business Ready for Christmas
While there's no official Christmas shopping period in New Zealand, it would be fair to say that consumers start shopping around mid to late October. This is also the time that many large businesses set up their Christmas shops, followed closely by decorated stores and social media posts. In the past there has been plenty of backlash on how retailers start playing Christmas carols and bringing out the tinsel well before December. However, it must have some financial payoff for it to be done, as each year it is repeated.
As to the best time for your business to begin getting ready for the festive season, that's an individual choice. You'll need to weigh it up against what your target market is wanting verses your marketing plans. However, what you will need to do shouldn't differ greatly from any other business. Let's take a look at the tasks you've got to complete:
- Decide on your marketing - how are you going to attract customers to your business? What will make you stand out above all the other festive noise? Social media posts, Facebook advertising, email marketing, giveaways and print ads are just some of the marketing opportunities you will have available depending on your budget.
- Christmasfy your business - more important for retail rather than service based businesses, decorating your store, website and social media posts helps remind your audience that Christmas is coming up. It gets them into the 'spirit' of the season and creates urgency.
- Get organised - if your business send out a lot of packages, stock up on your courier bags and packaging materials. Identify your final delivery dates and tell your customers what they are. Ensure you have enough stock on hand to fulfil your orders.
- Use your branding - your branding should not change over the holiday season, but rather be added to. This means you can add some Christmas cheer in the form of additional graphics on your website banner, social media posts and store windows.
- Arrange staff schedules - it's going to get busy, so if you have employees, you should start to think about adding to their hours and finding cover for their breaks. If you work alone, you may need to get an extra pair of hands for your busy periods.
While most businesses expect an increase in sales over the silly seasons, for others sales can decline, and for many expenses will rise. This adds another dimension into the organisation of preparing your business for Christmas.
Managing Your Business' Cashflow Over Christmas
In November and December, it's common for businesses to see a rise in their income, expenses or both. Managing your cashflow is vital to ensure that you stay afloat and functioning for the next year. This includes sticking to a budget, knowing what expenses you can claim and understanding your tax obligations. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Expense claims - generally a business can claim 100% of any expenses they occur. The issue is though, entertainment expenses are usually only 50% tax deductible. We suggest viewing the latest information about entertainment expenses on the IRD's website.
- Pay invoices on time - it's easy to forget to pay an invoice when you're busy. Make a note of all that need paying and organise this before they fall due to avoid penalty interest.
- Send invoices and enforce them - like you, your customers or clients are busy at this time of the year too. Gentle reminders of overdue accounts are worth doing.
- GST, provisional tax and employer month deductions are due later than normal - but you still can't forget them!
- Revisit your budget to ensure your finances will be fine over the Christmas break.
For more great advice on getting your business ready for Christmas, take a read of these articles on 7 Christmas Marketing Ideas for Your Business and How to Increase Website Sales at Christmas.