As we get closer to Christmas I hear an every increasing numbers of entrepreneurs say that they are winding down, that they are busy tying up any lose ends and are eagerly awaiting to relax, unwind and spend time with the family.
But is this the time to wind down? What lessons can we learn from retail giants?
Is Macy's or Walmart winding down? Are they tying up lose ends?
No, they are not. Instead during this holiday period they have ramped up advertising, opened their stores earlier and closed later and have made every attempt to get you to buy what they are offering.
If you look back to the origin of these now big companies, they started of as an entrepreneur's dream and then turned into a small business just like yours, with the hopes of one day being a big player in the retail arena.
What is the difference between you and the founders of Macy's and Walmart?
There are lessons to be learned from the way these companies conduct business. These companies and other like it have spent millions understanding consumer behavior and judging by their growth and success, they understand what motivates a customer to buy, they understand when and how customers buy, and what bells and whistles to use in their advertising campaigns to get customers to buy.
So here are a few lessons that can help you carve out your own successful future;
1. Take advantage of the holidays: December is not the time to wind down operations; instead it's the time to ramp up operations because during the holidays consumers are in buying mode. Look at your current products and services and see what you can ''put a bow'' on. What can you repackage or re-purpose to sell at this time of year?
2. Plan ahead: Following in the footsteps of these retail giants who plan their calendar years in advance, why not spend some time planning what you are going to offer your customers over the next 12 months? Get really detailed. Do some research; for example, find out if your ideal customer would want to buy something around Valentine's Day, or perhaps find out if your product could be beneficial to customers that need help with their New Year's resolutions.
3. Customer birthdays: Every year I get a birthday email from different retail shops wishing me a happy birthday and giving me a gift of 30% off. TGI Fridays is really good at making customers feel great on their birthdays. Why not, as part of your sales process, get your customer's day and month of birth and send them a greeting on their special day? Not only will that win you major brownie points but it might also get you a sale.
4. Speak to your customers: I see a lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners assume what their customer wants. Skip the headaches and just ask them; send them a survey via email with a series of questions that will help you understand them better. As a thank you offer them a gift at the end, maybe a discount or a small prize. If you offer a gift they will be more inclined to fill out the survey.
Be a savvy entrepreneur and learn from companies that have already walked your path.
Follow Sophie Gold on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sophiegold