11/20/2012 10:47 am ET Updated Jan 20, 2013

Holiday Sales Tips for Small Business

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Don't make the mistake of not being prepared to deal with a high volume of shoppers this holiday. It doesn't matter if you've got a brick and mortar business or run a virtual store, if you want to rake in a large chunk of important profits attributed to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, you need a holiday sales plan. Even if this time of year isn't a high sales cycle for your business, you should still offer some specials leading up to the holidays. Here are some holiday sales tips for small businesses.

It's time to be thinking about how you will stock up to fill your holiday orders. Preparation is key. You also want to place your orders early for Google Adwords and Facebook ad campaigns, or decide if you plan to do any local radio ads or an open house.

Line up sour seasonal help. Organize who you will hire for seasonal help and your interns in advance. Develop step-by-step guides with pictures so that your brand is not damaged by a temporary worker.

You can also enlist your family, neighbor kids, church members and friends to help get you through the holidays.

Your inventory. Look at what your sales were last year to determine what you need to have in place. Order your packaging, shipping and raw materials in advance. Be sure to order extra too.

Talk to your vendors. Start communicating with your manufacturer and distributor partners about your holiday plan. Make sure you have a back-up for your main supplier in case they are backed up with other orders. Manufacturers may hire temporary help too for the holidays, so if you have a product that requires a high-level of detail, you may want to order product early.

Prep your packaging in advance. If you are a business that really gives your customers a great presentation with the packaging, get it ready before the orders start coming. You want to protect your brand so your quality does not suffer in the holiday rush.

Research your shipping options. Know when you need to have your items ready to ship so they arrive before Christmas. Figure out your best shipping options. If you belong to a trade organization or association, you may qualify for a discount with express shippers. You can also set up a USPS click-and-ship account so that they will pick up orders from your home or office.

Contact your merchant account provider. If you are going to focus on sales over the holidays, you need to make sure that your credit card processor provides a daily limit high enough to process all of the transactions. You might just be fortunate enough to have your product featured in the media which will generate huge sales, and could shut down your shopping cart.

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday marketing strategy. These are the days when your customers will most likely be out or online, looking for only the best deals. Know in advance what inventory you want to move. Then, offer amazing bundles or exciting new products just for those shoppers.

What holiday sales tips have worked for you?

This was originally published under the title: Are You Ready for Holiday Shoppers? at

Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is America's #1 small business expert. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. She writes a weekly column on social media for The New York Times. Forbes Magazine named her #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9pm ET for emerging entrepreneurs. She also publishes a resource blog Melinda is also the bestselling author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works. Her latest ebook, How To Become a Social Media Ninja; 101 Ways to Dominate Your Competition Online was released in 2012.