Today, Nov. 20, is National Entrepreneur’s Day. Since 2010 Entrepreneurs have been celebrated on the third Tuesday of November.

In past columns we discussed getting ready for the holidays. Guess what, they’re here.

Small Business Saturday is this Saturday, Nov. 24. If you haven’t prepared, if you don’t have “Shop Small” signs throughout your business, it’s not too late. Search “Small Business Saturday” and select “promote your business”. You can create customized materials to let your customers know what makes your business unique and encourage your community to “Shop Small.”

Small Business Saturday is held annually on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. This day is embraced by independent merchants of all kinds including traditional brick and mortar retailers, service providers and e-commerce businesses. In 2017, 108 million shoppers spent $12.9 billion in small business establishments. Expectations are this year will be even bigger.

It’s important to take advantage of these special sales events and develop practices that will strengthen relationships and build business all year long. Here are some ideas to get you started; Combine your Small Business Saturday promotion with other businesses or other events in your area. Use decorations, displays, music and holiday fragrances to create an atmosphere that folks will want to revisit again and again to see what’s new. Plan instore incentives, such as raffles, special rewards or coupons to be redeemed on future dates.

Invite local officials to your business and create photo opportunities you can use for future promotions. Don’t forget local authors, celebrities or winners of local contests.

They might be flattered and excited to drop by if you make them feel welcome and special.

Your ability to connect with customers and create more personalized experiences can help you stand out from your competitors. According to a 2017 study, nothing beats an in-store experience. Train your staff to make certain your customer has an experience to remember.

Review your website as if you were a customer, ensure that all special promotions are prominently displayed and, if necessary, make certain your online payment process is working properly. Make sure your address and contact info is correct and displayed prominently on your website and on all of your social media profiles.

Tell your story on social media. Talk about your preparation for the holiday season.

Take photos of your displays to show what you’ve done. On Saturday share images of your customers enjoying your store and your fastest selling items.

Your thinking should go beyond one day or one season of shopping. Gather what information you can from your customers. Ask for an email address so you can share your newsletter of upcoming events at your business or in the community. Even if all you get is their ZIP code, it will tell you where your customers are traveling from to visit.

Make this information gathering process part of your business all year long. It will allow you to create and strengthen relationships with your customers all year long.

Promote the “Shop Small” theme all year. There are over 32 million small businesses in the United States that are responsible for more than 50 percent of the U.S. GDP. Small Business is big in the U.S.

Let me know your thoughts at eddavis@scorevolunteer.org.

For more information on starting, promoting and growing your business, or to request a mentor from Port Charlotte SCORE go to www.portcharlotte.score.org. Volunteers provide confidential one on one business advice to meet the needs of both start-up and existing businesses at no cost. To learn how you can become a SCORE volunteer contact Don Benjamin at donbenjamin1937@gmail.com. Follow us on Twitter; @charlottecscore.

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