Is Your Small Business Credit Ready to Gear up for the Holidays?

provided by Kabbage

So it’s officially fall, and if you’re a small business owner, this time of year might feel less like a subtle chill in the air than a freight train — or the holiday season — racing toward you at full speed. Whether or not you’re prepared, the holidays are right around the corner, and the better credit history you have, the easier it will be to get everything you need to prepare for the season. Running a business as the sole employee or with help from just a few others can stretch any retailer or mom-and-pop shop owner pretty thin. But if there’s one thing that should be at the top of your holiday to-do list, it’s making sure you have solid credit.

Having good credit makes you more likely to qualify for a business loan and other financing options that can help you grow your company this holiday season. Remember that personal credit plays a role here, too. Your business’s financing story has to begin somewhere, and you can bet your personal credit history will be taken into consideration when you seek out loans, business credit cards or other funding opportunities. In other words, your own consumer credit is tied to your company’s funding options, so be doubly careful with how you manage your personal finances. For more established businesses that have a solid history of making payments on time, financing will probably be easier to access. Make it a priority to become one of those businesses if you aren’t already.

Once your money is in order and you have sufficient funds to get ready for the holiday rush, you need to get organized. By preparing ahead, you can save your business valuable time and money despite the chaos of the season. Here are three ways to do it.

  1. Save on inventory upfront: You’ll probably be purchasing inventory in larger volumes than usual leading up to the holiday season, right? It never hurts to ask suppliers about potential bulk discounts or perhaps free shipping if you order a certain quantity of their product. Also keep in mind the power of negotiation. In other words, start to think of vendors’ asking prices as jumping off points as opposed to being set in stone. You might be surprised by how many of them are willing to give you what you need at a slightly lower price if you reason with them.
  1. Revise shipping needs and prepare accordingly: More sales this time of year likely means a lot more shipping. This might call for having extra help on hand. At the very least, it calls for stocking up on shipping supplies and carving out the time to handle increased shipments.

It’s prudent to review your shipping processes at least once a year to ensure you’re using the carriers and services that best fit your needs. The shipping industry is dynamic and your business probably is, too. Shipping procedures that work for you one year might not fit the bill the next. However, remember to review your shipping protocol far enough in advance of the holiday season. If you decide to make any changes — whether significant or not — you’ll want enough time to test out your new model so you can correct any hiccups before the holidays.

  1. Market holiday promotions and giveaways: Much like you’re looking for ways to save money during the holidays, your customers are, too. View this as an opportunity. In exchange for choosing your business, you might give customers a gift in return. Whether it’s a discount, free shipping or a coupon for referring friends, promotions will attract consumers. Better yet, use this time of year as an opportunity to secure new customers by offering a deal for people making first-time purchases. And if you really want to get ahead, think about offering something special for those who order from you before Black Friday.

If your small business is powered by the holiday rush, you can’t be overprepared. With the proper planning, you can minimize your holiday expenditures, but you also need to spend money to make it. If you find you need additional funding to prepare for this season, having good credit history will help. But also remember that banks aren’t your only choice — there are also loans, cash advances and other funding options. For example, Kabbage is the #1 online provider of working capital to small businesses today, offering cash advances worth up to $50,000. So get the cash you need to get ready for the holidays.

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