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Small Business Saturday is vital to entrepreneurs — especially this year. Here’s how business owners can get the most out of the holiday.

Latina working inside a small businessHere are five ways small businesses can prepare for Small Business Saturday this year.

This year's Small Business Saturday is the most important in the holiday's 12-year history. 
Many said they expected holiday sales would affect their ability to stay open in 2022.
An e-commerce platform and good customer service are some of the ways to capitalize on the day.

This year's Small Business Saturday is the most important yet for entrepreneurs. 

American Express, which created the holiday in 2010, surveyed 523 small-business owners about its importance. Fifty-six percent of respondents said Small Business Saturday was more critical than ever for their companies, and 78% said they expected holiday sales to affect their ability to stay open in 2022.

It's understandable: Business conditions are trying. Supply-chain issues have led to shortages and increased costs of goods, while the "Great Resignation" is making it difficult to hire and retain workers.

A silver lining amid the stressful season is that 80% of consumers surveyed said they planned to patronize small businesses for holiday shopping. And those customers could contribute an estimated $695 billion to US small businesses, according to American Express.

What's more, there's an opportunity for independent retailers to benefit from bigger firms' supply-chain struggles. Some big companies, like furniture businesses, can deliver an item only six months from now. Local retailers can often deliver orders on the same day. 

Here are five ways small businesses can prepare for Small Business Saturday this year. 

Build an e-commerce platform 

Whether you're starting a new business, setting up your very first e-commerce site, or expanding your services through new channels, now is the time to reach your customers where they're spending most of their time — online. This holiday season, online sales are expected to be 50% higher than in 2019, Axios reported.

Not all platforms are designed for every entrepreneur, so it's key to find the one — or ones — that fulfills your needs and caters to your audience. For example, the retailer site Shopify offers entrepreneurs very different services than Patreon or YouTube.

Insider broke business owners into four categories based on what and how they sold — retailers, resellers, makers, and content creators — and laid out 23 platforms they could pick from.

Post good photos of your products

For many business owners, Instagram can be a lucrative selling platform. But it takes outside apps to make content on the social-media site pop with special filters, graphics, and fonts. 

Insider asked entrepreneurs which apps and programs helped them craft the perfect posts, from editing pictures to scheduling content ahead of time.  

Offer many forms of customer service

Customers may not easily find the exact items they want to purchase. This is an important time for business owners to shine with stellar customer service.

Offer clients multiple venues to get in touch with your team, Vic Drabicky, a retail and digital-marketing expert, previously told Insider.

"If you don't have the right infrastructure in place, whether that be servers, fulfillment, or customer service, then you're putting yourself at risk," he said.

Additionally, if you need efficient customer service to assist customers, consider using technology platforms. Insider broke down the seven apps that could help businesses

Consider selling your goods via livestream

If you haven't yet experimented with livestream shopping, the holidays could be a good time to start. Virtual events can engage customers and incentivize them to shop online, according to the entrepreneurs who host them.

Experts say livestreams are the malls of the future, where people will go to shop, socialize, and be entertained. Retailers who use livestreaming typically broadcast from three to eight hours, and some Insider spoke with make $1,000 to $9,000 per event.

Manage burnout by accepting failure 

While exercise, sleep, and spending time with loved ones can combat burnout, entrepreneurs should also protect their mental health by accepting failure, Michael Freeman, the founder of the entrepreneur-mental-wellness startup Econa, said. About 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"Don't criticize yourself or blame yourself," Freeman, who also works as a psychiatrist and executive coach for business owners, said. "The middle ground between success and failure is, 'We did our best, and our customers actually appreciate that we did it at our best.'"

Read the original article on Business Insider

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