This is the time of year for making a list – and checking it twice!
Whether it is a list of gifts for the family or things you need to get done before festivities and vacations begin, making lists seems to be part and parcel of the holiday season. Yet, of all the lists you make this time of year, getting the digital side of your business in order should be at the top.
Why? Because with the holiday season, especially this e-holiday season, it’s shaping up to be the busiest ever. Cyber Monday is only a decade old, yet last year sales topped almost $3 billion, with the average order hitting $124 (source, Investopedia.)
According to the Fall 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, small businesses are poised to benefit from the holiday shopping season this year. The SBOR found that 31% of entrepreneurs surveyed are expecting Black Friday to provide a bump in sales (compared with only 17% last year), and 43% are expecting Cyber Monday to follow that up with a positive impact on their bottom line (compared to only 29% last year).
So the question is not whether this holiday season is going to be a super busy one, rather the question is, are you prepared to take advantage of this unique moment?
Let me suggest that if you want to really be ready for the holidays, it would behoove you to make one more list, and get these things checked off in the next few weeks:
- 1. Make cybersecurity a priority: The Fall 2015 SBOR contained some fascinating results, including this digital nugget: More than one in 10 small business owners report having been the victim of a cybersecurity breach. Even more alarmingly, 59% expressed concern over protecting their proprietary data.
That is real cause for concern as we head into the holiday season because the online threat to your business is very real, too real. According to the National Cybersecurity Institute, “Cybercrimes [in 2015] are not decreasing. Rather, more crimes will be committed. Recovery [for the small business] will be painful and disruptive.”
What can you do? The easiest and best thing is to purchase a cybersecurity software suite. An online search will reveal numerous excellent, respected online cloud services that can protect your vital business info 24/7/365.
Get one today.
- 2. Give your website an audit: As the SBOR finds, with people increasingly shopping online, more and more are going to be visiting your website. Even if you don’t engage in e-commerce, folks will be finding you online. As such, it is incumbent upon you to make a great first impression when they get there.
What can you do?
- Add some fresh content
- Make and post a video or two
- Update your About page – make it current, friendly
- Take down and post some new pictures
Aside from simply making your site more attractive to customers, doing the above will have the added benefit of upgrading your site in the eyes of search engines.
- 3. Hire a techie: In terms of technology and computers, too many small business owners plod along, getting by with computers that almost work right, cords that look too messy, websites that are a tad clumsy, spotty wireless connections, and all the rest. Especially during the busy holiday shopping season, you don’t want that.
And it is just so easy these days to get the tech help you need. For example, Craigslist in your area has a list of very affordable techies who can help you sort through your issues.
- 4. Try out a different social media platform: If you use Facebook, consider giving Twitter a try. If you use Twitter, check out Instagram. Potential new customers are out there on these different platforms.
You don’t have time or the ability to do that right now? That’s OK, that’s what interns and outsourcing are for. Again, a lot of people have mastered social media and they stand ready to help you.
The last bit of good news is that if you check just these few things off of your digital holiday to-do list, you will also be sure to be better prepared for managing the digital side of your business.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.
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