Small Business Saturday in Southwest Iowa

by Sue Pitts on November 19, 2012

Saturday, November 26th

Small Business Saturday is a national event that is trying to help put the focus on Small Businesses during the holidays for at least one day. Nestled in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday or “Shop Small” is a great opportunity for you to promote your business and the unique things you offer for the holidays.

Small Business Saturday has received a large amount of national media attention, but here are some tips to help you take advantage of that national press and get customers in your business on Saturday and beyond!

1. Utilize free posters, social network icons, logos and more at the Small Business Saturday Website

2. Post reminders about the event on Facebook and Twitter, utilize email.

3. Don’t forget to remind your customers on what kind of gifts they can get for their friends and family at your store. Don’t assume they know!

4. Make wish-lists of the different types of things you offer. (Best Gifts for Mom, Top Selling Gift for Hubby, Teen’s Choice… and so on.)

5. Extend Small Business Saturday to ALL Saturdays before Christmas and offer something special each week. Specials could be discounts, add on services, treats, etc.

6. Small Businesses always give back to the communities in some way, but we are shy about telling the world about it. This is the time to start your toy drive, food drive, etc and tell everyone about through your social networks.

7. Where there is Black Friday and Cyber Monday… there will also be the 2nd largest shopping day of the year – the day after Christmas. Don’t let the big guys leave small business in the dust. Plan something for after Christmas to give your customers the appreciation they deserve! This is your advantage! The ability to personally thank your customers in some post season special way.

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Day after day, severe flooding in Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri communities along the Missouri River is becoming a larger and larger threat.

The painful thing is waiting to see what happens.  Or what doesn’t happen.

Long term planning for disasters is a great thing for businesses to plan out in advance. However, businesses are usually busy doing business, and these long term disaster action plans are never written down and put into place.

Although it is a little late to initiate a full disaster continuity plan, there are a few things a business can do help them stay in business during and after disaster hits.

The Plan To Stay In Business!

1. Take a moment to map out or assess how your company functions internally and externally

a. Determine which staff, materials, procedures and equipment are absolutely necessary to keep the business operating.
b. Identify operations, procedures and processes within your company that are critical to survival and recovery.
c. Determine staff functions critical to survival and recovery and make plans to be able to cover these functions in case staff is tied up elsewhere

2. Identify Customers, suppliers, vendors and other businesses you must keep in touch with

a. Identify any suppliers critical to business that may be affected by the disaster and make sure you have back up options
b. Create or update contact list of all major customers, suppliers, etc and devise a sound way of communicating with them as things happen
            i. Utilize website, facebook or other online tools to help you stay in touch and keep customers, etc updated
            ii. Utilize email to keep customers, etc updated

3. Plan what to do if your store or building is inaccessible.

a. Determine if and how you could do business from home or a different location
b. Seek out new location (The Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce is identifying relocation spots in this area).
c. Contact other businesses you work with to see how they could help with office space, retail space(selling your items in their store), etc.

4. Pack up essentials: Comprehensive Checklist from CIRAS here: http://www.ciras.iastate.edu/publications/FloodPlanning_6.6.11.pdf

a.  Financial information is imperative for a business to have in order to file for insurance, recovery loans and grants, etc. The main documents businesses need are: 3 years of company financials, 3 years Tax Returns, receipts and deposit slips from current year(especially if books are not up to date) Insurance policies, customer records, etc.

4. Communicate plan with Employees

a. Plan for internal response – who does what, when
b. Collect or update cell phone numbers, emails, etc from all employees and contractors
c. Plan for emergency evacuations and other high emergency situations.

Ready.gov has a great general guide to flood preapartion for households and businesses

http://www.ready.gov/america/beinformed/floods.html

CIRAS – Center for Industrial Research and Service at Iowa State Extension offers this detailed checklist for businesses of all sizes in case of emergency evacuation.

http://www.ciras.iastate.edu/publications/FloodPlannin_6.6.11.pdf

As with all of their consulting services, there is no charge for the confidential assistance provided by the IWCC SBDC for preparing for disasters as well as assistance in the aftermath of a disaster.

For more information on how the Iowa SBDC can help businesses before, during or after disasters: IWCC SBDC Disaster Assistance for Small Businesses

Other great resources for monitoring the 2011 Missouri River Flood include:
Council Bluffs Iowa Chamber
Iowa SBDC
2011 Missouri River Flood Facebook page

Fremont County Flood Facebook page

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