3 Things You Should Know About Small Business: Oct. 5

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What's happening in small business today?

1. Are you ready for the holiday shopping rush? It may only be early October, but small retailers expecting to win share from their big-box competitors need to have their ducks in a row for the holiday shopping season. Even though shoppers may wait until the last minute, small businesses should prepare for the influx of shoppers and sales now, according to U.S. News.

The most important tip is using online tools to manage sales, inventory and shipments and for e-commerce businesses using an online shopping cart that has strong content management system built in like Magento or OpenCart, the article says.

This might be obvious but stock up on inventory ahead of time. Look to past sales to determine which products needed more inventory and also stock up on supplies, like packaging.

Be sure to tell customers well in advance via your website or social media and any other way you communicate when the last day is to place an order to get it before Christmas.

Offer holiday discounts to draw in new customers by offering coupon codes for free shipping or discounts for first-time customers, for example. Your website should be up and running 100% of the time during the busy season. Ensure that the site can handle the additional traffic and transaction processing and of course, have a back-up plan in case of emergency.

2. Five facts both Obama and Romney conveniently omitted. The two candidates mentioned the phrase "small business" a combined 29 times during Wednesday night's presidential debate, but there are certain small-business facts they conveniently left out, according to Huffington Post.

One such example was that small businesses, in fact, don't create the majority of jobs. According to the article, since 1990, large firms of more than 500 employees have done a better job at job creation than small firms with less than 50 employees, the article says, citing Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and a HuffPost blogger.

He adds that studies that show small businesses create most of the jobs are including establishments that have up to 500 employees.

Another omitted fact is that most small businesses have one-man payrolls. According to U.S. Census data, more than 77% of small businesses consist of just one person, with another 18% that have fewer than 10 employees.

"Both figures suggest that the vast majority of small businesses, which both candidates have referred to as the engine of job growth in America, are, in fact, tiny enterprises with tiny payrolls," the article says.

3. Social media tricks every entrepreneur should know. Entrepreneurs have much to gain from platforms like Twitter, Facebook ( FB) and LinkedIn ( LNKD) because it can easily link to customers, partners and facilitate free marketing, market research and customer service, Forbes says.

There are a few tricks of the trade that can enable entrepreneurs to get the most out of social media for their business. One such way is by "humanizing" your brand, by sharing valuable content. Connecting with customers in a more personal way is the best way through education, information or inspiration, for example. Instead of tweeting a photo of an ad, share a video of a real customer using your product, the author writes.

Social media allows you to tap into your consumer base to get informal market research. You can also crowdsource product development ideas through the platforms. By engaging consumers you get the information you need and make them part of the process. In the same token, providing efficient customer service via social media platforms to show customers that the brand is listening, the author writes. Be present to respond when a customer mentions your brand - in a positive or negative light.

Social media also gives a business the opportunity to build relationships with reporters, who often take to social media to find sources. Follow a few journalists that cover your industry and respond quickly to their requests.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

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