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“Connection.” At Online Edition,
search “Rhonda Abrams.”
THE CALENDAR MAY say October, but if you’re a
small-business owner, the winter holidays are
already upon you. Forty percent of all consumers
start holiday shopping before Halloween!
Holidays aren’t just important for retailers and
e-commerce sites: For many companies—
restaurants, hotels, personal services like salons, even
business services like accountants and lawyers—
the holiday season is the busiest time of year.
For some businesses, the holidays can represent
almost half of annual sales.
Here are a few strategies to increase your
small-business income this holiday season.
• Package a number of related products
together in gift bundles. Consumers get a ready-to-give gift and you get a higher price-point sale.
• Similarly, create gift packages with related
products (or services) from other companies, then
have each company sell the packages at its stores
and websites to reach more customers.
• Get active on social media sites. Create
some holiday content now and use tools like
Hootsuite, a social media management platform,
to preschedule your posts.
• “Decorate” your website, feature holiday
gifts and specials, and refresh content frequently
throughout the holiday season.
• Offer free gift-wrapping.
• Run contests or challenges on social media,
such as uploading pics for the cutest pet
Halloween costume or prettiest Thanksgiving pie.
• Throw a holiday party with a number of
other businesses to share customers among
you, and share expenses as well.
• In a local area, collaborate with neighboring
businesses on a printed holiday shopping guide
with coupons for each local business or service.
• Run a hotel? Offer holiday packages with
dinner and tickets to nearby attractions or
“shopper special nights” with concierge
transportation to nearby shopping destinations
and free gift-wrapping.
• Restaurants and bars can create holiday-themed drinks, desserts or meals.
• Create themed areas, such as Gifts for
Kids, Perfect for Pets or Gifts for Him in your
Remember, during the holidays, people are
in the mood to buy. So it’s time to get ready!
It’s not too late to make holiday season 2014
a ringing success. C
RHONDA ABRAMS: STRATEGIES
Rhonda Abrams is the
president of The Planning Shop, a publisher
of books and software
for entrepreneurs (www.
MANY BUSINESS OWNERS are
embracing walking meetings.
It’s not an entirely novel concept—notables like Aristotle
and Nietzche believed in walking while they spoke or deliberated—but a growing body
of new research illustrates the
positive impact of walking on
creativity and ideation.
Daniel Schwartz, a professor at the Stanford Graduate
School of Education, co-authored a study published
earlier this year, Give Your
Ideas Some Legs, showing that
creative output increases by an
average of 60 percent when
someone is walking. “The kind
of creativity we found for walking is more generative, more
brainstorming [than sitting
indoors],” he says.
Julia Kline, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of
Michigan, co-authored another
study, Your Brain on Speed,
also published this year, which
found that walking speed does
not diminish “spatial working
ability”—essentially the ability
to walk and talk and remember
items that were discussed.
“These two findings together
really should encourage people
to get out into the world and
walk during their meetings,”
she says. “Walking meetings
have become one of the ways
that you can motivate the
whole company to get up and
get moving.”—Susan Johnston
Depression and productivity
“THE MENTAL AND emotional state of today’s
workforce is abysmal,” says Australian Costco mem-
ber Graeme Cowan, a survivor of depression and
author of Back from the Brink: True Stories and
Practical Help for Overcoming Depression and Bipolar
Disorder (New Harbinger Publications, 2014; not
available at Costco). “That’s very bad news for
employers, who may have a big portion of their
workforce struggling along at reduced capacity.”
Cowan offers these tips for employers to help
Be proactive. Provide employees with workplace resources—including a mental health policy,
wellness program and intranet materials—to help
them take action to deal with their illness.
Recognize the signs of depression.
If a normally reliable employee starts calling in sick
more than usual, misses deadlines or meetings,
looks tired or overwhelmed, or has a decrease in
overall performance, he could be depressed.
Teach managers and team members
how to ask, “Are you OK?” Fifty-one percent
of employees believe that the most effective way to
address harmful stress is to speak to someone at
work. Use a four-step process to build trust: First,
break the ice. Simply ask, “Are you OK?” Next,
listen without judgment. Then, encourage action.
And finally, follow up. Compassion or emotional
support plays an essential role in recovering
Make sure employees’ work fits their
strengths. Engaged employees, doing work
they’re good at, are happy employees. Companies
can help prevent workplace depression by making
sure employees are satisfied with their work. And
where depression already exists, helping the
employee get back to doing fulfilling work will help
him or her recover.
Provide ways for employees to get
exercise. One common symptom of depression
is fatigue and an overactive mind and under-active
body. According to the Mayo Clinic, a brisk 30-min-
ute walk improves one’s mood two, four, eight and
12 hours later.
For more information, go to www.iamback