New law expands options for succession planning.
As a wave of aging baby-boomer storeowners look to exit their businesses, it’s not always easy to find a buyer, so many businesses simply close, with the jobs they created lost. Passing your store on to employees who know and love your business is a solution. It can have tax advantages for the owner, the company and the employees, and even allow the owner to ease out of the business in stages. But it hasn’t always been easy to get financing for a transition to employee ownership.
Now the Main Street Employee Ownership Act, which was signed into law this summer, expands the authority of the Small Business Administration (SBA) to guarantee loans for a business’ employees to purchase stock in the business. The Act also provides for technical training, executive education and one-on-one consulting for companies transitioning to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). “Since today most family-owned businesses don’t have somebody in the next generation who wants to take over,” SBA district director Mark Quinn told the Washington Post, “employee ownership is one of the best ways to keep thriving businesses locally rooted into the next generation.” Law firm Morgan Lewis reports that “there has been a lot of pro-ESOP legislation action taking place lately at both federal and state levels…recognizing that employee ownership increases company productivity, employee morale and profits.”
Watch for more details from the SBA as it updates its lending guidelines and services to comply with the new law. Technical assistance will likely be administered through Small Business Development Centers (sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/sbdc).
Small Business Saturday is November 24 this year, and American Express provides free marketing materials to help you make the most of it—everything from e-mail headers and social-media cover and profile art, to templates for flyers and posters that you can customize. Go to americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-small/promote to download them now; a tip sheet gives ideas on how to use them.
For some independent retailers, the day after Black Friday has become their biggest shopping day of the year, so why miss out? In 2017, an estimated 108 million consumers spent nearly $13 billion at independently owned local stores on Small Business Saturday. And 7,200 Main Street merchants became Neighborhood Champions, rallying their communities with events and activities to drive traffic to local businesses. (Neighborhood Champions get Shop Small–branded merchandise, such as tote bags, posters, balloons and stickers, for events they organize to help their community celebrate the day. To apply, go to americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-small/rally.)
To boost your chances for a successful Small Business Saturday, here’s what experts suggest.
• Don’t focus on slashing prices, like big-box stores do for Black Friday. Instead, promote your strengths as a small business—the special experience shoppers get at your store, including the chance to support a local business, something more and more consumers want to do. You might highlight smaller dancewear makers on that day, host a workshop, provide an extra-special backdrop for selfies at the store or band together with other local merchants to cross-promote your businesses. And, of course, excellent personal customer service is always your strong point, right?
• Consider extending your hours. Check out what other Shop Small events are going on in your town, and tailor your hours to take advantage of the increased foot traffic nearby.
• Staff up. Even if staff have quiet times, it’s better to be overstaffed so no customer (especially a new one) has a frustrating experience waiting to get help or check out.
• Check the shelves. Don’t make the mistake of seeing holidays simply as clear-out time. Stock up so your promotion efforts result in maximum sales.
• Pump it up on social media, using #shopsmall, #smallbusinesssaturday and #smallbizsat hashtags and tying promotions to local check-ins. (Of course, you’ve made sure your store information is all up-to-date on your website, your social-media sites and all local business listings.) May this be the best Small Business Saturday ever!
This Month’s Hashtag Holidays
Promotion opportunities not to miss
Silly or serious, hashtag holidays can be turned into great promotion opportunities for your store. Promoted in-store and on social media, they can add fun to your store and sales to your till.
Host a store event with a dance author for a book signing, or arrange a display with dance books that make perfect presents.
Is it too early for candy canes? Whatever the treat, hand out a special something sweet for the day.
World Kindness Day
Isn’t every day? But maybe this is the day for sharing 10 percent of profits with a local charity, or rewarding your most loyal customers in a special way.
Dancers can’t resist buttons proclaiming their love of dance—or wryly stating (as in a B Plus Printworks button) “Will Dance for Chocolate.”
Small Business Saturday
Thinkstock; Shop Small materials courtesy of American Express