While “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving, has become part of the business lexicon in the U.S., the mad rush through the doors during pre-dawn hours is a phenomenon that typically benefits big retailers such as Walmart, Target and Best Buy.

Driven largely by a marketing campaign by American Express, Small Business Saturday® has grown in stature during the past decade as a day to celebrate and support local businesses and all they do for their communities. Small Business Saturday helps bolster the little guys.

In order to maximize the opportunity presented by Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday (when companies promote online deals) and the entire holiday shopping season, here are some preparation tips you can share with clients who are small business owners.

First, clients should be sure to have adequate inventory of the season’s hottest items. One never knows when the next Cabbage Patch or Tickle Me Elmo phenomenon might happen. If it requires an infusion of cash, so be it. The opportunity cost of running out of merchandise is a mistake that can be easily avoided — especially now when borrowing rates are still low for small business owners. Biz2Credit can help with short-term and longer-term funding needs.

Second, retailers should have a holiday marketing plan in place. If your clients have limited marketing budgets, they can look at some cost-effective ways to promote themselves:

  • Use social media to promote special offers and deals.
  • Get involved in charitable campaigns, such as food and clothing drives, to generate goodwill.
  • Look for opportunities to cross-promote with businesses. The local kiddie gym can refer people to pizza shops and dessert places. Restaurants could align with retailers, such as jewelers, in areas with walkable downtowns.
  • Who doesn’t love free samples? That’s why wine shops offer tastings on Saturdays. A few sips of different offerings can help to compel customers to make purchase decisions they otherwise might not have made.
  • Host special events. Know any local musicians? Invite them to play at your establishment. If nothing else, their parents and friends will come to your establishment, and you will be able to generate some sales. Consider tying the event to a charitable cause.

Finally, remind your clients not to be afraid to spend money to make money. Even if times are tough, small business owners still have to invest in their marketing efforts. The holiday shopping season is when many companies generate a substantial portion of their annual revenue. Prepare for it by planning ahead, and be sure they have enough cash on hand to execute those plans.