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Lighten Up, Dude, It’s Christmas! Part 1

The small business competes with some heavy hitters in the national mega stores. The personal touch, though, is lacking in the mega stores and here is where the small business can make Christmas a little merrier. By adding personal touches like small cards with Christmas figures and signed by the owner for each customer in their shopping bag or a Christmasy gift like a candle or a scented sachet, the small business can create a memory that will bring their customers back for more.

The mega stores have professional decorators "do" their stores for the holidays or they buy great amounts of stock decorations and keep them in the stockroom all year. It looks professional and is geared toward leading the customer’s eye to large ticket items. Decorations like these have no warmth, though, and seem ordinary to most people. The small business owner can’t match that but in that lies his strength. Decorations are decorations no matter how you arrange them but the personal touch is where the small business owner can create a market that will return throughout the year. Handmade garlands made of a few items sold in the business make a unique Christmas tree decoration and endears the customer to the imaginative decorator. This would work well with tiny cupcakes in a bakery, for example, or in a handicrafts shop.

Every small business owner makes an effort to learn his customers’ names. Asking about the customer’s baby’s cold or his wife’s sister in Seattle lets the customer know he’s not just another ch-ching on the cash register. At Christmas this can stand the owner in good stead when he decorates. Bells cut out of construction paper and outlined along the edges with customers’ names and hung throughout the store gives everyone a sense of belonging sadly needed in these days. Personal notes on personal stationery concerning upcoming sales mailed to customers instead of a cold email no one pays attention to anyway go far toward creating or retaining a market long after the holidays have passed.

Christmas is about more than just Santa madly dancing with Mrs. Claus in the window. It’s about more than just the lights. It’s about how the lights make you feel when you look at them in the store. If the lights showcase a nativity scene, for example, that creates a hush and a feeling of awe. If the lights form angels they make people look around them to find the angels dressed up as humans. If the lights form a sleigh, people think of playing in the snow with their children and they resolve to go home and throw a snowball at their kids. So lighten up, dude!

The small business owner has an opportunity to create here and reach out personally and that is one thing mega stores don’t do. In a world where technology rules and digital is king, the personal touch is slowly coming back through people who care about other people and light up their lives.

December 7, 2010   No Comments

3 Ways For Businesses To Save Money On Holiday Greetings

If you’re looking to tighten up this holiday season and save a little money on your holiday greetings without skimping on style then we’ve got a few tips for you. The holiday season is also a busy time for every business and you want to make sure that you work as efficiently but cheaply while maintaining the high quality appearance of your business. Our gift for you this holiday season is a list of three things you can do to save money over the holidays.

Go Electronic

Every business has a list of emails these days and you can send an email for free instead of paying for postage through US mail. You can knock up a stylish email greeting card or even use one of the greeting card websites to make your own stylish greeting card with your companies name on it. One big advantage to online cards is you can use them to link to your website as well, something you can’t do with a traditional greeting card. You can also use it to promote any holiday specials and get a more direct return on your investment than you can with a traditional holiday greeting card.

Buy Cards in Bulk

Get some bulk business cards to help get your business started right. If you have connections in the local business industry you might also be able to find some cards from a local printer who is overstocked. Talk to some friends in the local business community and see what they have on offer and you might find a cheap gem. If you can’t find someone to help you out with some overstock cards then take the time to figure out how many cards you need in advance and then buy them all in one go and get the largest bulk discount you can. Here’s a bonus tip for next year too – if you shop for holiday cards right after the holidays you can get some killer deals even at the big box stores. It’s the perfect way to stock up on some high-quality holiday cards for next year without breaking the bank.

Send a Generic Card

If you’re looking to save some time, and time is money, then you should be sending out generic cards to everyone except your biggest clients. While it would be nice to send out something really personal to all of your clients from the year, keep your personal cards to those people who really kept you going and shoot a generic one out to the rest. You have better things to do with your time than write hundreds of different messages in cards. So that’s a few things that will help you save money over the holiday season. If you’re still looking for more ways to cut back then you can try offering employees a little more holiday vacation time, or shutting down for an extra day or so over the holiday. The holiday season is always going to be expensive on the personal side but with a little imagination it can be a lot less expensive on the business side.

December 6, 2010   No Comments

Top Ten List of Christmas Decorations for the Fashionista

Everyone knows a Fashionista. She is the friend who always looks elegant, even when she is changing a diaper. She is the sister who always shows up for Christmas dinner looking like a million dollars. She is the coworker who always wears the latest fashions in the office.

Fashionistas have a sense of style all their own. Celebrate the Fashionistas with these top ten Christmas decorations available at DollarDays.

1.) – A set of leopard print purse and boot ornaments screams style for any Christmas tree. After all, what could be more important to the Christmas Fashionista than matching her shoes with her purse? The trendy leopard print will never go out of style.

2.) – In keeping with the clothing choices of a Fashionista, three lovely party dresses on hangers complete her Christmas tree. Sleeveless and form fitting, these cocktail dresses glow in holiday colors of red, gold, and silver.

3.) – Let it snow on her Christmas trees with a set of three metal snowflakes, one each in silver, gold, and ice blue. The pierced metal design is accented with sparkling glitter on each ornament.

4.) – Every Fashionista loves sparkle. A set of three metal gift box Christmas ornaments will add sparkle to her mantle. Colorful striped and dotted gift boxes in red, white, and green shimmer in the light.

5.) – Elegant candle holders delight her sense of design. A set of three candle holders, painted pearly white, trimmed with gold beads and delicate gold trim will look lovely on her table.

6.) – A Christmas brooch is an elegant accessory to any winter coat. A lovely sterling silver poinsettia with 18 karat gold accents will complete any outfit. The red central stone and six clear stones draw in the light, making this brooch a Christmas must-have.

7.) – Christmas print ribbon rolls provide yards of cheer. A true Fashionista knows that a Christmas tree is not complete until it is draped with ribbon. Her presents are works of art, elegantly tied with matching ribbon. Her windows sport large ribbon bows throughout the season.

8.) – Fashionistas also have a sense of tradition. What could be more traditional than peppermint ribbon candy, shaped into a wreath? These little delights nestle snugly into the branches of her Christmas tree.

9.) – No Fashionista wants to hammer nails into her front door in order to display a Christmas wreath. A stylish metal wreath holder drapes over the top of the door. It is sturdy enough to hold a full-decorated wreath. The elegant metal in red, gold, or silver will compliment any décor. Two tiny sleigh bells attached to the holder alert her to the arrival of guests.

10.) – Light up the life of a favorite Fashionista with a two-foot strand of bright white Christmas lights. The old-fashioned shape combines with modern LED technology to brighten a wreath, mantle, or dinner table.

December 3, 2010   No Comments

Gift Giving in Business – More Than The Thought That Counts

There was a time when giving gifts to business associates and clients was an all or nothing proposition. Either you gave them nothing, largely because of the cost, or you limited gifts given to only “special” clients, also largely due to cost. Fortunately, thanks to a lot of creativity, not to mention technology, today you can give gifts that can be obtained at reasonable cost, thus enabling you to give some sort of gift to practically everyone on your client list.

Let me tell you about Bob. Bob didn’t have a lot of money to spend, but he prided himself on liking all of his clients and wanting to prove it with some sort of Christmas “gift.” The result was a chance encounter with an advertising specialty salesman who told him about a wide selection of gift ideas that would literally allow him to control his bottom line for gift giving, thus allowing Bob to give something to everyone on his client list.

One look at an ad specialties catalog and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the variety of items that can be personalized with the name, address, logo, and phone number, along with some other line of greeting or slogan of your business.

Ad specialties are an excellent method of giving gifts for special occasions. It’s also worthy of note that tailoring your needs and budget to a gift is the specialty salesperson’s stock in trade. And fortunately, the flexibility offered by specialties can work with one more important variable: delivery.

How you are planning to deliver your gift to the recipient is an important consideration when selecting a gift. For example, one friend of mine will not send a mailing promoting his gift without including some sort of premium inside. Of course, this necessitates that the item be lightweight and flat so that it fits inside of an envelope. Items such as nail files and large plastic paper clips are perfect for this use.

The method of delivery was also an important consideration when another businessman friend wanted to give away coffee mugs to clients who visited his office over the course of the holidays. This gentleman had a clientele that frequented his office on a regular basis, so when it came time for an appointment, each client was offered a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, which came in an attractive mug that, when emptied, became a gift. This unexpected gesture was a very welcome surprise, even if it did have the giver’s name, logo and contact information attractively printed on the outside.

All of this goes to show that with a little effort, patience and creativity, gift giving to practically all of your clients can be fun, useful, and very economical. It should also be noted that with a special gift in hand, a client who visits your office or when you visit his, can turn a business call into an unexpected pleasure.

November 30, 2010   No Comments

Saving Money During the Holiday Season

Times have been difficult this year for many families. Money is in short supply and just being able to pay your regular monthly bills can be a big challenge. During this time of year as Thanksgiving approaches and Christmas awaits shortly thereafter, an even bigger strain on the wallet can be felt. Holiday gifts may be considered a discretionary expense, but no one wants to see the disappointment on a child who gets nothing more than a lump of coal in his stocking because there was no money this year.

Making some changes to your lifestyle today, can help put some extra money in your pocket to buy a few gifts for your children, family and friends. There are probably areas in your everyday life where you can cut back. It may be difficult, but cutting out a couple of those premium channels on your cable or satellite service can add $10, $20 or more dollars back in to your pocket. Instead of buying those $5.00 cups of fancy coffee every day on your way to work, buy yourself your favorite blend and make your own coffee each morning.

Food and grocery shopping is an easy way adjusting your habits can save you money. Being frugal is easy. Weekly trips to the grocery store can be less painful on the budget if you follow a few of the suggestions listed below.

  • Buy store brands. You’ll probably save a few cents on each item that replaces a national brand. Store brand cereal, tomato sauce or cheese has the same basic nutritional content and tastes just as good.
  • Use Coupons. Why not take advantage of the savings. Today you can print coupons right at home by visiting any number of coupon sites on the internet
  • Take advantage of Buy one Get One Free Sales. Many grocery stores use this technique to draw customers in to the store. If the deals are on items you use, it makes sense to buy one and store the free one away for future use.

Another area where you can save and save big is when you go out to eat. Beverages seem to be the easiest way to save. Instead of rattling off your favorite soft drink when the waitress asks what you want to drink, just ask for some ice water. Every drink you don’t order will save you about $2.00. Making your own coffee every morning instead of stopping on your way to work at one of those $5.00 gourmet coffee enterprises will mean money in your pocket. Bag your lunch and you’ll increase your savings even more.

There are other common sense approaches to saving that are not too difficult to try. Plan less trips and save gas. Instead of running to the grocery store one day, the post office the next and the beauty salon the day after, consolidate your needs in to one day. Saving by using less gasoline can be a real money saver.

When it comes to saving, a little change in a lot of old habits can go a long way.

November 25, 2010   No Comments

Top 10 Christmas Light Displays Items

Christmas comes during the darkest time of year when the sun sets early and rises late, so people especially enjoy decorating for the holiday with lights of all kinds.

1. Christmas Light Strings
Christmas displays usually begin with strings of multicolor or clear lights strung along the edges of roofs and looped around trees and bushes. Use plenty of lights to achieve the best effect. These lights can burn steadily or flash according to your preference.

2. Wholesale Christmas Garlands
A green garland with lights will look great framing your front door and porch railings while giving a warm and homey look to your entrance.

3. Wholesale Window Lights
Add a festive look to your home with window lights shaped like angels, candy canes, snowmen or Santa.

4. Lighted White Twigs
Light your walkways with unique lighted white twigs, and create a lovely pathway leading to your door to welcome your guests with flair. You could also use these to light a hallway if you want to create an unusual look in your home.

5. Fiber Optic Light Up Christmas Tree
Don’t forget about decorating the inside of your home. The 3-foot fibre optic light up Christmas tree will make a charming addition to any room.

6. Night Lights
Choose from many different themes for festive nightlights. You can have a flickering candy cane, candy shop, school, church, Santa workshop or one of the many other cute nightlights to give a soft light to those dark rooms.

7. White Candle Tree Lights
Add a touch of nostalgia with white candle tree lights as a reminder of the days when candles were the only way to light Christmas trees.

8. Star Tree Topper
A lighted star is the perfect topper for your Christmas tree.

9. Necklace or Earrings
When you are feeling whimsical, wear a lighted necklace or Christmas light bulb earrings, and be the brightest one at the party.

10. Antler Reindeer
When guests see the light and hear the music of the cute antler reindeer on your head, you will not be a wallflower at the party.

Finally, if you have been having a friendly contest with your next-door neighbor every year to determine who can create the most dazzling Christmas light display – and you are ready to give up – there may be a better solution. Buy a few strings of 100 clear or colored lights, string them together, and attach them to a board forming the word “DITTO” along with an arrow pointing to your neighbor’s extravagantly decorated house, and listen for the laughter of people passing by.

November 24, 2010   1 Comment

Impressive Holiday Entertaining That Won’t Break the Bank!

While some people wait with anticipation for the snow to fly and holiday lights to appear, others get a knot in their stomach just anticipating the rush of the holiday season. Of course, there is always things for everyone to look forward to; few people are downright Scrooges. However, if you could have all the holiday cheer without worrying about how much you’re spending, wouldn’t that be ideal? Entertaining is an important part of many holiday traditions and you can impress family and friends without breaking the bank. Holiday entertaining doesn’t have to cost a lot to make an impact.

Deck the Halls
Whether you are hosting a holiday event or just want to get your home and family into a festive mood, your holiday decorations are important. However, when you’re entertaining on a budget, it just doesn’t make sense to go out and buy an entire new set of holiday decorations. The good news is that there are plenty of sources for free holiday decorations. If you need to trim your tree a bit, save the cuttings to fashion into a wreath. There’s no way you can consider this technique passe when it’s recommended by none other than Martha Stewart. If you don’t have enough leftover greenery to fashion an entire wreath, try stopping by a local Christmas tree farm; many will give away the cuttings and trimmings for nothing. Add in a few berries or decorative balls for Christmas, or some fruit for Thanksgiving, and you’re good to go. You can also arrange the greenery into a swag or lay it on a tablecloth for a centerpiece.

White Goes a Long Way
Creating a beautiful tablescape can be one of the hardest parts of entertaining. However, don’t go out and buy all new china just to host the event. In fact, you may be surprised to find out that most people can create a beautiful setting with what they already have. If you feel you really don’t have anything suitable, invest in one complete set of simple white china. White china can be mixed and matched with any theme and still stays fresh and beautiful. For Thanksgiving, pair it will deep oranges, red and gold tones with a pumpkin, fall floral arrangement or fruit bowl in the middle. Use the same dishes at Christmastime with a deep cranberry color theme. White always looks elegant and never gets old. Once you know how this works, it’s easy to pick up white dishes and serving pieces throughout the year at tag sales and thrift shops; these can particularly stunning when used as a holiday centerpiece. You can mix and match to your heart’s content using white as the base.

Entertaining is mainly about making the people you love feel cared about. Few people even bother to ask what you spent on the event, so the impact is much more important than the budget. Don’t be afraid to use the same supplies for several different events, especially if the guest list is different. Keep it simple and your holiday events will wow the crowd without causing you to hyperventilate.

We know you have your own unique way to save on holiday entertainment; share your tips and tricks by commenting below.

November 18, 2010   No Comments

Top 5 Most Popular Christmas Gifts

It’s not easy to find a Christmas gift for the person who has everything. A lot of people are just hard to buy for, but that doesn’t mean you should give up and stuff coal in their stocking. If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas present for someone in your life, check out this list of the top five most popular Christmas gifts for inspiration.

Movies are one of the easiest Christmas presents to give. Blockbuster hits are a popular way of saying, “I don’t know what you really want for Christmas, so let’s just watch a movie.” DVDs are easy to wrap, inexpensive, and fun for both the gift-recipient and the gift-giver…if the gift-recipient is up for a movie night, that is. Just pay attention to his or her personal collection; independent films are often a safer bet, because people are less likely to already own them.

Flannel pajamas
During those chilly winter nights, flannel pajamas are the next best thing to a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Because they are a classic style, they’ll never go out of fashion, and they’ll last forever. You don’t have to stick to the red and black pajamas either; look for printed options or colorful fabrics that will best suit your friend or family member.

Gift baskets
Gift baskets are popular Christmas presents for teachers, older female relatives, and neighbors. For some reason, gift baskets full of body lotion, scented spray, and other pretty bottled liquids that will make your bathing experience more fun are popular Christmas gifts. Although giving someone a gift basket might be a not-so-subtle commentary on their personal hygiene, most people at least appreciate the pretty basket.

Who wants a candle when we have full access to electricity? The truth is, no one really asks for candles for Christmas, but particularly sweet smelling candles are versatile; they can make an appearance at the dinner table or in a romantic bedroom. The candles that come in glass jars are not only functional, they also double as a nice decoration after the candle has melted down.

Candy canes
There’s nothing that gets you in the Christmas spirit more than the all-time favorite candy cane. Although candy canes are traditionally red and white with a peppermint flavor, candy makers have come up with all sorts of crazy flavors over the years. Try mint chocolate, bubble gum, or fruity flavors such as strawberry, cherry, or banana split.

November 17, 2010   No Comments

SBA Backed Loan Offering to Help Small Business Owners

Phoenix, AZ – November 2010 – This month, leading online B2B wholesale distributor DollarDays introduced a partnership with Superior Financial Group to help business owners secure Small Business Administration loans.

DollarDays is the premiere online wholesale and closeout company that helps small businesses to compete against chain retailers by offering more than 140,000 high-quality goods at prices close to those at which large enterprises purchase. Through this new lending program, people will be able to access the application for a small business loan ranging from $5k to $25k directly through the DollarDays website. The loans, provided by federally licensed SBA lender Superior Financial Group, are geared towards start-ups, home-based businesses, and small businesses.

“With lenders giving preference to larger businesses with more assets, there are less dollars for small businesses like start-ups and mom & pop stores,” says DollarDays Founder and President Marc Joseph. “DollarDays’ main principle is about helping small businesses stay competitive with larger retailers, and this program offers a solution many business owners can’t find elsewhere. It’s an affordable way to help people secure SBA-backed loans of up to $25,000 and continue to grow and scale their businesses.”

There is no collateral required to secure a loan, and it is possible to get funding within days of completing the online small business loan pre-qualifier application. There is no risk obligation, no prepayment penalties, or balloon payments, so the loans can be paid off at anytime. There are also special loans available for Export business.

“We are excited to be teaming up with Dollars Days and help provide much needed capital to help small businesses grow in these challenging economic times,” says Tim Jochner, CEO of Superior Financial Group.

To apply for a small business loan through Superior Financial Group, you can visit the DollarDays website and click on the banner in the right margin to apply. DollarDays members can also apply for a loan through the fast and easy SBA loan pre-qualification process.

DollarDays International is a Web-based virtual warehouse, where small business owners and charities can find great deals on small business-sized orders from more than 140,000 consumer products, like wholesale jewelry, wholesale clothing, household décor, electronics, and seasonal merchandise. The company’s unique, innovative business model enables small business owners to offer quality merchandise, membership free, while reaping the same kinds of discounts and margins routinely offered exclusively to the largest retailers. In 2006, DollarDays made its debut at number 158 on Inc. Magazine 500 list of fastest growing private companies and recently was named one-of-50 second-stage Arizona “Companies to Watch” by the Arizona Small Business Association. Feel free to contact DollarDays at any time at sales@dollardays.com or 1-877-837-9569.

November 16, 2010   No Comments

Week in Review (November 12)

Etsy: An Online Business Alternative – November 8, 2010
Etsy.com is an alternative to eBay and other auction sites for those who wish to start an online business. Etsy is specifically for those with handmade or unique products. Etsy collects a fee for each listing and receives a percentage of the final selling price of each item. Like other online retail sites, Etsy offers multiple product search options so that customers can locate items. For those new to online retail and trying to sell unique merchandise, Etsy can be an easy way to begin a business and promote a product.

Social Media Marketing: Get AddThis FREE for Your Dropship Business! – November 10, 2010
AddThis is a tool available that can allow online retailers to know which social sites customers are using to share the retailer’s content. This then assists retailers in knowing which social media share buttons to incorporate on the site, keeping the site purposeful and less cluttered. AddThis is easy to install and is available free of charge.

E-commerce Emerges from the Recession with a Larger Share of Consumers’ Wallets – November 11, 2010
E-commerce sales are continuing to increase and now make up nearly 10% of all consumer spending, with the top 25 e-retailers claiming almost 70% of all online sales in the 3rd quarter of 2010. The largest increase in online spending was from middle income households, those making between $50,000 and $100,000. And the products that saw the most growth in sales were books and magazines, computers and personal electronics.

What Makes So Many Startups Fail – November 11, 2010
Only 30% of all new businesses see a ten-year anniversary. In order to ensure that a business is successful and can stand the test of time, it is essential to have a fully-developed business model that is able to be modified depending upon the needs of the business. In addition, it is critical to pay close attention to all expenditures as well as income. Finally, it is recommended to be constantly seeking outside advice and perhaps even instituting a board of directors for the business.

When Disaster Strikes, Customer Relationships Can Be Critical – November 11, 2010
Recently, Hannats, a British business, was susceptible to fraud as its credit card company’s security was breached. Hannats handled the incident very well and gained respect from its customers because of their appropriate response to the breach. All companies should keep the following in mind in the event of such a crisis: do not be deceptive, contact all customers and continue to update them until the situation is resolved, avoid placing blame, thank others for their patience as the matter is being handled, try to implement partial solutions until the full matter is resolved, and work to create relationships with customers prior to such an event so that they know to trust your word and your business.

November 12, 2010   No Comments