Holiday Hires for Nonretailers

If our e-mail inboxes are any indication, retailers are excited about the holidays. Friends-and-family, one-day-only and other types of promotions that are written in caps and end in exclamation points are plentiful. They're looking to move product, and that means lots of temporary or part-time help to assist with sales, inventory and marketing.

But what if you're not a retailer? Should you shut down and head to the beach for the holidays because consumers are so focused on shopping? And should you stop hiring in December?

We're sure you can guess that our answer is a firm "no." December can be an incredible time to utilize part-time help to grow your business. You've got an influx of top talent on extended breaks from universities (undergrad and graduate level) who could use the extra cash to fund their own holiday endeavors. And if your business is seasonally slower in December (or at least slow relative to retailers), it can be a great time to pause, reflect and strategize for the year ahead.

Here are some ways we think business owners should be hiring up during the holidays:

  • Social media interns. Social media is an area of great opportunity for entrepreneurs to tap into highly connected, tech-savvy interns. Use this time either to have a tweeter generate a huge online following that you can leverage in 2011, or hire a copywriter to bulk up your stable of blog posts so you can put out content consistently without being distracted from running your business in the new year.  
  • Strategy/research. Now that you've spent Thanksgiving reflecting on all the blessings your business has given you, spend December planning for the year(s) ahead. Do some competitive analysis. Do surveys of your customers to determine what innovations might improve your products or services in 2011. Delegate most of this to an extra set of hands that will focus on the research and number-crunching, so you can focus on the 30,000-foot conclusions.  
  • PR preparation. If you don't have a dedicated PR resource or agency, you're likely the one doing most of your press outreach. The media will likely be focused on retail for the next month, so don't be upset if the coverage you get isn't all you would like to have. But it's a great time to build lists and prepare materials so you're ready to hit the ground running with great stories in 2011. Assembling PR lists is a time-consuming task that part-time help can easily handle. The same goes for press materials, whether electronic or printed packets of info.  
  • Website development. Particularly if you're a service provider, you might be more focused on your service than your website. Now's a fantastic time to fix any bugs, roll out those cool new interactive features you've been dying to create or do a little SEO. Your website is an important marketing tool and should be an integral part of your marketing strategy. Be aware that website adjustments might take you past Dec. 31.  
  • Business development. As with press, business development is super important. But you can absolutely leverage a part-time resource to generate "leads" and then -- as founder -- show up to deliver the goods. A business development position looks great on a resume and appeals to marketing and finance people alike, so you should get tons of responses from job seekers.  
  • Organization. If you're like us, your office is the forgotten stepchild of your small empire. Treat yourself: Hire someone to come in and help you get back on your organizational track for 2011. Starting the year with a clean office will give you fresh energy.

One of your hires might even be someone who could transition to a full-time role in 2011, or who could come back for a spring or summer internship. Thus, by hiring your winter intern, you've saved yourself some time in 2011.