When do you start preparing for the holidays? The answer should be right now. The holiday season can be both the happiest and most lucrative time of year, but small business owners need to ensure they’re prepared to maximize that potential come November. This week’s Trending on Thursday provides a checklist for prepping for the holidays, as well as advice for improving your networking skills, the latest stats about small businesses going international and some useful habits to help reach your goals.

Check out our latest #smallbiz roundup below and tweet us at @MarlinBusiness with your holiday business strategy.

  1. trendingsep11The holiday season will be here before you know it, and now is the perfect time to map out your marketing campaigns in order to drive the most revenue for your business. Waiting too long puts you at a severe disadvantage. Entrepreneur’s Jonathan Long says you need to be ready to capitalize on increased web traffic and the mindset of consumers during this period. They will be ready and willing to click that buy-now button, so be sure to run through Long’s six-step checklist to make sure your business is ready for the fast-approaching holiday season.
  1. Small business owners and entrepreneurs know how important the art of networking is to business success. However, some businesspeople tend to overthink networking to the point of paralysis by analysis. To help us out, Amber Hurdle has written a great article on the Huffington Post for nurturing your networking. Hurtz says the most important aspect of networking is to ensure you come off as authentic and provides five ways to do so, including visiting your network when you travel, sharing opportunities with your network and connecting with your network on holidays.
  1. Last year, Amanda Brinkman travelled across the United States to meet 100 small business owners. The experience gave her a new perspective on small businesses’ huge impact: they’re helping our economy, country, communities and neighborhoods in ways that big businesses are not. According to Brinkman, one lesson stuck out to her: successful businesses have an unwavering commitment to their local communities. Check out her three lessons about the importance of community to small business owners in a recent Forbes article.
  1. A new study found that small businesses are breaking barriers and going international. The survey shows 58 percent of small businesses already have international customers, while 72 percent plan to grow their international customer base by 2017. Additionally, about 96 percent of these small businesses are confident about conducting business abroad. Read more about the findings in this Small Business Trends article by Shubhomita Bose.
  1. How do you define success? We all measure prosperity in different ways, but it doesn’t really matter what your personal goals are. The key to getting better at anything is summed up in one word: Learning. According to Inc.’s Justin Bariso’s, that’s why the most successful people, regardless of what they’re trying to accomplish, strive to incorporate these five simple rules into their daily habits.