It’s officially late October, which means it’s well past time for businesses ready for the holidays. If you’re feeling a little behind this year, don’t worry. This week’s Trending on Thursday has some great tips for getting your small business on track for the holidays, which are expected to have a significant revenue uptick from last year. We also look at the latest small business sentiment report, detail everything you need to know about Facebook Marketplace and provide a list of software solutions to help you mine customer data.

Keep reading for this week’s full #smallbiz roundup and tweet us at @MarlinBusiness with your holiday preparation plan.

  1. It’s the most wonderful (and hectic) time of the year. Between balancing an unpredictable sales season and the crunch to line up temporary workers, the last three months of the year is a crucial time for small businesses. And like it or not, it’s time to get started. Nearly half of shoppers polled recently said they would begin holiday shopping before November 1 and this year, with a colder winter forecast, it’s predicted that sales will increase about four percent. To help us capture some of that revenue, Inc.’s Bartie Scott has detailed a list of four tricks to navigate this final quarter and conquer the holidays.
  1. Despite a volatile U.S. Presidential election, a majority of small business owners are optimistic about their prospects, according to a recent survey reported by Business Insider. Approximately two-thirds of the almost 900 small business owners in the survey said they are optimistic about their businesses in the next year, and 55 percent felt the same about their industry as a whole. Hispanic business owners are seemingly even more optimistic than their peers, as 87 percent expect revenue and sales to increase and 81 percent expect profits to rise in the next year.
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    The Internet is abuzz with this month’s launch of Facebook Marketplace, a social media-infused alternative to Craigslist and eBay. Currently available to people in the U.S., UK, Australia and New Zealand on their Facebook mobile apps for iPhone and Android, the feature aims to help make it easy for people to discover, buy and sell products. Apart from its local appeal, one of the most compelling reasons for selling stuff on Marketplace is that it’s completely free; Facebook doesn’t take a cut. To find out what small business owners should make of this development, check out Small Business Computing’s Pedro Hernandez’s article.
  1. How many software solutions, Web applications, or plug-ins do you sign into daily to run your small business? The answer is probably more than you think. One of the most important insights you can gain from tech tools is in your target customers, which will help you understand when and how customers make purchases, and much more.’s Nate Kristy has compiled a list of the best online tools to collect customer data and enable you to segment your contacts and create unique, personal campaigns.
  1. A small business owner’s life is full of unending tasks and a constantly high stress level. While you may have aspirations of a tremendously profitable quarter, it’s probably time to compose yourself and admit that you’re not going to be able to do it all alone. Traditional hiring processes take far too long when you need someone immediately who can take the load off your shoulders. Ideally, you want someone who can materialize, quickly get up to speed on what’s happening, handle the workload, and disappear until needed again. According to Entrepreneur’s Sujan Patel, the solution to this problem is a VA (virtual assistant), which can be found in a number of surprising sources.