In case you haven’t heard about it, Small Business Saturday is an event sponsored by American Express that is held on the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 24, 2012.

It’s a great reminder to consumers to support their local small businesses and mom-and-pop stores. But if you, as a store owner, wait until Small Business Saturday to prepare, you’ll definitely be sorry! Fortunately there are lots of things you can do to make the most of this year’s event.

Utilize Social Media Now

You should be using your accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other sites to engage your customers and clients. Please note that this does not mean you should bombard them with sales-y pitches and annoying promos. A sneak peek of your offerings here and there is nice. But you should be posting mostly helpful and engaging content that keeps your small business on the minds of your followers.

Remember to continue to grow your following during the time leading up to small business Saturday. The more genuine followers you can reach, the more customers you’re likely to see on November 24. When you follow someone new on social media, reach out to them and say hello. Ask them some questions, and get to know them better.

Make sure you follow Small Business Saturday on Facebook. As they are regularly posting info to help motivate small shop owners and give you advice on how to best take advantage of the big day.

Prepare Your Website

This is especially important if you run an e-commerce website. By early November you should have your website updates waiting in the wings and ready to go live. That means running usability tests, finalizing and proofreading web copy, and making sure that shoppers won’t hit any snags during the checkout process. It only takes one little glitch to turn online shoppers off, leaving you with nothing but abandoned virtual carts. Be prepared.

If you don’t sell items directly through your website, you should be posting announcements about Small Business Saturday and preparing an e-newsletter to announce any promos or special offers you’ll have in-store on November 24.

Prepare Your Shop

Marketing your business is important. You can start promoting your involvement in Small Business Saturday immediately with signs, post cards, and flyers. You should also be preparing for an influx of foot traffic, and that may mean rearranging items in your store to accommodate all the shoppers. Make sure your shelves are stocked.

Use the Toolkit

Finally, take advantage of the Small Business Saturday toolkit.  There are lots of tools in it to help you grow your small business all year long including up to $100 in free ads on Twitter, free signage and marketing materials for Shop Small, and lots of ideas for helping you grow your web presence through social media and video.

The bottom line is that now is the time to start prepping your business for Small Business Saturday. Are you ready?