The holidays can be stressful for all small business owners, especially for those who own seasonal businesses. It’s your make or break time and deciding on which investments to make for your business while managing a positive cash flow can prove difficult. Although financial advice is best tailor-made to your particular industry, the tips here can act as a guide to get your business growing green.
- Get Paid On Time: The first thing to be done is to make sure all dues are closed. Have you been fully paid by all your customers for your expenses? Follow up, or even chase after customers who haven’t settled all their bills, send out any invoices and give discounts to people who pay early. Missing out on the payment for a sale would mean you have to wait until next season to make it up. Allow customers to pay through cash, credit/ debit cards or even contactless payment systems like Google Pay or Venmo.
- Stick to a Budget: When you’re finally seeing a boom in your seasonal business, it’s easy to get carried away and spend on more than necessary. Plan a budget before the start of the season and make sure you stick to it during your peak. You can create a margin of flexibility in case you chance upon a huge opportunity but don’t stray too far away from it. You’ll need to save money for the rest of the year, so keep that in mind.
- Plan Ahead: The main advantage of seasonal businesses is the gift of time. Get started with preparing for the next season as soon as this one ends, whether it’s as simple as reading up blogs on seasonal trends, brainstorming on better ideas or projecting cash flow for the coming year. Being prepared well ahead can give your business an upper hand in case of any unexpected expenses and prevent any business oversights you may have. You can also conduct surveys asking if people liked what your business or service provided last season and if they wish to see more of it. This lets your customers know you take their feedback seriously.
- Market during the off-season: According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, 1 in 6 businesses are seasonal. This includes businesses around the holidays or even event and wedding planners which peak during the summer. As the rest of the year tends to be a period of slow business, it’s the best time to build your marketing strategy. Take this time to build strong relationships with your customers, and keep reminding them how valuable their feedback was, as well as any changes you’ve incorporated into your business and any discounts or coupons you can offer to them. Create challenges on social media and build yourself as a thought leader in your industry so if anyone needs your business or service, yours is the first name that pops up in their head. Learn more on how to create an effective marketing strategy.
- Hiring Onboard: One of the biggest issues that seasonal businesses face is hiring staff during the peak season. Don’t wait till the last minute to hire people to help your business out, start searching right away. Although it can be difficult to train and manage or even raise a sense of morale in your short-term staff, showing them how important they are and teaching them a new skill can make them feel more valued and eager to return next season. If someone performs stellar at the job, retain them for next season because it can be easier to have someone who knows the ropes. If you face any difficulties affording extra staff for your business but desperately need it, take a financing option that can help you out.
- Work Off-Season: Don’t rely only on your profits from the season to last the rest of the year. Several small business owners work on similar businesses through the rest of the year. For instance, eateries during the tourist season may sell other food or work at other restaurants the rest of the year. A wedding planner can plan company holidays and tours during the rest of the year as well. This side business will help make some more money and can even add some skills or ideas to implement at your own business.
Like the changing seasons, your seasonal business is what you make of it! A swallow does not make the summer, so prepare over the year and you’re sure to see success when the season comes around.