If you’re a seasonal entrepreneur, or own a business that is highly seasonal, you likely know the challenges that come with it. You’ll likely face everything from hoping weather is kind to you if you’re located in a resort town, to dealing with new competition looking to get an edge in your market.
Many seasonal businesses thrive during the summer travel season, but others include fall businesses like orchards, or winter businesses that cater to the holiday season- these tips apply to all. Regardless of what challenges you face, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for the season ahead and your nontraditional season that tends to last longer than your peak time. These include everything from sound business planning, to digitizing your product offerings, understanding the ebb and flows of your seasonal business to being frugal when times call for it.
Here are our tips to help you find success in your seasonal business.
Start early to get ahead
With a small window to capitalize on your peak season, planning ahead is perhaps the most vital part of your business. The last thing you need with your season approaching quickly is being without product, staff, or the basics you need to turn a profit. One aspect of your business that should serve as your guiding light is your business plan. Your business plan is important to the growth of your business, but also to keep you focused on building off a sound foundation and minimizing risk. Understanding your business plan and your business goals can help you make decisions and plan for future purchases. A few things you can do prior to peak season to help you prepare are…
popular trends – in
your industry and how you can apply them to your business to make improvements
- Talk to vendors – and iron our specific delivery times for products, if you can, negotiate rates to find better deals
- Budget for dips in business – wise spending now can allow you more freedom down the road
Go digital in all aspects
If your business relies on seasonal travelers, odds are most of them live outside of your immediate area. Even though your customer base may be away for the majority of the year, it doesn’t mean they can’t still be consumers of your products. According to a GE Shopper Research Study, over 80% of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase decision.
This is a great area to capitalize on when travelers begin researching shopping options, boutiques, restaurants, or places to stay before their visit in your area. Optimizing your website for mobile-friendly traffic and setting up an online store can help you gain visibility to potential customers. On top of optimizing your website, look into ads on Google, or Facebook that cater to people interested in travelling to your area and for your business to increase your brand’s visibility. With an online shop and increased online ad spend, you will want to utilize a mobile business bank to help you streamline your financial processes and stay organized amidst your new projects.
Understand your business cycle
Not all seasonal businesses are the same. Whether your peak is summer or winter, there are things you can do to adjust your revenue in the downtimes. While competitors are closing up shop for the season, consider running sales that help you push out the past season’s inventory or adjusting your schedule for less busy times.
Understanding your business cycle can also play a role in your planning for the season and the next one coming up. Use timeliness to your advantage when negotiating rates with vendors, or ordering in bulk to stock up to last you through the season. Again, within budget, if at all possible, look to spend on high-ticket items when your cash flow is high as opposed to waiting until the season is over and budgeting becomes more frugal.
Scale back when need be
Part of understanding your business cycle also includes knowing when to scale back. Businesses in highly seasonal towns inevitably can’t operate at 100% during their off-season. A few ways you can save on expenses during these times include…
workforce – while you may rely on seasonal and part-time workers during
busy periods, there’s no reason to keep a full staff on the payroll when
revenue is going through it’s cyclical low period.
- Limited hours – saving on variable costs associated with keeping the lights on can save you dollars every month, this is especially wise in slower months.
- Transition to your online store – your non-peak season is a great time to transition to fulfilling orders on your online store. Saving on overhead costs while still bringing in revenue and streamlining your process through your mobile bank is a win-win.
Just because you’re scaling back doesn’t mean you’re waving the proverbial white flag. In contrast, it means you’re being extremely responsible with an eye toward growth and managing your business wisely.
Like any aspect of your business, everything takes time and planning. Implementing a few of these tips in your normal processes can play to your advantage down the road in your seasonal business. What do you think? Are there any other things you do for your seasonal business to deliver results year-round and help you stay a step ahead of the competition?