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Tips for running a seasonal business

May 16, 2016

Running a seasonal business can be challenging, especially during the off-season. Follow these five tips, and you’ll be able to run a successful seasonal small business!

If you own a seasonal business, you’re accustomed to closing up shop for a portion of the year. Although your business’s season may be over, that doesn’t mean your efforts to grow your business should come to a halt! Even when your doors aren’t open, you should be finding other ways to bring in cash flow, researching seasonal business trends and preparing for the next season. Check out these seasonal business ideas, and you’ll be able to survive the off season with enough cash, employees and plans to be even better the following year.

1. Manage cash flow responsibly – Although all small businesses should follow a business plan and budget, seasonal businesses especially have to stick to this. Have a clear idea of where you stand financially at the end of the season, so that you can prepare accordingly when ordering the necessary items for the following year. Since your window for sales is shorter than a business that is open all year, ensure that you or someone on your team is diligently managing cash flow.

2. Use the downtime productively – It may be tempting to use your off-season months as a long vacation, but doing this won’t help your business thrive. Brainstorm seasonal business ideas, update your marketing collateral and website and stay active on social media. By coming up with new offerings for the next year, you’ll feel prepared when opening day rolls around. As for social media, it’s an easy way to stay connected with customers so they don’t forget about your business during the off-season. It can also be a helpful tool for researching seasonal business trends that may inspire you to make changes to your company.

3. Find other ways to bring in cash– Just because your business may be closed during the off season doesn’t mean you can’t find other ways to bring in cash. If you own a beach-side café that is only open during the summer, consider running a food cart in a different area to bring in business. Own a Christmas-themed retail store? Open temporarily during other holidays to sell other decorations, or sell merchandise online to reach customers that aren’t in your geographic area. If your business is especially difficult to turn into a side business in the off-season, consider applying for additional working capital. You’ll have extra cash flow, and won’t need to scramble to make ends meet.

4. Keep in touch – It’s not only important to continue communication with customers, your employees should hear from you too! Instead of trying to hire new employees every year, save time by keeping in touch with your best staff members. Maintaining contact with them and informing them that you want them to come back the following year will save you time and efforts. You’ll have people working for you that have already exhibited their professionalism, and you won’t have to interview new candidates leading up to the new season. Plus, they’ll already know how your business works, and may be able to offer seasonal business ideas!

5. Get ready early – At the end of season, chances are you’re exhausted and ready for a break. Don’t let that deter you from getting ahead of schedule. While you may have to take down equipment or interior decorations, depending on your situation, you can keep yourself organized and leave clear instructions for the following year. You’ll thank yourself later, and will be able to start the season off on a high note!

Owning a seasonal business can be an exciting venture, but organization and innovation are necessary in order to succeed. Since your seasonal business has a few months to bring in most of your funds for the year, every effort counts! Consider these seasonal small business ideas, and you’ll be prepared to take on whatever comes your way.  

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