Managing any small business can be difficult, but a seasonal business presents an even more demanding set of challenges. The list is long, including varied financial, operational, and managerial issues. Among them: How do you survive the off-season financially, managing cash flow through the lean months? How do you put your time and resources to best use during this time? How do you retain clients and staff for the next peak season? Could you and should you expand to a year-round operation? If so, how?
Seasonal businesses have to be on their toes when it comes to cash management. The cyclical nature of the business’s income requires financial discipline, organization, and careful planning. Best practices include making year-round cash flow projections, maintaining a cash cushion, being open to alternative sources of income, and encouraging early and flexible payment.
To everything there is a season… The peaks and valleys of seasonal businesses create ideal times for certain activities and focuses. During the peak season, you need to make the most of the brief window to sell and earn income so that your business can ride out the off-season. And when the peak activity period ebbs, you’ll be able to think and plan quietly, review operations and any marketing and managerial issues, perform equipment maintenance, develop new products and prepare new marketing and advertising efforts. Of particular importance is ongoing communication with customers and staff whom you’ll want to retain for next year.
Your business is seasonal now, but it doesn’t have to remain that way. Is your business well-suited for expansion? Could you sell a similar or compatible product or service – one that uses your staff’s skills – during your slow season? If so, would it make good business sense to pursue year-round expansion?