Running a Seasonal Business

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By: Andrew Sauveur

Many Small businesses are seasonal, and generally, this time of year is a transitional time.

Good weather businesses, such as outdoor maintenance, landscaping, and camping, have shutdown by now  and winter dependent businesses, such as Wintersports and snow clearing are gearing up, hoping for the cash-flow to float down from the skies.

The key to managing these ebbs and flows as a small business owner is planning, and keeping your expectations in check.

When I started a small construction company, after working in the new homes construction industry as a finishing supervisor, I had 1 goal.  That was to be in charge of my time, and build something for myself not for someone else, (no pun intended).

What I didn’t foresee that first year was, even though I made a very decent income during the high season, winter was going to be tough.

I ended up working in sales that first winter, and the next, to ensure cash flow.  Not a bad thing, just not what I had expected.

What I had to learn, and did eventually, was to adapt my business to find opportunities that would extend through the slow times of a seasonal business.

I also learned how to budget.  Take what I earned in 8 months, and budget it out to 12.  I found that easier due to the fact that I didn’t have a lot of overhead, no storefront to pay the lease on, relatively inexpensive cost of living, etc.  However, the same concept has to be practiced even if you are carrying costs in the off season.

In the retail world, many small retailers have learned to adapt their businesses to create ongoing  revenue, carrying decorations for year round holidays instead of just Christmas, etc.

Similar companies to my own transition to outdoor Christmas decorating, and snow plowing in the winter, to create a new source of revenue.

The off-season can also be a great time to evaluate your business, and plan for the following year.  Figure out what worked, and what didn’t, and plan to increase efforts in the areas that increase revenue, and leave behind the aspects of your business that are loosing money, or not garnering the type of ROI that you need.

Whatever your business, proper planning and being creative is the key to managing the off season.  Good luck!