Whether you are open during the slow season or you only operate during a particular season, you can call yourself a seasonal business owner. If you own a seasonal business, you know that certain times of the year have their ups and downs as far as cash flow.
Certain cycles depict the entire schedule of some businesses. Tax deadlines, holidays and wedding season are a large piece of that pie. For some, it’s either cold weather or hot weather. No matter the reason you are open or closed, your bills keep coming in every month.
You have to manage your staff, provide customer service and perform many other tasks, but managing your cash flow is one of the most essential parts of your job.
Make Better Deals
If you can collect partial or full payments up front, you alleviate the invoicing process and have more money on hand. Collections cost money and time, reducing your overall cash flow. While money is coming in, money is also going out. Try making some arrangements with vendors, if possible, to extend your payment plans.
Create a Budget
Your business should operate from a pre-determined budget. By including a cash flow projection within your budget, you can stop guessing when it comes to your bottom line. Try to plan your seasonal business cash flow over the course of an entire year. To do this, use any reports you might have from your previous months or years in business. Estimate your sales and add your expenses to the report. These can be fixed expenses like rent and insurance or variable expenditures like payroll and supplies. Broken down into monthly projections, this can help you keep an eye on what comes in and what goes out.
Alternative Sources of Income
Try diversifying your services or products to make profits off of them during the off-season. A surf shop might add more winter clothes or an ice cream shop might start selling hot cocoa. Any source of income can make you more profitable. You only need to check to make sure your business license and zoning covers what additions you make.
A short-term loan or a business credit card can extend your budget a bit, too. You can apply for government-backed small business loans or consider asking the Small Business Administration (SBA) if they can help.
Use Your Downtime to Plan
This is the time to renew, regroup and plan ahead to the next season. Compare how you did according to your estimates, check out the competition and ask yourself how you can improve profits. Brainstorming can net you some innovative ideas to keep going and stay profitable.