You did it. You launched your small business and have even been fortunate enough to beat the odds and turn a profit. Thinking ahead, you know that due to seasonal demand there will be slow periods to come. What do you do? According to USA Today’s small biz columnist, Rhonda Abrams, you start plotting. The survival of your business will depend on your ability to generate cash flow and minimize losses during the lean times. Here are some of Abrams’ top tips.
Stay on Top of Cash Flow
If summer is high season, but winter is slow—or vice versa—it’s essential to save a percentage of your income for the leaner months. While credit is helpful, you’ll need cash to pay certain costs to keep the business afloat. How much you save depends on your profits but the more, the better.
Develop a Relationship With a Banker
Timing is everything. If you start trying to get chummy with a banker when times are lean, you read like a loss. People like winners. Bankers want to know the businesses they bet on will remain solvent. Take the time to meet with several bankers when the dollars are rolling in. Pick your top three and cultivate relationships with each of them. That doesn’t mean you have to spread your business between all three institutions, but you should schmooze, keep all three up to date on your needs and discuss their product offerings periodically even after you choose your primary bank. This way they’re all vying for your business. Your primary bank should be your first stop for resources, but the only thing best than cash money is having options.
Manage Off Season Costs
Can you hire seasonal workers? Should you proactively reduce static re-orders? Are there other seasonal items or services you can sell that complement your brand’s offerings? Stay ahead of the game by planning what you’ll rollout, or roll back, during down season so you can properly stock, market your brand and keep staff morale up.
Prepare for High Season
If your slow season is a few weeks instead of a few months, it may be a time to reinvest in the business. Make needed repairs and upgrades. Attend training or train staff. Expand business offerings. Create new marketing strategies. Do whatever it takes to strengthen your business and upgrade your profit margin when things kick up again.