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Friday, August 16, 2013

Making the most of your business's slow season

By Kelly Gregorio 

Throughout the course of a year, a lot of business will experience highs and lulls. Some months might be bursting with customers and sales, while others feel close to bone dry. As time has progressed you’ve probably even been able to anticipate when the wave will hit, and consequently, when the tide will recede.

When the slower months are upon you, chances are you’re exhausted. In desperate need for recovery, you might even take a little vacation, but don’t fall asleep on that lounge chair for too long! There is plenty to get done during your business’s slow season too. Follow these three tips and better prepare yourself for next season in the processes.

Get noticed 

Optimizing operations when business is slow is a chance to improve company performance
Business downtime is a marketing opportunity
While business was booming, your to-do list was likely growing. Plenty of things get pushed to the back burner during your busiest stretch, and marketing might have been one of them. Take advantage of your quieter days and jump on that social media bandwagon you’ve probably been neglecting.

Sure you’re on Facebook, but have you and your team made a Vine video yet? And ok, you might be on Twitter, but when was the last time you hosted a tweet up? Now is the time to engage with your digital reach; post insightful blogs or share some fun photos. Your storefront or site may be slow, but that in no way has to coincide with the amount of people that are thinking, talking and interacting with your brand.

Get organized

Speed up business cash conversion with tighter invoice terms
Improving efficiency during downtime pays dividends later
Now that things have calmed down you can get a jumpstart on the season ahead, numerically speaking. 

While in the busier months you likely “kept on top” of your numbers, now is the time to really study them. Take your accounting into your own hands, study your sales and make predictions for your next busy season.

You might also be concerned with cash flow now that business is not as booming. Consider tightening the terms of your invoices to keep funds flowing. Asking for a portion of payment upfront, rewarding early payments with a discount and penalizing those that come in late will keep some much needed working capital at your fingertips.

Get ready

Now is the time to clean house, make those renovations you’ve been meaning to get around to and replace any equipment that did not make it though your past season. Consider capitalizing on a discount by stocking up. Many suppliers will cut the cost of your staple inventory if you choose to buy in bulk.

Now is also a good time to reevaluate your staff. Make cuts where necessary and make room to welcome some new talent. Hire based on the needs that became apparent during your last season (marketing, customer service, etc.) Your slow season is the perfect time to implement some educational training on both duties and company culture alike.
Boost business with off-season fundraising and business streamlining
Restructuring human resources during business downtime allows ample time for training
As mentioned, cash flow may be an issue this time of year, so keep your options open. Fundraisers like crowdsourcing or lump sums like a merchant cash advance can get you the working capital you need now as a way to prepare you and your business for its booming future.

Happy slower season!
What other activities should entrepreneurs undergo when business slows down?

About the author: Kelly Gregorio writes about small business trends and tips while working at AdvantageCapital Funds, a company that provides businesses working capital. You can connect with her through the comments section of her daily business blog here

* Images: 1. Morguefile; royalty and attribution free 2. Lusi; RGBStock, royalty free  3. Deborah New; CC BY-SA 3.0