For many entrepreneurs, the warm weather brings the dreaded summer business slowdown. Their clients are all on holidays, projects get put on hold, the phone stops ringing. There are some things that you can do to mitigate this. Having a sound business plan will help you prepare for the seasonality of your business and help you smooth the effects of the summer slowdown, or possibly prevent it from happening at all.
If you know what your sales cycle looks like, then you can probably predict how quickly your marketing will translate into cash in the bank. For example, if there is usually a 4 week lag between your marketing campaigns and actual sales rolling in, then you know that you will need to run a campaign 4 weeks prior to your historical slow season. If you have already passed this deadline, do not despair, you may be able to speed it up by contacting existing clients with a limited time offer.
If there is going to be a slow period in your business, this is a great time to do training. Prepare your employees (and yourself) for the onslaught of customers in the fall. Try to retain as many of your best employees as you can over the slow season, it will be detrimental to have to hire and train a whole new staff when business picks up again. Take this time to make sure that your team is the best it can be.
This is also a great time for business planning. If you are in the middle of your slowest period, this is when you need to plan your next few quarters. Dust off your business plan and see how well you met the milestones you set out for yourself. This kind of retrospective use of a business plan can be very useful in showing you how to plan for the coming year. While you are at it, get cracking with the next iteration of your business plan. This time, include a marketing plan that gets you through the seasonal cycles in your business.
This may be the time of year when you dip into your company’s cash reserve (which your business plan’s month to month cash flow projection predicted you would need) or to tap into that business line of credit. If you can cut any of your fixed expenses, you may elect to do so, but keep in mind that there are consequences to this – breaking leases and cutting staff are big decisions, and may not be the wisest course of action if you want your business to bounce back in the coming months.
How have you protected your business against seasonal business slowdowns?
Photo Credit: Stefan Lins via Creative Commons