Interviews

Planning for 2017 when your business is seasonal

5 min read

13 January 2017

When your business is seasonal, planning ahead is crucial. With that in mind, here's a few tips to get you started this year.

Not all great ideas see consistent popularity all year round – some business is seasonal. In fact, some of the most successful products have had to plan for regular slumps: the seed market continues to astound and has been projected to be worth $113bn (£92.49bn) by 2022. But its peak season lasts no longer than three months at a time. It goes to show that there are ways of extending the reach of your seasonal business to make up for periodic downtime.

When your business is seasonal, regardless of size or specialism, there are steps you can take to increase your company’s engagement and income and form a more evergreen corporate strategy.

Become familiar with your market

If you didn’t already conduct some heavy market research before going into business, get right on it! You are in a far better position to judge your market and make forecasts if you are familiar with the needs and trends of your customer, so do plenty of research and get to know your stuff.

Cash is King

Efficient cash flow management is absolutely crucial if your business is seasonal and you want to rake in success. You will rely significantly on your market research here, to project incomings and outgoings, and where money is best invested. Tax and VAT should also be taken into consideration. You may find it beneficial to partner with a reliable accountant to help oversee cash flow and achieve maximum tax efficiency for your particular circumstances.

Stay on the right side of the law

Don’t disregard the power of seeking legal advice when starting a business to ensure that all of your legal obligations are fulfilled. Trading licences, company registration, insurance, employment and health and safety should all be taken into consideration. A respected legal professional can offer you reliable assistance with these issues.

Buy what you need

It can be very tempting to splash out on pretty frivolities, particularly when starting out; it’s also not uncommon to feel confident and overestimate your market. Again, you must do your market research and listen to it. Make realistic projections for stock and only buy what you need. It really pays to remember your business is seasonal. Dead stock equals lost money.

Get a good team

A successful seasonal business relies heavily on really good staff. It is important to be completely on level with your staff and not make promises you can’t keep. They must be at terms with the seasonal nature of your business and dedicated to making it a success. Employee productivity is key to staff efficiency and making your business work in the long term, so recruit a handful of skilled, hardworking individuals rather than a dozen unmotivated ones.

Commit to visibility

It should go with the turf that you need to commit extra resources to marketing yourself. Get your name out there and gather a following – and make your marketing memorable. Customers appreciate the small touches that show you care about their satisfaction, so look around for some inspiration and get creative. Do not skimp on time and money for advertising. If done well, it is worth every penny.

Longevity through diversification

This is one of the key steps to making more from your seasonal business. Have a few brainstorming sessions – bring in other staff members if you feel like it – and consider the products or materials you have available. In what ways could you shuffle things about and use your pre-existing resources in new ways? Do some more market research and really think outside the box – you never know the sort of unmet demand you might encounter.

Nine tenths of seasonal success in business is in establishing a legal, compliant and customer-friendly business with well managed accounts and projections. But the final key ingredient of diversification is what can really fill up the grey area on your business calendar, and potentially help you transcend seasonal trade and craft a year-round operational company.

Charlotte Baldwin is operations manager at IQ Cards, a fundraising company that provide schools and establishments with the necessary tools to fundraise via selling high-quality and unique gifts designed by pupils.