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5 Tips for Getting Through the Slow Season

For many small businesses, there are points throughout the year when business gets a little slower, sales dip and cash flow becomes a concern. Depending on your industry, the “slow season” could come at any time, and each season brings unique challenges. If you’re facing weeks or even months of sluggish work ahead, there are a few things you can do to help keep your business thriving. Instead of counting down the days, try out the following five tips to set your business up for success while things are slow.

1. Project Your Cash Flow – Operating a seasonal business means that there are times when sales are booming and you’re taking in cash at lightning speed. Unfortunately, it also means that there are seasons when you’re feeling the pinch. Try to plan your cash flow out over a year to ensure you won’t be struggling to pay your bills when things are slow. Analyze data from previous years to forecast your monthly revenue and factor in your typical expenses so you can see where you may have deficits. Once you have this insight, you can map out how you will manage your cash flow from season to season. One strategy might involve getting a working capital loan, which can be used for nearly any business expense.

2. Market Your Business – The offseason is a great time to busy yourself with marketing and advertising for your small business. Try new email tactics, create a weekly newsletter, or invest in social media to provide timely updates to your customers and keep your business top of mind. Spend time learning more about your customers so that you can target them most effectively and reach them where they are. To bring more traffic into your physical store, think about offering limited-time-only promotions or throwing an event and sending out personalized invitations to your customers. Even if they aren’t able to attend, you’ve provided another touchpoint that shows you’re thinking of them.

3. Diversify Your Offerings – Harry Gallagher of Elite Asphalt LLC, a CIT customer, told us, “My best advice would be diversify. Don't focus all your attention on one area or thing.” Take some extra time to really focus on your business’ offerings during a slow period. Look to identify areas where you could add a product or service that might benefit your customers or help your business expand to appeal to new kinds of customers. Diversifying your revenue streams can help minimize the impact of a slow season and simultaneously create some excitement around your company.

4. Make Major Improvements – Improving your business is a year-round job, but the slow season can be a particularly good time to tackle serious projects that you’ve been pushing off. Whether you’ve been thinking of renovating your store interior, installing new equipment or upgrading your operations technology, taking time during the slow season to get these tasks done is a smart way to make sure they’re done properly. Utilize the extra time you have to make a plan for these changes, including setting a budget and seeking financing if necessary.

5. Just Keep Pushing – Even during the slowest times, it’s important to remember why you started your small business in the first place. It can be tough to keep your mindset in the right place when you’re wrapped up in the day-to-day operations of your business, so think about the bigger picture. In the words of CIT customer Todd Johnson of Trinity Tool & Precision Machining, “In the toughest times, thoughts of giving up can become the noise in your head that prevents you from seeing opportunities that lie just below the surface. Giving up is not an option.... just got to gut it out knowing that things will turn around.”

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