Although we usually tend to associate seasonal spikes and off-season times with tourism and seasonal business, in some cases, companies can operate without any revenue for months in a row, we can hardly narrow this problem to one specific industry.
For instance, some of the biggest companies in the world like Amazon, make 30% or more of their annual profits during the winter holiday season. So, the problem of seasonal slowdowns is real, present and it hits all industries without prejudice.
With that in mind, let us see what we can do to overcome this obstacle and survive business seasonality without going broke.
Diversify the product portfolio
No matter what we do, we can’t change the fact that holiday and vacation seasons are the periods when people spend most and where, depending on the industry in question, a large portion of your revenue will come from. What you can do, however, to mitigate this problem is to expand and diversify the portfolio of your products to offer the customers something interesting during the slower periods in-between. Also, you can use smaller holidays like Veterans Day and Father’s Day to roll out enticing discounts and create revenue pockets that will be smaller but far more frequent.
Put a fresh spin on the marketing strategy
This strategy can be especially effective in the tourism industry. For instance, if you are marketing your place of operation as a summer retreat covered in hot beaches and fresh cocktails, you can’t expect to see much cash as soon as autumn settles in. So, why wouldn’t you put more focus on the local customs, history of the place, cultural events, autumn fests, nearby landmarks, and, why not, even kick-start some small but alluring local event? This small focus shift can open you the doors to yet untapped customer pools (in this case, families with kids) and keep your business profitable for a good part of the year.
Keep an eye on the cash flow and debts
In other words, you have to have a plan B for the scenario when your revenue will not be able to cover the expenses throughout the year. In this scenario, your priority should be to be able to repay debts and gear up for the next season. So, set up the contingencies as soon as possible so you won’t have to make any sudden and ill-advised moves when the troubles finally start kicking in. One of the most popular options you have on the table is fast debtor finance that, in some cases, allows you to repay 85% of your invoices within 24 hours allowing companies in need some much-needed off-season flexibility.
Do your best to manage off-season expenses
The measure we have listed above will enable us to get a quick financial injection and keep the cash flow alive in the worst-case scenario. Of course, this shouldn’t be your only and long-term strategy. Ideally, you should put more effort into understanding and managing your expenses during the slower periods of years. For instance, moving on to cloud-based services and outsourcing some non-critical business activities will allow you to scale down off-season if you notice the expenses are going out of hand. Renting unused assets is another way to make some money while cutting maintenance costs.
Make an expansion to the ecommerce sector
This move will incentivize your customers to spend more money offseason by offering them an option to purchase without leaving the home. Still, as enticing as this proposition is, you should do your best to kick-start your online store with annual subscription discounts, referral programs, calls to action, and other popular strategies aimed at temporarily boosting sales. What’s great about this entire expansion is that with well-thought-out and implemented marketing you can create a pool of customers that weren’t interested in your products or services prior to ecommerce expansion.
Establish secondary income flows
Last but not least, we would like to remind you that sometimes the best way to establish a seamless cash flow for your seasonal business is to seek it outside your native industry. Granted, you don’t have to go all-in and try to rebuild your business from the grounds up in some more consistent but even something as simple as starting a blog, opening up a gift shop, offering the logistics and transport services to other small businesses can help you not only stay afloat but also soar up and branch out in some completely unexpected directions. There is really no bad way to earn more.
We hope these few mentions will help you to keep your seasonal business (or any business in general) profitable during the slower parts of the year or even come up with some ideas of your own. Every problem looks difficult until you actually start working on the solution. Seasonal businesses are no different and now you know where to start.
Interesting Tips to Start Up Your New Business
Starting your own business is something that many people want to do but very few ever have the combination of finances, ability, and willpower to actually get going. So, if you are one of the lucky few, then congratulations. This article aims to help you start your business right.
Make Sure to Select an Interesting Idea
When you’re starting with your business, it’s important to get the brainstorming and planning out of the way as quickly and uniformly as possible.
Settle on a Niche. The most important thing to do when you’re coming up with your business idea is to settle on a decent niche. Once you have a good niche in mind you can use websites like monday.com to start planning things like marketing, and you can begin to think about a product that will fit the niche nicely.
Come Up with a Product Idea. Speaking of product, once you know the niche you are aiming for, you know what your product needs to do. So, all that remains is for you to come up with an innovative way of meeting those needs, with a unique twist that will make customers want to come to you.
Use Software to Your Advantage
Now that you know your niche and the product that you are planning to fill it with, you can start taking steps to set yourself up to best meet the needs of your niche. One of the best things you can do here to ensure the success of your business is to invest in software that will give you an edge.
CRM Software. For example, CRM software is a highly useful choice, as it will allow you to develop strong bonds with your customers early on. Plus, since you will probably only have a small number of customers at any one time, you should be able to really focus on developing bonds with them early on in your business, which could earn you repeat customers at a very critical time for your company.
Marketing is Key
Finally, something you need to understand, which a lot of people fail to grasp with business, is that marketing for your business is key to starting out strong. It doesn’t matter how incredible your company is, if you don’t manage to get the word out, then nobody is going to know or care about you and your products.
Create a Strong Brand. The first thing you need to be focused on doing, then, once you’ve established the basics of your business, is to start building up your brand. There are a plethora of marketing tools available that you might like to use for this process, but however you go about it, you need to make sure your brand is out there.
Use Digital Marketing. An effective strategy is likely to rely on digital marketing to get the word out. Inbound marketing will work on any business so long as you apply it correctly, and social media is a brilliant way to get the word out about your company. So, perhaps consider a web-based marketing approach to get yourself established.
Five Crucial Places to Invest When Running a New Business
A business is all about investing in the right place and getting a return from it. However, investing doesn’t just mean spending in places that will directly get you profits. For example, there is no denying that you will have to invest in manufacturing if you are selling a product. You can’t sell if you won’t invest to build that product.
There are also many other things that are just as important to keep the business running and growing although their link is not as visible. You learn these things with time when you have spent a few years in the industry doing some experiments and studying how your business is doing.
As a businessman, you should know exactly where and how much to spend. One can make mistakes, but you lose the trust of shareholders and clients if you keep investing in the wrong places. A small business usually tries to save as much money as possible as they have a shorter budget.
Most new businesses only invest in manufacturing or service providing, ignoring all other important aspects of the business. They can survive like that for a short time, but it won’t let the business grow.
A new business is usually started when a person with the right spirit finds one or two clients. They keep getting new clients by getting referred. However, you lose a series of clients when one of them is unsatisfied. Besides, you can’t keep relying on the referral system.
This is a successful method that works. You can actually ensure you get new clients by offering some sort of bonus or discounts to your clients. This will not let you build a strong business and it takes too much time to get more work. This is why every business has to invest in marketing.
Marketing helps get the word out there that you are now operating in the industry as a business. It helps attract new people who are linked to you or any of your clients. This allows you to explore outside your circle and reach out to more people. You should use your reserves and even take online loans if you have to, but don’t ignore marketing. It is very important for the long-term growth of the business.
A company is only as good as its team. Your products or services can’t be better than the skills of your team. You might be able to trick a few clients with your experience, but sooner or later your competitors will catch up to you and snatch away your clients. While product manufacturers might somewhat survive, service-based business needs the most skilled team in every department.
This is why you should not try to go cheap when hiring a workforce. Pay a little extra if you have to but make sure you get the most skilled people in your team. They will ensure that you stay ahead of your competitors and that your clients or customers are more than happy with your work.
It’s not just about the production team where you need skilled people. You won’t be able to expand if you don’t have a competitive marketing team and the retention rate also won’t be as good if your customer services team is not doing its job perfectly.
It’s easier for an established business to attract skilled people. However, most people don’t prefer to work at smaller companies as they are more likely to go out of business. This means you will have to put extra effort and probably pay higher salaries to get the most competent people.
Just getting the right employees is not enough. It’s also an art to ensure they stay with you and provide the best of their potential. This is why you will need to invest in employee happiness even if you are running a small startup. Just because they are skilled doesn’t mean they will work all their might for your success. They must feel like a part of the company and that the company cares about them.
You will need some good managers to ensure they are getting the best work done and utilizing their full potential while also going the extra mile. However, even the best managers can’t do anything if the employees are not satisfied with their work. This is why you must encourage them to work as they care about it.
You should always show them that you care about them. Most companies offer bonuses, announce employee of the month, and take tours to keep their employees happy. Make sure, at no point, anyone feels like you are trying to save money or going cheap.
No one cares how many years you have spent in the industry if you have not built a name. A new startup with a big name can easily defeat a company that has been working for over ten years. This name is built by branding.
It takes time to build a brand, so it’s better to get started as soon as possible. You don’t have to invest a big portion of your budget for this; just make sure you consistently keep working on it. The goal is to appear as a competent business in the industry. Not only your audience but your competitors should trust your abilities.
Your prospects won’t have a problem trusting you when you have a trustworthy name. Otherwise, they will be wary and you will have to ensure every single client that you are a credible company.
Just like employees, you also have to invest in the happiness of clients. Just providing them quality service is not enough. Your goal should be to win their loyalty, which is only possible if you make them feel special. They should feel like they belong to your company and always feel welcomed.
They will even ignore the mistakes from your side if they are happy with your service. You should give them personalized customer service by offering gifts, discounts, and bonuses.
Top 7 Virtual Teams Challenges and Solutions for Businesses
Last year’s outbreak of COVID-19 made a very profound impact on the contemporary business landscape. One of the most significant transitions we have seen was the rise of virtual teams and the massive switch to work from home.
How big of a portion? According to a recent survey, 80% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely, while 47% will enable employees to work from home full-time. This can be best described as tectonic changes.
Of course, all significant overhauls that envelop this scale must include various challenges, obstacles, and adversities. In this article, we will cover some of the most notorious problems and try to find practical solutions for dealing with them.
When they are at the workplace, employees are working with an infrastructure that’s already been laid out and can get support from other departments. Moving workers out of this controlled environment to their homes leaves them with their own resources. Lack of necessary tools, varying software versions, and different software platforms are only some of the problems that undermine effective collaboration and productivity. One of the most straightforward workarounds for this obstacle can be found in platform-agnostic cloud tools, where updates are passed to all end users simultaneously. Most of these platforms usually feature built-in collaborative tools, making them even more suitable for virtual teams.
In a physical workplace, communication develops very spontaneously, and answers can be found through chatter and brainstorming as much as established communication hierarchy. In the virtual environment, however, a lack of clear and transparent hierarchy often creates clutter where critical information is often indiscernible from jabber. In order to avoid this problem, you need to establish firm rules about what needs to be reported to whom, when, and through what channels. This way, your workers will always know where to get relevant info without unnecessary delays and idling. In turn, all of your processes will be sped up and run more efficiently.
Poor worker engagement
These are two factors that take the hardest hit by relocating workers from offices to their homes. Without any motivational tools and supervision of their superiors, your employees can slip into idling and start losing productivity. This is an issue that needs to be cut in its roots. Fortunately enough, the gravity of this problem gave birth to tools for employee engagement explicitly designed to address problems related to virtual teams like check-ins, notices, scheduling, rosters, administration, and onboarding. Most essential processes are kept under one integrated umbrella and employee voices are allowed to be heard. Both these factors have a very positive impact on morale.
Response time and accountability
The problem of accountability is not related exclusively to virtual teams and remote working. But some mistakes are easier to trace in the digital environment, and unread emails, unopened messages, and other invisible walls make coming to the bottom of the problem even harder. Although this issue can’t ever be rooted out, you can, at least, do your best to cut down the response times as much as possible. Enforce the rules where priority emails will need to be responded to without any delays. Also, you can set up separate communication channels only for problems of this sort.
Lack of trust in leadership
In normal circumstances, inspired leadership keeps the workforce high-spirited, motivated, and on track with current obligations. Translating this sort of leadership into a virtual environment is very hard even if management and staff have a personal or professional history, as in numerous contemporary startups. Since you will undoubtedly lack this inspiring personal touch, you should try to bind the workers closer to the goals of your company, perform internal marketing actions that will promote your mission statement among the staff, and motivate workers to take action in building the company future by incentives and chances for promotion.
Of course, failing motivation is not only the result of absent leadership. Remote working simply doesn’t provide a sufficiently stimulating environment to help your employees reach their maximum potential. That is why you need to find another way to keep them stimulated. Do your best then to provide them with to-do lists for every new workday or at least ask them to submit their own. Short, specific, and feasible goals will help your employees plow through their obligations much faster. Offering small incentives like, for instance, leaving the workplace earlier if the tasks are finished will undoubtedly give them an additional reason to stop procrastinating and tackle their obligations head-on.
Absence of support
Last but not least, we have to mention the lack of support employees get when they are working from home. In the previous section, we have noted that most of the software issues can be prevented by adopting the Cloud technology where maintenance and updates are the responsibility of the service provider. Even so, you should do your best to build a comprehensive knowledge base where your staff will be able to find all the answers regarding technical issues and procedures without having to lose time by referring to higher-ups.
We hope these few examples gave you some general idea about the challenges startups are facing while building virtual teams and transitioning to a remote working model. Although telecommuting got a great boost with the outbreak of COVID-19, this model gained traction much earlier and will not stop developing even after the outbreak is over. With things as they are, the best we can do is to join the early adopters and make the transition as painless as possible.
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