Managing and Growing a Seasonal Business

As a young boy, I remember visiting my grandfather’s farm and spending time with him on the tractor from early in the morning until it was too dark to work. He would often say to me, “You gotta make hay while the sun shines.”

I must admit it took years for me to really comprehend what he was saying, but the owners of seasonal small businesses have no trouble understanding the phrase. Every day, they recognize the importance of “making hay” during the busy season because it pays the bills the rest of the year. If that describes your business, here are six tips to help you manage your seasonal business and maximize its ability to grow and thrive:

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1. Anticipate the business cycle.

Although this might sound like an oversimplification, it takes some discipline to know that the cash flow boon happening during peak season will ebb into a trickle when the season is over. Nevertheless, it’s important to plan ahead and prepare for those times when business is going to be slower. Having spent many years in a seasonal business, I recognized the importance of setting aside some profits to pay for expenses during the lull before the next busy season. I also came to appreciate that when it was time to “make hay,” I needed to be ready for the extra work—which often meant longer hours and a lot more to do.

As seasonal businesses grow, some of the part-time employees that get hired to help through the busy season become full-time employees, and their part-time roles are taken by new seasonal employees hired to fill in the gaps. The business owners that are the best at anticipating and planning for the busy seasons (and the gaps in between) are those who build strong and thriving businesses.

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