January 4, 2019

Tis The Season For Business Planning

business planningPretty much every blog, magazine, and news source devoted to entrepreneurship is talking about business planning right now. I know you get it. Whether you’ve sat down and drafted out a 25 page business plan for the coming year or have it on your calendar to spend some time one afternoon pulling together something a little less formal, you know that a business plan is important and that it will hopefully be your roadmap to a successful 2018.

But one thing that’s not often talked about with regards to business planning is the importance of planning for your slower times of year. There are few business models that operate at 100% year round. You may have just off a chaotic holiday season and are staring down Valentine’s Day as you currently read this, already exhausted and overwhelmed. But for you perhaps the Summer months are slower. Whereas, for many farmers’ market vendors in North America, the winter season is a little quieter and the Summer is when things really pick up.

No matter which category your business falls into, planning for those slower time periods is an important part of your business’ growth. First and foremost, you need to make sure you have the cash on hand to weather the slower time period and still pay for your necessary expenses. A cash forecast can also help you see if any big mandatory cash outlays are anticipated during that time period. For example, when are your annual health license payments due? If the time period coincides with a slower time of year for you, coming up with several hundred dollars worth of licensing fees can be tough unless you’ve planned ahead for that.

Outside of cash needs though, you should also plan to take advantage of slower weeks/months. These quieter times are the perfect opportunity to do some serious thinking/work on longer-term plans for your business. What is your five year vision for your business and how do you think you’ll get there?

There are, of course, some less glamorous things you can do during quieter periods as well. No doubt after a busy period your kitchen and equipment could probably use a good deep clean. So turn on a great audio book or podcast, pull on some gloves, and get cleaning.

Take a look at your calendar and see how slow times correspond to upcoming busy periods too and, depending on your product type, see if you have the possibility to build up inventory or otherwise begin prep of ingredients or packaging to help get you ahead of the curve a little bit.

Lastly, don’t forget to plan a break. This doesn’t have to be a fancy vacation away (but more power to you if you can pull it off!). Take advantage of these slower times to step away from the business a little bit, catch your breath, and do some of the other things you love to do in life. You’ll find yourself much more refreshed and re-invigorated in your business after you’ve had a chance to get away from it even if only for a little while.

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