Are you strategically and proactively planning for the seasonality of your business?
Every single business I've worked with experiences a seasonal impact.
Most people think the only organizations with seasonal impact are industries like farming and retail, etc. But consulting firms, creative and design agencies, technology companies, financial institutions, airlines, etc. also experience a seasonality.
Small to medium sized business owners often don't think about the seasonality of their business. If you're interested in building a sustainable business, then you really have to build a responsive business. That means anticipating the seasonal impact - whether that's releasing a software product and you need more developers and testers for a brief period of time, you need to hire designers for a big project, you need to find freelancers for an experiential marketing campaign, or you need to plan your vacation when you have downtime because you are a solopreneur.
Identifying the Seasonality of Your Business:
Look over the last three years of your financial reports.
This is a good starting point to figure out the seasonality of your business. However, you may also need to look at time sheets, software release timelines, or other important documents that give you insight into the seasonal aspects of your business.
Look for crunch times and slow times. Look for spikes in revenue, as well as dips in revenue.
Look for any indication that implies you are more busy or less busy than at other times over the past three years.
When you are clear on the seasonal flow of your business, you can make plans and take strategic action to influence that seasonality.
For example, if you've had a slow first quarter every year for the last three years, ramp up your marketing in October. (Yes, I understand that won't help this year, but at least you'll be prepared for next year.)
Or, if you have need for freelancers multiple times throughout the year, put your job postings up permanently so you always have access to a qualified pool of freelancers.
There are a million and one ways to strategize around pattern analysis, to offset patterns, take advantage of patterns, or just be informed.
For example, a design firm I work with traditionally had a dip in the first quarter of the year. When we examined the financials closely, we made the decision to spend extra time in the fourth quarter of the year focusing on business development.
The result? In 2013 they already have their best first quarter ever! That means they have business booked January, February and March already and it's more business than they've had in any year. That's being strategic!
But...be careful about making assumptions about seasonality.
Just because other people say December is slow in your industry, doesn't mean it has to be that way. For example, in my industry (coaching), people always say December is the slowest month. But for me, December is usually the busiest of the year.
January is usually my slowest. So I'll take advantage of that by ending this post now and taking some much needed down time. 🙂
What is the seasonal impact on your business...and what are you planning to do about it?