Monthly Archives: December 2016

Tips to Start a Seasonal Business

Do you ever wonder how these small businesses pop up seemingly overnight ahead of any major U.S. holiday? From costume stores capitalizing on Halloween to snow plows making money removing snow, there are endless types of seasonal businesses. Launching one may seem like a capital intense, complicated endeavor, but launching a seasonal small business is an achievable goal.

Make Sure There Is Demand
When it comes to launching a seasonal business, the first thing you have to do is research the market you are thinking of getting into. You want to make sure there is a need to be filled, and there is enough demand to make money. After all nothing can be more demoralizing than starting a business and having zero customers. It’s important to know if people would buy your product or service at your price point and to be aware of the competition. Let’s say you are thinking of launching a summer swimming school out of your backyard pool. Before you can print the business cards and get the website up, you have to see if there are people that want your service. Talking to people in your community can give you a sense of if there is a market or you’ll be wasting your time and worse money.

Create The Right Business Structure
Once you’ve done your market research and you are convinced there is a market for you service, you are going to have to get all the legal paperwork out of the way. That means registering your business’ name, opening up a business checking account and creating your business structure. Many small business owners become a sole proprietor, but if your business has potential risks associated with it a limited liability company could be the better way to go. You also have to figure out what insurance you will need to protect yourself if you or someone else get’s hurt.

Promote Your Seasonal Business
Getting the word out about your new seasonal business is crucial. Promoting is easier to do these days thanks to the Internet and social media. As soon as you have your company name get on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other trending website and tell the world about your business. It’s critical to try to get the word out locally and if you can afford it, create a website. The world is mobile these days, and if you aren’t on the Internet in a mobile friendly way, then you are going to miss out on hundreds of potential customers. That being said, certain seasonal businesses aren’t going to benefit as much from social media or the Internet. In that case, you want to get the word out the old fashion way: handing out flyers, attending events in the community and otherwise spreading the word about your new business through networking. Use multiple platforms to maximize your marketing efforts.

Hire Seasonal Workers
Likely, you are going to have to hire people to help out with your seasonal business; however, because you aren’t looking for full-time workers, finding help may be challenging. Thankfully, the Internet is a great resource for finding potential employees. There are numerous job boards geared toward part-time workers where you can post your job ad. You should also tap your network as well as put a sign in your storefront if you have one. Remember to be upfront about the timing of the job. The goal is to find employees that you can bring back year after year. Your costs will be lower if you don’t have to retrain a staff each season.

Keep Your Inventory Low
One of the quickest ways for a seasonal business owner to get in trouble is by having too much inventory. After all, the more money you spend on supplies and product the more money you can lose if you don’t sell enough. That’s why it’s vital to keep inventory and overhead as low as possible. Seasonal businesses only make money for a fixed period each year, so you want to maximize the amount you earn.

Manage Your Cash Flow Properly
One of the biggest challenges of running a seasonal business is managing your cash flow. Because you make a lot of money over a short period and then nothing for months after you are going to have to make sure you are handling the money correctly. The worst thing you want to do is spend it all right away leaving you with little during off-seasons. Since your cash flow is irregular, you are going to want to plan your expenditures very carefully.

Tips to Start a Business While working a Full time Job

So you want to start a business, but between working a full-time job, managing your house and taking care of the kids, you don’t know how in the world you’re going to find the time. Don’t despair, it is possible to start your dream business while working full-time. There are currently more than 28 million small businesses in the U.S. Each year, roughly 10-12% open and another 10-12% close, according to the Small Business Administration.
Step 1: Find your “why”

Why is it that you want to start a business? Do you want to leave your full-time job and work for yourself? Are you craving the freedom that comes with running your own business? Or, do you simply have a great idea and you want to sell it to make some extra money on the side? Determining your “why” will help you stay motivated during the hard and busy times that lie ahead.

Step 2: Set business hours

When you first launch your business, it’s going to seem like you’re working non-stop (most likely because you are). To avoid getting burnt out, set specific business hours outside of your day job. Ideas include waking up two hours early to work on your business, spending one hour of your time each weeknight working, working half a day on Saturdays, and then taking Sunday completely off. As busy as you’ll be, it’s important to still allow yourself some time for rest.

Step 3: Create a business plan

A detailed business plan will help you work toward your goals and be more efficient in what you hope to accomplish. Starting a business is no easy feat—there are so many details that need to be taken care of, including building a website and social media pages for your business, networking, marketing, accounting, managing employees (if you have any), and more. A business plan will help you narrow your focus and keep you on track

Step 4: Keep your priorities straight

Even if your ultimate goal is to quit your full-time job so you can have more time with your family, don’t sacrifice that time now. Starting a business will be time-consuming, but it shouldn’t be your whole life. If you’re neglecting your family, friends and other responsibilities in lieu or work, perhaps you need to re-think what it is you want from your life.

Step 5: Set specific goals

When starting a business while working full-time, you have to set clear, actionable goals each day, week and month in order to see growth and not lose your mind. At first, your goals may be tiny—things such as starting a business Facebook page and writing a description of your product. Overtime, your goals will get larger—perhaps making enough money to replace your day job or saving $5 thousand a month. Either way, specific, continuous goals are a must when starting a business.(For more, read Implementing a Small Business Social Media Strategy).

Tips to Manage Your Time When Working Full-time and Growing a Business
There’s no way around the fact that you’re going to be busy when your business is just starting out, and you’re still punching a clock every day. To maintain your sanity, here are three tips for managing your time to ensure success.

Eliminate distractions

You most likely only have 10-15 hours to devote toward your business each week. If that time is spent checking emails and scrolling through Facebook, your business is never going to get to where you want it to be. When working on your business, eliminate all distractions. Turn your phone off, block social media sites from your computer and ask your family not to disturb you unless it’s an emergency.

Hire out work

You’re on an extremely limited schedule, so instead of trying to handle each and every task on your own, hire out the things that you’re the slowest at or have no interest in doing. Perhaps you want to build a website but don’t know the first thing about how to go about it. Instead of spending countless hours figuring it out, hire someone to do it for you. By focusing on your areas of expertise and hiring people to do the rest, your business will grow at a significantly greater rate than if you tried to tackle it all by yourself.

Take time off

No one can work 24/7 forever. We all have our own breaking points, but instead of waiting for it to happen, take steps now to ensure that it never does. The best way to avoid burn out is to take time off. If you can’t give yourself an entire day off, at least allow yourself some downtime during the week and on the weekends. Schedule in time to spend with your family, your friends and doing your own hobbies. You’ll be a happier, more well-rounded business owner by taking care of yourself first.

Tips To Start A Side Business

There’s a misconception that keeps those with dreams of owning their own business from following their dreams. It’s a misconception that’s not only false but dangerous to the small business community. It’s not true that every entrepreneur sits in a rundown apartment somewhere in Silicon Valley, eats boxes of cheap “mac and cheese” and stays up all night building the next big startup. Most entrepreneurs aren’t living in poverty hoping to someday sign the papers for millions of dollars in funding only to see their dreams become the next worldwide craze.
The real landscape of entrepreneurship is much different and the reality is more mainstream than the model seen in the movies. According a Kauffman Foundation study, entrepreneurs are more likely to be between the ages of 45-54 and of minority descent. They may be starting businesses as second careers, but even those entrepreneurs don’t paint the right picture.

Another misconception is the notion that businesses have to start with a “bang,” which could mean lots of time, quitting your day job, sacrificing family time and taking a big personal and financial risk on a dream that may not succeed and burden you with large amounts of debt.

In fact, many business owners start their businesses as side ventures. They don’t quit their day jobs, but instead use the skills they’ve learned to start a side businesses. They aren’t expecting these businesses to pay the bills, but they don’t limit themselves on growth either. Starting small keeps the startup costs low. If it does fail, they have lost very little. How do you start a side business? Here are a few tips.

Make It Scaleable
So you love to cook? You could start a restaurant that will take a full-time commitment and a lot of money or you could start a weekend catering business or a mobile food truck. A business where you provide small services on your own schedule can grow as much or as little as your time allows. Look for those opportunities while you’re starting out.

Limit the Formal Marketing
You want to gain business, but investing in large marketing efforts could have two negative effects: you could waste a lot of money on a campaign that produced very little business or it could produce so much business that you don’t have the time to handle all of the orders. Instead, focus on word-of-mouth advertising and let the business grow debt free.
If you’re going to keep your day job, try not to mix the two businesses. The job that pays the bills and offers health insurance and a retirement package deserves the bulk of your time and energy, even if you’ve lost some of the passion for that position. Then when you get back home, concentrate on your side business.

Don’t Expect It to Be Easy
Before starting your side business, consider your expectations. If it’s going to be a part-time effort, expecting to rival your full-time competitors in the first few years is unrealistic. You don’t have to be the biggest to find fulfillment. Having the expectation of doing something you enjoy while making a little extra money is a healthy and appropriate goal.