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Many businesses don’t have a steady stream of income throughout the year. They have to be prepared for downtime.

A restaurant located on a college campus may have fewer customers over the summer when the students are gone. The busiest seasons for retail stores are holiday and back to school. Other businesses only appeal to customers during a particular season like vacation destinations, lawn care, snow removal, and tax preparation.

If you have any seasonality to your business, you’ll want to make sure that you’re making the most of your downtime and prepared for any unexpected issues that might come up.

Create off-season demand. The most obvious solution to downtime would be to offer deals and special offers to get business in the door. You might even consider creating a new products and services that appeals to a new set of customers.

Keep in touch with customers. Even if your customers don’t need your service or product all year, that shouldn’t keep you from staying in touch with them on a year round basis. The off-season is a great time to start an email newsletter, be active on social media, or schedule your marketing strategy for when things do pick up.

Rest and rejuvenate. After a particularly busy season, you might need to put some time aside to avoid burn out. Take a vacation, schedule appointments you’ve been putting off, and invest in your own health and well being.

Think bigger picture and longer term. A break in business might give you the space you need to do some strategic planning. Taking the time to think about your mission, core values, and long term company goals will give you valuable insight that you might not otherwise have time to spend time developing.

Be prepared for cash flow emergencies. Cash flow is one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to running a seasonal business. Have a Plan B for any emergencies or any unexpected expenses that might come up.

Bottom line: Ups and downs are a natural part of any business. When effectively managed, the downtime that comes with a seasonal business can be an unexpected business opportunity.

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