Ready or not, the holiday season has arrived. A number of experts are predicting more consumer spending for holiday 2022 and Deloitte’s State of the US consumer: September 2022 found that consumers are both spending more money and expressing less concern over day-to-day expenses. Both of these are great news for seasonal businesses that depend on holiday sales. Still, predictions alone don’t temper the stress for a business with a single make-or-break season. What can? Taking a deeper dive into 3 major challenges of running a seasonal business and strategies you can use to overcome each. Challenge #1: Hiring for Seasonality Hiring quality staff is one of the biggest headaches for any small business — and even more so for seasonal businesses. Because many small businesses see an increase in demand during Q4, they need to hire additional employees for the season. But, with the employment window so short and priority high, any missteps during seasonal employment hiring can have significant consequences on your bottom line. Hiring for seasonality can be difficult because: They are short-term positions: Many employees are looking for long-term, stable careers and may not be willing to take on a seasonal position if they have another option. This could mean missing a great hire or losing an employee during the rush because they find a better job. You have a tight window for onboarding: Navigating seasonal hiring is difficult because the window is so tight. You have to find, hire, onboard, and train employees quickly, which can lead to quality control issues if not done correctly. The state of hiring is already challenging: A reported 73% of employers said they have difficulty finding skilled candidates already, let alone during peak season when you have less room for error. Tips for Hiring for Seasonality While you’re likely to face many of the hiring issues above, how you handle them can make or break your holiday season. Below are some tips to help you when hiring seasonal employees. Define and communicate expectations clearly: What are the days and hours of the position you’re staffing? When does the season end and what does that mean for this position? Defining your expectations for each seasonal position and communicating that in the job description and during the hiring process will make finding the right person easier and provide less stress for you and the employee when the season ends. Be flexible with pay: Finding great employees is never easy, but it can be especially difficult if you’re paying the bare minimum. As you’re heading into the busy season, be mindful of your staffing budget and consider setting money aside for end-of-season bonuses, overtime pay, or even to entice higher-skilled labor. Lean on your staff (current and previous): Some of the best recruiters are already working for you, so consider asking your current employees to look into their personal network for seasonal workers. Additionally, when you find a great seasonal hire, retain that relationship so you can work with them again in the future. Challenge #2: Cash Flow Management Maintaining positive cash flow gives a seasonal business more financial latitude to cover operating expenses, capitalize on more opportunities, and mitigate the effect of unexpected expenses. However, just because it’s important doesn’t mean it’s easy. Managing cash flow requires foresight, strategic planning, and effective decision-making. Not only do you need to generate more revenue than you’re spending, but if your business is seasonal, you’ll need to deal with the upfront expenses that come with scaling for holiday sales. Tips for Managing Cash Flow for Seasonal Businesses Cash flow management is obviously important for seasonal businesses, but what can you do to make your financial life easier during this important time? Plan ahead: It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day of running a business, but if you want to set yourself up for success financially, think ahead. As early as possible, start setting money aside to cover what you expect to need for a holiday push. Keep an eye on expenses: Cash flow is all about how money moves in and out of your business which means your expenses are just as important as your revenue. Keeping a close eye on your costs and knowing when you can cut an expense can make a huge difference on your cash flow. Have a backup plan: You know the phrase, “Always be prepared”? It should be the motto of every seasonal business. Ensure you have a safety net/financial buffer that allows you to take advantage of opportunities and unexpected expenses going into the busy season. A business credit card or business line of credit are great assets to have in your cash flow toolbox. Challenge #3: Moving Back to the Slow Season Seasonal businesses have inherent peaks and valleys throughout the year, which can sometimes lead to tunnel vision. From budgeting and forecasting to scaling up and down, the preparation for the busy season can take a lot of time, energy, and other resources. So, what happens when it’s not the busy season? Tips for Crushing the Slow Season Succeeding during your busiest time of the year is obviously important, but that doesn’t mean you have to neglect the rest of the year. Finding opportunities to transform your seasonal business into a year-round money-maker could pay huge dividends long term. Additionally, knowing when to pull back after the holidays can help you avoid spillover expenses. Below are a few ideas to help you crush your slow season. Take your business online: An estimated 29% of small businesses still do not have a website despite 85% of customers saying they research online before making a purchase. A website won’t just help you convert more sales during the busy season, if you sell a product—it can help you reach a much larger market and capture potential sales year-round. Find new and creative revenue streams: Think outside the box of your product or service and look for ways to take your skill set and apply it to another market. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, your busy season is between May and October (80% of all weddings) which means you have six months of downtime. Consider tapping into new industries or partnering with other businesses to find creative ways to stay busy year-round like shooting professional real estate photos for local realtors. Be proactive at cutting back: Most seasonal business owners will have a good pulse on when the busy period is coming to an end. As sales trends begin to flatten or fall, don’t delay cutting back your spending. Whether that means pausing ads or laying off your seasonal staff, the sooner you act the better to prevent overspending. 'Tis the Season for Evaluation As we close the book on ‘22 and prepare for a new year, it’s a great opportunity to evaluate your business and the strategies implemented this year. What worked? What failed? What opportunities do you see moving forward? Take the time to analyze your business and use the information collected along with the advice above to guide your decision-making in ‘23 and beyond. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Lendio. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything. The information provided in this post is not intended to constitute business, legal, tax, or accounting advice and is provided for general informational purposes only. Readers should contact their attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor to obtain advice on any particular matter.