How do I make a Business Plan for a seasonal business?
A Business Plan sets out a company’s objectives and how it will achieve them. It can be detailed and long, or concise and brief, so long as it explains how your business will operate and succeed.
A Business Plan usually touches on:
- Explanations of services and goods.
- Financial plans, including budgets and projections.
- Target market descriptions.
- Competitor analysis.
- Strategic plans and long-term goals.
- Marketing strategies and analysis.
A Business Plan for a seasonal business is the same as any other business. Seasonal businesses, however, want to have a plan to account for both their busy season and off-season, instead of year-round operations. This can make cash flow projections, hiring, and marketing a bit more complicated.
Irregular cash flow and expenses
A solid Business Plan can show lenders your expectations and limitations. This is vital if you want outside funding for your small business.
Even if you operate for just part of the year, you may still have expenses when you do not bring in any income. Your plan can demonstrate how you will pay those expenses despite limited cash flow.
Marketing, even in the off-season
As part of your Business Plan, you may describe your marketing strategy and associated expenses.
How do you intend to bring in new customers as a budding business? How will you keep those customers engaged in the off-season? How can you encourage customers to keep coming back year after year? What marketing tools may work best for your company? What part of your budget is set aside for marketing and acquiring new customers?
Consider social media, local advertising outlets, or partners in complementary industries.
Employees and staff members
Many seasonal companies hire staff just for their peak season, forcing employees to find employment elsewhere the rest of the year. They generally do not have the work for staff members in the slow season.
This arrangement can become complicated due to unemployment insurance and employee benefits, so a Business Plan can help you prepare for these potential expenses. In that situation, it might make sense to use an Employment Contract with a definite end date or, if possible in your industry, to hire contractors with an Independent Contractor Agreement instead of retaining employees. Keep in mind that legal requirements often dictate how you classify your workers.
You may want to encourage valuable staff members to come back each year. As a result, you can structure your employment relationships a bit differently than a year-round small business.
Your Business Plan might also address other off-season aspects. For some, the off-season may mean another job. For others, it is an opportunity to refine and improve their seasonal business now that they have some spare time.
Some business ideas play well off of one another. For instance, many landscaping companies pivot to winter maintenance services, like plowing driveways, when lawn and garden care is unnecessary.
A second business or complementary enterprise may impress lenders and investors who worry about cash flow fluctuations for seasonal companies.
What are some common summer seasonal businesses?
Summer seasonal businesses will vary based on location. Nonetheless, many summertime businesses focus on warm-weather needs and activities. Some popular options include:
- Food trucks.
- Pool maintenance.
- Summer sports and activities.
- Dog walking and vacation pet care.
- Kids camps and camping-related businesses.
- Summer festivals, farmers markets, and fairs.
- Travel guide services.
- Swimming pools or recreation centers.
- Agricultural businesses.
If you have questions about how to turn your seasonal business idea into a real seasonal business, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.
What if my business has a peak season in summer but operates year-round?
Many companies are open year-round, but they have a defined peak season over the summer. They may not close during the winter, but demand decreases or hours are drastically reduced in the off-season.
In addition, many companies choose to switch gears during the winter to offer a different type of service. For instance, for-fee lakes or recreational areas that offer fishing and kayaking might pivot to set up their lake for skate rental during the winter. Many landscaping companies provide snow removal services over the winter.
Even if you have a slow season without a pivot to another service, you can still build your business for different times of the year, or get a head start on organizing for tax season. Below are just a few examples to prepare for an off-season.
- Plan for the next busy season.
- Develop marketing plans and use social media to attract new customers and expand your customer base using off-season promotions.
- Engage in long-term multi-year planning that you may not have time to do during the busy season.
- Make facilities improvements that are difficult to perform during the peak season.
Ultimately, some off-season activities may not generate cash, however, what you do in the off-season can make your busy season even more successful.
How can I fund startup costs of a new summer business?
Funding is a challenge for every new small business. Funding sources may be particularly important for seasonal companies, and having a solid plan can open the doors.
Investors can provide capital or cash to get your business off the ground. It can be a friend, family member, or an unrelated third party. Most investors inject funds in exchange for a percentage of profits in the business. They may also request some input in how the company is run or managed. You can weigh the advantages and disadvantages as you consider adding new investors.
Many small businesses fund their early activities on a credit card or small line of personal credit. While this can work well at first, it generally is not a long-term solution. Establishing credit, as a business, can help open the doors to better financing options.
Borrow from the bank with a Business Plan
Many large and local banks will lend funds if a startup has a good business plan. Unfortunately, lending restrictions may limit loans to a new startup without a demonstration of current cash flow.
Borrow from friends and family
Friends and family may loan you money without becoming an investor. Still, you will have to pay them back as you would any third-party lender. Transparency and fairness are critical in familial lending relationships.
Dig into savings
Savings can fuel seasonal business ventures. Many people choose to start their business on the side funded by wages earned at another job.
This strategy minimizes risk, although it can delay your operations. In addition, it allows the business owner to get a feel for the industry and make decisions about the type of services they want to provide if they decide to make this company a full-time venture.
Separate personal and business bank accounts
It is a good idea to keep your business and personal funds separate, especially if you want to incorporate or establish a limited liability company (LLC) down the road.
Even if you are not yet incorporated, keeping business funds separate from personal funds can help you better track income and expenses. Understanding how much money you have to fund your company is critical at any time, but especially when starting out.
What important steps can help before I open for business?
Starting a new business is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming, even for experienced entrepreneurs. There are certain steps you can take before you open your doors that can help you succeed.
Open a business bank account
A business bank account will help you track income and expenses. It also helps legitimize the business in the eyes of a bank that may one day lend you money. It also helps you develop the mentality of a business owner.
Establish your products and pricing
Sometimes new business owners get so excited about the new company that they jump over the basics. Research the services and products you offer and develop your pricing accordingly.
Line up your support team
The right professionals on your team, like an accountant, tax professional, and legal help, can help you build a solid foundation for your company. When you need help, you can rest assured that you have a team to deliver.
Start advertising early
Advertising ahead of your busy season can get customers excited about your new venture. You may be able to generate early revenues by pre-booking clients, running promotions, or offering other incentives.
Being ready to launch as soon as summer starts can help you tap into the excitement and make the most of your summer seasonal business. If you have more questions about starting a seasonal business, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.