Surviving the Off Season With a Seasonal Small Business

Owning booths in a Florida flea market meant that our seasonal business was dictated by the weather. When the hot summer settled in, business would grind to a sweltering halt. But in the balmy fall and winter months, business would soar. Knowing how to maximize profits and cope with the off season was the key to our success.

Cash Flow

There were several cash flow issues involved in running our seasonal business. We had to take into account the spikes and dips in revenue. We had to cover our business expenses throughout the year, regardless of the dips. And we had to increase our stock considerably in preparation for the season, just when income was at its lowest. To cope, we calculated all these considerations into our yearly budget and kept cash reserves as necessary.

Rent Year-Round

Though we could give up our flea market booths during the off season and, thereby, avoid having to pay rent, we decided against it. Once we lost our prime location, we would likely never get it back. In this respect, though we didn't own the business site, we were just as committed as if we were bound by a contract. To sustain the peaks in our seasonal business, we had to pay rent even during the dips.

Merchandise Storage

Storing stock that didn't sell during the season became an unwanted expense. Instead of renting a larger warehouse, we decided to sell this unwanted stock at sale prices in the booth we were already forced to rent. Though in the off season our sales could drop by 90 percent, the small revenue was enough to cover the pay off the sales girl and the rent of the booth.

Donate Unwanted Stock

There was always a certain amount of stock that could not be shifted through the booth. Rather than waste storage space, we donated these items. We could then write off the expense. And we didn't clutter our next season with last season's flops.

The Ups of the Off Season

Since the season is so hectic, the off season comes as a blessing. We took the time to review the business performance for the previous months. We could determine which booth was the most successful and which merchandise was most popular. Based on this data, we started planning for the next season. We would order fabrics and start manufacturing.

Being Ready First

There is no calendar day on which the season officially starts. We prepared the booth from the first days of autumn. Looking our best with plenty of merchandise to offer paid off. We were able to attract customers while the rest of the flea market was still shaking off the cobwebs from the off season.

More from Tal Boldo:

How We Built a Small Business Around a Single Item

How I Started a Dry-Flower Decorating Business With No Money

How I Started My Flower Business With $150

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