6 Ways to Make the Most of the Fall Season for Your Small Business
The weather is suddenly cooler. Leaves are changing color. Halloween decorations fill store shelves. Suddenly, business is picking up in your small business.
Welcome to fall — for many small businesses, the busiest, most hectic, and important time of the year. How will you make the most of fall in your small business?
Fall is the time when your clients and customers are ready to once again pay attention to work – and to you and your products or services. It’s the time for meeting new and old customers at trade shows, conferences and conventions. Retailers start stocking up for the holidays and consumers are more likely to make big purchases or home improvements now.
How can you take the greatest advantage of this potentially fruitful time of year to make certain you increase your revenues and end 2017 on a high note, especially when you may already feel overwhelmed or under-motivated? Here are six ways:
1. Start working on holiday sales
If your business depends on the Christmas season, it’s time for you to go to work with a vengeance. If you sell to retailers, go out there and get orders. If you sell to consumers, start working on your holiday buys and merchandising. If you provide a service that’s in great demand during the holidays, start working on your marketing. Customers are already making plans. These next three months are absolutely critical to the survival of your company all year long.
2. Attend or exhibit at trade shows
In my business, our largest source of new customers, including our largest customers, comes from people we meet at industry conferences. Trade shows bring together a lot of highly targeted customers in one place, and most of those who attend conferences or trade shows are looking for new solutions and open to hearing about your product or services. There’s a trade shows for every industry – there’s almost certainly one attended by your target customers. Check the website of the Trade Show News Network or take a look at this list of trade associations by subject.
3. Summer businesses – build a reserve
You just finished your busy season and you’re ready to relax and reward yourself. But don’t buy that flat panel TV just yet, even if it is football season. Start putting money away instead in two accounts – a reserve account for slow months and a tax account, just for the IRS. Next, get a good contact management program and enter the information of all your summer customers. Make sure they hear from you now (“Thank you for your recent business”) and a few times over the next few months.
4. Stay on top of suppliers
Fall isn’t only about you – your suppliers and vendors are also extremely busy this time of year. Make sure you communicate with your suppliers regularly so that you can insure your inventory and raw materials are there when you need them. And be sure to pay their bills on time, so they’ll fill your orders.
5. Develop an annual business and marketing plan
If Fall isn’t your busiest season, it’s a great time to plan for 2018. Get your staff (if you have one) out of the office or warehouse and think strategically about ways to grow your business and the steps you need to take. Even if you work alone, create a simple plan for 2018. Remind yourself of your long-term goals. Why do you want to own your own business? Financial security? Time flexibility? Ability to use your skills? Remember and recommit to those goals.
6. Take Action
Taking action — almost any action — helps re-motivate you. So today, do at least one thing that moves you forward this Fall. Call one new prospect or an old one you’ve been meaning to reconnect with. Make a lunch date with a potential referral source. Fix one business issue that’s been nagging you for a while. Sit down and come up with some marketing ideas.
I know it’s difficult to get back to working hard when you’d still like it to be summer and on the beach. But Fall’s the time to make the money so you can afford that beach vacation next year, so start selling.
This article was originally published on USA Today.