Dealing with Business Seasonality
Many industries function according to client demand. During times of the year when many people want the service, businesses and freelance workers experience a busy season and generate lots of revenue. At other points when clients don’t need the service as often, business slows down. For example, event planners might experience seasonality because people don’t get married in the winter as commonly as they do in the spring and summer.
For professionals who are new to the industry, managing the ebbs and flows of business seasonality can be a challenge. How can you prepare for the difference in income and workload that specializing in a seasonal industry involves? What strategies can help you survive the off season or save you from becoming overwhelmed in the busy season? Consider the following tips for achieving balance as a seasonal professional.
If you specialize in an industry where many of your fellow professionals work freelance, then your industry is probably seasonal. Event planners, makeup artists, and interior decorators, for example, all depend on the level of client demand to determine how often they accept contracts. If you know that your flow of business slows down or picks up at a particular point in the year, you can make the season easier on yourself by preparing in advance. Makeup artists can get ready for the busy prom season by replenishing their supplies of essential products and replacing old brushes before the contracts start coming in. They can account for the possibility of reduced income in between busy periods by saving a portion of each payment they receive to support themselves during the off season.
Planning ahead can help you manage the stress of either workload, letting you concentrate on providing quality services regardless of how often or how little you’re working. Your ability to anticipate your needs as a seasonal professional will improve with experience.
Strategize with your staff
Many employers in seasonal industries hire staff and let them go according to the level of client demand. Experienced wedding planners might hire assistants in the spring to make sure they have enough people to provide quality service throughout the summer when more clients get married. The assistants’ contracts will end in the autumn when business slows down and less work is available. As long as employees are aware that their contract is seasonal, this strategy can be beneficial for both parties. Experienced planners get the extra help they need when they’re busy, but they save money on payroll when client demand decreases for the year. Assistants, on the other hand, gain relevant work experience during parts of the year that challenge them and pay well. They might use the rest of the year to seek more training or pursue their own business goals.
Use your time effectively
Your off season is the perfect time to invest in professional development and advancing your skills. Are there courses you’ve been hoping to take or industry conferences you’d like to attend? Have you been waiting for a time to renovate and improve your workspace or complete an independent project? Makeup artists might use their off season to take a special effects course, while hair stylists might take the opportunity to compete in a prestigious hair show. As long as you’ve saved enough money to support yourself throughout the season while you work towards your goal, investing time in things that will benefit your professional career can be a smart move in the off season. Professionals who make this choice, however, should also use their busy season effectively. Without overwhelming yourself, make sure to take complete advantage of the increased workflow while you can to balance out the time you took off for professional development.
Consider alternative sources of income
Some professionals like to keep busy. Seeking alternative revenue streams during your off season can protect you from financial hardship towards the end. Some people choose to offer different services related to their expertise, while others seek alternative employment all together. For example, a makeup artist might take their downtime from freelance work to sell cosmetics at a retail counter, increasing their knowledge of current products and teaching basic techniques to clients who come in for advice. An event planner living in a small town where their services aren’t needed for a solid portion of the year, however, might switch gears and work as a freelance writer for publications related to their personal interests. Whichever course you choose, make sure that you use your time well. Taking vacation time during your off season can be useful as well, but make sure you can afford it before you pass up alternative employment.
Stay in touch
Just because you won’t see your regular clients for a portion of the year doesn’t mean you shouldn’t contact them at all. Of course, you don’t want to be overwhelming, or you might discourage them from doing business with you in the future. A simple greeting card wishing them Happy Holidays in December or a polite reminder email that your services are available throughout the summer can build customer loyalty.
Regardless of how you use your off season, be smart about budgeting. Saving a portion of your income prepares you to handle unforeseen expenses when work is slow. It also gives you extra funds to quickly solve emergencies that take place in the middle of the busy season when you don’t have time to reallocate your primary funds. Effective budgeting saves seasonal professionals from stress all year round.
The courses at QC Career School teach students how to effectively manage their time as seasonal professionals. If you’d like to learn more about how to use the ebbs and flows of client demand to your advantage, take a look at which course might be the best for you!
What are your preferred methods for dealing with seasonality in business? Leave a comment below to let us know!