Mentor, Paul Clements

How can I plan ahead to ensure the business thrives all year round?

StartupSmart /

I’m looking at setting up a chain of surf tuition outlets. As surfing has a seasonal peak over the summer, I’m concerned about how my business will fare during the winter months. How can I plan ahead to ensure the business thrives all year round?

 

 

There are various options to consider in response to this business venture:

  • Budgets – it is important to prepare budgets with “What if” scenarios both in season and off-season and with worst case and best case scenarios. Continue to review your budget once you have started the business to make sure your budgets reflect actual results.
  • BusinessStrategic Plan – take the time to write a business plan. This will ensure that you think through and consider all issues. Have your accountant, or a person with strong business acumen, independently review this and provide feedback on the robustness of the plan, risk areas, etc. You can find business plan templates with a Google search and also consider One Page Plans.
  • Variable costs – Try to have as many of your expenses as possible being variable, ie. not being fixed for the whole year but where they are directly related to the revenue generated. For example, use contractors or casual labour rather than full-time or lease premises if required.
  • Research – Research similar business both in Australia and outside, particularly US and others. Talk to (or email) owners to gather information about how they cope with the winter months. How much do they budget for revenue to decrease in winter months? How do they go about employing staff during the off-peak periods? Try and find industry benchmark information – IBISWorld and others may be able to provide this information.
  • Pricing  – Ensure that your pricing is right. This should come out of your budgets and also your research. Consider discount pricing during off-season (assuming some services can still be offered).
  • Geographical location – Is this as seasonal in other areas, eg. Queensland, Indonesia, etc? Is it possible to run in different areas in different times of the year, such as southern Australian state in summer and Queensland, Indonesia and the US in our winter?
  • Contingency finance – Ensure finance facilities andor cashflow is available. Look to save away money during the summer months so you have plenty of cash available to pay costs during the off-peak periods.
  • Clients – Look at specific groups which may utilise services in the off-season periods, eg. schools, scouts, corporate, other groups. Use the winter months to promote any deals, timing and business.
  • Theory – Is there anything that can be done outside of season which can result in further income? Is it possible to lend out unused surfboards during the winter season? Can staff utilise other skills such as repairing damaged surfboards, in the off-season?
  • Marketing – Prepare a Marketing Plan – a template can be found here. In the off-season continue to promote and market, looking forward to the summer season. Advertise locally at places such as campsites and motels.

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