My wife and I have just returned from Montreal, where we enjoyed Thanksgiving, with family. We spent hours in the local parks with our two grandsons, enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful trees with their array of changing colours.
Fall is definitely here and I was contemplating how this affects our business practices, particularly if you are self-employed or own a small business. I looked for articles on the subject and came across one in USA TODAY, by Rhonda Abrams, first published in 2017 entitled “6 ways to make the most of the fall season for your small business”, that provided some food for thought.
In it, Abrams provides some ideas on how to address this change in the season and how to prepare for the months ahead. Some of them you may well have already considered, but for those of you who took a late Summer break, or were looking for ideas to get you motivated, why not take a moment to read her suggestions:
“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.
3. Summer businesses – build a reserve
Start putting money away 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. 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 the coming year. 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.”
Although this was written some time ago, the piece is still relevant. It’s always worth taking time to make plans and prepare for the future.
In her 6th. point, Take Action, Abrams tells us to take action and offers up some ideas. Why not try and do all of them, over the next few days and weeks? Then you’re really being pro-active and can feel you’ve made a concerted effort to be prepared.
About the Author
Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNN, BBC, CBC, The Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.
In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com and see what he can do for you in the long run.