Scope out new sales opportunities
Karen Wylie, owner of The Blue Ridge Soap Shed, a handmade soap shop in Spruce Pine, NC, saw her summer sales go from a flood to a trickle after road construction kept tourist traffic away from her business for two full seasons. Instead of going into meltdown mode, she and her husband turned an extended lean season into a growth opportunity.
“We used that time to develop our website, so it would provide a greater percentage of our annual income in the future,” Wylie says. She also created new sales avenues by offering workshops for people interested in soap making and entrepreneurship.
Montez uses social media and email marketing to stay connected with her customer base over the summer. “Every week, we offer a special discount to our newsletter subscribers and social media followers,” which she says has helped grow the business’s customer base.
This past summer, she also spent time expanding her company’s wholesale sales distribution channel, something she plans to repeat in future slow seasons. By growing this channel, she says, Montez has been able to make her business “a little less vulnerable to the day to day retail ups and downs from direct purchasers” that characterize the summer months.
If you’re struggling to come up with a way to keep your sales ship from sinking in the lean season, tap your customers or clients for help. Reach out through social media or email to find out what products and services they’re most interested in to generate some new revenue ideas.
Complete a tax check-up
When business is going swimmingly, tax planning may get pushed to the backburner. The lazy days of summer are a good time to get caught up — and even better when you’re doing that lounging by the pool.
“Talk to your accountant about how to lower your taxable income,” Zimmelman says. “Make sure you’re up-to-date on new tax law changes, and that you’re getting all the deductions and credits you’re eligible for.”
Also, schedule in time to revisit your quarterly estimated tax payments, income taxes and payroll taxes to make sure you’re paying enough and making those payments on time. “The IRS is never an attractive creditor,” says Stanley Rose, tax director, Baker Newman Noyes in Portland, ME. “Paying your income taxes late is bad enough, but failing to pay payroll taxes withheld from employees can trigger an even worse penalty.”