#WordsofBizdom to maximize your slow(er) season

Four strategies small businesses can use to stay competitive and leverage their off-season

by AT&T Business Editorial Team

Recently, Agility Challenge runner-up winner Phillip Ashley Rix was interviewed by celebrity author and business expert Chris Gardner. This is the first episode in a five-part interview series that highlights successful strategies employed by Rix. Each episode will be complemented by a breakout discussion of the topic, as well as additional strategies for you to consider.

Many businesses experience a predictable downturn in business sometime during the year.

This trend especially holds true for seasonal retailers, who can earn 50 percent or more of their total annual sales within a five-month period. And while seasonal businesses experience the most obvious off-seasons, almost half of small business owners reported having predictable times of the year that are significantly busier or slower than others.

Choosing to go on the offensive during your slower season can be fundamental to the success and growth of your operation. Here are four ways you can leverage your off-season – or least-demanding quarter.

1. Take some time to fail

Coming up with a great idea often takes many trials, and failures. For example, Thomas Edison needed thousands of attempts in order to find the perfect filament to make the electric light a viable device.

Think of the off-season as your research and development phase, and use it to think up new ideas until you finally stumble upon a glimmering light bulb of your own.

“I always came up with a lot of my ideas in our slower seasons. That was my time to create new flavors,” says Phillip Ashley Rix, founder of  Phillip Ashley chocolates.

Pencil and notepad in hand, or on his nightstand, Rix uses the moments between the madness to create new flavor combinations for his imaginative chocolates.

2. Rethink your technology

Use this valuable time to perform a full technology audit. Here’s a checklist to get you started:

  • What tasks and roles can be automated, like payroll or recording?
  • Is every aspect of your business as efficient as it could be?
  • Should you beef up your cybersecurity to ensure you’re doing everything you can to protect your customers’ invaluable data?
  • Are you using a mobile payment provider that simply provides mobile payments, or one that also offers CRM capabilities?

If you’re anticipating a busy season, now is the time to migrate to new software, while the stakes are low rather than during the height of a holiday rush.

3. Build out your e-commerce site 

In 2016, online sales of physical goods amounted to $360 billion, a number that could double over the next decade. We’re seeing signs that the next generation of customers do more of their shopping online than on foot.

If you’re not selling online, your company’s future could be on the line. Use your downtime to get your e-commerce applications up and running.

4. Scale up your social presence

There are many ways to show your brand’s personality online. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is worth a thousand pictures.

Use your off-season to enhance your social presence. Show customers and potential customers your latest creation or offering along with a smile or even a little dance, and they’ll love you for it.

If you have a slow season, you can use it or lose it. With these tips and your own resourcefulness, you can join Rix in using your downtime to prepare for the fevered fury of your next busy season.