Part of managing your small business effectively is knowing when and where you’re going to need extra cash on hand. The right time will vary, though, depending on what industry you work in.
Below we’ll look at some of the most popular small business industries and the best time to pursue financing options in each area.
Everyone knows that the holiday season is the busiest time of year for retailers. The National Retail Federation reports that for some businesses the holidays account for 30 percent of their annual sales, so you want to be prepared with enough staff, products, and a robust inventory management system—all of which cost money. The time to look for financing is before the shoppers show up at your door or website on Black Friday. You might consider a short-term loan in November or a line of credit in September or October.
After a holiday season of too much food and drink, it’s no shock that getting fit is the No. 1 New Year’s resolution. If you own a gym or boutique fitness studio, you want to begin looking for loans in November or December so that you can bulk up on equipment and staff and improve your facilities to really put your best foot forward with your new customers.
Hospitality and recreation
The hospitality and recreation industries tend to be seasonal. A ski chalet will be busiest between November and March, while a water park will reach peak visitors during the hot summer months. While it’s important to have financing in place in advance of your busy season, the flip side is making sure you have funds on hand to make it through the leaner off-season months. Consider looking for financing in the months leading up to or immediately following your peak season to make sure you have consistent cash available all year round for your routine business expenses.
Like the hospitality and recreation industries, there’s an ebb and flow to the restaurant industry that’s dependent on where your business is located. If you’re running a lobster roll shack in Maine, your busiest months will be during the summer, but in an upscale New York City restaurant you’ll see your highest volumes in the fall during Fashion Week and before the holidays. Again, you want to begin your loan search before your busy season; you’ll need the funds to get you through the increased volume, and you’ll rest easy knowing the uptick in sales will allow you to repay the loans.
The healthcare industry might not be as obviously seasonal as retail or hospitality, but even doctors and dentists experience a busy season: the end of summer. As people return from their vacations and prepare to return to work or school, healthcare professionals see an influx of patients. That means you should be looking for financing options in the early summer to allow you to upgrade your patient management systems, hire an additional receptionist to handle the increased traffic on the phones and in the waiting room and replace any old or faulty equipment.
No one wants to be outside during the cold winter months—especially not construction workers whose jobs often require them to be outdoors for many hours at a time. That’s why the busiest seasons in construction are spring and summer. Early spring, then, is the time to look for equipment financing to purchase new tools you’ll need on the job or to set up a business line of credit to take on more employees to handle the increased workload.
If you’re a CPA or bookkeeper who runs their own firm, you’re going to see an influx in your business between the first of the year and tax day. That means you want to start looking for financing options at the end of the previous year. Having a line of credit or invoice financing all set before the height of the busy season means you’ll have time to focus on your clients’ tax returns without having to worry about your own business’s cash flow.
As the days get hotter, so does the real estate market. If you’re a realtor running your own agency, you need to be prepared for the busy spring season, which can mean making repairs to your offices, hiring additional administrative staff, and getting your car in tip-top shape to take you and your prospective buyers from property to property. Begin looking for financing at the start of the year to ensure you’re prepared to help your clients find their dream homes.
Whatever industry you work in, the common theme when planning for financing is to research options before you find yourself desperately needing funds. Knowing your industry and your individual business’s history will allow you to have a small business loan or another type of financing in place in advance of your busiest time so that you can focus on running your day-to-day operations and not be stressed about cash flow.
Meredith Wood is the editor-in-chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Prior to Fundera, Meredith was the CCO at Funding Gates. She is a resident Finance Advisor on American Express OPEN Forum and an avid business writer. Her advice consistently appears on such sites as Yahoo!, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, AllBusiness, and many more.